Baseball for the Thinking Fan

Login | Register | Feedback

You are here > Home > Baseball Newsstand > Discussion
Baseball Primer Newsblog
— The Best News Links from the Baseball Newsstand

Wednesday, August 16, 2023

Bobby Witt Jr. May Be 2023’s Best-Kept Secret

Witt isn’t in the ultra-superstar tier yet, but his 2023 season has improved his projections to the point that he can legitimately be considered one of the default All-Star options at shortstop for the next five to seven years or so.

It’s not just his offense that’s taken a step forward; so has his defense, which was one of the sticking points in his profile as a prospect. It wasn’t a sure thing whether he’d be at short instead of third base long term; RAA (-7), DRS (-18) and UZR (-7) all hated his glove work last year, and his defensive numbers at third only grading out as “mediocre” was another negative data point. ZiPS is designed to be fairly conservative with the magnitude of its defensive projections for players with little experience, but it certainly thought that Witt was well below average defensively entering the season. But he’s improved by double digits in all the defensive metrics this season while exclusively playing short — enough that ZiPS thinks we should be confident now that he’s a league-average defender at the position, a noted improvement.

RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: August 16, 2023 at 05:10 PM | 25 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: bobby witt jr., royals

Reader Comments and Retorts

Go to end of page

Statements posted here are those of our readers and do not represent the BaseballThinkFactory. Names are provided by the poster and are not verified. We ask that posters follow our submission policy. Please report any inappropriate comments.

   1. Walt Davis Posted: August 17, 2023 at 02:20 AM (#6138895)
Wow, they ain't kidding about the defense. Statcast has him at #1 in MLB this year at +15 outs, +11 runs after having him at -11/-8 last year. A huge turnaround -- DRS agrees on the magnitude of the turnaraound but has him improved from mind-numbingly bad (-22) to OK (+1). Either way, that's either oe of the biggest flukes in history or the result of a lot of hard work.

And the bat ... not that I keep up on Royals stats but I'd guess he was around a 700 OPS, maybe worse, last time I checked and he's now up to 814. For June/July/Aug, that's 321/365/556. I guess as Bobby Witt's kid it would make sense that he might have some traumatic associations with walks. And a good runner too. I have to admit, I stopped taking the notion of "Bobby Witt, good all-around player" seriously.
   2. Cooper Nielson Posted: August 17, 2023 at 06:43 AM (#6138896)
Another post-hype guy who's quietly making me think "OK, maybe he won't be a TOTAL bust" is Spencer Torkelson. He's hit 6 home runs in August to give him 21 for the season, and has his OPS up to .740 (.823 since the All-Star break).

That's still not great, but it's a big improvement over last year. Unfortunately, his defense seems to be getting worse, but at least he's WAR-positive overall. DH opens up next year with Miguel Cabrera's retirement.
   3. DL from MN Posted: August 17, 2023 at 09:33 AM (#6138898)
He pretty much swept the Twins on his own about a month ago.
   4. Jose is an Absurd Sultan Posted: August 17, 2023 at 09:45 AM (#6138899)
Not to the same level but Jarren Duran .645 OPS last year, .835 OPS this year. An interesting study for someone who isn't me would be to see how the COVID season affected guys from the 2017-2019 drafts. Riley Greene is another one who has broken out this year after disappointing last year. Obviously it's not that unusual for guys to come up, struggle then find their footing but there were a bunch of people who lost a key year of development and it would be interesting to see the impact of that.
   5. RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: August 17, 2023 at 10:40 AM (#6138901)
Either way, that's either oe of the biggest flukes in history or the result of a lot of hard work.

Last year he would make highlight reel plays, but then boot a routine double play the next inning. He's cut down on a LOT of those miscues. From what I have read, it was a lot of work he put in, and the Royals hired a coach specifically to improve his defense. Combined with Maikel Garcia at third (who should be a GG finalist), Michael Massey at second (well above average in several metrics), and Nick Pratto at first (who like Witt last year has tools, but no results yet), the Royals have a chance to have the best infield defense in baseball next year.
   6. Walt Davis Posted: August 17, 2023 at 04:29 PM (#6138926)
#5 ... that looks about right on the surface. He was charged with 19 errors last year, just 7 so far this year. Weirdly, last year he made more plays per 9 than the average SS, this year fewer. TZ is still not a fan.

