Sunday, January 12, 2014

MLB Right Now Pisses Off Braves Fans Right Now

MLB Network is making their way through their positional rankings.  The series, titled Top 10 Right Now, debuted their shortstop rankings Friday night and two former Braves made the list along with Atlanta's current shortstop.  However, where Andrelton Simmons was ranked frustrated a lot of Braves fans.  The Shredder, a computer-based system, ranked Simmons as the 8th best shortstop in the game right now.  Was that fair?  Do the Braves fans have a legitimate beef?

Defensively, Simmons easily wins.  His 31.6 UZR last season is 12.4 points higher than the second-best, Alcides Escobar.  Simmons also led all players with a 5.4 dWAR, according to baseball-reference.  I typically don't use dWAR because I put more value in UZR, but nevertheless, that's pretty impressive considering Elvis Andrus was second among shortstops at 2.0.  And as far DRS goes...there's Simmons with 41 and two other players with 12.  I will put it this way: Among shortstops, Simmons's 41 DRS is better than the next three combined.

Let's look at total value.  Simmons ranked third among all shortstops with 4.7 fWAR.  Simmons ranked even higher at baseball-reference with a 6.8, best among shortstops, and 8th best in the game.  Among shortstops, Hanley Ramirez ranked second with 5.4.  Simba's year was so respected that he finished 14th with 14 points in the MVP balloting.  Only Ramired had more votes in the NL among shortstops.

So, based on just last season, Simmons ranks very high.

However, here is where I will give some value to whatever asinine formula the Shredder actually uses.  Simmons has 206 games of experience with a career .704 OPS.  Simmons slashed his way to just .248/.296/.396, which makes his WAR numbers so much more impressive because Simmons had an inept offensive season.  And it appears that lack of experience combined with his offensive issues was what hurt him according to the Shredder.  Jean Segura has a comparable amount of playing time, but he posted a solid offensive season.  Andrus had a comparable OPS (less power, better on-base, more speed), but Andrus also has solid defense and a lot of experience.

Do I agree with the reasoning?  Well, it's difficult to disagree.  Now, if you want to be a homer, screw logic...he's top three.  I'd say that's a little too far.  At least, right now.  Another solid season and some offensive improvement, no problem with that argument.  Still, I'd have a tough time putting Simmons in the top five RIGHT NOW.  I'll concede that he might be there as soon as midseason this upcoming season, but he's not there yet.

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