The Determinator is Back for 2021! Here is The 2021 Methodology and Changes from 2020:
Before the expected start of the first Spring Training session of 2020, I set out to create a metric for evaluating players by position to find who was the best. Thus, I created “The Determinator”. I found it to be a pretty successful metric in confirming top talents and finding hidden good talents in the MLB. Today, I’m proud to announce its return for 2021!
Today I’ll revisit and explain my 2021 methodology, explain a few major changes I made as a concession from how the 2020 season played out, and I’ll lay out the (expected) schedule of what you can expect over the next 4 weeks!
The Determinator’s Methodology:
Before I begin, I want to specifically highlight the brilliant work done at Fangraphs.com. Without their free to use tools, ability to set-up specific sheets of statistics and data, and ease of accessibility online and with downloading, The Determinator would not have been a thing for 2020 or for this season. Again, thank you.
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.
For Offense I evaluated: AVG/OBP/SLG, wRC, wRC+, HR, and Off (Fangraphs)
For Defense I evaluated: Fielding, DRS, UZR (or Framing for Catchers), and Def (Fangraphs)
For Baserunning I evaluated: Stolen Bases and BsR (Fangraphs)
And for Overall Performance I evaluated: Games Played, Innings at Position, and fWAR (Fangraphs)
After determining this list of statistics, I then created my own statistical lists of players by position on Fangraphs.com. After these sets were between offensive and defensive metrics, I then downloaded each set of data, sorted them o eliminate players who didn’t qualify on both ends, and inputted each into a Microsoft Excel spreadsheet. From here, I sorted how each player did in each statistic from best-to-worst.
Players ranked Top-5 in a statistic were given a ‘Green’ scoring, a Top 6-10 finish was a ‘Yellow’, and Top 11-15 were labelled as a ‘Red’. The numbers of each ranking were then counted and each of the color-coding was given values of 5 (Green), 3 (Yellow), and 1 (Red) respectively. When combined this led to a minimum score of 0 points if a player failed to rank Top-15 in any of the 16 metrics, and a maximum score of 80 points if they ranked Top-5 in every metric. Across this year and last, no players have scored a perfect 80/80.
Important Note: If a player (or multiple players) had statistics equaling that of a player on a “border” then they would both be counted as the better ranking. In a case of the 5th and 6th place players hitting the same number of Home Runs, both would be given ‘Green’ values and 5 points. In these cases, the extra figure was added and would replace a ranking from a below tier (if applicable). In our example, it would have meant 6 ‘Green’ scores and ‘4’ Yellow scores if all other players had different numbers of Home Runs. This could also stretch some statistics to include more ‘Red’ statistics if players had ties with those in the Top-15.
Additionally, if not enough stats were recorded in a counting statistic that would have meant a player with hypothetically 0 stolen bases fit into a Top-15 ranking, then no ranking is given to those players. This would have increased the number of points given out, and diminished the value of each point. However, this did not hold true for advanced metrics that can produce negative values.
Player age, salary in terms of 2021 or AAV, and contract statuses, were all not considered in this experiment. This is entirely statistic-based.
Some Changes from the 2020 Season for the 2021 Evaluations:
After the 2020 season was shortened, I did have questions about how I would be able to best evaluate players from a much more volatile sample of a mere 60 games when running The Determinator for a second straight year. Ultimately, I ran multiple test trials with data and ended up on the following changes from my pre-2020 requirements.
For 2020, players must have had both 250 Plate Appearances and have had 500 innings at the position in question. These numbers must have all come from the 2019 season, which on a 3.1 PA/Game and 9 Innings/Game average would have meant nearly 81 offensive games played (or just 50% of a season) and 56 defensive games played (or just about 35% of a season).
For 2021, I increased the limits to 350 Plate Appearances and 750 innings. However, combined with a players 2020 numbers I also included their 2019 statistics. On a 3.1 PA/Game and 9 Inning/Game average this would come out to be nearly 113 games on offense (or about 51% of the past two seasons) and just over 83 games on defense (or just about 37% of the past two seasons).
While this does mean that rookies in 2020 had an impossible shot at making these rankings, I wanted to make sure my evaluations did not remove players who opted-out of the 2020 season but had strong 2019 campaigns, and I wanted to keep the boundary numbers simple to understand.
In addition to this, another major change was that I also had to evaluate the outfield as a complete set and not by individual positions of Left Field, Center Field, and Right Field. The defensive innings boundary had player sets that were far too small for proper evaluations, and combining them together allowed for many more players to qualify as they split time between the different corners and/or center of the outfield. This also means I will be doing outfielders in ranking from #30 down to #1 over the course of 6 days instead of the Top-10 by position 2 days at a time (see the schedule at the bottom of this post).
This meant that I was evaluating three times the numbers of players and also required a change in my calculations, from the ‘Green’ (5), ‘Yellow’ (3), and ‘Red’ (1) system I was using for the rest of the positions. The new scoring looks like this:
‘Green’ (10 points for the Top 5)
‘Yellow’ (7 points for the remaining Top 10)
‘Red’ (5 points for the remaining Top 15)
‘Gray’ (3 points for the remaining Top 25)
‘Orange’ (2 points for the remaining Top 35)
‘Blue’ (1 point for the remaining Top 50)
While this may seem complicated now, upon the release of The Determinator’s Top 5 outfielders, I will also be releasing my Microsoft Excel file with all calculations and statistics (as I will be doing for each position), at which point it should make more sense.
The last major change I made with the Designated Hitter position. For the opposite reason of the outfield having too many players which required a change for more calculations, the DH position had far too few players qualify so I eliminated some calculations from the DH system. Instead it will be calculated as the following:
‘Green’ (5 points for the Top 3)
‘Yellow’ (3 points for the remaining Top 7)
‘Red’ (1 point for the remaining Top 12)
This meant three players get ‘5’ points, four get ‘3’ points, and five get ‘1’ point. Ultimately, this removed 3 players from getting points and a combined 13 points from each statistic. This allowed each point to hold its value and make sure only the best DH’s were being recognized while in a smaller player pool.
The Determinator 2021 Schedule*:
Starting tomorrow (1/27) I will be announcing The Determinator’s Top 10 Catchers with numbers #6 through #10. The following day (1/28) I will announce The Determinator’s Top 10 Catchers with the #5-#1 rankings.
With each of the positional #10-#6 rankings I will also highlight the “honorable mention” players who failed to make the list. This will be a group of veterans, prospects, stat leaders, etc. With each of the positional #5-#1 rankings I will also highlight how the starting Yankee did at the position (if not otherwise indicated). Examples of both of these extras (and links to all the posts from last year) can be found, here.
This will continue by position each weekday at 4:00 PM through the middle of February with the following position-by-position order:
Catchers: January 27th (#10-#6) and 28th (#5-#1)
First Base: January 29th and February 1st
Second Base: February 2nd and February 3rd
Third Base: February 4th and February 5th
Shortstop: February 8th and February 9th
Outfield: February 10th (#30-#26), 11th (#25-21), 12th (#20-16), 15th (#15-11), 16th (#10-6), and 17th (#5-#1)
Designated Hitter: February 18th (#5-#1)
*This schedule is subject to change