The Determinator: Shortstop: #5-1 + Gleyber Torres
Today I will reveal the #5-#1 Shortstops in the MLB as well as highlighting Gleyber Torres’s rank. Tomorrow, I will announce the #30-26 outfielders in the MLB. For a background about The Determinator, see my article about my methodology, changes for 2021, and schedule, here.
The Determinator: Shortstop-Specific Information
To easily work through and cut-down the list of 158 different players who played any amount of time at short during the past two seasons, I set-up two boundaries to keep it as close to having only starters:
They must’ve had at least 350 PA’s over the 2019 and 2020 seasons.
They must’ve had at least 750 innings at shortstop over the 2019 and 2020 seasons.
This limited the number of shortstops down to 30.
However, without further ado, let’s get to the first half of the Top-10:
If a first baseman led a statistic, it will be bolded.
Number 4 (Tied): Trea Turner, Washington Nationals
Top-5: AVG, OBP, SLG, SB, wRC, wRC+, BsR, Off, WAR
Total Score: 49Embed from Getty Images
Last year’s #10 shortstop, Turner had a much better season offensively as evidenced by a 132 point jump in OPS (.850 to .982) and his highest wRC+ (158) in his career. An underrated player because he has had many injury problems since first breaking into the MLB in 2015, Turner upgraded his offensive profile through being a high average player (.335) who didn’t strike out a lot (13.9%) last year. How sustainable this is given lower career metrics (.296) and (18.1%) is difficult to assume given how Turner is now entering the traditional prime years and his lack of playing time over parts of 6 MLB seasons. While I expected a jump from last year, I think it will be hard for Turner to hold in the Top-5 given that he reached this peak after what looks to be an outlier season.
Number 4 (Tied): Francisco Lindor, New York Mets
Top-5: HR, wRC, Fld, UZR, Def
Top-10: Games, SLG, SB, wRC+, WAR, Innings, DRS
Top-15: AVG, OBP, Off
Total Score: 49Embed from Getty Images
Last years #5 shortstop, the current New York Mets shortstop (that felt weird to type) is an odd player to look at with The Determinator. After an amazing breakout 2018 season (7.7 fWAR), Lindor has seen lower than normal value in two straight seasons since with a 4.5 fWAR in 2019 and a 1.8 fWAR in 2020 (on pace for 4.8 fWAR) which was below his expected norm of easily surpassing 5+ WAR that he set in 2016 and 2017. That being said, Lindor is absolutely one of the best shortstops in the league and boasts a complete profile as a plus hitter (+9) and plus defender (+21) even though his 2020 season did see him, for the first time in his career, go below a positive value on offense or defense (Off of -1.9). It’s likely a blip in the radar of a career that could end up enshrined in Cooperstown, but it is something to note as he learns the National League.
Number 3: Marcus Semien, Toronto Blue Jays
Top-5: Games, HR, wRC, wRC+, Off, WAR, Innings, Def
Top-10: OBP, SLG, Fld, UZR
Top-15: SB, BsR, DRS
Total Score: 55Embed from Getty Images
Recently signed by the Toronto Blue Jays on a 1-Year/$18M deal, Semien is a player boosted heavily by an MVP-level 2019 campaign, but that doesn’t mean he isn’t good. The shortstop leader in Games (215), WAR (+8.8), and Innings (1886.1), he finds himself on a team with a solid shortstop in Bo Bichette (who missed on qualifying for The Determinator by 10 PA’s and about 175 innings at shortstop), so going into the 2021 season it looks as though he may not be playing on the left side of the infield for much longer. After an uncategorical offensive season in 2019 (+38.2), Semien fell back to his expectations with a negative offensive season (-0.6) but maintained a good glove (+4.4). He’ll provide good value for the Blue Jays and he could find himself among the games Top-10 second baseman next year (it’s expected he’ll end up there) although it’s hard to estimate his positional value when swapping between the two.
Number 2: Xander Bogaerts, Boston Red Sox
Top-5: Games, AVG, OBP, SLG, HR, wRC, wRC+, Off, WAR, Innings
Top-15: SB, Fld, UZR, Def
Total Score: 57Embed from Getty Images
After seeing two Red Sox players rank in the Top-5 in their position back-to-back (with Devers at 3B), the Red Sox do have one of the best left sides of the infield in the MLB. Bogaerts led all shortstops in OBP (.379), wRC (167), and Off (+48.8) over these past two seasons and he kept similar pace between the two. While 2020 was clearly worse (lower BABIP, ISO, OPS, wRC+, etc.), he stayed on course for eclipsing 5+ fWAR after a 6.8 fWAR 2019 season. Taking out his rookie year in 2014, Bogaerts has always been a positive offensive and defensive player and with his consistency he was able to jump up to #2 from #3 last year. As I said last year, expect Bogaerts to be a formidable foe for years to come.
Number 1: Trevor Story, Colorado Rockies
Top-5: OBP, SLG, HR, SB, wRC, BsR, Off, WAR, Fld, Innings, DRS, UZR, Def
Top-10: Games, AVG, wRC+
Total Score: 74Embed from Getty Images
The #1 shortstop last season was able to keep his crown while also leading shortstops in HR (46), Fld (+12.6), UZR (+12.6), and Def (+21.6). After the Colorado Rockies recently sent away #1 third baseman Nolan Arenado, it would seem that a Story trade would be inevitable. It hasn’t happened yet, but almost every team in the MLB should be looking to acquire his talents. Just 6 points from the highest possible rating of ‘80’ by The Determinator, Story was a Top-5 shortstop as the complete defensive shortstop while also providing amazing offensive value (+34.0) as both a baserunner (+9.9) and hitter (wRC+ of 120). He does get hurt a little by playing in Coor’s Field, but with free agency pending for next year, there are lots of teams that should seriously consider him as a future option.
Gleyber Torres and his Ranking 15th:
In between Gleyber Torres and a ranking as a shortstop comes a gap of 5 points. It isn’t a lot, but with the wide variety of shortstops being valuable as glove-first or bat-first, it is hard for a player on the border to crack rankings. For Gleyber, he missed ranking in the following:
Games, SB, BsR, Fld, Innings, DRS, UZR, and Def
Truly it comes to a lack in the defensive side of the ball that is keeping Gleyber from getting recognized by The Determinator. But, we can look to find a fix!
If we combine Gleyber’s innings at second base in 2019 with his time at shortstop in 2019 and 2020 we would get to 1527.2, which would’ve placed him 14th across the position and provided 1 of our missing 5 points. If we can add 8 games over the two seasons, Gleyber would get up to 194 and place in a tie for 15th, giving him the second elusive point. Just 3 to go!
Now, after ranking negatively at defense in 3 straight seasons, it does seem hard to justify Gleyber will get his 3 remaining points that way. (Although, if 2020 was a transition back he should be better in 2021.) So, we can look around the other parts of his game. And, it honestly doesn’t seem improbable the following could’ve happened.
If Gleyber Torres went from a triple-slash of .271/.341/.501 to a triple-slash of .281/.342/.514 (an increase in AVG of .010; OBP by .001, and SLG by .013) he would’ve not only been able to crack the Top-10 but this would’ve boosted two Top-15 finishes and a Top-10 finish each up a level, adding on an additional 6 points.Add in the 8 games and innings from before and Gleyber would’ve ended at 29 points with a finish at #9.
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.