The Pyramid Rating System’s 2016 Season Update

Nolan Arenado is now the best third baseman in Rockies' franchise history. (via Jennifer Linnea)

Nolan Arenado is now the best third baseman in Rockies’ franchise history. (via Jennifer Linnea)

Paul Moehringer’s Pyramid Rating System & All-Time Teams

Aug. 27, 2015: The Pyramid Rating System: JAWS on a Career Scale

March 15, 2016: The Pyramid Rating System: The Results

Aug. 12, 2016: The Pyramid Rating System All-Time League and the All-Time Baltimore Orioles

Sept. 2, 2016: The Pyramid Rating System’s All-Time Boston Red Sox

Sept. 28, 2016: The Pyramid Rating System’s All-Time Texas Rangers

Oct. 19, 2016: The Pyramid Rating System’s All-Time Brooklyn Dodgers

Nov. 30, 2016: The Pyramid Rating System’s All-Time Cincinnati Reds

In this installment of the Pyramid Rating System’s all-time league, we’re going to look at how the 2016 season has affected the makeup and rosters of teams around the league. How much does a year’s difference make? Well that depends. For some teams, it has no impact at all. I picked teams like the Red Sox, Rangers and Brooklyn Dodgers to do first because I didn’t see any player whose 2016 season would significantly alter their role on the team.

As great a season as Mookie Betts had, there’s no way he can make a team like the Boston Red Sox as an outfielder with just two and a half seasons under his belt. For some other teams with lessers histories, it’s possible to make the 25-man rosters with just one or two seasons in the majors. They don’t even have to be great seasons in some cases. Every team presents its own strengths, weaknesses and challenges for how to best build its team for this league.

As explained in this article introducing the Pyramid Rating System, every player with at least 25 innings pitched or 50 plate appearances in a season for a franchise since 1890 is ranked. But here, we’re not looking at a player’s entire career, only what he did with that particular franchise.

Rickey Henderson with the Oakland A’s ranks as the 43rd best franchise player in major league history since 1890 according to this system, but Rickey Henderson with the New York Yankees ranks as the 270th best franchise player. With the Padres he’s 6,869th. As this system treats it, these are three separate players playing for three different teams. Your standing with one franchise has no impact on your standing with another. All that matters is what you did with that team.

I’ve included how I had each player rated during the 2016 season on a scale of 20-80 meant to mimic the same scale major league scouts use.

I included these ratings to show the kind of impact a great, good season or even average season can have on a player’s overall ranking relative to where he ranks rank all-time. It’s perfectly possibile for someone to move up over 2,000 spots based on a career year, due to the large number of players being evaluated. But with more established players such as Kershaw, a great season may not necessarily do much. He comes into 2017 with the exact same ranking as he had coming into 2016.

A Hardball Times Update
Goodbye for now.

Here are players who have seen their roles in this league change significantly because of their 2016 performance. This doesn’t cover every active player who will be featured in the series. The only thing I can do with a player like Buster Posey, who is already the San Francisco Giants starting catcher in our league, is hold him in slightly higher regard than I did prior to the 2016 season.

Baltimore Orioles

Zach Britton
2016 Rating: 79
2015 Rank: 2,424
2016 Rank: 738
Old Role: Orioles 40-man roster
New Role: Orioles eighth-inning setup man
Following one of the greatest seasons ever posted by a relief pitcher, Zach Britton leapfrogged over a thousand players to crack the top 750 and will now be featured as a key pitcher out of the Orioles bullpen. With the addition of Britton to the bullpen, B.J. Ryan will be sent down, as his role as a lefty specialist is no longer needed.

Chris Tillman
2016 Rating: 70
2015 Rank: 2,102
2016 Rank: 1,291
Old Role: Not on any 40-man roster
New Role: Orioles 40-man roster
After eight seasons with the Orioles and a season that saw him win 16 games with a 3.77 ERA, Chris Tillman has cracked the 40-man squad, taking the roster spot previously held by Scott Erickson.

New York Yankees

Dellin Betances
2016 Rating: 48
2015 Rank: 1,061
2016 Rank: 785
Old Role: Yankees 40-man roster
New role: Yankees bullpen
Dellin Betances had come into the 2016 season right on the border of cracking the Yankees 25-man squad. Although Betances’ 2016 numbers were pedestrian, the seventh man out of the Yankees ‘pen, Tom Gordon, pitched only two seasons for the Bombers and it didn’t take much of a third season by Betances to push him over Gordon.

