Behind the Numbers: Infielder Edition

Craig Toth

When Baseball Savant released its new Outs Above Average (OAA) for infielders, it was apparent that the Pittsburgh Pirates were far from the most solid defensive crew in Major League Baseball with a -9 OAA among their regular starters. 

Colin Moran, the Pirates current third baseman, was the main target of the ire as all of the errors and/or mistakes that he committed throughout the season were put on display in videos, GIF, etc. for everyone to see. Josh Bell, the power hitting first baseman of the Pirates, was another target as people talk about how awful he looked every time he tried to throw the ball to second and/or home. The Pirates second baseman, Adam Frazier, was mocked by others when he was nominated for a Gold Glove after the season. There are also some very strong opinions about the offensive firepower that these players as a whole are able to produce. Adam Frazier was once again mentioned due to his streakiness as a hitter. Colin Moran was talked about due to his lack of power, especially against left handed pitchers. These opinions/complaints/evaluations have led to many suggestions as to the infielders that the Pirates should have been signing throughout this off-season to fill the holes of the current lineup; many of whom play multiple positions, which made it difficult to breakdown each position individually for the third installment of my little “experiment” and/or “journey” that every one of you is currently joining me on. If this is your first time here, welcome. If it isn’t, thank you for coming back. 

For those of you who participated at any point of the past two weeks please bear with me as a I once again go over the rules for those who missed out the first couple of times. I will be giving you a list that are made up of current or former Pirates, free agents that have been discussed on various platforms, and free agents that have signed this off-season. Voting will take place from the moment the article is published on Wednesday morning, until Thursday morning. Once all of the votes have been tallied, I will write a follow up article revealing all of the names of the player from that week’s list and discuss what players have been chosen as the “most wanted” to be in a Pittsburgh Pirate’s uniform. Now with all that being said, I am relying on all of you guys and gals to be on the honor system. Please do not look up statistics to try to figure out who each player is! Please do not tell anyone who a player is, even if you know who it is. Please no arguments, only fun discussions! Now that we have all the formalities out of the way, let’s get started!

This week as we focus on infielders, I will be providing you with both offensive and defensive statistics and metrics. Every player will be judged and chosen using the same statistics and metrics. The stats that will be used to compare the list of infielders today will be: 

  1. The classic slash line- AVG. (Batting Average)/OBP (On Base Percentage)/SLG (Slugging Percentage) 
  2. HR (Home Runs) 
  3. XBH (Extra Base Hits) 
  4. wRC+ (Weighted Runs Created Plus) 
  5. WAR (Wins Above Replacement) 
  6. DRS (Defensive Runs Saved) 
  7. OAA (Outs Above Average) 
  8. UZR (Ultimate Zone Rating). 

For those of you that are familiar with these statistics, feel free to use the FanGraphs glossary for further explanation of a specific statistic.

Here is the list of the 11 infielders.

Player
Slash line
HR
XBH
wRC+
WAR
DRS
OAA
URZ

A. Brock Holt

.297/.369/.402

3

19

103

1.3

-2

5

3.2

B. Scooter Gennett

.310/.357/.490

23

56

125

4.5

-1

-3

-2.1

C. Todd Frazier

.251/.329/.443

21

42

106

1.9

1

-1

-0.7

D. Colin Moran

.277/.322/.429

13

44

94

0.1

-14

-6

-9.3

E. Ben Zobrist

.260/.358/.313

1

6

85

0.2

0

-1

2.7

F. Neil Walker

.261/.344/.395

8

28

99

0.4

0

-2

-2.5

G. Adam Frazier

.278/.336/.417

10

50

97

2.2

6

11

2.9

H. Derek Dietrich

.187/.328/.462

19

29

102

1.1

0

-1

0.1

I. Jedd Gyorko

.262/.346/.416

11

31

111

1.5

5

5

-2.2

J. Yolmer Sanchez

.252/.318/.321

2

26

74

1.0

11

2

4.9

K. JT Riddle

.189/.230/.371

6

12

54

-0.6

0

0

-1.2

First of all thank you to everyone that participated. It is not easy to put yourself out there, with the possibility of being “wrong” in your assessment of a player, that your reaction to an available free agent can be clouded by past performances or general like or dislike or that your frustration with a current Pirate does not allow you to see their potential or how well they actually performed. It is definitely a unique exercise and some of the answers given may surprise you. Without further ado, here are the mystery men behind the numbers that were listed in the article yesterday.

I definitely understand the concerns of attempting to pick an “infielder” without knowing the person’s primary position, age, injury history, etc. This is the main reason that I attempted to pick from a pool of players that had the ability to play multiple positions and/or could be utility players for their team or on the free agent market. Even with making these adjustments the numbers could be skewed a little bit. However, I believe it still gives a pretty could estimate as to the players that all of you would want to see in a Pirates’ uniform in 2020. 

There were two overwhelming favorites in the forms of favorite of Bucs in the Basement co-host Chris Lanuti, Scooter Gennett, and surprise Gold Glove-contending 2B, Adam Frazier. Scooter admittedly comes with some risk due to his inability to stay healthy, as he demonstrated last season, but the numbers from 2018 and 2017 if you get a chance to look at them, don’t lie. If the Pirates were to take a flier on a player of his ability I wouldn’t mind it one bit, but it would have to be a very incentive laden deal due to his injury history. 

Adam Frazier is a player that has gotten a lot of publicity over the off-season. First due to his Gold Glove nomination, then because of the trade rumors that surrounded him. His play last year was underrated at times, but when you look at the numbers he ended the season with, it is hard to argue that the Pirates a bargain in him right now under his current contract. They also have what has been seen as a pretty valuable trading chip depending on how the season shakes out for the Pirates, as well as the contending teams that have already shown interest in him. 

When it came down to the third player chosen from this list there was a little divisiveness, but it was mostly between Brock Holt and Jedd Gyorko; both of whom were scooped up recently by division foe the Milwaukee Brewers. Holt is one that many Pirates' fans and were excited about bringing back to the Burgh and truthfully I couldn’t blame them. The move just made too much sense for the team. A plus defender and a guy that gets on base, as well as creates runs with the bat are all things that any team would want. The exact same things could be said about Gyroko; especially since he brings a little more “pop”/power to the plate. And it not like either of them would have cost the Pirates very much money or risk. Gyorko signed for $2 million dollars and even though Holt’s contract details have not been revealed yet, I could not see it being for much more than that. Plus they got Holt for a team option in 2021. 

To those that participated, thank you again. To those that didn’t, there is always next week, as we take a look at outfielders behind the numbers from a batch of current and former Pirates, free agent targets that have been discussed on various platforms, and free gents that have signed this offseason.

 Follow Craig on Twitter: @BucsBasement

Comments (7)
Yark
Yark

B g i

No. 1-7
Letsgobucs
Letsgobucs

A,B,G.
B scares me because of not playing last year. Injury? Age? That's the but the numbers don't lie

Russ Sr
Russ Sr

A, G, & I, although specific positions they play certainly has an effect.

PirateSteve
PirateSteve

B, C, G

Dougg
Dougg

B, G, I

Jared Martin
Jared Martin

Editor

G, B, and C.

Gary Morgan Jr.
Gary Morgan Jr.

I'd go A, G, B. One thing I base at least part of my thoughts in is age of the player. So when I find out B is a 38 year old third baseman or whatever I might be mad at myself. Great column Craig.


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