Tommy Pham currently ranks 10th in the National League in fWAR. Of course, Mr. Pham's season did not begin until May 5. For the first month of the season, the rest of the league got a running start while Tommy, like The Freeze, waited at the starting line.
He has damn near passed them all.
If we look at WAR/600 PAs, this is how the National League looks:
So there we have my basis for the title of this particular post. Now sure, I'm bending the laws of the universe a bit by making WAR a rate stat, but in Pham's case, it's worth noting the time he wasn't accumulating PAs wasn't because he was injured or unavailable. He was still mashing, just in the ballparks of the Pacific Coast League.
And it's not like you have to do any mathematical trickery to show that Tommy Pham has had an amazing season.
If you're more of a traditional counting stat guy, the big news last week was that Pham became the first Cardinal since Reggie Sanders to post a 20/20 season (homers and steals).
The @Cardinals Twitter account upped the ante yesterday, and Tommy apparently accepts the challenge:
The official team account isn't Tommy's only champion on Twitter. Ken Tremendous - he of the late, great FireJoeMorgan and, if you want to get technical, actually Michael Schur, creator of Parks & Recreation and many other great shows - is rooting for Tommy to hit another, rate-based milestone:
For the record, Pham currently sits at .305/.406/.517.
There's no angle you can look at Tommy Pham's 2017 from that it doesn't look absolutely incredible. If we give him credit for that 6.4 WAR/600 rate, that puts his production this season at a level that only five Cardinals have eclipsed since 2000 - and I'm sure you can guess which five. Pham's actual WAR as of today surpasses all but one of Matt Holliday's full seasons in St. Louis.
Occasionally, you'll see a big WAR season from a player who has great batted-ball luck, or flukishly high defensive numbers for one year. That's not the case with Pham.
He leads the Cardinals in wRC+, and while his BABIP is a pretty high .369, his career mark entering this season was a brisk .337. Beyond just those 20 stolen bases, he leads the team in Fangraphs BsR, which measures all aspects of baserunning. He ranks 4th in defensive value among position players.
But when you take another step back and consider that Tommy Pham is 29-years-old, there simply has never been a player quite like him in baseball history.
If you look at players who have put up this kind of value at age 29 or later, nearly all of them were All-Stars earlier in their careers. And among the small group who weren't, they were at least playing in the majors by 23 or so, accumulating much more than the scant 1.7 WAR that Tommy had before entering this season.
Since there has never been a player quite like Tommy Pham before, it's fair to wonder what he will be like going forward. That picture gets even more uncertain when you set aside just the pure statistical comparisons and consider the realities of Pham: The degenerative eye condition, the history of other injuries.
The good news from the Cardinals organizational perspective is that they don't need to prognosticate his future to commit some long-term contract dollars. They have another full season of Pham at the league minimum before he even enters the year-to-year arbitration process.
Tommy Pham is one of the very best players in the league right now. I see no reason why he can't be next year, and hopefully for a year or two beyond. We've complained that the team has been without a superstar position-player, and one emerged out of the ether in the form of Tommy Pham.