The Heat Index: These shortstops are hot and not
This week I am going to change things up a bit. The last two pieces have ranked players based on the number of runs they created during previous week. While I still love the Runs Created stat, I think its time to talk about WAR. WAR is an especially important statistic and is being used more and more to determine MVP candidates. WAR stands for Wins Above Replacement. Here is what Fangraphs has to say about WAR:
“Wins Above Replacement (WAR) is an attempt by the sabermetric community to summarize a player’s total contributions to their team in one statistic. You should always use more than one metric at a time when evaluating players, but WAR is pretty darn all-inclusive and provides a handy reference point. WAR basically looks at a player and asks the question, “If this player got injured and their team had to replace them with a minor leaguer or someone from their bench, how much value would the team be losing?” This value is expressed in a wins format, so we could say that Player X is worth 6.3 wins to their team while Player Y is only worth 3.5 wins.”
WAR is calculated using measures of offensive performance and defensive performance, which are then compared to a league average. If you want to know all the nitty gritty details then check out Fangraphs. It should be noted that for this particular piece I will be using the WAR metric by Fangraphs (fWAR). There is another version that differs slightly by Baseball-Reference (rWAR). Lets dive in.
1. Cliff Pennington, A’s
Pennington has a .5 fWAR over the past 7 days, which puts him in the top spot. He has 13 hits equating to a .419 average over that time. His six RBIs are the most of any SS last week and he added 4 stolen bases in the seven games. Pennington has always shown adequate defense and is exactly the kind of player the A’s love.
2. Yunel Escobar, Blue Jays
The Blue Jays GM has really been able to work wonders by bringing in productive guys who were in the doghouse with their former teams. Escobar had a 0.4 fWAR last week while batting .406 with 13 hits in 34 plate appearances.
3. Elvis Andrus, Rangers
The young Rangers shortstop who is brilliant with the glove also happens to know how to handle a bat. With a 0.3 fWAR this week he ranked third and might have been even higher but he only played six games instead of the seven the two above him did. Andrus had a .423 OBP to go along with three runs scored and two RBIs.
4. Rafael Furcal, Cardinals
The latest Cardinals acquisition managed to put up a 0.3 fWAR last week while only having a .333 batting average. How did he do it you ask? The light hitting shortstop smacked two homers and drove in three runs while posting a league best .667 slugging percentage for shortstops. Maybe he still has a little in the tank after all.
5. Emilio Bonifacio, Marlins
Bonifacio has been filling in for the injured Hanley Ramirez and putting up great numbers for the Marlins. Last week he scored five runs while driving in four and managed to steal three bases on his way to a 0.3 fWAR. That’s a lot of production for only six games, especially as a fill-in.
1. Yuniesky Betancourt, Brewers
Betancourt tops our list with a -0.2 fWAR in six games this past week. He hit .130 and scored only one run. He only struck out 4.3% of his 23 plate appearances so he must have been making contact, but not very good contact.
2. Trevor Plouffe, Twins
Another -0.2 fWAR player this week who actually hit a decent .280 and scored four runs but his defense was horrible. Plouffe had a terrible -1.2 fielding percentage that dragged his fWAR down to what it is. Plouffe needs to pick up his defense if he wants to get into the positives.
3. Asdrubal Cabrera, Indians
Yes, the Web Gem king is on this list. And yes, it’s his defense that put him in this position. A -0.5 fielding percentage last week brought down his fWAR to -0.1, even though he hit a home run and drove in four runs. His average was also a meager .172 through those seven games.
4. Brendan Ryan, Mariners
Ryan probably should not even be on a major league roster. His only saving grace is his defense. Still, he posted a -0.1 fWAR last week thanks to a .053 batting average in seven games. He recorded one hit in 25 plate appearances. Ryan plays great defense but at what point do you start needing some offense to go along with it before the manager makes a change?
5. Jhonny Peralta, Tigers
The former Indians shortstop is a decent defensive player and normally he posts great power numbers from a speed/OBP position. Not last week though. His defense was average and he managed to squeak out four hits in 25 plate appearances. For a Tigers team looking to make a run at the World Sereis they will need better than -0.1 fWAR from their shortstop.
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