The WAR Room: Zimmer still playing like Trout

The WAR Room is back again, bringing you the 2015 advanced stats for every Cleveland minor leaguer. Though it is still early in the season, there are some interesting trends to watch and monitor as the season goes on. Join Jim Piascik as he breaks down Bradley Zimmer’s continued Mike Trout impression, Adam Plutko’s dominance of the Carolina League, and much more as he takes you into The WAR Room.

As always, just like with scouting, it is always important to keep context in mind with these stats. A pitcher who is old for his level using that experience to succeed against young, inexperienced hitters must be taken with a grain of salt; the same goes when looking at these WAR totals.

But it is a useful tool to put each player's performance into context and look at where they sit in regard to the rest of the league.

For reference on how I computed WAR, a reminder on the problems inherent in the stats, and everything else you need to know, click here. For a refresher on WAR and what it is, click here.

As a reminder, a 0.0 WAR per 162 games is replacement level -- otherwise known as the kind of performance an average player from the level below could offer -- a 2.0 WAR per 162 games is average, and a 5.0 WAR per 162 games is All-Star level.

Also, the lack of good defensive metrics for the minor leagues means we have to adjust for a range of defensive abilities. To account for this, I will give you each player's WAR with a qualifier: either poor-defense WAR for a poor defender (-10 runs below-average per 162 games), average-defense WAR for an average defender (0 runs per 162 games), or great-defense WAR for a great defender (10 runs above-average per 162 games).

Additionally, note that pitchers have FIP-based WAR -- which is based on peripherals like strikeouts, walks, home runs, etc. -- and RA-based WAR -- which is based on runs allowed.

One more thing, all "+" stats are averaged at 100. Anything over 100, like 110, is higher and means that player is 10 percent better than the league average. Anything under 100, like 90, is lower and means that player is 10 percent worse than the league average. In the case of any "-" stats -- when lower is better, like with ERA -- a 90 ERA- means that player is 10 percent better than the league average.

For the full stats, go ahead and click here. Stats are updated through Saturday, May 23.

Columbus Clippers

Name Team Age IP SP FIP WAR SP RA WAR
Toru Murata Cleveland (AAA) 30 41.0 0.4 0.9
Shaun Marcum Cleveland (AAA) 33 33.0 0.3 1.6
Danny Salazar Cleveland (AAA) 25 6.0 0.3 0.5
Bruce Chen Cleveland (AAA) 38 31.0 0.3 1.4
Nick Maronde Cleveland (AAA) 25 39.3 0.2 -0.6
Michael Roth Cleveland (AAA) 25 52.7 0.2 1.6
T.J. House Cleveland (AAA) 25 5.0 0.2 0.4
Jordan Cooper Cleveland (AAA) 26 28.0 0.0 0.1
Jhoulys Chacin Cleveland (AAA) 27 10.7 -0.1 -0.2
           
Name Team Age IP RP FIP WAR RP RA WAR
Giovanni Soto Cleveland (AAA) 24 20.7 0.4 0.8
Shawn Armstrong Cleveland (AAA) 24 15.3 0.4 0.1
Jeff Manship Cleveland (AAA) 30 22.3 0.2 0.5
C.C. Lee Cleveland (AAA) 28 16.0 0.2 0.2
Ryan Webb Cleveland (AAA) 29 8.0 0.1 0.3
Enosil Tejeda Cleveland (AAA) 26 5.0 0.1 0.2
Dustin Molleken Cleveland (AAA) 30 19.0 0.1 0.2
Austin Adams Cleveland (AAA) 28 7.3 0.1 -0.2
Anthony Swarzak Cleveland (AAA) 29 1.7 0.1 0.1
Bryan Price Cleveland (AAA) 28 4.7 0.0 0.3
Kyle Crockett Cleveland (AAA) 23 12.7 -0.3 -0.6

