The concept of this competition was beautifully simple. Pick five hitters who would combine for the most WAR in 2023. However, the list of available players were all worth less than 1.0 fWAR in 2022 but had previously enjoyed 2.0+ fWAR seasons. Hence, the Comeback Kids.
The winner was the entrant whose quintet combined for the most fWAR at the end of the 2023 season.
MOST POPULAR CHOICES
Almost one-third of the entries picked former Rookie of the Year Jonathan India as one of their choices. The Reds second baseman did indeed bounce back from a disappointing, injury-plagued sophomore season to register 1.5 fWAR.
Another popular pick was India’s former teammate, Jesse Winker. However, he missed 101 games due to injury and managed just .049 ISO when he played. The former righty-killer finished the season with -0.7 fWAR, killing many entrants’ chances in this competition.
Having hit .306 in 40 games in the thin Colorado air in 2022, Kris Bryant was understandably the third-most-picked player, but the one-time Chicago poster boy flopped with just 10 homers in 80 games and a -1.2 fWAR.
There were only two players on the list who produced 3.00 fWAR seasons in 2023 (3.3 fWAR to be precise), and one of them wasn’t picked by any of the entrants.
After two straight disappointing seasons with the bat, a DUI and a domestic violence investigation, it wasn’t clear whether Marcell Ozuna would keep his roster spot in Atlanta. But he did, and his 40 home runs and 100 RBI helped power the Braves to one of their most dominant regular seasons.
The only other player on the list to exceed 3.00 fWAR last season was Jeimer Candelario, who enjoyed a decent half-season with the Nationals before briefly looking like a superstar after his move to Chicago. He only failed to reach base once in his first 10 plate appearances (.900 OBP) before coming back down to earth. Charlie Deeks was the only entrant to choose Candelario.
Despite his -1.2 fWAR, Bryant wasn’t the lowest scorer on the list; that accolade goes to Enrique Hernandez, whose .289 OBP across 140 games for the Red Sox and Dodgers contributed to an end-of-season -1.5 fWAR.
Immediately below (or is it above?) Hernandez and Bryant is Jared Walsh, who suffered a horrendous season with off-field neurological issues. Thoracic outlet surgery, followed by headaches and insomnia, was a stark reminder of the human side of the game.
In our little competition, you have to feel sorry for Freddie Law-Keen. As readers of his excellent Dodgers articles will attest, Freddie knows baseball. However, within his quintet of players, he picked Walsh, Bryant and Hernandez, who combined for -3.4 fWAR.
As readers of the last couple of articles will recall, I have, for completely coincidental reasons, published the results of the Top 6. Not the Top 5 or the Top 10, but I just think that six is the best cutoff point.
So, without further ado…
|Entrant||Pick 1||Pick 2||Pick 3||Pick 4||Pick 5|
|1||Thomas Laing||Joey Gallo|
|2||Rob Noverraz||Brandon Lowe|
|3||Nick Wilson-Smith||Jeimer Candelario|
|4||Charlie Deeks||Joey Gallo|
|5||Michael Fisher||Brandon Lowe|
|6||Gav Gavlaar||Robbie Grossman|
So, congratulations to Thomas. A prize will wing its way to him shortly.
