Baseball Reference finally has enough data to launch WAR leaderboards for 2019. While not all Twins players have enough at-bats to qualify (otherwise Willians Astudillo would be up there,) the Twins underrated shortstop, Jorge Polanco has been one of the most valuable players in the league to this early date.
Overall, Mike Trout leads the MLB in WAR. That isn’t terribly surprising, as he’s amassed a huge 1.8 WAR to this point. On the overall leaderboard, he’s followed by Cody Bellinger (1.4) and Luis Castillo (1.2.) Polanco checks in with 0.9 WAR, listed in ninth place, although players 5-10 on the list all show the same value, so I assume the trailing digit was used as a tiebreaker.
Two pitchers, Luis Castillo and Masahiro Tanaka ranked ahead of Polanco overall, which moves him up to the number seven position for position players. No other AL Central players appear on either list.
When defensive value is subtracted, and only offensive WAR is considered, Polanco ranks even higher. He comes at at number six overall, and has apparently acquired all of his value at the plate — his offensive WAR is the same as his total, 0.9 wins. Chicago’s Tim Anderson is number eight on this list, also at 0.9 WAR, so he must have a negative defensive value thus far.
No Twins appear on the leaderboard for Defensive WAR, and the only player from the division to show up there is Detroit’s Jeimer Candelario.
In earning his place among the game’s elite, Polanco appears on several leaderboards for other statistics. He is currently number six in the league in batting average, at .405. He’s also number eight in slugging (.811) and number ten in OPS (1.261.) It’s worth noting that Willians Astudillo’s .421 batting average would rank him number five in that stat, ahead of Trout, if Astudillo had enough at bats to qualify.
Polanco also shares the MLB lead for triples, with three. He shares that with Kansas City’s Adalberto Mondesi.
Our shortstop isn’t the only Twin near the top of the league in a few categories. Byron Buxton is tied for number six in the league for doubles, with five. He also has three stolen bases, which is good for a tie in sixth place. Nelson Cruz and Jonathan Schoop have both been hit by two pitches, which ties them in seventh place for that category
While this is still early, and the sample sizes are small, it’s nice to see players rank highly amongst their peers.