If the Rangers made the World Series, oddsmakers say they would most likely face the Dodgers. This is detailing which team has the advantages in this hypothetical scenario.
1st Base: Mitch Moreland vs. Adrian Gonzalez
Adrian Gonzalez is the superior player, but in many ways they are actually similar. Both are unconventional first baseman-that is, they rely more on contact than outright power. The problem for Moreland is that the first part-the contact- hasn’t actually been there for him. He is hitting .245, and only has a .307 on base percentage. His ISO of .207 is good, but his other deficiencies mask that one virtue. His WAR is only .7, with is solid MLB bench player. Adrian Gonzalez has similar stats but a higher batting average at .297 and has a respectable .345 on base percentage. He does have a league average ISO at .159, but that’s for all players, not just first baseman. In other words, that .159 includes players like Juan Pierre. So a league average ISO is actually well below par for a first baseman.
2nd Base: Ian Kinsler vs. Mark Ellis
Here the Rangers have a distinct advantage. Kinsler to this point has been a 2 WAR player, or basically a solid starter. He has a (for a second baseman) not awful .144 ISO. ZIPS predicts that his final WAR will be 2.5, which is a solid-average player. Mark Ellis hasn’t been terrible either. He has a high .312 batting average on balls put in play (BAPIP). With a pitcher, an abnormally high or low BAPIP indicates that the pitcher will regress to the mean, since pitchers have almost no control over what happens after the batter makes contact. Hitters have much more control over that, which means that Ellis’ .312 BAPIP isn’t necessarily suppose to come down. However, his very low ISO of .091 means that many of his hits are of the bloop and soft line drive variety. That’s why ZIPS expects his BAPIP to regress to .291. In other words, even though hitters have much more control over BAPIP than pitchers, Mark Ellis has still gotten lucky. Ian Kinsler hasn’t. He’s just better.
3rd Base: Adrian Beltre vs. Juan Uribe
Honestly, this doesn’t require a response. We all know who is better. But incase you need a refresher:
- If you took the number of home runs Miguel Cabrera has hit in the last 10 games and multiplied that number of games by two, that would be more home runs than Uribe has on the entire season.
- Adrian Beltre could go 0 for his next 98 and he would have the same batting average as Uribe does now.
- If ZIPS holds true, Beltre would have the same WAR in his last three seasons than Uribe has had in his entire 12 year career.
- Despite playing in two more seasons, Uribe’s career UZR is less than a fifth of Beltre. That’s less an indictment of Uribe than it is a testament to Beltre’s defensive excellence.
I don’t think more conversation on the matter is necessary.
Shortstop: Elvis Andrus vs. Hanley Ramierez
Elvis Andrus is generally considered the better defender, and in other years the disparity wasn’t so drastic. In other years he hit better and for more power. Though the second part was relative to this season only, there isn’t a question that offensively he isn’t as good as he was in previous seasons. Though he’s walking roughly the same amount, his batting average is way down, and his wRC+ is 69. In other words, his runs per average plate appearance is 31% below average. Part of the reason is luck. His line drive, ground ball and fly ball rates haven’t changed much. ZIPS expects him to improve to about career averages. That’s basically what I would have said too. Ramierez, on the other hand, has been destroying the ball recently. While ZIPS expects most of his stats to regress sharply downward, he is still expected to be z more valuable player than Andrus for the rest of the season.
*Catchers will be included with outfielders so next week’s article isn’t abnormally truncated.