The Determinator: Designated Hitters 2022 (#5-1)
For the last two years, I have been ranking every starting player in the MLB by position in a system I’ve dubbed The Determinator. I don’t worry about projection systems, I look only at how well a player did that last year, analyze the data, and showcase who was and will be the best for the upcoming season.
Welcome back to The Determinator.
Today we continue with the #5-1 Designated Hitters!
The Determinator: My General Methodology
The Determinator is a ranking system that is built upon the analyzation of 16 carefully chosen stats through a very simplistic system of comparisons. Some of these stats are more classical (Games Played, Home Runs, etc.), others are more advanced (wRC+, WAR, etc.). From this come 7 offensive stats, 4 defensive, 2 baserunning, and 3 general stats, set to contribute towards the importance of each part of the game.
The Offensive stats are: AVG/OBP/SLG, wRC, wRC+, HR, and Off (Fangraphs)
The Defensive stats are: Fielding, DRS, UZR (or Framing for Catchers), and Def (Fangraphs)
The Baserunning stats are: Stolen Bases and BsR (Fangraphs)
The Overall stats are: Games Played, Innings at Position, and fWAR (Fangraphs)
After determining this list of statistics, I then had to input each into a Microsoft Excel spreadsheet I sorted how each player did in each statistic from best-to-worst. If you were top 5 in a category, you got ranked as a ‘Green’. Top 6-10 was a ‘Yellow’. And, Top 11-15 was labelled as a ‘Red’. The number of each ranking was counted- so it was possible to come out with a score of zero- and given values of 5, 3, and 1 respectively.
Key Note: If player/s across a statistic had the same numbers across a border- for example the 5th and 6th players with the most Home Runs- then they would both be counted as the better ranking- in this case both ‘Green’ or 5 points- and replace one spot from the following ranking- in this case a ‘Yellow’ or 3 points. This could also stretch some statistics to include more ‘Red’ players who had equal stats to the 15th best.
Additionally, if no stats were recorded in a counting statistic that could fit into a ranking- as is seen with Catchers and Stolen Bases- then no ranking is given to those players. This would greatly increase the number of points given out, and lessen the value of each point. This is not true for advanced metrics that can produce negative values- as also is seen with Catchers and BsR.
The results were then tallied, sorted from greatest to least, and a ranking was created.
Finally, player age, 2022 salary, and contract status, were all not considered in this experiment. This is entirely statistic-based.
In order to quality for ranking by The Determinator, a player must’ve had at least 250 plate appearances during the 2021 season and at least 500 innings played at the position in question.
Notes for Designated Hitters:
DH’s were scored on a Top-3, Next-4, Next-5 system (as opposed to Top-5/5/5) with the Green (5 points each), Yellow (3 point each), and Red (1 point each).
Designated Hitters were not scored on any defensive metrics or innings. This limited total point allotment and max points available to score down from 80 to 55.
The innings requirement was not necessary to qualify as a Designated Hitter.
Number 5: Giancarlo Stanton, New York Yankees
Top-5: AVG, OBP, HR, Off
Top-10: SLG, wRC, wRC+, WAR
Total Score: 33
What we’ll see across the Top-5 of designated hitters this year is that they were not hitters who only spent time at the defenseless position. The first of these players is Giancarlo Stanton, who the Yankees finally started to use back in the field again in 2021, though for just 26 total games. As a hitter, Stanton can be streaky between singlehandedly carrying the team and being an absolute butcher, though each streak usually does not last incredibly long (for good or bad). There’s not much else you can ask for from Stanton- besides maybe striking out a bit less- as he’s consistently been a much above-average hitter.Embed from Getty Images
Number 4: George Springer, Toronto Blue Jays
Top-5: OBP, SLG, wRC+, SB, BsR
Top-10: AVG, Off, WAR
Total Score: 35
Springer did have just 342 plate appearance in 2021, but as a rate-player he was one of the best bats in the game. Like Stanton, he also played in the outfield- though for just 42 games. It’s a hard adjustment to go from being a center fielder (an important defensive position) to being a designated hitter, and Springer did hit a lot worse without playing the field. However, with his overall offensive profile, Springer was comfortably above-average. All this is moot however as Springer will return to the outfield as soon as he can, meaning the DH ranking here will not likely to return for 2022.Embed from Getty Images
Number 3: J.D. Martinez, Boston Red Sox
Top-5: Games, AVG, wRC, WAR
Top-10: OBP, SLG, wRC+, HR, Off
Total Score: 36
After not seeing a batting triple-crown in the MLB for 45 years between 1967 (Yastrzemski) and 2012 (Cabrera), one player who continuously poses a threat to make it happen again is J.D. Martinez. He’s on a team with great offensive players, and himself may the best of them all while playing the best position for his skill set. Martinez kept a .300+ average for 4 straight seasons from 2016-2019 and saw a huge drop in performance in 2020 (with a .213 average) and came back close to his old self in 2021 (.286 average). Martinez had the MLB lead in doubles (42) this past season and continues to be a serious offensive threat. 2022 will be his last season under contract with the Red Sox and it will be interesting to see how the soon-to-be 35 year old (playing in his age 34 season) will play in another contract year.Embed from Getty Images
Number 2: Yordan Alvarez, Houston Astros
Top-5: AVG, SLG, wRC, wRC+, HR, Off, BsR, WAR
Top-10: Games, OBP, SB
Total Score: 49
The best pure designated hitter in baseball, Yordan Alvarez was made for his role with the Astros. So much so that since be broke into the MLB he’s played just 50 games in the outfield of 233 total games played. Alvarez did miss (almost) the entire 2020 season, first for COVID and then after getting surgery on both of his knees. However, he did come back and put up a 30-30 HR-Double season in 2021. There are lofty expectations for Alvarez to go above a .900 OPS again in 2022, of which is definitively possible, but he may not even be the best left-handed hitting DH in baseball. Embed from Getty Images
Number 1: Shohei Ohtani, Los Angeles Angels
Top-5: Games, OBP, SLG, wRC, wRC+, HR, Off, SB, BsR, WAR
Total Score: 53
Nevermind the 3.18 ERA over 130.1 innings as a pitcher, Shohei Ohtani also planted himself as one of the games best hitters in 2021 as well. He did so well that he not only won the 2021 AL MVP with all 30 first place votes (over a hitter, Vlad Guerrero Jr., who had an OPS over 1.000), but he also played so well that the MLB has issued a new official rule into the rule book so that he can continue to showcase his offensive abilities even when being pulled as a pitcher during a game. Ohtani is more than just an all-around player as he led DH’s in every statistic but batting average by The Determinator and he missed a perfect 55/55 score by just 2 points (obviously because of a lower batting average) and was the only DH with more than 4 stolen bases…with 26. He’s in a league all his own and has the loftiest of expectations going into 2022. If he’s not your favorite non-Yankee player in the league, you’re doing it wrong.Embed from Getty Images
The Determinator is a way I used to determine the best players at each position. Like any metric or formula, I am sure it has flaws. No statistical compilation is perfect. That being said, The Determinator, seems pretty effective at assigning player values. I’m pleased with what I have found using this method and hope this is a conversation starter for many.