The Determinator: Shortstops 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 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 5: Nicky Lopez, Kansas City Royals
Top-5: Games, AVG, SB, BsR, Fld, UZR, Def
Top-10: OBP, WAR, Innings
Top-15: wRC, wRC+, Off, DRS
Total Score: 48
Defense and baserunning alone nearly would’ve made Nicky Lopez a Top-10 shortstop in the MLB. Now, Lopez was not supposed to be the Royals starting shortstop for 2021, but he took over after Adalberto Mondesi continued to land on the IL. However, what’s even more surprising is that Lopez went from being a near 50 OPS+/wRC+ hitter in 2019 and 2020 into a league-average hitter.
He stopped trying to swing for the fences and adopted a line-drive approach, which greatly helped his overall game and he seems to have secured the shortstop position going forward. And, while a drop-off should be coming, I wouldn’t expect Lopez to fall off The Determinator’s Top-10 going forward.Embed from Getty Images
Number 4: Bo Bichette, Toronto Blue Jays
Top-5: Games, AVG, HR, SB, wRC, BsR, Off, Innings
Top-10: SLG, wRC+, WAR
Top-15: OBP, DRS
Total Score: 51
While he took a step back defensively from seasons past (which may also be due to small sample size), Bo Bichette finally had his first healthy MLB season in 2021 which allowed him to showcase why the hype around him was legitimate. And as a fan of a rival franchise in the AL East, Bo Bichette is a player I’m always worried about.
He has tremendous power potential, does incredibly well on the base-paths, and if 2021 becomes standard, he’ll always be playing. He had the most hits in the entire AL this past season and showcased an improvement in plate discipline. And even though his SLG dropped below .500 he still had a 25-25-25 season (HR-SB-2B). He’s becoming a legitimate star.Embed from Getty Images
Number 3: Brandon Crawford, San Francisco Giants
Top-5: AVG, OBP, SLG, wRC+, Off, WAR
Top-10: HR, wRC, Fld, Innings, DRS, UZR, Def
Total Score: 52
Brandon Crawford put up more bWAR and fWAR in 2021 than he had over the previous 4 seasons (2017-2020), so it’s clear this is a late-career resurgence. It was also the best season he’s ever had by both bWAR and fWAR. The question is if it should be expected to continue.
While The Determinator sees potential here, I can’t trust it. Brandon Crawford has long been a solid shortstop, though this was as a defender first with a good bat. He hit nearly 50 points higher than his career average AVG, 60 points for OBP, and over 120 points for SLG. That’s unheard of, especially for a 34-year-old. It’s no surprise that his glove played well, but considering that Crawford took just the qualifying offer before the lockout is telling that he wasn’t expecting his resurgence to cash out.Embed from Getty Images
Number 2: Carlos Correa, Free Agent
Top-5: OBP, wRC, wRC+, Off, WAR, Innings, DRS, Def
Top-10: Games, SLG, HR, Fld, UZR
Total Score: 56
I’ve already written more about Carlos Correa than I ever wanted to earlier this offseason. Check out my article here about the ideas of a future Yankee connection.
There’s no denying that Carlos Correa is great. He placed Top-15 in every non-baserunning metric, won a gold glove, and placed 5th in the AL MVP. However, I can’t stand him. I don’t want him anywhere near New York as a member of the home team. There’s a smarter way to spend your money than going after Carlos Correa.Embed from Getty Images
Number 1: Trea Turner, Los Angeles Dodgers
Top-5: AVG, OBP, SLG, HR, SB, wRC, wRC+, Off, WAR
Top-10: Games, BsR, Fld, UZR
Total Score: 58
Trea Turner is a great player that was lost and overlooked on a team of superstars like Bryce Harper, Juan Soto, Max Scherzer, and Stephen Strasburg. In 2021, he finally got to showcase how good he was in 2021 while being a headline piece in both the Nationals attempts to make the postseason and the Dodgers attempts to go back-to-back.
Turner is a great all-around player. His game is clearly carried by his offense and baserunning and he’s played in nearly 90% of his teams games since 2018. He’ll leave something to be desired on defense, but it’s not much and it’s clearly made up with his .300+ AVG and 30+ stolen bases.
Honestly, his playing with the Dodgers (as he was promptly moved to second base) actually hurt Turner as he almost certainly would’ve been able to rank in innings at shortstop and DRS, his two lone misses. Now that they lost Seager, Turner will be taking over at short and make Dodgers fans forget about Seager sooner than they’d expect.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.