The Determinator: Third 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 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 5 (Tied): Nolan Arenado, St. Louis Cardinals
Top-5: Games, SLG, HR, Innings, Def
Top-10: wRC, Off, WAR, Fld, DRS, UZR
Top-15: AVG, wRC+, BsR
Total Score: 46
Subjectively my favorite third baseman in the MLB, I am still in shock that the St. Louis Cardinals were able to be gifted Arenado, plus cash, to take him before last season. I was also shocked to see Arenado produce to his worst performance (by WAR) in a full season. Now, Arenado’s glove continued to play as it always has: great, as he won the NL Gold Glove yet again.
However, there were obvious concerns about whether or not Arenado would be able to play up to his Coors Field numbers, which included above a .320 AVG and .600 SLG. And those claims were supported as Arenado hit just .228/.287/.435 at home (St. Louis) in 2021. I would expect an offensive bounce back for 2022.Embed from Getty Images
Number 5 (Tied): Yoan Moncada, Chicago White Sox
Top-5: OBP, Off, WAR, Fld, UZR, Def
Top-10: wRC, wRC+, BsR, Innings
Top-15: Games, AVG, DRS
Total Score: 46
A consensus Top-5 prospect at his peak, Moncada had his breakout season in 2019 around some up-and-down early career years. In 2021, he hit much more like people expected of him while breaking the .750 OPS mark for the second time in his career. This was largely helped by an increase in plate discipline which will serve him well going forward.
This past season, Moncada saw most of his value coming from fantastic defensive play from which he gets very little credit. I see Moncada as a player on the rise.Embed from Getty Images
Number 4: Rafael Devers, Boston Red Sox
Top-5: Games, AVG, SLG, HR, wRC, wRC+, Off, WAR, Innings
Top-10: OBP, SB, BsR
Total Score: 54
From one former Red Sox prospect to another we have a player of an entirely different type of build in Rafael Devers. Forget entirely about playing good defense and substitute that for dominant offense and power. The 3B leader in home runs in 2021 with 38, Devers also had the worst DRS (-13 with Alec Bohm).
He’s truly the better offensive version of Miguel Andujar, which should (in theory) make Yankees fans groan and have Red Sox fans worry. However, Devers is a proven stud with the bat and will easily be able to continue to produce like he has into the future.Embed from Getty Images
Number 2 (Tied): Austin Riley, Atlanta Braves
Top-5: Games, AVG, OBP, SLG, HR, wRC, wRC+, Off, WAR, Innings, DRS
Total Score: 55
In my opinion, Austin Riley was the most underrated player from 2021. I completely missed on him when sending in my vote to the IBWAA for the NL MVP which is nuts because he was 6th overall in entire NL in bWAR (and 14th in fWAR). However, it’s clear that Riley is a boom-or-bust type player. If he didn’t rank Top-5, he didn’t rank at all.
He’s going to play below-average defense…probably? It’s strange that his DRS was so good yet he didn’t rank elsewhere on defense. And he’s probably going to hit above-average…even though he was comfortably below average in 2019 and 2020. What Austin Riley will be going forward is a huge question and while he’s underrated I’d wager against The Determinator here.Embed from Getty Images
Number 2 (Tied): Manny Machado, San Diego Padres
Top-5: Games, AVG, SB, wRC, WAR
Top-10: OBP, SLG, HR, wRC+, Off, Fld, Innings, DRS, UZR, Def
Total Score: 55
Only two third baseman ranked in the Top-15 in 15+ statistics this year for The Determinator. Those players are coincidentally our Top 2 players and they also only placed in the Top-10 of the stats they ranked on. The first of which is Manny Machado.
While he struggled in his first season in San Diego, Machado was a legitimate MVP candidate in 2020 and continued great play while being a lower-ballot MVP player in 2021. It’s really no question as to why he’s so liked by The Determinator. He’s long been one of the best overall third baseman in the league (there’s a reason he got $300 Million from the Padres). Now he’s making the investment prove worthwhile.Embed from Getty Images
Number 1: Jose Ramirez, Cleveland Indians
Top-5: OBP, SLG, HR, SB, wRC, wRC+, BsR, Off, WAR, Fld, DRS, UZR, Def
Top-10: Games, AVG, Innings
Total Score: 74
And it should be no surprise that Jose Ramirez comes out as the games best third baseman. Heck, he came incredibly close to being the first player to max out by The Determinator. If he played in just 1 more game and had 158 more innings at third base (hypothetically, he would’ve easily had this if he played in the field instead of DH’ing 19 games last year) then he would’ve been in the Top-5 across every metric but batting average (which he was comfortably behind).
That’s absolutely nuts.
Jose Ramirez deserves better than having to play another lost season, for extremely cheap, in Cleveland. He’ll be 29 in 2022, won’t be a free agent until the 2024 offseason, and could very well be on the trading block. He’d make any team in the MLB instantly better. He’s the perfect player for a team going all-in on the next few years (*cough* Texas Rangers).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.