Like I did last year, I'm going to spend the few two weeks discussing the top ten players at each position based on 2008 performances. This year I'm using Justin's stats, which have all the nice features of the home-brewed stats I calculated last year, but with the added benefit of making Justin do all the work:
- BaseRuns-derived offensive linear weights, with park adjustments.
- League-adjusted replacement-level, since AL pitching is stronger than NL pitching.
- Proper position adjustments using the CA - SS - 2B/3B/CF - LF/RF - 1B - DH spectrum.
- Combined STATS and BIS zone ratings converted to runs to measure fielding.
Players are listed at the position they played the most, but the defensive numbers from all positions are included, and players' contributions to multiple teams are combined. For the top ten players at each position, I've listed their offensive contribution above replacement level and their defensive contribution (position adjustment plus fielding relative to position) compared to average. Position and fielding are broken out in the table at the end. If you add offense plus position, you'll get a number with the same use as VORP, but better.
To help you put the Total Value number in perspective, here are some benchmarks given a full season of playing time:
- League-average is about 20 runs above replacement.
- The cut-off for true All-Stars is in the 40 run range.
- Top 5 MVP candidates are worth at least 70 runs above replacement.
- MVP winners have been in the 90-100 run range the past few years.
Without further ado, here are the top ten third basemen of 2008 (2007 numbers here):
10. Scott Rolen (19 off, 14 def, 33 tot) -- By comparing Rolen to the #7 player on the list, it appears the Cardinals got the slightly better end of their trade with the Blue Jays. But keep in mind that Rolen's signed for one more year than Glaus, at a nice $11MM price tag. This much production and Rolen still only played in 115 games.
9. Ty Wigginton (26 off, 7 def, 33 tot) -- If you like surprise seasons, here you go -- not the fact that Wigginton had a decent bat, but the fact that he didn't stink in the field. All that in exchange for Dan Wheeler, an important (but overrated) piece of the Rays' World Series-caliber bullpen.
8. Carlos Guillen (28 off, 6 def, 34 tot) -- Guillen's a pretty underrated player, ranking fifth in last year's shortstop rankings. Not sure why the Tigers feel impelled to force him into the outfield as he's a plus a third base.
7. Troy Glaus (39 off, -1 def, 38 tot) -- For those of you who like consistency from your ballplayers, Glaus is your guy. His last four years of OPS+ read like this: 126, 122, 120, 124.
6. Aramis Ramirez (43 off, -2 def, 41 tot) -- I was going to praise Aramis for improving his fielding over his first few years in the league, but I'm just too annoyed that he won this year's National League Hank Aaron Award, when he should have finished about fifteenth.
5. Evan Longoria (36 off, 10 def, 46 tot) -- Just a reminder that the Rays have him locked up through 2016 at an average salary of $5MM. That's a ridiculously good deal.
4. Adrian Beltre (28 off, 26 def, 53 tot) -- 53 runs is about 5.5 wins above replacement. At $4.5MM per marginal win, the going free agent rate for Beltre's 2008 season is $25MM. He earned $12MM.
3. David A Wright (62 off, 5 def, 67 tot) -- This is the second year in a row Wright was worth nearly as much as ARod. He's easily a top ten MVP candidate.
2. Alex Rodriguez (60 off, 9 def, 69 tot) -- You'll notice these numbers don't include any sort of adjustment for clutch situations, where Rodriguez lived up to his reputation in 2008. According to Win Probability Added at Fangraphs, he was un-clutch to the tune of -3.2 wins. That's like the difference between Chipper Jones and Adrian Beltre.
1. Chipper Jones (66 off, 15 def, 81 tot) -- With a career .310/.408/.548 line (145 OPS+) and ever-improving defense, the chances of Chipper not making the Hall of Fame seem pretty low, don't they?
Here are the twenty-five most productive third basemen in 2008:
|3||David A Wright||62||3||2||67|
|12||Ryan W Zimmerman||16||2||8||26|
|16||Blake R Dewitt||9||2||7||18|
|19||Martin M Prado||16||-1||0||15|
|22||Alex J Gordon||26||2||-15||13|
|24||Jorge L Cantu||30||-1||-18||12|
|26||Greg S Dobbs||11||0||-1||10|
And the bottom seven, including a player the Pirates are hoping becomes known for more than "the guy traded for Manny Ramirez":
|Brandon B Wood||-6||1||-2||-7|
|Donnie R Murphy||-3||1||-3||-5|