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Saturday, April 13, 2013

Rosenthal: Zobrist MLB’s best

Hey, BDC...got any Ben Zobrist stories?

The metric, according to Fangraphs, is an “attempt by the sabermetric community to summarize a player’s total contributions to their team in one statistic.” Sean Forman, the founder of baseball-reference.com, has called it “a framework ... an estimate of a player’s overall value.”

WAR estimates the number of wins that a player provides over a minor league or waiver-wire “replacement,” taking into account offense, defense and baserunning. The defensive measure is adjusted according to the difficulty of the position. Zobrist’s durability — he has played in an average of 154 games the past four seasons — also helps his value.

So, while Zobrist might not hit like Cabrera or Albert Pujols, WAR reflects the strength of his all-around game.

“It’s a common thing across all sports: Players who do one thing very well are valued a lot more highly than players who do a lot of things pretty well,” Forman says. “Really for Zobrist, it’s that he does everything pretty well.

“A lot of his offensive value is based off walks, which are generally undervalued. He runs the bases very well. He rarely grounds into double plays. And pretty much all the defensive metrics agree that he’s a fantastic fielder. He can play shortstop in a pinch, but plays all over the field otherwise and generally does a very good job of it.”

“Add that all together, and it makes for a pretty valuable player.”

But is Zobrist the best player in the game since 2009? More valuable than Cabrera and Pujols during that time, not to mention Ryan Braun, Joey Votto and Robinson Cano?

“I think you’re undervaluing consistency and a broad ability, a broad list of talents that the player has,” Forman says. “It’s a lot easier to see a guy who had a couple of tremendous, superstar seasons and maybe dropped off further than Zobrist did in an off year, and figure, ‘Well, that player is better. If I’m picking a team, I want that guy playing for me because he had a superstar season.’ People undervalue Zobrist’s consistency year after year and just don’t give that the value that it deserves.”

Repoz Posted: April 13, 2013 at 11:01 AM | 13 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: rays, sabermetrics

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   1. Drexl Spivey Posted: April 13, 2013 at 11:57 AM (#4412985)
Zobrist does that at a ridiculously low price — he is in the final year of a four-year, $18 million contract, and the Rays can retain him on a $7 million option for 2014 and a $7.5 million option for ’15.


Zobrist should fire his agent.
   2. Jim Wisinski Posted: April 13, 2013 at 12:16 PM (#4412990)
Ben Zobrist is awesome and it's nice to see a little mainstream recognition for how good he is. That is all.
   3. DL from MN Posted: April 13, 2013 at 01:31 PM (#4413043)
I'm sure he's one of the All-Time Great Z-name players
   4. cardsfanboy Posted: April 13, 2013 at 01:59 PM (#4413087)
Looking at his war...and I must have missed where they fixed oWar and dWar where they now add up to war again...when did that happen?

After comparing another player that doesn't seem to be the case...weird that Zobrist oWar and dWar equal his war total(most seasons or very close), but not other players like Pujols.

   5. Greg K Posted: April 13, 2013 at 02:00 PM (#4413090)
I'm sure he's one of the All-Time Great Z-name players

But so long as he exists in this universe he'll have to take a seat behind Eddie Zosky among all-time middle infielders.
   6. JJ1986 Posted: April 13, 2013 at 02:03 PM (#4413093)
Looking at his war...and I must have missed where they fixed oWar and dWar where they now add up to war again...when did that happen?

After comparing another player that doesn't seem to be the case...weird that Zobrist oWar and dWar equal his war total(most seasons or very close), but not other players like Pujols.


I think that just means his positional adjustment is 0. He gets it from playing all over, but third baseman and center fielders are probably similar.
   7. cardsfanboy Posted: April 13, 2013 at 02:13 PM (#4413110)
I think that just means his positional adjustment is 0. He gets it from playing all over, but third baseman and center fielders are probably similar.


I hadn't looked at his spread of positions but yes that has to be it.

It's just weird to see how well it tracks. Of course I really wish they would get over that adjustment, I liked it better when oWar and dWar equaled War. I prefer to look at dWar and see how good his defense was relative to other players at his position, than to see a sum that constantly lists firstbaseman, no matter how good, at a very low or negative number.
   8. BDC Posted: April 13, 2013 at 03:08 PM (#4413164)
Hey, BDC...got any Ben Zobrist stories?

:-D I now have what so many garage bands of the 1970s only dream of, my very own recondite Repoz intro.

Now that reminds me of the time I saw Ben Zobrist and Eddie Robinson shake hands. Have I told that story? I was …
   9. Greg K Posted: April 13, 2013 at 03:17 PM (#4413178)

It's just weird to see how well it tracks. Of course I really wish they would get over that adjustment, I liked it better when oWar and dWar equaled War. I prefer to look at dWar and see how good his defense was relative to other players at his position, than to see a sum that constantly lists firstbaseman, no matter how good, at a very low or negative number.

Can't you just look at Rfield?
   10. cardsfanboy Posted: April 13, 2013 at 03:30 PM (#4413197)
Can't you just look at Rfield?


yes, but it doesn't have the win scale that I've become comfortable with. It's a personal preference I guess.
   11. Greg K Posted: April 13, 2013 at 03:41 PM (#4413211)
Ah I read you.

You can get a (very) rough approximation of wins by taking the Rfield runs above/below average and moving the decimal over. So Alex Gordon's 24 Rfield in 2012 is worth roughly 2.4 wins. I would guess the vast majority of players are within 1 win of zero on defence in any given year.

I'm assuming the conversion from runs to wins is a lot less close to 10 in other eras though.
   12. Walt Davis Posted: April 13, 2013 at 05:44 PM (#4413337)
I'm assuming the conversion from runs to wins is a lot less close to 10 in other eras though.

Not really. Maybe the deadball era but it's basically always in the range of 9 to 11. It varies by park too of course.

OK, the 68 Astros conversion is about 8.3 runs/win. 68 Dodgers about the same. 2000 Coors looks to be about 10.5
   13. Greg K Posted: April 13, 2013 at 05:56 PM (#4413349)

OK, the 68 Astros conversion is about 8.3 runs/win. 68 Dodgers about the same. 2000 Coors looks to be about 10.5

Yeah after saying that I looked up Willie Davis, the runs/wins in his career are a lot lower than the present day, but relatively speaking they're not so far off that it makes a quick eye-balling nonsensical.

Of course if you're doing some kind of rigorous comparison, that's a different story. But the old 10:1 rule seems fine enough if you just want a rough idea of defensive wins.

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