Is it just me or does this seem all wrong. Witt at SS for 2022 and 2023, the numbers are innings, chances, assists, DPs. The 2022 numbers are better on a per-inning basis.

2022 826 innings, 388 ch, 259 A, 51 DP
2023 947 innints, 386 ch, 253 A, 50 DP

I assume that's why TZ still rates him poorly. A drop from 16 to 7 errors is obviously a lot but can't be more than 9 runs max. Some is context as lg RF9 has dropped from 3.91 to 3.69, maybe due to the shift restrictions. I suppose that could be part of the explanation too in that, on a play-by-play basis, easy plays on the other side of 2B have been replaced by slightly harder plays. And maybe the Royals are giving up fewer and/or tougher GBs this year.
   7. sunday silence (again) Posted: August 17, 2023 at 05:37 PM (#6138934)
The difference in DPs may be negligible, it seems that the only diff from last year is that he had 4 LD DPs and none this year. Might be useful to consider those as flukes to some extent. Otherwise he started 23 DPs in both seasons and was the relay 24 vs 23 last year. Also played 12 more games at SS so perhaps he's down one DP from last year?

Interesting BIS makes him 11 runs better in fielding range and 5 on "inf throws" (I think thats what they call it). Throwing errors usually come with men on base, and they are usually much worse than normal errors, probly about 0.9 runs per ThE. He has 3 less throwing errors this year.

But wait, he also has 6 more assists on relays than last year (0). These are baserunners kills and they are very valuable perhaps over a run. (probably not counted as OAAs by statcast) But then again if its a relay you probably have to credit at least one other fielder on that. SO

3 x .9 = 2.7
6 x .5 = 3
total 5.7 runs

Perhaps that gives us some insight to the black box that is these private defensive systems.

So yeah I can see him being about 1.5 WAR better on defense, the DP thing probably not much of a factor.

Good discussion Walt/Retor thanks for all the insights you guys bring to this.
   8. sunday silence (again) Posted: August 17, 2023 at 05:39 PM (#6138935)
Some is context as lg RF9 has dropped from 3.91 to 3.69, maybe due to the shift restrictions.

very interesting, will have to think about this more.
   9. RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: August 17, 2023 at 05:53 PM (#6138938)
And yet despite the terrific defense, the Royals have the fourth-highest pitching BABIP in the league? The pitchers are bad and the ballpark is big - is that it?
   10. Walt Davis Posted: August 18, 2023 at 12:56 AM (#6138964)
What the heck, we probably haven't had a Royals thread in 5 years.

Royals OBP/SLG and BABIP allowed

GB 261/285 261
FB 208/663 094
LD 640/919 633

MLB 2023

GB 245/270 245
FB 213/669 096
LD 635/905 629

So that's, ummmm, not very enlightening. An extra 15 points of GB BA is pretty "big" but it's only about 20 singles (and 4 LDs if you want to add that). G/F ratios look to be about the same (not presented). Minn (by a lot) and Oak (by a lot more) are worse on GBs.

So yeah, how do you get good IF ratings by statcast while making plays at a lower rate. Maybe that's lousy positioning -- Royal IFs tend to have longer to go to make their outs so the plays they make look really good while the plays they don't make are not usually made from that far away??
   11. Rally Posted: August 18, 2023 at 09:12 AM (#6138971)
Walt, to see how TZ rates him you’d need to know how many groundball singles end up in CF, and how many in LF. It’s possible his plays made stays the same but hots allowed change, the TZ could be very different.

Now since the TZ is about the same, still well below average, the distribution of hits probably hasn’t changed much. Statcast is the gold standard here for defensive value. So if that tells us Witt is making extra plays I believe it. Royals have what appear to be good fielding infielders, including Nicky Lopez, who was there but got traded. However, their defensive efficiency is poor. And looking at grounders only, they give up a .262 BA, compared to the league .247.

TZ is going to correlate with defensive efficiency. If Statcast is still showing them as a good fielding group, the most likely explanations are:

1. The pitching is doing an exceptionally poor job of giving up hard hit balls
2. The Royals have no clue how to position players, and with their lack of this they are negating what should be a team strength.
   12. sunday silence (again) Posted: August 18, 2023 at 11:46 AM (#6138979)
Statcast is the gold standard here for defensive value.