Stay tuned to Bat Flips & Nerds for this offseason’s competitions. If you have an idea of competitions you would like us to run, you can contact me on the platform formerly known as Twitter @GavTramps
|Score||Pick 1||Pick 2||Pick 3||Pick 4||Pick 5|
|Thomas Laing||7.4||Joey Gallo||J.D. Davis||Brandon Belt||Jonathan India||Nick Castellanos|
|Rob Noverraz||6.1||Brandon Lowe||Austin Meadows||Brian Anderson||Tommy Pham||Jonathan India|
|Nick Wilson-Smith||5.7||Jeimer Candelario||Jesse Winker||Trey Mancini||Jonathan India||Brandon Lowe|
|Charlie Deeks||5.2||Joey Gallo||Jorge Soler||Kris Bryant||Nick Castellanos||Brandon Lowe|
|Michael Fisher||5.2||Brandon Lowe||Jesse Winker||Salvador Perez||Brandon Belt||Jonathan India|
|Gav Gavlaar||5.1||Robbie Grossman||Anthony Rendon||Ramon Laureano||Brandon Lowe||Joey Gallo|
|Joseph Owen||4.0||Brandon Lowe||Austin Meadows||Jesse Winker||Jonathan India||Ramon Laureano|
|Ed Jefferies||4.0||Nick Castellanos||Ramon Laureano||Brandon Lowe||Cesar Hernandez||Jesse Winker|
|Scott MacGregor||3.6||Anthony Rendon||Brandon Belt||Jesse Winker||Jonathan India||Joey Gallo|
|Nick||3.2||J.D. Davis||Anthony Rendon||Mitch Haniger||Nick Castellanos||Joey Votto|
|Tim Kinnear||2.9||Trey Mancini||Jonathan India||Nick Castellanos||Rougned Odor||Ramon Laureano|
|Tom Banyard||2.9||Yuli Gurriel||Eddie Rosario||Charlie Blackmon||Anthony Rendon||Nick Castellanos|
|Brandon Watson||2.5||Joey Votto||Jorge Soler||Anthony Rendon||Salvador Perez||Joey Gallo|
|Mike||2.1||Hanser Alberto||Brandon Belt||Yoan Moncada||Jesse Winker||Salvador Perez|
|Russell Eassom||2.0||Anthony Rendon||Jonathan India||Mitch Haniger||Mike Zunino||Ramon Laureano|
|Darius Austin||1.9||Anthony Rendon||Kris Bryant||Joey Gallo||Jonathan India||Ramon Laureano|
|Unknown69420||1.7||Avisail Garcia||Jesse Winker||Kris Bryant||Brandon Lowe||Jonathan India|
|Grant||1.4||Joey Votto||Johan Camargo||Miguel Andujar||Yoan Moncada||Paul DeJong|
|William Canby||1.2||Jason Heyward||Jonathan India||Kris Bryant||Mitch Haniger||Jesse Winker|
|Nathan Barratt||1.1||Adam Duvall||Enrique Hernandez||Salvador Perez||Yoan Moncada||Jorge Alfaro|
|Gareth Neale||1.0||Enrique Hernandez||AJ Pollock||Jason Heyward||Miguel Andujar||Charlie Blackmon|
|Thomas Pringle||0.7||Austin Hedges||Rougned Odor||Robinson Cano||Jackie Bradley Jr.||Justin Upton|
|Rich Stone||0.5||Jonathan India||Eddie Rosario||Joey Votto||Jared Walsh||Kris Bryant|
|Mark Blakemore||0.3||Brandon Lowe||Jesse Winker||Kris Bryant||Salvador Perez||Mitch Haniger|
|James Holden||0.3||Austin Meadows||Salvador Perez||Jesse Winker||Brandon Lowe||Kris Bryant|
|Anders Jorstad||-0.1||Jesse Winker||Kris Bryant||Ramon Laureano||Salvador Perez||Jonathan India|
|Scotty||-0.2||Didi Gregorius||Joey Gallo||Kris Bryant||Paul DeJong||Lorenzo Cain|
|Ian Blease||-0.2||Jesse Winker||Joey Gallo||Joey Votto||Salvador Perez||Anthony Rendon|
|Daniel Woodrow||-0.6||Austin Meadows||Joey Votto||Yadier Molina||Yuli Gurriel||Miguel Andujar|
|Jason Toms||-0.9||Austin Meadows||Jonathan India||Mitch Haniger||Jared Walsh||Trey Mancini|
|Brent Bentley||-0.9||Jesse Winker||Anthony Rendon||Jonathan India||Kris Bryant||Salvador Perez|
|Freddie||-1.4||Enrique Hernandez||Jared Walsh||AJ Pollock||Kris Bryant||Brandon Lowe|
|Rob Kermose||-1.8||Robbie Grossman||Anthony Rendon||Jared Walsh||Kris Bryant||Salvador Perez|