The Determinator: Right Fielders: #6-10
Before every season, baseball minds across the sport test their skills with crunching numbers, diving deep into analytics, and reviewing game footage in order to determine who the best players are in the game. Often times they give their analysis fun names; one of the most notable being The Shredder from MLB Network.
Sometimes the results astound people- like in 2015 Hanely Ramirez was rated the top Left Fielder in the MLB before ever playing there. Other times, the results are unsurprising- spoiler alert, but Mike Trout was probably the best CF in baseball, and most likely will be again.
Every weekday at 4:00 PM throughout the next few weeks, I will be posting my own analysis on who the top players at each position truly are.
Welcome to The Determinator.
Today I will reveal the #6-10 Right Fielders in the MLB, as well as explaining my methodology for these rankings. Tomorrow, will be the #1-5 Right Fielders in the MLB, plus honorable mentions.
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 is seen with Catchers and BsR.
The results were then tallied, sorted from greatest to least, and a ranking was created.
Finally, player age, 2020 salary, and contract status, were all not considered in this experiment. This is entirely statistic-based.
The Determinator: Right Field-Specific Information
To easily work through and cut-down the list of 228 different players who played any amount of time at right field during the season, I set-up two separate boundaries for right fielders:
They must’ve had at least 250 PA’s during the 2019 season.
They must’ve had at least 500 innings in right field during the 2019 season.
This limited the number of center fielders down to 26.
However, without further ado, let’s get to numbers 6 through 10:
If a player led a statistic for their position, it will be bolded.
Number 10: Kole Calhoun, Arizona Diamondbacks
Top-5: Games, Innings
Top-10: HR, wRC, WAR, Fld, UZR, Def
Top-15: SLG, SB, wRC+, Off, DRS
Total Score: 33Embed from Getty Images
Kole Calhoun last season was coming off a horrible 2018, where he hit only 0.208 and slugged only .369, barely managing any positive value (0.0 fWAR, 0.7 bWAR). He took a 1-year “prove it” deal for only $1,000,000 with the Angels and had his best season since 2016. While his biggest contributor to value was his playing in most every game (152) and leading all RF’ers in innings played in RF (1298.2), Calhoun did have an average to above-average season all around. His wRC+ (108), 2.5 fWAR, and average Off (4.9) and Def (-1.6) all paint the picture of a player just leaving his prime years, as will most likely be the case with Calhoun entering his age-32 season. The Diamondbacks this offseason signed him for a 2-Year deal worth $14 Million ($6M in 2020, $8M in 2021) with a $2 Million option 2022.
Number 8 (Tied): Charlie Blackmon, Colorado Rockies
Top-5: AVG, SLG, wRC, Innings
Top-10: OBP, HR, wRC+, Off
Top-15: Games, WAR
Total Score: 34Embed from Getty Images
Last season, Charlie Blackmon saw his usual role with the Rockies as their primary lead-off hitter change in favor of having Shortstop Trevor Story and his speed at the top of the lineup, which projects to continue in 2020. Blackmon came into this offseason expecting this change to continue, and has been pretty supportive of how his changing role can help the Rockies even with the limited moves they have made this offseason. Blackmon has been slowing down in recent years (went from 12 to 2 SB from 2018 to 2019; BsR of -4.5) which has definitely had an effect on his defense (-16.7), yet he still pulls out All-Star appearances, with 3 straight since his age-31 season in 2017. Last year Blackmon had solid numbers across the board with a 0.314/0.364/0.576 triple-slash combined with 32 HR’s, a wRC+ of 125, and 2.0 fWAR. Playing in Coors definitely helps these numbers, and his slower aging curve, but as a 34-year old and noticeable decline (6.6 fWAR in 2017) in recent history, Blackmon may be a liability sooner rather than later.
Number 8 (Tied): Adam Eaton, Washington Nationals
Top-5: Games, SB, BsR
Top-10: OBP, wRC, Off, WAR, Innings
Top-15: AVG, wRC+, Fld, DRS
Total Score: 34Embed from Getty Images
Tied with Blackmon is Adam Eaton, whose game is much more heavily relied on speed while only needing to be good across the offensive and defensive sides of the game. With 15 SB’s and a BsR of 3.5, Eaton comes out as a Top-5 baserunner across RF’ers, which definitely helped his fWAR (2.3) eclipse into Top-10 standings. Eaton had decent Offensive numbers (Off of 10), with a standard triple-slash (0.279/0.365/0.428), showing of some power (15 HR’s), and a near average wRC/wRC+ (95/107). The Nationals picked up his $9.5 Million option for 2020, which is a good price for his value (1 WAR ~ $9 Million), but as he ages more (2020 will be his age-32 season) and his speed declines, expect Eaton to be far from many other Top-10 lists.
Number 7: Max Kepler, Minnesota Twins
Top-5: HR, Fld, UZR, Def
Top-10: SLG, wRC, wRC+, Off, WAR, DRS
Total Score: 39Embed from Getty Images
Max Kepler, who was arguably the 2nd best player on the Minnesota Twins last season (behind Jorge Polanco), is an interesting player to look at as his future value is all over the place. Some people in baseball think that he could be the next Christian Yelich, while others believe a move to 1B is the natural best step for his career, citing Cody Bellinger as a player to emulate. 2019 was Kepler’s best season to date across just about any metric that someone can find. His offensive stats speak to this (0.252/0.336/0.519, 36 HR’s, wRC/wRC+ of 93/121, Off of 14.4) and his defense is also a net positive (Def of 6.6, position-leading Fld of 12.7). While he only played 134 games and split time between CF and RF, finding stability at a position and staying healthy for 2020 could very much make the 5-Year, $35 Million extension he signed in early 2019 a massive team value.
Number 6: Trey Mancini, Baltimore Orioles
Top-5: Games, AVG, SLG, HR, wRC, wRC+, Off
Top-10: OBP, WAR
Total Score: 41Embed from Getty Images
Trey Mancini is the first Baltimore Oriole who will be on the team for 2020 to make one of The Determinator’s Top-10 lists, yet is still the 3rd best RF’er in his division behind Mookie Betts (who may be moved soon) and Aaron Judge (who we hope will never be moved). However, after his Rookie season (where he placed 3rd in R.O.Y. voting behind Judge and Andrew Benintendi), Mancini’s 2018 was the typical ‘sophomore slump’ as he combined to hit to a wRC+ of 91 and an fWAR of -0.3. However, Mancini turned it around for 2019, putting up his best season to date with a wRC+ of 132, Off of 26.1, and an fWAR of 3.6. His defense is still a question mark (-6.6 at RF), and if not for Chris Davis’s contract chances are Mancini would be seeing much more time at 1B. He seems to either be underrated by many different outlets or not considered at any specific position because of how his defense isn’t suited for RF and he needs to prove his bat is capable of staying at the power-heavy 1B. Mancini will be an interesting player to watch in 2020.
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.
Check back in tomorrow at 4:00 PM to see the #1-5 Right Fielders in the MLB.