FanGraphs Baseball


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  1. I think we all know who the true most valuable utility man was: Munenori Kawasaki. There is no sabermetric stat for adorableness.

    Comment by ThirteenOfTwo — December 7, 2012 @ 6:04 pm

  2. His dance moves score a NERD of 15.

    Comment by Bryz — December 7, 2012 @ 6:27 pm

  3. What is Kyle Seager doing on this list? He was the starter at 3B from day one.

    Comment by Bad Bill — December 7, 2012 @ 6:28 pm

  4. Technically, Figgins was. But what is the point of this list if we include guys like Seager and omit guys like Bloomquist? Does it tell us anything?

    Comment by Twain — December 7, 2012 @ 6:36 pm

  5. Interesting, but seems to me like your mechanism for identifying “bench players” could use some refinement, IMHO.

    Comment by walt526 — December 7, 2012 @ 6:42 pm

  6. Maybe the title should be “What some utility infielders were worth with some starters and outfielders inexplicably included.”

    Comment by Twain — December 7, 2012 @ 6:42 pm

  7. As cool as this list sounds, I don’t think it’s telling us much either. Sure, Josh Donaldson wasn’t the starting 3B at the beginning of the year, but he certainly was by the end. And more to the point, he didn’t start generating positive value until after he was given the starting job.

    Comment by Danmay — December 7, 2012 @ 6:43 pm

  8. Young Jr. seriously needs to be given more playing time. He’s done decently in every single major league stint, and the team still demotes him after one month. He’s better than half of the other utility players that fill out the Rockies’ roster

    Comment by Alex — December 7, 2012 @ 7:13 pm

  9. Hey where is Pedro Ciriaco? My man was good for 0.9 WAR in 272 PA’s.

    Comment by Mcshane — December 7, 2012 @ 10:15 pm

  10. Right. The M’s opening day lineup consisted of Figgins at 3B, Carp in LF and Saunders in CF.

    Interesting when you think about how the M’s only 3 actually good hitters last year (Seager, Saunders, Jaso) were all bench/ backup/ UT guys before Gutierrez went down in ST.

    Comment by Dag Gummit — December 7, 2012 @ 11:45 pm

  11. well, young never got demoted this year, but rather was hurt. his problem has historically been lack of a position to play, but has showed a lot of progress defensively in 2012. you are correct that he deserves a starting shot

    Comment by jim — December 8, 2012 @ 1:53 am

  12. Damn, the Reds gave so many fruitless at-bats to Wilson Valdez and Miguel Cairo last year.

    Comment by BurleighGrimes — December 8, 2012 @ 3:52 am

  13. A lot of you are missing the point. Determining who was or wasn’t a utility player after the fact would be a clear selection bias and would result in meaningless data.
    This article does a pretty good job of showing how much value teams recieved for players who were expected to be utility players before the season began. Yes, some ended up as starters and some probably ended up out of baseball, but that’s just part of the results.
    This table serves as a rough guide for how much a team should be willing to pay for a utility player, though the characteristics of each such player would be the more important factor.

    Comment by Baltar — December 8, 2012 @ 1:22 pm

  14. Thanks, Dusty Baker, for giving Wilson Valdez so many PA’s in front of Joey Votto this year.

    Comment by Rusty Faker — December 8, 2012 @ 1:34 pm

  15. Chris Getz was expected to be a utility guy before last season? The confusion seems to be what one thinks of a “bench” player. I don’t know that I’d consider a true utility guy (getting say 100 PAs at 3 different positions, or 250 at 2 different – or whatever thresholds float your boat) to necessarily be a “bench” guy.

    Comment by That Guy — December 8, 2012 @ 6:35 pm

  16. It seems weird that injuries to start the season are treated differently than injuries during the season. Don’t a lot of utility infielders get playing time because someone else got injured? Ty Wiggington/Freddy Galvis/Michael Martinez for the Phillies would all seem to count as utility infielders except for injuries to start the season.

    Comment by Travis — December 8, 2012 @ 6:49 pm

  17. Removing those who became starters (100+ starts) and did not play at least 1 game at a middle infield position, we have:

    Justin Sellers Dodgers 50 0.3 $0.48 3.6 $18.00
    Jerry Hairston Dodgers 267 1.5 $2.25 3.4 $16.85
    Eduardo Nunez Yankees 100 0.5 $0.52 3.0 $15.00
    Matt Carpenter Cardinals 340 1.6 $0.48 2.8 $14.12
    Adam Kennedy Dodgers 201 0.8 $0.80 2.4 $11.94
    Pete Orr Phillies 57 0.2 $0.60 2.1 $10.53

    Not bad, Dodgers, not bad. Not good, but not bad.

    Comment by Charles — December 8, 2012 @ 7:45 pm

  18. Where is Joaquin Arias with the Giants?

    Comment by channelclemente — December 8, 2012 @ 8:04 pm

  19. I was surprised at his WAR/600 number (although I was somewhat aware that he’d had a pretty good season relative to expectations) — isn’t it a long-standing complaint that the defensive components of WAR hurt Rockies outfielders?

    Comment by rusty — December 8, 2012 @ 11:32 pm

  20. Any reason Paul Janish of the Braves was left off?

    Comment by Andrew — December 9, 2012 @ 10:15 am

  21. You method of determining “Every” is flawed. You didn’t even include the two Utility Infielders from the World Champions. Neither Theroit nor Aries were on your list.

    Comment by giantsrainman — December 9, 2012 @ 3:55 pm

  22. A quick question: given that the average value of backup infielders was so low (0.2 WAR/160), doesn’t this give us a pretty strong reason to believe that the actual replacement level is lower than what we are using? Even if these are the 23rd to 25th men (and some clearly were not), I’d expect a bigger drop than 0.2/160 in going to the next guy in line.

    Comment by Gabriel — December 10, 2012 @ 12:05 am

  23. I am shocked, SHOCKED, that Omar Vizquel was not the worst player in the league last year. A great career, but wow, was it sad watching that guy drag his carcass around the field all season.

    Comment by Big Jgke — December 10, 2012 @ 3:33 pm

  24. I’m not really sure why you’re including WAR/600 or Val/600? It shows a comparable level to a starting player, but it’s only achievable if there’s a season-ending injury or such. Shouldn’t it simply be WAR * $5M? Because more than likely, you’re paying him to ride the bench, not to play.

    Comment by David — December 10, 2012 @ 4:07 pm

  25. Maybe I’m missing something, but Jamey Carroll should be on this list (I think his WAR was around 3 last season (shocking))

    Comment by Pathogen — December 10, 2012 @ 9:37 pm

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