Toronto Blue Jays

Josh Donaldson
2016 Rating: 78
2015 Rank: 1,811
2016 Rank: 611
Old Role: Oakland A’s 40-man roster
New Role: Blue Jays starting third baseman
Although Josh Donaldson still has slightly better overall numbers with Oakland, his Silver Slugger- winning 2016 season, along with Toronto’s lack of depth at third, has produced the league’s first “trade.” Oakland can’t justify Donaldson as anything more than a roster filler, while Toronto can now insert him into the starting lineup.

Washington Nationals

Max Scherzer
2016 Rating: 78
2015 Rank: 1,846
2016 Rank: 625
Old Role: Tigers 40-man roster
New Role: Nationals No. 3 starter
As with Donaldson, we have a situation of a player having better numbers with another team but finding a better role elsewhere. With the Tigers’ pitching depth, Scherzer is unable to crack the starting rotation, but it’s a different story in Washington.

Bryce Harper
2016 Rating: 45
2015 Rank: 727
2016 Rank: 740
Old Role: Nationals 40-man roster
New Role: Nationals platoon starting outfielder
Although Harper’s rank slipped slightly after a less-than-memorable 2016, he is still can find a spot on the Nationals’ 25-man squad — because of Ryan Zimmerman’s 2016 season.

Although Zimmerman batted only .218 and did nothing to bolster his overall standing, he did play 114 games at first base, which put him over the threshold to qualify as a first baseman. This in turn allows me to move Zimmerman over to first in place of Mickey Vernon and replace Zimmerman at third with Cecil Travis.

With a greater degree of versatility on the infield, this allows the Nationals to build more around the strongest part of the team, their outfield. Those who would expect Harper to be a shoo-in on an all-time “Washington” team would be forgetting about the contributions of Hall of Famers Goose Goslin and Sam Rice. But with Harper being a former MVP, possessing a power bat and most importantly being able to play center field, I can find plenty of use for him against right handed pitching thanks to Zimmerman’s slightly increased versatility on the infield.

Tanner Roark
2016 Rating: 77
2015 Rank: 2,187
2016 Rank: 855
Old Role: Not on any 40-man roster
New Role: Nationals spot starter
After showing signs of greatness, Roark finally had his big breakout season in 2016, posting a 16-10 record with a 2.83 ERA over 210 innings pitched. With the lack of pitching depth on Washington, Roark shot up the Nationals pitching roster from being someone not even on the radar to someone who is on the verge of not just cracking the starting rotation but being a significant addition as well.

Anthony Rendon
2016 Rating: 67
2015 Rank: 1,997
2016 Rank: 1,223
Old Role: Not on any 40-man roster
New Role: Nationals 40-man roster
After an injury-plagued 2015 season, Rendon came back strong in 2016 and earned a spot on the all-time Nationals/Senators 40-man squad. He gets there because of his ability to qualify at second base, a black hole for Washington.

Cleveland Indians

Corey Kluber
2016 Rating: 79
2015 Rank: 781
2016 Rank: 314
Old Role: Not on any 40-man roster
New Role: Indians 40-man roster
Not all starting rotations are created equal and even with Kluber firmly establishing himself as one of the best pitchers in baseball today, it’s still not enough to crack the deepest starting rotation in the American League.

Tampa Bay Rays

Álex Colomé
2016 Rating: 64
2015 Rank: 14,455
2016 Rank: 4,086
Old Role: Not on any 40-man roster
New Role: Rays bullpen
For most teams you need to be in the top 2,000 to even garner consideration for being on the 40-man roster, let alone the 25-man. With a relatively young team like Tampa Bay it really takes only one All-Star season to make the 25-man squad and such is the case with Álex Colomé.

California Angels

Kole Calhoun
2016 Rating: 62
2015 Rank: 2,897
2016 Rank: 2,000
Old Role: Not on any 40-man roster
New Role: Angels 40-man roster
Having a player the quality of Mike Trout on the team completely changes the dynamic of what this outfield would otherwise be. Without Trout the Angels would be in dire straits in the outfield, but Trout enables a player like Calhoun to go from being an over-matched bench player to a plug-in guy who will likely see action only because of an injury.

