The Determinator: Second 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 Second 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: Brandon Lowe, Tampa Bay Rays
Top-5: SLG, HR, wRC, wRC+, BsR, Off, WAR
Top-10: OBP, Innings
Total Score: 42
In the history of baseball, just 10 seasons from a second baseman have resulted in 39+ home runs (3 of which were by Rogers Hornsby). Two of those seasons came in 2021; both by players in the American League East. Obviously as we’re talking about it here, this includes Brandon Lowe: the best pure offensive second baseman in the MLB currently. Second base has never been a power-first position (unlike right field/DH) as given Lowe didn’t rank in a single defensive metric, this goes to show both the talent and statistical diversity from the second base position in the modern game.Embed from Getty Images
Number 8 (Tied): Jorge Polanco, Minnesota Twins
Top-5: SLG, HR, wRC, wRC+, Off
Top-10: Games, AVG, SB, BsR, WAR
Top-15: OBP, Innings, DRS
Total Score: 43
Jorge Polanco was one of very few bright spots on a Minnesota Twins team that severely underperformed on expectations in 2021. After having a great 2019 season, Polanco severely underperformed his expectations in 2020, and then reset them back in 2021. He’s been one of the hidden gems in baseball the last 3 years (he’s 30th among hitters in fWAR) given his play is not often talked about or lauded. He’s a similar bat-first second baseman (like Lowe), but had a bit more overall versatility to his game when it came down to cumulative stats.Embed from Getty Images
Number 8 (Tied): Kolten Wong, Milwaukee Brewers
Top-5: Fld, DRS, UZR, Def
Top-10: AVG, SLG, SB, wRC+, Off, WAR
Top-15: OBP, HR, wRC, BsR, Innings
Total Score: 43
It shocked me when the St. Louis Cardinals decided to decline Kolten Wong’s 2021 club option (at $12.5 Million). And, it should have been no surprise that a fellow NL Central team, in the Milwaukee Brewers, opted to pick up his talents, given the proximity to seeing him play. A back-to-back gold glover in 2019 and 2020, Wong continued to be a top-tier defensive second baseman in the MLB with average overall offense in 2021. However, at a position not held entirely for offense, Wong played well enough and was one of only 3 second baseman to rank in the Top-15 among 15 or more statistics for The Determinator. He’s a hidden gem.Embed from Getty Images
Number 7: Adam Frazier, Seattle Mariners
Top-5: AVG, OBP, DRS
Top-10: Games, wRC, wRC+, Off, WAR, Fld, Innings, UZR, Def
Top-15: SLG, SB
Total Score: 44
Less than a week before the MLB owners locked out the players, two owners came together on a deal to send Adam Frazier from San Diego to Seattle. A Pittsburgh Pirate to start the 2021 season, he was a trade-deadline acquisition who was unable to continue his first-half hype. However, given his overall game: good offense and good-to-great defense, he does rank favorably by The Determinator. He seems to be a smart pick-up by a team held somewhere between serious contention and fluke year hangover. However, Frazier does depend heavily on his batting average which would’ve fallen from Top-5 to Top-15 if we only counted his play in San Diego. Consider this high risk for good reward.Embed from Getty Images
Number 6: Jake Cronenworth, San Diego Padres
Top-5: WAR, Fld, UZR, Def
Top-10: Games, OBP, SLG, HR, wRC, wRC+, Off, DRS
Top-15: AVG, BsR
Total Score: 46
From a former San Diego Padre to their current second baseman, this is why the Padres deemed Frazier as expendable. Jake Cronenworth is not only a more projectable player going forward (given consistency), but he also has a higher potential against his positional peers. To put this into perspective, Cronenworth could’ve been a Top-3 second baseman if he spent his entire 2021 in the field at second base (a combined 1,290 innings), whereas he didn’t even rank Top-15 by innings at second base. Unfortunately, while versatility helps most players by The Determinator, the Padres understanding Cronenworth’s versatility actually hurt him here.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.