The Determinator: Shortstops 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 Shortstops!
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: Isiah Kiner-Falefa, Texas Rangers
Top-5: Games, SB, Innings, DRS
Top-10: BsR, Def
Top-15: AVG, Fld, UZR
Total Score: 29
On Monday I postulated about the idea that the Rangers should be interested in upgrading at third base by going after Jose Ramirez. Earlier in the offseason, I mentioned IKF as a potential option for the Yankees to consider for shortstop in 2022. However, neither of these moves are absolutely necessary.
IKF is going to be moved away from shortstop thanks to the Rangers getting Corey Seager. Luckily for them, IKF was also a gold glove player at third base in 2020 and would’ve been a fine/league-average third baseman with his 2021 offensive stats. There’s not much else to say that I haven’t already, but IKF is a hidden, cheap, infield gem.Embed from Getty Images
Number 9: Willy Adames, Milwaukee Brewers
Top-10: SLG, HR, wRC, wRC+, Off, WAR, Fld, UZR, Def
Top-15: Games, OBP, Innings
Total Score: 30
It is rare to find a trade where the Tampa Bay Rays lose, but Willy Adames could be chalked up to a loss if you ask a certain type of person. Traded to the Milwaukee Brewers in order to make room for Wander Franco (the $207 Million Dollar Man), Willy Adames completely changed around his season. In Tampa Bay he was playing barely adequate baseball, but in Milwaukee he became an all-around player who, in less than 100 games, earned more MVP votes than Zack Wheeler (the highest bWAR player in the NL!).
Now, what’s interesting about Adames is that he’s clearly above league-average and while he didn’t place Top-5 in any statistic, but also placed Top-15 in more statistics than Fernando Tatis Jr. He’s a very interesting player for The Determinator and with good-to-great 2019 and 2020 seasons as support, it isn’t a surprise to see Adames in the Top-10.Embed from Getty Images
Number 8: Xander Bogaerts, Boston Red Sox
Top-5: OBP, wRC, WAR
Top-10: AVG, SLG, HR, wRC+, Off, Innings, UZR, Def
Top-15: Games, Fld
Total Score: 41
One reason I’m always scared of playing the Red Sox is because they have the logic of The Determinator sewn into their roster building. They seem to love guys who are good all-around players at positions with high variance (like shortstop) and players with domination skillsets at competitive positions (like third base). Xander Bogaerts is a prime example of the former.
Ranking across nearly every non-baserunning metric (except DRS) by The Determinator, Bogaerts is a great all-around player. He possesses solid defense at a position that demands it, and has a bat that plays up due to where he plays in the field. He has no one stand alone skill, but he’s just pure good. There’s a reason I’ve been a long secret fan of his play.Embed from Getty Images
Number 7: Trevor Story, Free Agent
Top-5: SB, BsR, Fld, DRS, UZR, Def
Top-10: SLG, HR, wRC, Innings
Top-15: Games, Off, WAR
Total Score: 45
I wrote in depth about Trevor Story and if he should be a target of the New York Yankees whenever baseball decides to get going and have free agency again. And, if I was Trevor Story I would use a metric like The Determinator to prove my worth.
In an obvious down-year offensively (it was his second worst by OPS+ and wRC+), Story showed why he’s still a top-tier shortstop: the defense. While he didn’t lead any metric, he was Top-5 in all 4 pure defensive statistics which was only done by one other player (Kevin Newman). And, to be fair to Story he outplayed his offense as a Top-15 player by games but a Top-10 player by wRC. Expect a bounce back offensively wherever he ends up in 2022.Embed from Getty Images
Number 6: Fernando Tatis Jr., San Diego Padres
Top-5: SLG, HR, SB, wRC, wRC+, BsR, Off, WAR
Top-10: AVG, OBP
Total Score: 46
Yesterday in talking about Gio Urshela, I described a flaw of The Determinator. Today, I showcase a win. Now, you may be thinking, “How is ranking Fernando Tatis Jr.- the player 3rd in NL MVP voting- the 6th best shortstop a win?”. And, that’s because The Determinator does not care about storylines. It cares about what you can do.
Fernando Tatis Jr. is an absolute great player…on offense. There’s not debating that. Fernando Tatis Jr. is an also absolute great player…for highlight reels and generating interest in the sport. However, there is a reason that he was moved to the easiest defensive position (right field) late in the 2021 season: he’s not a great defender. That holds him back here. He’s not a true 5-tool player. He’s great, he’s fun, he’s exciting, and I enjoy watching him play. But, he was also not a Top-5 shortstop in the MLB (and the 3 IL stints are not helping him either).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.