The Determinator: Third 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 Third 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 (Tied): Jeimer Candelario, Detroit Tigers
Top-10: AVG, OBP, wRC, wRC+, Off, WAR, Innings
Top-15: Games, SLG
Total Score: 28
It is very interesting that a player who recorded 0 steals on the year also rated in the Top-5 among third baseman in Baserunning (BsR). It’s even more interesting that it was the only statistic that Candelario ranked in the Top-5.
Candelario was the best player on the Detroit Tigers last season and he looks to be a player they’re trying to build around for the future. However, his future at third base is skeptical at best given very poor defense, which goes to show how well his bat plays. (Personally, I think he ends up at first base when Spencer Torkelson makes the MLB,)Embed from Getty Images
Number 10 (Tied): Kyle Seager, Seattle Mariners
Top-5: Games, HR, Innings
Top-10: Fld, UZR, Def
Top-15: SLG, SB, wRC, WAR
Total Score: 28
Set to reach free agency as a 34-year-old after the Seattle Mariners took a $2 Million buyout for Seagers final year of a 7/$150M contract he signed before the 2015 season. There were pros and cons given Seager hit to a career-low batting average (.212) but also a career high home runs (35) and RBI’s (101). However, it was clear that he and the Mariners front office were not on good footing.
After being bought out, Seager decided to step away from baseball and retire. I was hoping he’d join his younger brother Corey for a season, but alas. Best of luck in retirement Kyle!Embed from Getty Images
Number 9: Ryan McMahon, Colorado Rockies
Top-5: Fld, DRS, UZR, Def
Top-10: Games, SB, wRC
Top-15: AVG, OBP, SLG, HR, WAR, Innings
Total Score: 35
A former consensus Top-100 prospect in baseball for a few years between 2016 and 2018, Ryan McMahon broke into the MLB in 2017, and became a regular player in 2018. A utility infielder at first, McMahon primarily played second base from 2019-2020 and last season made the switch to third base. Coincidentally, with this shift he also had his best season.
McMahon is a glove-first player who gets punished on offense by analytics for playing in Coors Field. While he was average league hitter, McMahon has 20+ home run pop. He’s a third baseman on the rise.Embed from Getty Images
Number 7 (Tied): Justin Turner, Los Angeles Dodgers
Top-5: AVG, OBP, wRC, wRC+, Off
Top-10: Games, SLG, HR, WAR, Innings
Total Score: 41
Our next two players, tied at 7th overall, are a prime example of the dichotomy of third base. Justin Turner is the prime example of a bat-only third baseman.
Surprisingly, this is Turner’s first year ranking by The Determinator doing so on the back of what was, even more surprisingly, his worst offensive season (by OPS+ and wRC+) since I started doing The Determinator. He only placed in the Top-10 in offensive or overall statistics, including placing Top-5 in the aforementioned wRC+. It goes to show the volatility, and maybe a changing of the times, of third basemen. Embed from Getty Images
Number 7 (Tied): Matt Chapman, Oakland Athletics
Top-5: BsR, Fld, Innings, DRS, UZR, Def
Top-10: Games, HR, WAR
Top-15: SB, wRC
Total Score: 41
Matt Chapman is the opposite player to a Justin Turner. A glove-first player Chapman has won the AL Gold Glove for third base each year he’s played at/near a full season and that only looks to continue going forward as he led all third basemen in UZR and Def.
Chapman ranked in the Top-10 in just one pure offensive stat (home runs) and has been on a downward trajectory on offense each year since 2018 (by both OPS+ and wRC+). He’s on the trading block by the Oakland Athletics and while he should be better than a league-average hitter, the trend is not great for his bat.Embed from Getty Images
Note: There are two third baseman tied for 5th by The Determinator. Check back Monday for the Top 5 (really 6) third basemen from the past year!
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.