Though the organization’s original plan when sending left-handed reliever Kyle Crockett to the minors involved bringing him back up to the majors quickly -- the move seemed to be more of a “who has options left” as opposed to sending someone down for more fine tuning -- Crockett’s struggles in Columbus have made it hard to justify calling the reliever back up to the majors. But despite a 8.53 ERA (241 ERA-) and 5.90 FIP (167 FIP-) that you need to shield your eyes from, there are indications that Crockett is not pitching as bad as both those stats seem to say. The strikeouts are not really there right now (15.9% strikeout rate, 83 K%+), but the bigger problems are a .400 BABIP (134 BABIP+) and 2.13 HR/9 (417 HR/9+), both stats that are either fluky (and thus will regress in time) or a sign of a larger, probably injury issue. If Crockett is healthy, then this stint in Columbus will likely just be a blip on the radar.

Name Team Age G PA Poor D WAR WAR Great D WAR
Tyler Holt Cleveland (AAA) 26 37 158 0.9 1.2 1.4
Adam Moore Cleveland (AAA) 31 33 120 0.8 1.0 1.2
Francisco Lindor Cleveland (AAA) 21 41 184 0.5 0.8 1.0
James Ramsey Cleveland (AAA) 25 40 167 0.5 0.7 1.0
Jerry Sands Cleveland (AAA) 27 18 81 0.4 0.6 0.7
Nick Swisher Cleveland (AAA) 34 6 27 0.3 0.3 0.4
Zach Walters Cleveland (AAA) 25 16 67 0.2 0.3 0.4
Giovanny Urshela Cleveland (AAA) 23 10 38 0.2 0.3 0.4
Carlos Moncrief Cleveland (AAA) 26 33 123 0.1 0.3 0.5
Michael Martinez Cleveland (AAA) 32 36 133 0.1 0.3 0.5
Jesus Aguilar Cleveland (AAA) 25 42 181 -0.1 0.2 0.5
Yan Gomes Cleveland (AAA) 27 4 15 0.1 0.1 0.1
Brett Hayes Cleveland (AAA) 31 2 6 -0.1 -0.1 -0.1
Ryan Rohlinger Cleveland (AAA) 31 28 105 -0.3 -0.1 0.1
Alex Lavisky Cleveland (AAA) 24 12 37 -0.3 -0.2 -0.1
Audy Ciriaco Cleveland (AAA) 28 26 106 -0.4 -0.2 -0.1
Destin Hood Cleveland (AAA) 25 17 63 -0.4 -0.3 -0.2

The minor league option game, combined with the reality of guaranteed contracts, are likely keeping outfielder Tyler Holt in the minors, as everything the 26-year-old has done in Columbus this year scream out for a major league opportunity. With 1.4 great-defense WAR in 37 games, Holt has played at an All-Star level in Triple-A, which are results one would figure would at least translate to useful bench piece in the majors. Some of Holt’s offense is helped by a .381 BABIP (125 BABIP+), but the outfielder is still controlling the strike zone well (14.6% strikeout rate, 76 K%+; 12.0% walk rate, 137 BB%+), which combined with his plus defense throughout the outfield, makes him an interesting guy who should be added to the major league mix at some point this season.

Akron RubberDucks

Name Team Age IP SP FIP WAR SP RA WAR
Mike Clevinger Cleveland (AA) 24 44.7 1.0 1.3
Cody Anderson Cleveland (AA) 24 42.0 0.9 1.6
Ryan Merritt Cleveland (AA) 23 51.0 0.7 0.3
Shawn Morimando Cleveland (AA) 22 49.7 0.5 1.6
Will Roberts Cleveland (AA) 24 51.7 0.3 0.4
           
