Saturday, June 21, 2014

Brett Gardner to Center Field

Brett Gardner and Jacoby Ellsbury are comparable players. Both get on base at similar rates, both own good baserunning numbers, and both play good defense.  

Except for this year.  Ellsbury's not playing so well on defense this year, and that's why Gardner should play center field and Ellsbury should play in left.  

If you examine some advanced defensive statistics, you'll find that Gardner is actually far better than Ellsbury on defense this season. Ellsbury has saved seven defensive runs below average on the year (all as a center fielder), while Gardner has saved three runs above average in center field this season in just 58.0 innings.  

Gardner is also much better in center when you weigh the career totals of the two players, having saved 23 more runs above average than Ellsbury in fewer than half the total number of innings played.  

Perhaps a critique of my viewpoint would be that Ellsbury makes much more money than Gardner and should therefore play the more demanding position.  But as a fan, and a Yankee fan, I want the team to have the best chance possible of winning.  Defensive stats aren't perfect, but the easily available ones suggest that Gardner is a much better defensive center fielder than Ellsbury is. Since Gardner is more able to help the team at that spot than Ellsbury is, he should play there instead.

Note: All stats included in this post came from

Monday, June 2, 2014

Who Starts at Catcher in This Year's MLB All-Star Game?

So on the heels of my post yesterday about which second basemen deserve to start this year's MLB All-Star Game, I decided to write about which catchers I think should make their respective All-Star clubs.

And also just like yesterday, the battle for National League starter isn't even close.

It should be Jonathan Lucroy.

I looked at six different statistical categories for qualifying MLB catchers and Lucroy led in five of the six.*  The only category he didn't lead was on-base percentage, where his .387 average was second to Carlos Ruiz's .403.

So since he leads all major league catchers in an entire host of statistical categories, I think Lucroy is most-deserving of the starting catcher's spot for the N.L. in this year's All-Star Game.

The American League, on the other hand, has three catchers who all have pretty good arguments to start in Minnesota.

There's Yan Gomes and Salvador Perez, who are tied for the best defensive Wins Against Replacement (dWAR) of qualifying A.L. catchers.  Gomes and Perez are also within 0.1 win of each other in total Wins Against Replacement (1.4 to 1.3).

On the other hand, Kurt Suzuki has some pretty good credentials this season as well, leading qualifying American League catchers in on-base percentage (OBP), on-base plus slugging (OPS), and OPS+.

So with that, I'm picking Suzuki to start this year's All-Star Game.

This is a little rare for me.  Usually, I go with the player with the best statistics, and based on that, I originally chose Gomes as the starter.  

But Suzuki has never made an MLB All-Star Game.  He's in his age-30 season and through June 1st has career bests in OBP, OPS, OPS+, and batting average.

Plus, the All-Star Game is being held in Minnesota this season. He'd get to play in front of his home crowd!

Gomes and Perez are rising stars, one of whom (Perez) has already made one All-Star Game.   They'll probably have more chances to play in the Mid-Summer Classic.***

Suzuki on the other hand is already in his eighth MLB season. Who knows what's going to happen to him for the rest of his career?  So for once, I'm going with how I feel about the player and the situation, instead of listening to what the stats tell me, and picking Kurt Suzuki to start this year's MLB All-Star Game for the American League.

*The six categories I used were as follows: on-base percentage (OBP), slugging percentage (SLG), on-base plus slugging (OPS), OPS+, Wins Against Replacement (WAR), and defensive Wins Against Replacement (dWAR).

**All of the statistics that I used in this post came from and are current through June 1st.

***But since Yan Gomes has never made an MLB All-Star Game either, I would choose him as the backup catcher for the A.L.

Sunday, June 1, 2014

Chase Utley and Ian Kinsler: Choosing Second Basemen to Start the 2014 All-Star Game

Ladies and gentlemen, may I have your attention please.  Starting at second base for the National League All-Star Team this year, number 26, CHAAAAAAA-ssssssseeeee UTTTTT-leeeeeeyyyyyyy!

And at second, for the American League All Stars, number three, EEEEEE-iiiinnnnn KENNNNNSSSSSS-luhhhrrrrrrr!

All joking aside, Chase Utley and Ian Kinsler should represent their leagues as the starting second basemen in this season's MLB All-Star Game because of their superior statistics.

Utley is as close to a no-brainer as you can get as the choice for starting N.L. second baseman.  He leads qualifying major league second basemen in on-base percentage, slugging percentage, on-base plus slugging, and OPS+.  He's also tied for the lead among qualifying MLB second-sackers in Wins Above Replacement (WAR), with Kinsler.  

His one weak point might be defense, where he is just sixth among N.L. second baseman in baseball-reference's defensive Wins Above Replacement (dWAR), but still has a positive dWAR of 0.1.  

The race for starting all-star second baseman in the A.L., on the other hand, is a much closer affair.  

Kinsler is tops among qualifying major league second basemen in dWAR at 0.9, but Robinson Cano of the Seattle Mariners beats all American League qualifiers in on-base percentage, on-base plus slugging, and OPS+.

To me, though, Kinsler deserves the spot as starting A.L. second baseman because his WAR (again, tied for first among MLB qualifying second baseman) is double that of Cano (2.2 to 1.1).  If Cano had a higher WAR, and even if his WAR were a few points below Kinsler's, I would say that he should start for the A.L. in this year's All-Star Game.

Nonetheless, Utley and Kinsler have the best numbers of second basemen in MLB, and deserve to start the MLB All-Star Game in 2014.

**Note-I got all stats for this post from either or  I made as much effort as I could to ensure the accuracy of the second baseman whose stats I reviewed, but I think those of some players were updated on with Sunday, June 1, stats, while others were not.  Baseball-reference is also not likely to be updated yet.  Nonetheless, given their stats, I don't think a few small changes in statistics of some of the second basemen will make any difference regarding the All-Star Game worthiness of Utley and Kinsler as starters at second base over all other candidates because I don't think the "leader board" for stats among second basemen will be affected significantly due to these changes.