How many Marlins players does it take to match Barry Bonds' career WAR?
The Marlins roster versus Bonds: Who has higher WAR?
On Friday, the Marlins announced they hired Barry Bonds as their hitting coach for the 2016 season. In terms of a hiring strategy, picking one of the best MLB players ever at that particular aspect of the game seems pretty straightforward -- like hiring Rickey Henderson as your baserunning coach, or Mariano Rivera to run your bullpen.
Which is to say: Bonds was eminently good at hitting. Just look at his 162.4 career WAR, fourth in MLB history. 162.4! That's a whole undefeated season's worth of wins.
So, we began wondering: How many Marlins players' career WARs would it take to match Bonds'? The Marlins are exceptionally young -- only three players on the 25-man roster are over 30, which means, Giancarlo Stanton and his mammoth home runs aside, most of them haven't been playing long enough to develop sizeable career WARs.
First, let's start with the players Bonds will be personally coaching -- the hitters, according to the Marlins' projected depth chart, who are in line for the starting lineup. Do their WARs (via Baseball Reference) add up to Bonds'?
J.T. Realmuto: 2.3
Justin Bour: 0.4
Dee Gordon: 6.6
Adeiny Hechavarria: 0.7
Martin Prado: 25.1
Christian Yelich: 8.5
Marcell Ozuna: 5.5
Nope. Stanton's 25 WAR in six seasons is quite impressive, and then you realize Bonds' was 41.1 during his first six MLB campaigns. But again, the Marlins are a young team. What if we add in Ichiro Suzuki, who's been playing for 15 years and is coming back in 2016 with his sights set on 3,000 hits?
OK, fine. Let's toss Marlins' No.1 starter Jose Ferndandez into the mix. He's missed a lot of time the past two seasons, but he's still one of the best pitchers in the league.
The rest of the starting rotation …
Tom Koehler: 3.8
Jarred Cosart: 5.3
Adam Conley: 0.7
Justin Nicolino: 0.6
Well, we're getting close. The Marlins' starting lineup, plus rotation, plus Ichiro gets us within roughly 10 WAR of Bonds' career total. Again, this is a function of the Marlins' youth -- considering the potential of the team, especially Stanton and Fernandez, that 10.6 gap could close by the 2016 All-Star Game. And that's not to mention the possibility the team adds a veteran (with his veteran-size WAR) this offseason, or the mere thought of Bonds coaching Stanton, Yelich, etc. that is probably already making opposing pitchers weak in the knees.
But let's throw in the rest of Miami's bench: Derek Dietrich, Miguel Rojas, Cole Gillespie and Tomas Telis ...
... and their bullpen, including A.J. Ramos and Carter Capps:
That's 25 players to outstretch Bonds by 2.4 WAR. But including some of Bonds' colleagues on the Marlins' coaching staff, like Don Mattingly (42.2 WAR) and bench coach Tim Wallach (38.3), and the Marlins begin to pull away.
Like we said at the start: the Marlins are a young team with a ton of potential, Bonds was a mindboggingly good baseball player, and that makes for a perfect match.