The Determinator: First Basemen 2022 (#10-6)
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 #10-6 First Basemen!
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.
Number 10: Yuli Gurriel, Houston Astros
Top-5: AVG, OBP, DRS
Top-10: wRC, wRC+, Off, WAR, Innings
Top-15: BsR, Fld
Total Score: 32
Each year, it continues to shock me that Yuli Gurriel hits as well as he does. Now, don’t get me wrong. When he became an available international free agent I wanted the Yankees to get him (and his younger brother Lourdes Gurriel Jr.). However, I would’ve never expected him to be as good as he has been. He led the AL in batting average (.319) this past season as a 37 year old, and has been a very consistent player as an above-average hitter and average defender (2020 notwithstanding).Embed from Getty Images
Number 9: Brandon Belt, San Francisco Giants
Top-5: OBP, SLG, wRC+
Top-10: AVG, SB, Off, WAR, Def
Top-15: HR, Fld, UZR
Total Score: 33
Going into the offseason (pre-lockout) it felt the Giants were going to be put into a hard situation trying to pick between Buster Posey and Brandon Belt. Ultimately, Posey decided to retire and Brandon Belt took the qualifying offer. Belt had a very good 2021 rate statistics wise, but his landing 3 different times on the IL (and once for bereavement) kept his counting stats low. It is somewhat telling that Belt took the qualifying offer instead of testing out a weak first base free agency class, but The Determinator is confident he’ll continue to be an above-average all-around first baseman.Embed from Getty Images
Number 8: Pete Alonso, New York Mets
Top-5: HR, wRC, Innings, DRS
Top-10: Games, SLG, SB, wRC+, Off, WAR
Total Score: 39
When talking to a hardcore baseball friend of mine who is a Mets fan about The Determinator, he told me that Pete Alonso ranking 8th is exactly where he feels he should be among MLB first basemen. He is a power-first bat who works perfectly for the Mets lineup, but it does surprise me that his SLG was only Top-10 this year. I think many people (myself included) are in an Aaron Judge-like expectation with Alonso after his spectacular rookie season, and I think he’s a solid pick for the Top-10. Hey, I like Alonso and his embracing of New York City (especially what he does for 9/11 charities and when he won the HR Derby).Embed from Getty Images
Number 7: Joey Votto, Cincinnati Reds
Top-5: OBP, SLG, HR, wRC+, BsR
Top-10: wRC, Off, WAR, DRS
Top-15: AVG, Fld, Innings, UZR
Total Score: 41
What was it with 37-year-old first basemen having good-to-great seasons last year? Joey Votto was coming off the heels of two poor seasons (by his standard) in 2019 and 2020 and was seen as a burden of a contract for the Cincinnati Reds. However, that perception may be changing a bit given the moderate AAV ($22.5M) and his only being under contract for 2 more seasons. Luckily, The Determinator cares not about his contract, and saw he had a great end-of-career year. He has been considered as an outside of the box option for the Yankees, and I like him, but he’s not leaving Cincinnati.Embed from Getty Images
Number 6: Ty France, Seattle Mariners
Top-5: AVG, Fld, DRS, UZR, Def
Top-10: Games, OBP, wRC, wRC+, Off, WAR
Total Score: 43
Exactly. Players like Ty France are the exact reason as to why I like running the numbers for The Determinator. The former San Diego Padre was never considered a top prospect and was included as a filler MLB player who was having a good stretch in a deal to the Mariners last season. This past season he put up really good offensive numbers and top-level defense for first basemen. Players like France are a big reason as to why the Mariners (90-72) greatly outplayed their -51 run differential last season.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.