When we started this blog it was mostly so Dave and I could talk baseball with each other but loud enough so anyone could hear it. Well now it has a new purpose: to officially declare that the NL Central is where first basemen go to crush faces.
This division is absolutely stacked at first base. I wanted to show this so I took a look at the WAR1 for the regular first basemen for each team and sorted them by division. I hate using WAR1 as an all encompassing statistic but it is much better than showing five different graphs and looking at the differences. It also includes defense and I wanted to allow for the possibility of a defense minded first baseman because it could happen even if it is stupid.
There were some platooning issues on some teams. I used the regular first baseman if his games played total was greater than 75% of the team games. Otherwise I used the highest WAR for a player who played 1B for the team. This came up for five teams: Atlanta (minor issue), Arizona, Cleveland, Texas and Oakland. For some of these teams they are lucky I did that because part of the platoon they used had a negative WAR.
The NL Central just destroys all the other divisions. These are sorted from highest to lowest so there is the issue of having one extra team in the division. But get this: even without Albert Pujols the division still has a higher WAR total for first basemen than all but one division: the NL West. However, the NL West includes Arizona for which I used Mark Reynolds for this analysis even though he is not their regular first baseman. I did this for the reason listed above. In actuality the player who has started the most games for them at first is Chad Tracy and his WAR is -1.0.
There was some issue of games lost but this really evened out overall. Most divisions had one or two teams with a regular first basemen who has missed 10 games or so but it didn't affect the overall balance.
In summary our first basemen are awesome. If you don't count the farm-system-for-the-entire-MLB Pirates as an actual team then the worst first basemen in our division is Derrek Lee, and Derrek Lee (WAR 2.5) kicks ass.