Finally an off day for the Cubs so let’s do our All Star picks for the more defensive positions; 2B, SS, and Catcher. Players in these positions usually don’t hit as well as corner infield and outfield but each year is different and there are always exceptions and outliers. Data for fan voting taken from Sporting News.
This model has Javier Baez as a clear NL pick followed by Scooter Gennett and Ozzie Albies virtually tied for second. Former Cub prospect traded in 2016 for Aroldis Chapman leading to a Cubs World Series Victory leads in this model for AL. Altuve is second but the difference isn’t that much where defense could make Altuve the proper pick. Let’s see what the people have to say. Survey says!
1. Jose Altuve, Astros: 3,405,815
2. Gleyber Torres, Yankees: 997,724
3. Dee Gordon, Mariners: 528,270
4. Jason Kipnis, Indians: 372,885
5. Jed Lowrie, Athletics: 255,092
AL picks align with this model — except for the #3 and #4 which don’t matter.
1. Ozzie Albies, Braves: 1,857,185
2. Scooter Gennett, Reds: 1,689,393
3. Javier Baez, Cubs: 1,586,888
4. Joe Panik, Giants: 493,573
5. Logan Forsythe, Dodgers: 379,325
Top three above align with this model as well. It’s the order that’s in dispute. Eyeballing this Baez is so far ahead in WAA there is no way either Albies or Gennet can provide that much extra defensive capability to make that up. The people have the final say however.
There is a lot of high value talent playing second base this season compared to last year. The next position, shortstop, also has a lot of high value players this year.
This model picks Francisco Lindor for AL with Carlos Correa a close second. Trevor Story tops the list for NL with Brandon Crawford 2nd for NL. NL is underrepresented in the above list for second basemen. Players from Colorado always get dinged by Sabermetrics because their home field is considered a hitters park. All hitters in Colorado get taxed because of this. While this model agrees that park factors may influence stats, nobody can accurately say how much no matter how much they claim they can. If you don’t know something you can’t include it so that variable must be discarded. Including a dubious park factor tax introduces error on something that is irrelevant in the long term anyway.
That said, what say the people? Survey says!
1. Manny Machado, Orioles: 1,272,233
2. Carlos Correa, Astros: 1,135,152
3. Francisco Lindor, Indians: 898,977
4. Didi Gregorius, Yankees: 824,710
5. Jean Segura, Mariners: 675,140
Manny Machado is a league darling and although this model has him ranked #81, there is no way his defense overcomes a 1.5+ deficit to Lindor. Correa and Lindor could switch positions based on defense however and they make up #2 and #3 on the people’s list.
1. Brandon Crawford, Giants: 2,303,516
2. Dansby Swanson, Braves: 1,162,263
3. Addison Russell, Cubs: 1,026,014
4. Trevor Story, Rockies: 820,484
5. Chris Taylor, Dodgers: 498,57
As expected Trevor Story takes the Colorado penalty giving Brandon Crawford the nod — which would agree with this model.
Catcher is the most defensive player other than pitcher. He is involve in every pitch and needs to be able to keep runners from advancing with every pitch. It is an extremely hard position to play and the most physically demanding of any position in baseball. I am reticent ranking catchers this way but we must.
Not a lot of catchers in the top 200 this year. Let’s hear from the people. Survey says!
1. Wilson Ramos, Rays: 1,556,195
2. Gary Sanchez, Yankees: 1,116,568
3. Brian McCann, Astros: 961,325
4. Salvador Perez, Royals: 614,492
5. Yan Gomes, Indians: 522,139
Sanchez in second and Ramos from TBA is the fan favorite for AL.
1. Buster Posey, Giants: 1,384,631
2. Willson Contreras, Cubs: 1,240,132
3. Kurt Suzuki, Braves: 1,174,470
4. Yadier Molina, Cardinals: 913,149
5. J.T. Realmuto, Marlins: 818,925
Only Realmuto and Suzuki in the above list. Contreras is playing well for the Cubs and, as someone who watches a lot of Cubs games, he’s been very good behind the plate In My Humble, Subjective, and Anecdotal Opinion (IMHSAO).
Value stats like WAR fold defense into their calculations. Since there is a general lack of play by play metrics for defense there is a lot of hand waving and unproven theories. This is all fine and well and defensive value is certainly an important aspect when a team evaluates a player acquisition.
Runs that should have scored but didn’t, and runs that scored but shouldn’t have is very subjective. Official scorekeepers have a hard time assigning errors let alone this. This is why this model stands on its own using what can be counted, actual runs scored and runs scored against.
The biggest errors in WAR on a player to player basis arise from over valuing defense which is how Darwin Barney ended up with a WAR=4.8 ranked #39 for the 2012 MLB season. Darwin Barney was the impetus behind the creation of this data model.
That is all for now. Cubs start a two game series with DET tomorrow, all day games. The final part to this series, starting and relief pitching, will be Wednesday or Thursday. Until then ….