2019 Top 25 NPF Stars
The National Pro Fastpitch league begins play on Tuesday. Obviously, these are the greatest softball players in the world. So, in a league with only six teams, every game you see is essentially an All-Star game. But even though the NPF is a league of stars, some stars still do a bit more than others.
So who are the very best stars?
There are many ways one could answer that question. My preference is to focus on objective measures (i.e. player stats). But even if we focus on player stats, there are still questions to answers. Which stats should we focus on? The traditional statistics for hitters include batting average, on-base percentage, and slugging average. We can also look at OPS. Although all of these have their uses, I prefer -- as I did for college softball hitters - to look at how many wins each hitter produced last season.
For pitchers I will be taking a similar approach. Again, one can look at ERA. Or if one wishes to be a bit more sophisticated, one can look at Fielding Independent Pitching ERA (FIP ERA). But -- as I did for NPF pitchers -- I prefer to look at Wins Produced for the 2018 season.
Given the focus on how many wins a player produces a few major stars will be left off the list. For example, Kelly Kretschman may be the greatest hitter in NPF history. But because she only played in 27 games last year, Kretschman didn't produce enough wins to make the list. A similar story can be told about Stacy May, Emily Crane, and DJ Sanders. With more plate appearances, these three might have appeared on the following list.
Among pitchers it is a similar story. Keilani Rickets was amazing last year. But she only pitched 34 innings. And a similar story can be told about Ally Carda, Delanie Gourley, and Rachele Fico. Had these pitchers logged more innings each of these pitchers could have appeared on this list of NPF stars.
If you focus on total win produced your list will be biased towards those who played the most. And since the list is based solely on NPF play in 2018, the latest stars drafted by the NPF are not listed at all. This means Kelly Barnhill, Amanda Lorenz, Sydney Romero, Alyssa DiCarlo, Amanda Sanchez, and the other women selected in the 2019 NFP draft are not listed at all.
Okay, enough of who is not on the list. Here is who made the list of the top 25 "stars" in the NPF. Players are ranked in terms of Wins Produced in 2018. For hitters the players are listed with each players Batting Average, On-Base Percentage, Slugging Average, and OPS. For pitchers we see each ERA and FIP ERA. There is also a brief comment on where each player ranks in the league with respect to these other statistics (hitters needed a minimum of 50 plate appearances to be ranked, pitchers needed at least 40 innings pitched).
- 1Chicago BanditsNotes:
3.27 Wins Produced
Key stats: 0.442 Batting Average, 0.478 On-Base percentage, 0.585 Slugging Average, 1.063 OPS
The USSSA Pride won the 2018 Cowles Cup and this list is dominated by the Pride's stars. The Chicago Bandits, though, employed the league's top player. Moss was the Player of the Year, winner of Best Offensive Performance, and was named to the All-NPF team. She is also the only player who produced more than three wins last year. Part of this is the fact Moss ranked 2nd in the NPF with 157 plate appearances. But she also ranked first in batting average, fourth in on-base percentage, and second in Wins Produced per plate appearance.
- 2USSSA PrideNotes:
2.53 Wins Produced
Key Stats: 0.301 Batting Average, 0.387 On-Base percentage, 0.650 Slugging Average, 1.037 OPS
No one had more plate appearances last year than Wiggins. But Wiggins also ranked in the top ten in on-base percentage and slugging average. And she also tied for the league lead in home runs and named to the All-NPF team.
- 3Cleveland CometsNotes:
2.53 Wins Produced
Key Stats: 0.388 Batting Average, 0.438 On-Base percentage, 0.575 Slugging Average, 1.013 OPS
Marshall joined the Comets this off-season. Last year, though, Marshall was a star player with the Bandits. Similar to Moss and Wiggins, Marshall's ranking is partially due to the fact she ranked 3rd in plate appearances. But she was also had the 5th highest batting average and ranked in the top ten in on-base percentage and Wins Produced per plate appearance. And like Moss and Wiggins, Marshall was also named to the All-NPF team in 2018.
