Weekend Report: Position Rankings for the Divison

on 07/27/2002


I promised this column for last week, and need to finish the series before the data gets too old. Today, I focus on my position player rankings for the entire division. I'm just not sure what to make of the data I got back. Keep in mind that this analysis should not be mistaken for something done with painstaking accuracy. In fact having seen the end results, I'm fairly skeptical of my methodology. Still, I'll present the data and do my best to explain it.

Position Mil CHC Pit Hou Cin Stl
C 5 24 16 21 19 27
1B 12 17 30 14 25 23
2B 13 1 24 11 16 21
3B 8 24 27 19 22 23
SS 2 22 18 26 20 5
LF 20 24 4 27 3 5
CF 15 23 26 8 12 1
RF 20 1 28 23 12 16
Total 95 136 173 149 129 121

The rankings above are listed for each team, by position, with the total for all positions at the bottom. Again, the lowest is the best. Milwaukee comes in first, which immediately shocks the senses, leaving me to immediately look for explanations. The first thing is to ignore the Brewers for a minute and look at the rest of the division. St. Louis, comes in first then followed by Cincy, Houston, Chicago, and finally Pittsburgh is dead last. That much seems to fit expectations. With 5 out of 6 "correct", I'll assume for the moment that perhaps there are some other factors that need to be considered that will adjust things in a more palatable way. The first thing that comes to mind is that the picked starters might not accurately fit the total production from that position. Take catcher, for example. I used Machado for the Brewers, and he was given credit for his Chicago production, while knowing that most of the catchers AB's have actually gone to Bako. Knowing that it's easy to see that as a composite, the Brewers' catchers probably rank closer to 15-20th, which moves them into shouting distance of St. Louis, Cincy, and Chicago. (Note: since the data was collected Machado has tailed off some though he's still been good).

The next place that comes to mind is 3rd base, where Ronnie got a nice chunk of AB's that aren't really accounted for. That probably moves things down another 5 or so spots. Total bench production in general is another spot that may be secretly impacting things: after all we still have 1 Lenny Harris too many. At the end of it all though I'd say that compared to the rest of the division our position players are competitive as a group, really ranking with Houston and Chicago. The difference, of course, is that those 2 teams have a lot more room for growth. One other thing that's worth mentioning is that the rank system puts a linear value on player production, when the actual value isn't linear. The real difference between ranking 20th or 25th isn't nearly as big as the difference between 1st and 6th. The Brewers, by not being truly terrible at any one position, may help account for the gap between the rank score and performance.

The thing that this underscores, in my mind though, is that if we had some starting pitching, we might be "competitive"; at least in the sense that Pit was competitive for awhile. That has really been the sore spot for the team this year. Within the NL, the defense is average (according to defensive efficiency), but all these walks and HR's aren't good, no matter how you divide the blame. Just remember, it could be worse. We could be Brian Giles and the 7 stiffs.

Well next week, since I focus on the MLB team, it seems mandatory to do a trading deadline recap/ assessment. In the event things remain quiet I might have to fill space with some other things, but that is the plan for next week. Here's to having a number of things to write about.

Player of the Week

I started looking for players of the week on Wednesday morning, and almost decided not to award one for the week. On a last gasp, I checked out Ochoa who rather quietly put together a good week raising his BA .014 points and upping his OBP over .371, which as a defensive replacement makes him a useful guy on any team with a budget. Then Richie decided to put his mark on the week with last night's monster performance. Combined with a good showing the rest of the week he was an easy choice, though Sanchez gets props for monster game as well, but being sidelined makes it hard to win a week long award.