Daily Notes: Best Players Without Starting Roles, Now for ZiPS

Table of Contents
Here’s the table of contents for today’s edition of the Daily Notes.

1. The Best Players Without Starting Roles, Now for ZiPS
2. Mostly Unhelpful Video: Scott Rolen, Defensing in 2008

The Best Players Without Starting Roles, Now for ZiPS
Last week, the author utilized his widely praised capacity for “sorting through leaderboards” to identify the top forecasts for rookie-eligible players, according to the ZiPS and Steamer and FAN projection systems — where “top” was equivalent to “highest projected WAR” and nothing else.

Yesterday, the author performed a similar exercise — except for, instead of identifying the top rookie-eligible players, the author identified the best field players per Steamer who are currently without a starting role.

Today, the author once again looks at the best players sans a starting role, except with using the ZiPS projections, which were officially released at the site on Monday afternoon.

Below are the 11 players (because there was a tie for 10th place) who most aptly fit that description. Below that are some brief comments by the author to give the impression that he has not merely assembled a Table of Numbers.

First, though, five notes:

1. “Best” in the context of this exercise is equivalent to “projected WAR per every 650 plate appearances.”

2. It’s possible (although, considering the list, it doesn’t seem to be entirely problematic) that players with pronounced platoon splits might benefit from the definition of “best” being used here — which is to say, they would be unlikely to produce over 650 plate appearances what they would over a fewer, more carefully selected number of plate appearances.

3. Players eligible for this exercise are those who are projected to have no kind of starting role with their team, according to MLB Depth Charts. Both everyday starters and those who are likely to be deployed in a platoon have been excluded.

4. Because (a) their WAR projections per plate appearance are naturally higher and (b) the author didn’t care to prorate those WAR projections to, say, 500 plate appearances or whatever on his sexy spreadsheet, catchers have been excluded from consideration for this exercise.

5. There might be slight differences between how certain of the present ZiPS figures appear relative to how they appeared during our team-by-team rollout of same. This is very likely due to the incompetence of the present author, who was tasked with calculating some of the figures in the team-specific posts (i.e. wOBA, FIP) from the data provided by ZiPS’ benevolent creator Dan Szymborski.

# Name Team PA AVG OBP SLG Fld BsR WAR WAR/650
1 Jurickson Profar Rangers 610 .263 .334 .414 4 -0.1 3.7 3.9
Mike Olt Rangers 487 .247 .333 .429 4 0.1 2.9 3.9
3 Anthony Rendon Nationals 358 .242 .327 .412 3 -0.6 1.9 3.4
Eric Young Rockies 377 .265 .341 .373 2 2.9 2.0 3.4
5 Oscar Taveras Cardinals 540 .279 .334 .457 -4 -0.5 2.5 3.0
6 Nolan Arenado Rockies 644 .280 .324 .433 0 -1.3 2.8 2.8
Jackie Bradley Red Sox 516 .249 .335 .367 5 -0.6 2.2 2.8
8 Scott Rolen FA 286 .249 .307 .398 3 -0.5 1.2 2.7
Reid Brignac Rockies 408 .254 .308 .385 3 -0.8 1.7 2.7
10 Didi Gregorius D-backs 550 .271 .307 .396 5 -2.7 2.2 2.6
Brett Jackson Cubs 626 .230 .319 .403 1 0.2 2.5 2.6

• The range, in terms of WAR per 650 plate appearances, is very similar among these players as it was among the best non-starting players according to Steamer — which is to say, from the mid-2.0s to the mid-3.0s.

• Here’s what top of the present list, Jurickson Profar, is to produce in terms of WAR/650 according to Steamer: 1.3.

• Here’s what top of the Steamer list from yesterday, Eric Chavez, is to produce in terms of WAR/650 according to ZiPS: 1.9.

• Here’s what Eric Young did in 98 games last year with the Rockies: 196 PA, .316/.377/.448 (.367 BABIP), 115 wRC+, 1.8 WAR.

• Eight of the 11 players here — Jurickson Profar, Mike Olt, Anthony Rendon, Oscar Taveras, Nolan Arenado, Jackie Bradley, Didi Gregorius, and Brett Jackson — retain rookie eligibility to begin the season.

• Here are the two players who appear on both lists: Mike Olt and Jackie Bradley.

Mostly Unhelpful Video: Scott Rolen, Defensing in 2008
Here’s Scott Rolen (worth ca 160 runs defensively at third in his career) making a play at third in 2008:

Note: if the embedded video doesn’t play, click on the MLB symbol to watch it at MLB.com.

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Carson Cistulli has just published a book of aphorisms called Spirited Ejaculations of a New Enthusiast.

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Matt Bertelli
Matt Bertelli
3 years 7 months ago

Carson when did you become Mike Axisa? Read number 2.


3 years 7 months ago

I am astounded to see Brignac on this list. I wonder what ZiPS found in him.

3 years 7 months ago

This has to be neglecting platoon splits.

3 years 7 months ago

zips has gary sanchez as the yanks best option at catcher