Minnesota Twins

Brian Dozier
2016 Rating: 77
2015 Rank: 1,587
2016 Rank: 787
Old Role: Not on any 40-man roster
New Role: Twins platoon starting shortstop
I don’t think anyone expected Brian Dozier to have this kind of season: He belted 42 home runs and set the American League record for most home runs by a second baseman in a single season. That season propelled Dozier not just to a spot on the 40-man roster, but into a starting role.

Seattle Mariners

Nelson Cruz
2016 Rating: 70
2015 Rank: 2,811
2016 Rank: 1,440
Old Role: Not on any 40-man roster
New Role: Mariners 40-man roster
Back-to-back 40 home run seasons landed Nelson Cruz a spot on the all-time Seattle Mariners 40-man squad. Given the way the Mariners squad is structured, Cruz would have to be justified as a starter in order to be called up. With Ken Griffey Jr. and Ichiro Suzuki already firmly entrenched in the starting lineup, the probably of this ever happening is not great and at the age of 36, time is working against Cruz.

New York Mets

Jeurys Familia
2016 Rating: 62
2015 Rank: 3,967
2016 Rank: 1,742
Old Role: Not on any 40-man roster
New Role: Mets bullpen
The Mets have one of the deepest pools of talent to pick from for pitching and adding a pitcher with 100 career saves already is only going to bolster that pool.

Atlanta Braves

Freddie Freeman
2016 Rating: 77
2015 Rank: 1,418
2016 Rank: 726
Old Role: Atlanta Braves 40-man roster
New Role: Atlanta Braves platoon starting first baseman
What makes the Atlanta Braves lineup interesting is the dizzying number of lineup combos they can throw at you. With Chipper Jones, Dale Murphy and Ron Gant all able to play on both the infield and the outfield, the Braves have no real position needs to focus on and can use their bench to more or less bring in their best remaining players available.

After a third place finish in OPS, Freeman finally had the type of career year he needed to put himself over the top. Given the versatility of guys like Evans and Murphy, they can fully justify carrying another first baseman on the roster, even though the position was already set.

Miami Marlins

Christian Yelich
2016 Rating: 73
2015 Rank: 3,144
2016 Rank: 1,483
Old Role: Marlins 40-man roster
New Role: Marlins starting outfielder

As most would expect, the Marlins are going to have one of the worst teams in either league. While talented players have come through the franchise, few have stayed around long enough to have a long- term impact. Even though Yelich has just three seasons, the lack of viable options ahead of him puts him in the starting lineup as one of the youngest and least-accomplished regulars in either league.

J.T. Realmuto
2016 Rating: 52
2015 Rank: 7,561
2016 Rank: 5,106
Old Role: Marlins 40-man roster
New Role: Marlins backup catcher
The catcher position sums up the Marlins in a nutshell. They’ve had a who’s who of players that have caught — briefly — for the team: Iván Rodríguez, Paul Lo Duca, Benito Santiago, even Mike Piazza.

In J.T. Realmunto, we have a promising but still very much over-matched young catcher forced into a role he is not ready to handle simply because there is isn’t a better option. It’s still too early to get a gauge on the type of career Realmunto will have, but there is, nevertheless, as virtual guarantee to start in at least 30 games for a team that is probably several decades away from being even decent.

Pittsburgh Pirates

Mark Melancon
2016 Rating: 51
2015 Rank: 2,390
2016 Rank: 1,673
Old Role: Not on any 40-man roster
New Role: Pirates bullpen
Although a midseason trade appears to have effectively ended Melancon’s career in Pittsburgh, he was still able to do enough in the 2016 season to find a place in the Pirates bullpen.

St. Louis Cardinals

Carlos Martínez
2016 Rating: 77
2015 Rank: 3,176
2016 Rank: 1,208
Old Role: Not on any 40-man roster
New Role: Cardlinas eight-inning setup man.
Despite the amount of offensive and starting pitching depth the Cardinals possess, the bullpen remains a soft underbelly for this team.

Kevin Siegrist
2016 Rating: 56
2015 Rank: 3,645
2016 Rank: 1,979
Old Role: Not on any 40-man roster
New Role: Cardinals 40-man roster
For now Kevin Siegrist presents little more than roster filler, a role that may or may not change, but the bullpen is the only thing preventing me from saying the Cardinals have the hands-down best all-time team in the National League. They’re still lacking a true closer, but depth is no longer an issue.