- 4USSSA PrideNotes:
2.33 Wins Produced
Key Stats: 0.407 Batting Average, 0.481 On-Base percentage, 0.780 Slugging Average, 1.261 OPS
If we did not focus on total Wins Produced, it could be argued that Romero is the best hitter in the NPF. Per plate appearance no one produced more wins. She also ranked fourth in batting average, third in on-base percentage, and second in slugging average and OPS. Romero was only an At-Large member of the All-NPF team. But again, the stats say Romero definitely a candidate for Player of the Year.
- 5USSSA PrideNotes:
2.29 Wins Produced
Key Stats: 0.40 ERA, 1.40 FIP ERA
Jolene Henderson was named Pitcher of the Year and was named to the 2018 All-NPF team. And among pitchers with at least 40 innings pitched, she ranked second in ERA, sixth in FIP ERA, and first in Wins Produced per innings pitched.
- 6Chicago BanditsNotes:
2.28 Wins Produced
Key Stats: 0.336 Batting Average, 0.416 On-base percentage, 0.727 Slugging Average, 1.143 OPS
Sandberg was named to the All-NPF team as the catcher. She also ranked 4th in slugging average, 6th in OPS and 7th in Wins Produced per plate appearance.
- 7Chicago BanditsNotes:
2.20 Wins Produced
Key Stats: 0.412 Batting Average, 0.442 On-base percentage, 0.570 Slugging Average, 1.012 OPS
Jessica Scroggins was Rookie of the Year and at At Large member of the All-NPF team. She also finished sixth in both On-Base percentage and Wins Produced per plate appearance.
- 8Cleveland CometsNotes:
1.95 Wins Produced
Key Stats: 0.323 Batting Average, 0.425 On-base percentage, 0.750 Slugging Average, 1.175 OPS.
Carosone will play for the Comets this year but in 2018 she starred for the Chicago Bandits. With the Bandits she tied for the league lead in home runs and she was also names to the All-NPF team. She also ranked 3rd in slugging average, fourth in OPS, and ninth in Wins Produced per plate appearance.
- 9USSSA PrideNotes:
1.86 Wins Produced
Key Stats: 0.287 Batting Average, 0.370 On-base percentage, 0.535 Slugging Average, 0.905 OPS.
Shelby Pendley ranked 4th in the NPF in plate appearances and was also named to the All-NPF team. But she is the first person not to rank in the top 10 in the other statistics we noted. Her highest ranking was 14th in slugging average.
- 10Beijing EaglesNotes:
1.84 Wins Produced
Key Stats: 2.19 ERA, 2.46 FIP ERA
Angel Bunner led the NPF in innings pitched and this is why a pitcher who ranked 10th in both ERA and Wins Produced per innings pitched also ranked 10th in the league in Wins Produced.
- 11USSSA PrideNotes:
1.75 Wins Produced
Key Stats: 0.350 Batting Average, 0.422 On-base percentage, 0.863 Slugging Average, 1.285 OPS, and
30.5 Runs Created
Lauren Chamberlain tied for the league lead in home runs and was also named to the All-NPF team. She also ranked 1st in slugging average and OPS and 4th in Wins Produced per plate appearance. If Chamberlain gets enough plate appearances in 2019 she could challenge for best hitter in the game.
- 12USSSA PrideNotes:
1.67 Wins Produced
Key Stats: 0.35 ERA and 1.83 FIP ERA
Jessica Burroughs led the NPF in ERA and was named to the All-NPF team. She also likely benefitted from the defense of the USSSA Pride since she only ranked 8th in FIP ERA.
- 13Cleveland CometsNotes:
1.64 Wins Produced
Key Stats: 0.272 Batting Average, 0.357 On-base percentage, 0.426 Slugging Average, 0.784 OPS, and
36.3 Runs Created
Jade Rhodes was the Gold Glove winner in the league. So if fielding was included in the measure of Wins Produced then Rhodes would likely be ranked higher. As it is, she is the lone representative from the Cleveland Comets on All-NPF team.
