2009 Replacement Level: Shortstop

As most of you know, the Win Values we present here on FanGraphs are wins above a replacement level player. Replacement level, essentially, is the expected performance you could get from a player who costs nothing to acquire and makes the league minimum. That’s the baseline that players add value over – performance over their no-cost substitute.

However, I know examples can be extremely helpful, so starting yesterday, we began looking at some players who currently personify replacement level, and what their respective organizations should expect from them in 2009. We’ve already covered first base and catcher, and we’ll move on through the positions this week.


So far, we’ve looked at three positions, and all three have been a mix of decent hitters/bad defenders and bad hitters/good defenders. That’s about to change. Take a look at this group.

Angel Berroa, New York (AL), .292 wOBA
Juan Castro, Los Angeles, .261 wOBA,
Brandon Fahey, Toronto, .277 wOBA,
Luis Hernandez, Kansas City, .263 wOBA
Ivan Ochoa, Boston, .300 wOBA
Omar Vizquel, Texas, .278 wOBA
Jorge Velandia, Philadelphia, .271 wOBA
Chris Woodward, Seattle, .290 wOBA

That’s an average wOBA of .279 – almost as bad as the catchers. Ochoa is the best projected hitter of the bunch, and he just put up a miserable .200/.244/.267 mark in 135 PA in the majors for San Francisco last year. There isn’t a good hitting/mediocre defender in the bunch. There’s a couple of bad hitter/mediocre defenders (Berroa, Woodward) who really don’t belong in the majors, but really, the replacement level shortstops are all the same thing – good glove, no bat types. Whether teams are artificially selecting out offensive shortstops and moving them to other positions prematurely or offense at shortstop is so highly valued that it’s just not available for free is up for discussion, but it’s pretty clear that you can’t get free offense at the position.

Running it through the run value formula, we get the following:

((.279 – .330) / 1.2) * 600 = -25.5

These guys project to be about 25 runs worse than a league average hitter over a full season. As a group, they’re about average defensively (Vizquel/Castro/Ochoa are canceled out by Woodward/Berroa/Velandia), so we’ll call defense neutral. +7.5 runs for the position adjustment, and that leaves us with -18 runs – just slightly better than two wins below average. The trend continues.

Tomorrow, we’ll look at third base and then move to the outfield. But, given how this is going so far, I’d imagine I can already start writing the conclusions now.

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Dave is the Managing Editor of FanGraphs.

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