Im confused. Isnt statcast just a measure of fielding range? You still have to count: bad throws, double plays, base runner kills, among other things. Is that correct or is stat cast counting those as well?

Some is context as lg RF9 has dropped from 3.91 to 3.69, maybe due to the shift restrictions.

.22 divided by 33.76 AB/game = .0065 increase in ba. Presumably in the area of SS. maybe similar for 2b

HRs are up .12 so that would be 3.5 pts of batting on balls not in play.

League ba is up 5 pts. do we think this is mostly accounted for by the shift rules?
   13. Rally Posted: August 18, 2023 at 12:33 PM (#6138985)
I’m not sure if they account for double plays, but as far as the rest, judge for yourself:
   14. Rally Posted: August 18, 2023 at 12:34 PM (#6138986)
And even if there are tiny bits of fielding that statcast is not measuring yet, the quality of the data is so good that it is far ahead of the other defensive ratings.
   15. Walt Davis Posted: August 18, 2023 at 03:54 PM (#6138998)
Where I learn of the existence of a human being named Brenton Doyle.

In fairness, the stats I cite have always come from the "outs above average" leaderboard. I'm not sure if those include throws or not, the numbers seem a bit different than those in the linked table. OAA definitely doesn't do catchers.

Mr Witt just fielded a ball above average into the Wrigley basket for a 4-3 Royals lead.
   16. sunday silence (again) Posted: August 18, 2023 at 04:15 PM (#6138999)
yeah thanks for the link in no. 13 Rally. Very nice. Looking it over yes does seem to account for throws but there are still issues there. For outfield assists it seems to be right on track, I looked at Lane Thomas and Yelich and these seems to make sense for range and assists. It also seems to track runners advancing but doesnt really score that into the OAA rating. So Yelich may give up say 12 more bases advanced/season than avg OFer but thats not showing up in OAAs (perhaps it shouldnt). Also turning doubles into singles. Admittedly these are small but they can add up at the extremes.

BUt Im not sure its doing a good job on infielder arms. In the case of Witt, stat cast says his throwing is no different than last year. Whereas BIS makes him 5 runs better than last year. ANd we can see where those 5 runs probably are coming from by looking at errant throws and baserunner kills. So not sure whats going on. Statcast does track runners so maybe it thinks those assists were easy outs or something? Not sure. have to keep studying this to make an intelligent guess. BIS makes Witt 13 runs better in range whereas Statcast 11, so pretty close there.

Walt yes it does seem to account for throws, but needs to be looked at a bit more.
   17. Never Give an Inge (Dave) Posted: August 18, 2023 at 09:38 PM (#6139018)
The other guy who has really turned around his prospects this year is Jarred Kelenic. His first two seasons he combined for 558 PA of 66 OPS+ and -2.0 WAR. This year in 362 PA he has a 113 OPS+ and 1.9 WAR.
   18. Howie Menckel Posted: August 18, 2023 at 10:01 PM (#6139020)
take it to the Mets Fans Self-Immolation Thread !

   19. Walt Davis Posted: August 18, 2023 at 11:46 PM (#6139028)
Kelenic ... maybe (and let's hope so!) He got off to a great start this year with an OPS near 1000 through April. Since then it's been 230/303/370 and he's been on the IL for the last month.
   20. bookbook Posted: August 19, 2023 at 10:07 AM (#6139044)
Witt and Julio have been the best two players in baseball (non-unicorn division) for the last month. Their face off over the last 4 game series was fun, though both teams kind of sucked around them (which was more surprising for Seattle than for KC).

It sounds like Witt was always good defensively, but had to overcome consistency issues in the majors. It would be great if KC can build around him.
   21. TJ Posted: August 19, 2023 at 06:13 PM (#6139061)
I will leave the statistical analysis to you are better at it than I and just share my observational input. Having watched a ton of KC games the past two seasons, it looks to me like Witt has slowed the game down for himself this year. Last season he looked like he was trying to do everything in the field at hyper speed. This year it seems like he’s slowed down some parts of his defensive game, which can be expected with additional experience and coaching. Seems to me to be a good sign of development in a young player.
   22. sunday silence (again) Posted: August 20, 2023 at 10:26 PM (#6139133)
Yeah Statcast does not appear to be giving a value for baserunner kills by infielders, although do provide values for outfielders.

