The Determinator: Left Fielders 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 Left Fielders!
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: Alex Verdugo, Boston Red Sox
Top-5: Games, AVG, BsR, DRS
Top-10: OBP, wRC, wRC+, Off
Top-15: SLG, SB, WAR
Total Score: 35
When the Red Sox traded away Mookie Betts, it was a signal that they weren’t going to spend big. To replace him, they received Alex Verdugo back from the Dodgers in that trade. As a Yankees fan, I don’t think I have disliked a Red Sox more in recent years than Verdugo. For starters, he wears the number 99 which is quite obviously him trying to copy Aaron Judge. However, I digress…
As a player, Verdugo is a good left field bat. Now that he’s getting consistent reps in Boston, he’s been healthy and played a lot, he hits for a high average, and he’s a good baserunner. He leaves stuff to be desired on defense, but is closer to an average defender that a butcher out there.Embed from Getty Images
Number 9: Austin Meadows, Tampa Bay Rays
Top-5: HR, UZR, Def
Top-10: Games, SLG, wRC, wRC+, Off, Fld
Top-15: SB, WAR, DRS
Total Score: 36
One of the game’s top prospects for 5 years, Austin Meadows has yet to reach the offensive highs that were expected of him for so long. His 2019 campaign was amazing (and helped greatly by the juiced ball), but since he’s been unable to crack a .240 batting average. With a boost to average, the hitting will be tops among left fielders as his power plays very well.
However, this is not to knock Meadows. He’s a good-to-great defender which helps him via The Determinator. I think he’ll come back offensively to form and see a quick rise into the Top-5.Embed from Getty Images
Number 8: Kyle Schwarber, Boston Red Sox
Top-5: OBP, SLG, HR, wRC, wRC+, Off, WAR
Top-15: AVG, Innings
Total Score: 37
Three consecutive players who spent time in the AL East last season, Kyle Schwarber. I spoke in-depth about Schwarber as a potential first base option for the Yankees, which you can read about here.
As a left fielder, Schwarber was entirely a bat-first player. It’s why many believe, and have believed for a few years, that he’s destined for a first-base/DH role. He definitely had his best offensive season last season and is in his prime years now. I just don’t see him as a true left fielder going forward.Embed from Getty Images
Number 7: Raimel Tapia, Colorado Rockies
Top-5: SB, BsR, Fld, Innings, DRS, UZR, Def
Top-15: Games, OBP
Total Score: 40
Players like Raimel Tapia are why I love doing the research for The Determinator each year. I’d be shocked to see him on any other Top-10 list (MLB releases their list on the 24th) and that’s because he’s a completely forgotten about player. At one point he was a consensus Top-100 prospect and it seems like I never hear about him.
He’s an excellent defender, which is helped by his tremendous speed. That alone net him +30 points by The Determinator. Add in a solid showing with batting average and play time and you get a Top-10 left fielder with plenty of room to grow with the bat. He’ll never be a power-first guy, but he’s more valuable than what WAR will tell you.Embed from Getty Images
Note: The #6 ranked Left Fielder is actually in a tie for 5th place. Check back tomorrow to see who those players are, and the remaining Top-4 players!
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.