Arizona Diamondbacks

Jean Segura
2016 Rating: 74
2015 Rank: None
2016 Rank: 2,570
Old Role: Not on any 40-man roster
New Role: Diamondbacks 40-man roster
He may have played only one season, but for recently born teams like the Diamondbacks, one solid season is sometimes all it takes to make the roster.

Colorado Rockies

Nolan Arenado
2016 Rating: 77
2015 Rank: 1,281
2016 Rank: 632
Old Role: Rockies bench
New Role: Rockies starting third baseman
Before the 2016 season I would say it was a toss-up between Arenado and Vinny Castilla for the greatest third baseman in Rockies history. After 2016, I don’t think Castilla has a case anymore.

DJ LeMahieu
2016 Rating: 72
2015 Rank: 4,905
2016 Rank: 2,129
Old Role: Rockies 40-man roster
New Role: Rockies starting second baseman
While DJ LeMahieu presents a less than desirable option at second in a league like this, it’s still an improvement over Eric Young, who was the least-accomplished starting second baseman in either league. While that title will now fall to LeManieu. Winning won the NL batting title should give hope that LeManieu can be more than the “best of the worst.”

Charlie Blackmon
2016 Rating: 68
2015 Rank: 4,603
2016 Rank: 2,428
Old Role: Not on any 40-man roster
New Role: Rockies 40-man roster
Tough to say if Charlie Blackmon’s role on the team will ever be greater than this with Larry Walker, Matt Holliday and Carlos González all still well ahead of him. But for a team as young as the Rockies, in this league depth at virtually every position is going to be an issue. If any of the aforementioned players go down, Blackmon is the first guy coming up and the more he is able to close the gap between himself and those three, the less a disaster it’s going to be.

Houston Astros

Carlos Correa
2016 Rating: 75
2015 Rank: 4,319
2016 Rank: 1,556
Old Role: Not on any 40-man roster
New Role: Astros bench
Amazingly it’s taken almost as long for Carlos Correa to make the all-time Astros team as it did the real one. This is credit to his tremendous talent and upside, but also to the eptitude of Astros shortstops over the years. Correa’s 42 home runs with the Astros is already a higher total than Adam Everett’s with the ‘Stros. He was the team’s previous backup shortstop.

Los Angeles Dodgers

Kenley Jansen
2016 Rating: 68
2015 Rank: 1,824
2016 Rank: 1,220
Old Role: Not on any 40-man roster
New Role: Los Angeles Dodgers bullpen
Much like with Betances and the Yankees, we have a situation where an already stacked bullpen gets even more stacked with the addition of Kenley Jansen.

San Francisco Giants

Brandon Crawford
2016 Rating: 70
2015 Rank: 1,046
2016 Rank: 1,529
Old Role: San Francisco Giants 40-man roster
New Role: San Francisco Giants platoon starting shortstop
There is still a bit of a debate to be had between him and Chris Speier in terms for the greatest shortstop in San Francisco Giants history, but winning a second consecutive Gold Glove along with leading the National League in triples was just enough to nudge Crawford past Speier.


Looking around the league I think the all-time team that improved the most from 2015 to 2016 wasthe Washington Nationals. They not only improved themselves, but improved in the right areas. Their biggest weaknesses were their pitching and first base and both got better. They added two new pitchers, including the reigning Cy Young Award winner, and with Ryan Zimmerman playing in enough games now to qualify as a first baseman, he instantly becomes the team’s best option at that position.

As far as long term success goes, the Chicago Cubs also set themselves up very well. Because of the longevity of the franchise, you need at least a few seasons to be taken seriously, which is why Kris Bryant is nowhere to be found on the team even after his MVP season. But given his upside and versatility in field I don’t think it’s going to be much longer before he’s brought up for good. They also have players like Addison Russell and Jake Arrieta who, while still not good enough to crack the 40-man roster, are players I’m paying attention to.

In terms of others around the league: I think Corey Seager is someone who can make a solid argument for becoming the all-time Los Angeles Dodgers shortstop in the near future. Roberto Osuna of Toronto, while still not on the 40-man squad, could be in the Blue Jays bullpen in a major role as early as next year. And the Mets could be in line to add to an already imposing rotation with Matt Harvey, Jacob deGrom and Noah Syndergaard.

Paul Moehringer is a data analyst, a SABR member and inventor of the Pyramid Rating System; originally from Mount Olive, NJ, now living in Westwood, MA. Follow him on Twitter @PMoehringer.

Comments are closed.