For selected Shortstops, 2022-2023

Name .....BIS Runs throwing ..... Statcast Runs on Throws
.............2022, 2023 ................ 2022, 2023

Swanson ...9, 7 ...... 0,0
Franco ... -1, 7 ....... 0,0
E Tovar .. .... 4........... 0
Baez ...... -3, 4 ....... 0,0
Lindor ......5, 4 ..... . 0,0
Conclusion: statcast is measuring baserunner kills by outfielders, the numbers they give seem to correlate with assists. there remains issues with baserunner move ups which are tracked by statcast but they dont assign a run value to them.

Statcast does not appear to be measuring baserunner kills by infielders (as shown by "assists home" and "assists relay" ) they just give everyone zero in the tables. Unsure if they are measuring DPs turned, there's also issues with throwing errors/men on no idea if this is part of OAAs.
   23. amityusa0106 Posted: August 24, 2023 at 02:57 AM (#6139428)
The player (Witt) is not yet considered to be in the ultra-superstar tier, Geometry Dash but his performance during the 2023 season has led to improved projections for his future performance.
   24. Barry`s_Lazy_Boy Posted: August 24, 2023 at 02:02 PM (#6139451)
I honestly thought Geometry Dash was some new hip baseball stat site that I've never heard of. D'oh.

If this site dies, where are the 2002-era bots going to post spam links?
   25. Buck Coats Posted: August 24, 2023 at 06:49 PM (#6139480)
maybe they'll start posting articles too, try to boost readership numbers...

You must be Registered and Logged In to post comments.



<< Back to main

BBTF Partner

Dynasty League Baseball

Support BBTF


Thanks to
Chicago Joe
for his generous support.

You must be logged in to view your Bookmarks.

Hot Topics

NewsblogOT - 2023 NFL thread
(81 - 11:30am, Dec 05)
Last: AuntBea odeurs de parfum de distance sociale

NewsblogMookie Betts will be 'every-day second baseman' for Dodgers
(4 - 11:30am, Dec 05)
Last: Darren

NewsblogSources: Wade Miley back with Brewers on 1-year, $8.5M deal
(5 - 10:48am, Dec 05)
Last: RoyalsRetro (AG#1F)

NewsblogOT - NBA Redux Thread for the End of 2023
(142 - 9:19am, Dec 05)
Last: Crosseyed and Painless

NewsblogWho is on the 2024 Baseball Hall of Fame ballot and what’s the induction process?
(359 - 7:34am, Dec 05)
Last: Lassus

NewsblogAngels narrowly avoided the luxury tax
(9 - 6:43am, Dec 05)
Last: Starring Bradley Scotchman as RMc

NewsblogOT - November* 2023 College Football thread
(320 - 12:47am, Dec 05)
Last: AuntBea odeurs de parfum de distance sociale

NewsblogForbes: For MLB, Las Vegas, And Oakland, The A’s Name And Brand Should Stay Put
(42 - 9:49pm, Dec 04)
Last: Walt Davis

NewsblogOT - College Football Bowl Spectacular (December 2023 - January 2024)
(7 - 8:43pm, Dec 04)
Last: Howie Menckel

NewsblogOrioles holding out for development rights as lease deadline nears
(2 - 7:38pm, Dec 04)
Last: Benji Gil Gamesh VII - The Opt-Out Awakens

NewsblogBraves acquire Jarred Kelenic, Marco Gonzales, Evan White from Mariners
(14 - 7:05pm, Dec 04)
Last: The Duke

NewsblogZack Britton details analytics ‘rift’ that’s plaguing Yankees
(13 - 5:26pm, Dec 04)
Last: Ron J

NewsblogLeyland, postseason manager extraordinaire, elected to Hall
(20 - 4:19pm, Dec 04)
Last: Ziggy: social distancing since 1980

NewsblogHot Stove Omnichatter
(69 - 4:04pm, Dec 04)
Last: cardsfanboy

NewsblogSportsnet's Ben Wagner out as voice of Blue Jays radio broadcasts
(5 - 12:13pm, Dec 04)
Last: Russ

Page rendered in 0.2948 seconds
48 querie(s) executed