Miller: Was Julio Teheran any good this year? WAR says yes, no … and maybe

From Sam Miller at on November 28, 2017:

In June 2016, the Atlanta Braves’ front office was reportedly in the middle of a debate about Julio Teheran. Was he, like the departed young stars Andrelton Simmons, Justin Upton, Craig Kimbrel, Evan Gattis, Jason Heyward and Shelby Miller, most valuable to their tear-down-and-rebuild project as trade bait? Or was he, like Freddie Freeman, the young star to keep, most valuable as a piece to build around?

The Braves chose “piece to build around.” According to Mark Bradley, the well-sourced Atlanta Journal-Constitution columnist, “Had [then-Braves GM John] Coppolella dangled Teheran last summer, the asking price would have been Mookie Betts, who finished second in the American League MVP voting, and Xander Bogaerts, who’s an All-Star shortstop. That’s how overheated the market was.” He wouldn’t have gotten Betts and Bogaerts, obviously, but that’s where the Braves’ heads were. Coppolella had once declared he’d trade his right arm before Freeman. In June 2016, after Teheran threw a one-hit shutout against the Mets, Coppolella tweeted Teheran was “almost into ‘right-arm’ type status for us now.”

Teheran would make the All-Star Game a few weeks later. He finished the 2016 season as one of the National League’s best young pitchers — there was no ambiguity about this. According to three leading models for measuring player value, Teheran had been well above average:

  • Baseball-Reference: 4.8 wins above replacement (bWAR)

  • FanGraphs: 3.2 wins above replacement (fWAR)

  • Baseball Prospectus: 3.8 wins above replacement (WARP)

This is where our story begins. It is the story of the Braves’ playoff rotation in 2019, and whether Teheran will be in it. It’s about three systems smarter than we are coming to wildly different conclusions about the question the Braves tried to answer.

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Originally published: November 28, 2017. Last Updated: November 28, 2017.