Name Team Age IP RP FIP WAR RP RA WAR
Josh Martin Cleveland (AA) 25 27.3 0.8 0.9
Jeffrey Johnson Cleveland (AA) 25 16.0 0.4 0.7
Trey Haley Cleveland (AA) 25 18.7 0.4 -0.1
Jacob Lee Cleveland (AA) 25 21.7 0.2 0.3
Jordan Cooper Cleveland (AA) 26 5.3 0.1 0.1
Nicholas Pasquale Cleveland (AA) 24 3.0 0.1 0.2
Enosil Tejeda Cleveland (AA) 26 10.7 0.1 0.4
Benny Suarez Cleveland (AA) 23 4.3 0.0 -0.5
Joe Colon Cleveland (AA) 25 3.7 0.0 0.0
Louis Head Cleveland (AA) 25 20.0 0.0 0.2
Clayton Cook Cleveland (AA) 24 2.7 -0.1 -0.1
Steven Sides Cleveland (AA) 26 20.3 -0.3 0.0

Though 27.1 innings this year, right-handed reliever Josh Martin is making his best case for a callup to Triple-A and has put himself on the edges of the major league radar. Thanks to a 0.66 ERA (18 ERA-) and 1.78 FIP (47 FIP-), Martin is on pace for around 2.0 WAR over the course of a full season’s worth of innings, a feat only 11 relievers pulled off in the majors last year per Fangraphs. It is hard to fake that level of dominance over even 27.1 innings, so while Martin’s .200 BABIP (67 BABIP+) and homerless streak will not last indefinitely, his fall should not be too sharp thanks to his 28.3% strikeout rate (154 K%+) and 5.7 walk rate (67 BB%+).

Name Team Age G PA Poor D WAR WAR Great D WAR
Jordan Smith Cleveland (AA) 24 38 176 0.9 1.1 1.3
Yandy Diaz Cleveland (AA) 23 40 177 0.7 1.0 1.2
Todd Hankins Cleveland (AA) 24 39 188 0.7 0.9 1.2
Tyler Naquin Cleveland (AA) 24 21 107 0.6 0.7 0.8
Erik Gonzalez Cleveland (AA) 23 40 189 0.4 0.6 0.9
Bryson Myles Cleveland (AA) 25 21 86 0.3 0.4 0.6
Destin Hood Cleveland (AA) 25 15 63 0.3 0.4 0.5
Tony Wolters Cleveland (AA) 23 34 152 0.1 0.3 0.5
Ollie Linton Cleveland (AA) 29 16 67 0.2 0.3 0.4
Yonathan Mendoza Cleveland (AA) 21 15 55 0.0 0.1 0.2
Anthony Gallas Cleveland (AA) 27 34 151 -0.2 0.0 0.2
Alex Lavisky Cleveland (AA) 24 1 5 0.0 0.0 0.0
Justin Toole Cleveland (AA) 28 26 86 -0.2 0.0 0.1
Jake Lowery Cleveland (AA) 24 26 108 -0.4 -0.2 -0.1
Jeremy Lucas Cleveland (AA) 24 22 96 -0.7 -0.5 -0.4

Thanks to being essentially average across the board (.113 isolated power, 98 ISO+; 17.0% strikeout rate, 93 K%+) except for the ability to draw walks (17.0% walk rate, 200 BB%+), outfielder Jordan Smith seemingly left last year’s struggles completely in the past. Considering Smith is also considered a strong defender in the outfield, the 24-year-old managed to put up real value for the RubberDucks, leading the team with 1.3 great-defense WAR in 38 games. Smith is a little long in the tooth as a prospect, but once the outfield picture in Columbus clears up, his prospect pedigree combined with this performance should give him priority in trying to prove himself in Triple-A.

Lynchburg Hillcats

Name Team Age IP SP FIP WAR SP RA WAR
Adam Plutko Cleveland (A+) 23 49.7 1.3 2.8
Luis Lugo Cleveland (A+) 21 28.3 1.0 -0.3
Dylan Baker Cleveland (A+) 23 5.0 0.3 0.4
Scott Peoples Cleveland (A+) 23 33.0 0.3 -0.5
Mike Rayl Cleveland (A+) 26 14.0 0.2 -0.6
Dace Kime Cleveland (A+) 23 15.7 0.1 0.1
Mitch Brown Cleveland (A+) 21 40.3 -0.2 -0.7
           
