The Determinator: Left Field 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 Left Field!
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 5 (Tied): Andrew Benintendi, Kansas City Royals
Top-5: Fld, Innings, DRS, UZR
Top-10: AVG, SLG, SB, WAR, Def
Top-15: Games, HR, wRC, wRC+, BsR, Off
Total Score: 41
When we last looked at The Determinator on Monday, the #10-6 left fielders were filled with players from the AL East. So, as it seems appropriate, let’s add another former AL East player to the mix in former-Red Sox Andrew Benintendi.
Truly one of the most well-rounded left fielders in the game, Benintendi possesses a good bat, good baserunning, and excellent left field defense. For a team like the Royals, he’s a perfect fit.Embed from Getty Images
Number 5 (Tied): A.J. Pollock, Los Angeles Dodgers
Top-5: AVG, SLG, wRC+, Off, WAR
Top-10: OBP, HR, SB, DRS
Top-15: wRC, BsR, Fld, Innings
Total Score: 41
AJ Pollock is an interesting left fielder whose career should be so much better than it seems, but injuries have kept him away from the field too often. However, when he does play, he’ll do so at an above-average clip.
Consider Pollock a better version of Benintendi who sacrifices being a better statistical player with his health. Picking between the two comes to a question of “ability vs. availability”. It’s an interesting question to be put this way. However, it’s little to worry about because there are better left fielders out there.Embed from Getty Images
Number 4: Robbie Grossman, Detroit Tigers
Top-5: Games, SB, wRC, BsR
Top-10: OBP, HR, wRC+, Off, WAR, UZR, Def
Total Score: 42
From one injury-prone left fielder to another. Robbie Grossman has had very few accolades in his career, but he is a hidden gem on the Detroit Tigers roster. What makes this especially interesting is that his value is not coming from a hidden value in defense (unlike Benintendi/Tapia), but comes mostly from good-to-great offense.
If he can stay healthy, he’s a hidden talent in the MLB. However, with his track record that is a big question.Embed from Getty Images
Number 3: Jesse Winker, Seattle Mariners
Top-5: AVG, OBP, SLG, HR, wRC, wRC+, Off, WAR
Total Score: 43
It is not often that I have to edit players teams in the days right before they go live for The Determinator, but the recent move from Cincinnati to Seattle for Winker is a great move for his now current team. Winker is a top-tier bat-only left fielder, but it’s clear that his bat alone can carry him to great things.
For the Mariners, Winker is the exact type of player who is going to help them continue to compete for the postseason, especially after coming so close last year with their tremendous run differential luck.Embed from Getty Images
Number 2: Randy Arozarena, Tampa Bay Rays
Top-5: SB, wRC, wRC+, Off, WAR, DRS
Top-10: Games, AVG, OBP, SLG, HR, BsR, UZR, Def
Total Score: 54
After he broke onto the scene late in 2020- especially in the 2020 postseason- Randy Arozarena was the obvious favorite to win the AL Rookie of the Year, and an obvious favorite to become a top tier player to project. Needless to say, he fit that mold extremely well for the Tampa Bay Rays. And, yet again we find a player from the AL East on this list.
Arozarena is a very good all-around left fielder and finds himself in a crop right below the #1 player and right above the rest. The difference in score between Arozarena and Winker is the same difference between Winker and the 12th best left fielder (Lourdes Gurriel Jr…another AL East foe). Yeah, he’s pretty good.Embed from Getty Images
Number 1: Tyler O’Neill, St. Louis Cardinals
Top-5: AVG, SLG, HR, SB, wRC, wRC+, BsR, Off, WAR, Fld, Innings, DRS, UZR, Def
Total Score: 74
Tyler O’Neill is an amazing left fielder. There’s little else to say about him. He was very close to being a Top-5 player across the entire slew of stats for The Determinator, coming out with 74 points of a maximum 80. Just to be clear, if O’Neill played just 7 more games and added just 0.006 to his OBP last season than he would’ve maxed out The Determinator for the first time ever.
There’s a reason he was Top-10 in NL MVP voting and is the back-to-back gold glove winner for Left Fielders in the NL. He’s a tremendously good player. 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.