The Determinator: Second Basemen 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 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 5: Jonathan India, Cincinnati Reds
Top-5: OBP, wRC, wRC+, Inning
Top-10: Games, AVG, SLG, HR, SB, Off, WAR, Def
Top-15: Fld, DRS, UZR
Total Score: 47
Winning a rookie of the year award is no easy feat, yet Jonathan India showed his talents across the entire range of baseball last season as a second baseman. He ranked in the Top-15 in all but one statistic by The Determinator (joining yesterday’s Kolten Wong) and seems to have the tools that should be able to nearly replicate his 2021 performance. Obviously, prior rookies tend to show large variability in their sophomore years, but both The Determinator and I agree that India is a worthwhile pick in his slot.Embed from Getty Images
Number 4: Jose Altuve, Houston Astros
Top-5: OBp, SLG, HR, wRC, wRC+, Off, WAR, Innings
Top-10: AVG, BsR
Top-15: Games, Fld, Def
Total Score: 49
After posting three consecutive seasons of declining offense after 2017, Jose Altuve had what can only be called a rebound in 2021. Gah. In the modern game of baseball there are really truly few players that I can’t stand. Jose Altuve is unquestionably one of those players, even before we found out his success came (in part) due to cheating. My dad wrote about this phenomena recently (article here, see #6), but holy heck could I not stand the constant TV announcers gushing over Altuve in 2017. I might’ve even liked Altuve beforehand, but that alone ruined him for me. (As did the Super Bowl ruining Aaron Donald for me.)
Altuve ranked 4th. If I had my way he would’ve scored negative. Alas, I won’t do that to ruin the reliability and verifiability of my statistics.Embed from Getty Images
Number 3: Whit Merrifield, Kansas City Royals
Top-5: Games, SB, BsR, Fld, Inning, DRS, UZR, Def
Top-10: AVG, SB, WAR
Total Score: 50
Whit Merrifield is the games most underrated second baseman. He ranked just 9th in fWAR by second basemen in 2021, yet he comes out 3rd by The Determinator. Now, this is in large part because Merrifield nearly hit the same number of home runs in 2021 (10) as he did in 2020 (9)…in 2.7 times the games. He completely fell off for power last season yet still ranked in the Top-3. However, while his power went away, his defense was nearly the best in every statistic for second basemen. Just two players (Merrifield and the player at #1) ranked in the Top-5 across fielding, innings, DRS, UZR, and Def. Don’t be mistaken, defense is valuable.Embed from Getty Images
Number 2: Ozzie Albies, Atlanta Braves
Top-5: Games, SLG, HR, SB, BsR, WAR, Innings
Top-10: wRC, Off, Fld, UZR, Def
Top-15: wRC+, DRS
Total Score: 52
And to counter that last point (just a little) we have Ozzie Albies: a second baseman with great power output and good defense. While defense is valuable, it has its limits…though to be fair, so does Albies. Without ranking via batting average or on-base percentage, Ozzie Albies comes out as the 2nd best second baseman (though just 10 points separate #10 and #2). While he has room to grow, 2021 was a down year for Albies with the bat (.259 AVG) and was certainly off from his 2019 performance (.295 AVG). He was the #1 second baseman the last two years, so I’m not worried about him going forward. Especially because our #1 player is an obvious answer. Embed from Getty Images
Number 1: Marcus Semien, Texas Rangers
Top-5: Games, SLG, HR, wRC, wRC+, BsR, Off, WAR, Fld, Inning, DRS, UZR, Def
Top-15: AVG, OBP
Total Score: 70
Consider me shocked for multiple reasons. First, I did not expect Semien, in any way, to ever come close to the performance he had in 2019. Secondly, I did not expect Semien to get a 7-Year/$175 Million deal in free agency as a soon-to-be 31 year old. Third, Marcus Semien (by position) is so far the best player by The Determinator in 2022 with a score of 70 (out of a maximum of 80).
In 2021, Marcus Semien had an absolutely amazing season yet again. He ranked Top-5 in 13 (!) metrics by The Determinator and in the Top-15 across all 16 measures. There’s nothing else to say. He has a top offensive profile, a top defensive profile (he won the AL gold glove), played a lot, and was good on the base-paths. Now, I also don’t expect Semien to continue at this pace, but I have been wrong before. 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.