NERD for Position Players, Version Two

Last week, I submitted for the readership’s consideration a first attempt at NERD scores for position players. In this post, I submit a second iteration with more variables, as suggested by a number of readers.

For those unfamiliar with NERD, allow me to explain briefly. NERD is an attempt to issue a score (0-10) to, in this case, every position player with more than 100 PA, on the basis of how interesting or watchable that player might be to the learned baseball fan.

While it’s obviously impossible to anticipate every person’s taste — and equally impossible to find in the numbers whatever brand of je ne sais quoi Nyjer Morgan possesses — it’s also probably the case that saber-oriented fans have enough in common to know that Jose Bautista is excellent and Willie Harris, while assuredly affable, does little on the field to merit attention. The benefit of NERD is that, like other stats, it “watches” all the games, so it can help us identify and enjoy players we mightn’t have otherwise known we liked.

For the first iteration of Player NERD, I used only three inputs — namely, age, WAR (per 650 PA), and BABIP luck (where being unlucky is worth a positive value). A number of readers suggested that, while that constituted a decent start, there were other things to consider, probably.

For the present iteration of Player NERD, I’ve added an additional three inputs that I feel address the (helpful) advice of those commenters. Those three variable are home-run per fly-ball percentage (HR/FB), Speed Score (Spd), and strikeout rate (where lower equals better). These variables account for three things which certainly affect the aesthetic value of a player: power, speed, and the ability to, you know, make contact.

Here are the top-20 players now using that method (were N2 = Nerd v2, N1 = Nerd v1, and Diff is the difference between the two scores).

Here are the 10 players who benefit most by the new scoring system:

And the 10 who fall farthest:

While the inclusion of Willie Bloomquist in the “risers” table is perhaps a red flag, there are a number of players on that lists — Albert Pujols, Curtis Granderson, Ryan Braun — who probably do offer something besides what merely their respective ages and WAR might otherwise tell us. Conversely, Clint Barmes, while assuredly affable, is not particularly entertaining.

Two last things, then:

1. See the spreadsheet of all the 302 qualified players here.

2. Thoughts?

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