Name Team Age IP RP FIP WAR RP RA WAR
D.J. Brown Cleveland (A+) 24 32.7 0.5 0.0
Ben Heller Cleveland (A+) 23 14.3 0.3 -0.3
Justin Brantley Cleveland (A+) 24 26.0 0.3 0.5
Antonio Romero Cleveland (A+) 24 8.3 0.2 0.1
Casey Weathers Cleveland (A+) 30 14.7 0.0 0.1
Mason Radeke Cleveland (A+) 25 4.0 0.0 0.2
Joe Sever Cleveland (A+) 24 2.7 0.0 0.0
Luigi Rodriguez Cleveland (A+) 22 0.7 -0.1 -0.1
Benny Suarez Cleveland (A+) 23 10.0 -0.1 0.2
Nicholas Pasquale Cleveland (A+) 24 9.0 -0.2 -0.4
Clayton Cook Cleveland (A+) 24 20.0 -0.3 -0.7
Delvi Francisco Cleveland (A+) 22 20.0 -0.3 -0.2
Robbie Aviles Cleveland (A+) 23 19.3 -0.3 -1.1

Even if you do not believe his 1.27 ERA (36 ERA-) is sustainable, right-handed starter Adam Plutko’s 2.54 FIP (72 FIP-) and 1.3 FIP-based WAR in 49.2 innings are enough to establish him as the most dominant pitcher in Cleveland’s minor leagues. It is unclear how Plutko’s underwhelming stuff will play in the upper levels of the minors and how his 25.8% strikeout rate (133 K%+) will translate, but gifted with the ability to avoid walks (2.8% walk rate, 34 BB%+), the right-hander should still be able to find success. At 23 years old, Plutko should not be long for Lynchburg, and once a rotation spot opens in Akron, the right-hander will likely be there to fill it.

Name Team Age G PA Poor D WAR WAR Great D WAR
Bradley Zimmer Cleveland (A+) 22 42 182 2.1 2.3 2.6
Luigi Rodriguez Cleveland (A+) 22 39 155 1.0 1.3 1.5
Joe Sever Cleveland (A+) 24 36 125 0.6 0.8 1.0
Clint Frazier Cleveland (A+) 20 42 186 0.4 0.7 0.9
Eric Haase Cleveland (A+) 22 26 107 0.4 0.5 0.7
Nellie Rodriguez Cleveland (A+) 21 41 171 0.2 0.4 0.7
Paul Hendrix Cleveland (A+) 23 39 153 0.0 0.3 0.5
Alex Monsalve Cleveland (A+) 23 14 57 0.2 0.3 0.3
Ivan Castillo Cleveland (A+) 20 37 145 -0.1 0.1 0.3
James Roberts Cleveland (A+) 23 30 112 -0.2 0.0 0.2
Juan De La Cruz Cleveland (A+) 21 3 11 0.0 0.0 0.0
Yhoxian Medina Cleveland (A+) 25 4 14 0.0 0.0 0.0
Yonathan Mendoza Cleveland (A+) 21 1 4 -0.1 -0.1 -0.1
Mike Papi Cleveland (A+) 22 41 163 -0.4 -0.2 0.1

In the same way that Plutko is dominating on the mound, outfielder Bradley Zimmer has been doing his best Mike Trout impression at the plate and in the field, putting up 2.3 average-defense WAR in just 42 games. As of yet, there has not been anything Zimmer cannot do, with the outfielder posting a .412 on-base percentage (130 OBP+), a .214 isolated power (196 ISO+), and a 12.1% walk rate (145 BB%+). Sure, there is a little swing and miss in his game (22.5% strikeout rate, 116 K%+), but given how hard Zimmer hits the ball, he can get away with a slightly elevated strikeout rate. Like Plutko, Zimmer should make his way to Akron shortly, as the 2014 first round pick has done nothing but rake and show that the lower levels of the minors hold no real challenge.

