Playing Well on Both Sides

Normally, you expect players that excel at defense to lack offense and vice versa. It is rare that a player can be excellent at both, that group makes up our small core of annual MVP candidates. That makes our (very) early season leaders in UZR so interesting. They are, by and large, an exquisite group of hitting talent. Let’s go through the positions, as outlined by R.J. Anderson a few days ago.

I lead off with the worst example, Chris Davis at first base. Davis has just a .313 wOBA on the year, though he is certainly projected to hit a lot better than that. Of note is that right behind him on the defensive side of things is Ryan Howard and his .381 wOBA. At second base, we stay in Texas and have Ian Kinsler leading the league and pairing his defense with a .415 wOBA.

At shortstop we have the breakout Marco Scutaro who has nearly eclipsed his 2008 totals in home runs and walks already, in just a third of the games he played last season. His .379 wOBA gives up one potent middle infield. At third, Ryan Zimmerman is certainly no slouch with the bat this season. Just off his 30 game hitting streak, Ryan’s wOBA still stands at a robust .434 figure.

Our outfield is perfectly aligned with Jay Bruce in right, Mike Cameron in center and Nyger Morgan in left. Bruce hasn’t been much in terms of batting average, hitting just .239, but his 12 home runs and 13 walks give him a .358 wOBA. Mike Cameron was almost given away this winter by the Brewers who are very content that they resisted. His .282/.392.550 line is good for a .408 wOBA. Finally, Nyger Morgan is no power threat, lacking even a single home run on the year, but his great speed (three triples) and eye (17 walks to 26 strikeouts) give him a .339 wOBA.

All combined, the seven hitters currently leading their respective positions in UZR possess a total figure of 12.6 WAR already this season. Over a full season were these rates to hold, as unlikely as that is, they would accumulate roughly 45 wins.




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Matthew Carruth is a software engineer who has been fascinated with baseball statistics since age five. When not dissecting baseball, he is watching hockey or playing soccer.


6 Responses to “Playing Well on Both Sides”

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  1. greenmachine says:

    Don’t forget your catcher: JOE MAUER

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  2. Rich says:

    Scutaro will be 34 in October. I think his season is probably better characterized as an aberration than a breakout.

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    • Steve Shane says:

      sorta off topic, but I figure it would generate a few laughs.

      A few years ago, when Scutaro was playing with the As, he was being praised on BBTN for being a good all around player, contributing more than what the “stats” say…..

      Kruk, from what I can tell was being serious and not joking, goes to Steve Phillips, I guess thats just another reason why you’re here with us and not the mets GM anymore.

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  3. tom s. says:

    Nyjer morgan is very talented on both sides of the ball, as you say. Whenever I watch the pirates I wonder why he’s in left w/ mclouth in center and not vice versa. Morgan has all the range a CF should have, while mclouth would be a fine corner OF, but is a bit over his head in center.. Pirates fans? Thoughts?

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    • Mark R says:

      Not a Pirates fan, but Morgan REALLY needs to be playing center. It’s a real shame that he hasn’t been given more of a chance in the majors. He’s, judging from his minor league track record, like Endy Chavez with an adequate bat.

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  4. tyger says:

    Since I’m not always right in how I think about stats, I just want to make sure, just these 7 position players alone, w/ a replacement level C and pitching staff would win 85-90 games? If everything were to hold, of course…

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