- 14Chicago BanditsNotes:
1.63 Wins Produced
Key Stats: 1.12 ERA, 1.41 FIP ERA
Turnier was an All-NPF pitcher who 4th in ERA. But with respect to FIP ERA and Wins Produced per innings pitched, Turnier was ranked 2nd. So with more innings pitched, Turnier would be ranked higher.
- 15USSSA PrideNotes:
1.62 Wins Produced
Key Stats: 0.270 Batting Average, 0.443 On-base percentage, 0.510 Slugging Average, 0.953 OPS
Peterson is the first hitter on this list who was not named to the All-NPF team. She did rank 5th in the league, though, in on-base percentage.
- 16Chicago BanditsNotes:
1.56 Wins Produced
Key Stats: 0.384 Batting Average, 0.436 On-base percentage, 0.640 Slugging Average, 1.076 OPS, and
28.7 Runs Created
Gano only had 94 plate appearances. In those appearances she was amazing. She ranked 7th in OPS, 8th in batting average, 9th in slugging average, and 10th in both on-base percentage and Wins Produced per plate appearance.
- 17USSSA PrideNotes:
1.51 Wins Produced
Key Stats: 0.309 Batting Average, 0.398 On-base percentage, 0.511 Slugging Average, 0.909 OPS
Bell was another All-NPF selection from the USSSA Pride. She also ranked 14th overall in Wins Produced per plate appearance.
- 18Beijing EaglesNotes:
1.46 Wins Produced
Key Stats: 0.412 Batting Average, 0.432 On-base percentage, 0.430 Slugging Average, 0.862 OPS
Draper is the only hitter from the Beijing Eagles on this list. She is also the only All-NPF member from the Eagles. Draper ranked 3rd in the NPF in batting average.
- 19Chicago BanditsNotes:
1.43 Wins Produced
Key Stats: 1.59 ERA, 1.42 FIP ERA
Wagner was not an All-NPF selection. But she did rank first in FIP ERA. So perhaps she was a bit better than the USSSA Pride pitchers named ahead of her on the All-NPF team.
- 20Chicago BanditsNotes:
1.42 Wins Produced
Key Stats: 0.270 Batting Average, 0.377 On-base percentage, 0.468 Slugging Average, 0.845 OPS
Last player on this list named to the All-NPF team. Taylor did not rank in the top 20 in any of the statistics we have mentioned so far. She did rank 21st in OPS and 24th in Wins Produced per plate appearance.
- 21Free AgentNotes:
1.42 Wins Produced
Key Stats: 0.239 Batting Average, 0.386 On-base percentage, 0.485 Slugging Average, 0.788 OPS
Miller only ranked 42nd in batting average. But she ranked 21st in on-base percentage. And it was the ability to get on base that drove her production of wins.
- 22USSSA PrideNotes:
1.38 Wins Produced
Key Stats: 0.386 Batting Average, 0.485 On-base percentage, 0.667 Slugging Average, 1.152 OPS
Merritt only had 68 plate appearances. No one on this list played less. But in those 68 appearances she was a star. Her final rankings were 2nd in on-base percentage, 5th in OPS, 6th in batting average and 7th in slugging average. And she was also 3rd in Wins Produced per plate appearance.
- 23USSSA PrideNotes:
1.34 Wins Produced
Key Stats: 0.279 Batting Average, 0.316 On-base percentage, 0.495 Slugging Average, 0.812 OPS
Based on her 2017 performance I argued Goodacre was one of the top players in the NPF. When we look at 2018, this is still true.
- 24USSSA PrideNotes:
1.33 Wins Produced
Key Stats: 0.342 Batting Average, 0.378 On-base percentage, 0.400 Slugging Average, 0.778 OPS
For those keeping track, Bennett is the 10th player from USSSA Pride on this list. Across the entire league, Bennett ranked 11th in batting average.
- 25Free AgentNotes:
1.32 Wins Produced
Key Stats: 0.250 Batting Average, 0.287 On-base percentage, 0.449 Slugging Average, 0.735 OPS
The last player listed among the top 25 is just the 4th player from the Cleveland Comets. Overall, Robinson ranked 23rd in slugging average in 2018. In 2017 she was an All-NPF selection.