Lake County Captains

Name Team Age IP SP FIP WAR SP RA WAR
Justus Sheffield Cleveland (A) 19 36.3 1.2 0.6
Anderson Polanco Cleveland (A) 22 42.7 0.6 0.5
Dace Kime Cleveland (A) 23 35.0 0.6 0.2
Sean Brady Cleveland (A) 21 42.7 0.4 0.4
TJ House Cleveland (A) 25 3.0 0.2 0.2
Jordan Milbrath Cleveland (A) 23 39.7 0.2 -0.3
           
Name Team Age IP RP FIP WAR RP RA WAR
Julian Merryweather Cleveland (A) 23 21.3 0.5 0.0
David Speer Cleveland (A) 22 22.3 0.3 -0.3
J.P. Feyereisen Cleveland (A) 22 15.0 0.3 0.6
Cameron Hill Cleveland (A) 21 19.0 0.3 0.7
Nicholas Pasquale Cleveland (A) 24 14.0 0.3 0.7
Luke Eubank Cleveland (A) 21 16.7 0.0 -0.2
Thomas Pannone Cleveland (A) 21 33.3 0.0 0.0
Jordan Carter Cleveland (A) 23 23.7 0.0 -0.4
David Armendariz Cleveland (A) 23 1.0 -0.1 -0.1
Justin Garcia Cleveland (A) 22 8.0 -0.2 0.1

He may not be dominating like Plutko or Zimmer, but in a way, what right-handed starter Justus Sheffield has done so far in 2015 is even more impressive. Those other two are older, college players who should be tearing up High-A, while Sheffield is less than a year out of high school. Provided Sheffield continues putting up stats like the 1.2 FIP-based WAR and 0.6 RA-based WAR he has run through 36.1 innings, the right-hander may be a quick climber through the minors for such a young player. It is still early, but given his 28.2% strikeout rate and 7.7% walk rate to date, that may just come to pass.

Name Team Age G PA Poor D WAR WAR Great D WAR
Claudio Bautista Cleveland (A) 21 38 165 0.8 1.0 1.2
Greg Allen Cleveland (A) 22 38 170 0.6 0.8 1.1
Francisco Mejia Cleveland (A) 19 35 139 0.5 0.8 1.0
Taylor Murphy Cleveland (A) 22 33 139 0.5 0.7 0.9
Yu-Cheng Chang Cleveland (A) 19 40 170 0.4 0.6 0.9
Bobby Bradley Cleveland (A) 19 20 80 0.5 0.6 0.7
Ordomar Valdez Cleveland (A) 21 22 73 0.2 0.3 0.5
Dorssys Paulino Cleveland (A) 20 40 163 -0.1 0.2 0.4
Yan Gomes Cleveland (A) 27 2 5 0.1 0.1 0.1
Martin Cervenka Cleveland (A) 22 19 75 -0.1 0.0 0.2
David Armendariz Cleveland (A) 23 27 96 -0.1 0.0 0.2
Sicnarf Loopstok Cleveland (A) 22 14 48 -0.2 -0.1 0.0
Bobby Ison Cleveland (A) 21 40 163 -0.4 -0.1 0.1
Grant Fink Cleveland (A) 24 31 110 -0.6 -0.4 -0.2

The last time we checked in on catcher Francisco Mejia about a month ago, the highly-touted prospect was hanging out around replacement level. Now, Mejia has surged to 0.8 average-defense WAR through 35 games, going from a replacement level performance to above-average quite quickly. Even better for Mejia, the catcher pulled this transition off thanks to a .160 isolated power (154 ISO+) and strong plate discipline (18.0% strikeout rate, 84 K%+; 10.8% walk rate, 129 BB%+) and without the help of luck on balls in play. In fact, Mejia’s .244 BABIP (79 BABIP+) is still likely to regress toward the mean over the course of the season, yielding hope that despite a strong surge over the last month, there is even more to come.

#Cleveland Indians

If you want to follow Jim on Twitter, he’s @JimPiascik. If you want to e-mail him, you can do so at jpiasci1@gmail.com. If you want to read his Master's thesis on college athletes and Twitter, you can do so here.

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