MLB 2023: Comeback Kids – another Bat Flips & Nerds competition

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.

We had some interesting names among the less popular choices, including Justin Upton, Robinson Cano, and Yadier Molina.

HIGHEST SCORERS

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.

LOWEST SCORERS

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.

THE WINNERS

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…

EntrantPick 1Pick 2Pick 3Pick 4Pick 5
1 Thomas LaingJoey Gallo
0.7
J.D. Davis
2.2
Brandon Belt
2.3
Jonathan India
1.2
Nick Castellanos
1.0
2 Rob NoverrazBrandon Lowe
2.8
Austin Meadows
-0.2
Brian Anderson
0.5
Tommy Pham
1.8
Jonathan India
1.2
3 Nick Wilson-SmithJeimer Candelario
3.3
Jesse Winker
-0.8
Trey Mancini
-0.8
Jonathan India
1.2
Brandon Lowe
2.8
4 Charlie DeeksJoey Gallo
0.7
Jorge Soler
1.9
Kris Bryant
-1.2
Nick Castellanos
1.0
Brandon Lowe
2.8
5Michael FisherBrandon Lowe
2.8
Jesse Winker
-0.8
Salvador Perez
-0.3
Brandon Belt
2.3
Jonathan India
1.2
6Gav GavlaarRobbie Grossman
0.4
Anthony Rendon
0.2
Ramon Laureano
1.0
Brandon Lowe
2.8
Joey Gallo
0.7

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

FULL RESULTS

ScorePick 1Pick 2Pick 3Pick 4Pick 5
Thomas Laing7.4Joey GalloJ.D. DavisBrandon BeltJonathan IndiaNick Castellanos
Rob Noverraz6.1Brandon LoweAustin MeadowsBrian AndersonTommy PhamJonathan India
Nick Wilson-Smith5.7Jeimer CandelarioJesse WinkerTrey ManciniJonathan IndiaBrandon Lowe
Charlie Deeks5.2Joey GalloJorge SolerKris BryantNick CastellanosBrandon Lowe
Michael Fisher5.2Brandon LoweJesse WinkerSalvador PerezBrandon BeltJonathan India
Gav Gavlaar5.1Robbie GrossmanAnthony RendonRamon LaureanoBrandon LoweJoey Gallo
Joseph Owen4.0Brandon LoweAustin MeadowsJesse WinkerJonathan IndiaRamon Laureano
Ed Jefferies4.0Nick CastellanosRamon LaureanoBrandon LoweCesar HernandezJesse Winker
Scott MacGregor3.6Anthony RendonBrandon BeltJesse WinkerJonathan IndiaJoey Gallo
Nick3.2J.D. DavisAnthony RendonMitch HanigerNick CastellanosJoey Votto
Tim Kinnear2.9Trey ManciniJonathan IndiaNick CastellanosRougned OdorRamon Laureano
Tom Banyard2.9Yuli GurrielEddie RosarioCharlie BlackmonAnthony RendonNick Castellanos
Brandon Watson2.5Joey VottoJorge SolerAnthony RendonSalvador PerezJoey Gallo
Mike2.1Hanser AlbertoBrandon BeltYoan MoncadaJesse WinkerSalvador Perez
Russell Eassom2.0Anthony RendonJonathan IndiaMitch HanigerMike ZuninoRamon Laureano
Darius Austin1.9Anthony RendonKris BryantJoey GalloJonathan IndiaRamon Laureano
Unknown694201.7Avisail GarciaJesse WinkerKris BryantBrandon LoweJonathan India
Grant1.4Joey VottoJohan CamargoMiguel AndujarYoan MoncadaPaul DeJong
William Canby1.2Jason HeywardJonathan IndiaKris BryantMitch HanigerJesse Winker
Nathan Barratt1.1Adam DuvallEnrique HernandezSalvador PerezYoan MoncadaJorge Alfaro
Gareth Neale1.0Enrique HernandezAJ PollockJason HeywardMiguel AndujarCharlie Blackmon
Thomas Pringle0.7Austin HedgesRougned OdorRobinson CanoJackie Bradley Jr.Justin Upton
Rich Stone0.5Jonathan IndiaEddie RosarioJoey VottoJared WalshKris Bryant
Mark Blakemore0.3Brandon LoweJesse WinkerKris BryantSalvador PerezMitch Haniger
James Holden0.3Austin MeadowsSalvador PerezJesse WinkerBrandon LoweKris Bryant
Anders Jorstad-0.1Jesse WinkerKris BryantRamon LaureanoSalvador PerezJonathan India
Scotty-0.2Didi GregoriusJoey GalloKris BryantPaul DeJongLorenzo Cain
Ian Blease-0.2Jesse WinkerJoey GalloJoey VottoSalvador PerezAnthony Rendon
Daniel Woodrow-0.6Austin MeadowsJoey VottoYadier MolinaYuli GurrielMiguel Andujar
Jason Toms-0.9Austin MeadowsJonathan IndiaMitch HanigerJared WalshTrey Mancini
Brent Bentley-0.9Jesse WinkerAnthony RendonJonathan IndiaKris BryantSalvador Perez
Freddie-1.4Enrique HernandezJared WalshAJ PollockKris BryantBrandon Lowe
Rob Kermose-1.8Robbie GrossmanAnthony RendonJared WalshKris BryantSalvador Perez

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