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2014 MLB Capsule: Quick Glance at Top 70 Players

Felipe Melecio uses advanced metrics to rank the top 70 every day players of the 2014 MLB season.

Josh Donaldson

It’s been said before, it will be said again: the 2014 Major League Baseball season will be missed. From the unpredictability of the games of the regular season which caused wild and wacky playoff chases, to the intense postseason, and the continued controversy provided by the debate between “old school,” conventional thought and new-aged, Sabermetrics crowds, it has been a unique baseball season. Alas, all good things must end and now we have to wait until February for pitchers and catchers to report. Only about three more months to go.

As we did with our All-Defensive Team, All-Offensive Team, and Ultimate Starting Rotation, we will be using Felipe’s Ultimate Baseball Advanced Rankings (or FUBAR for short) to determine our Ultimate Baseball Player, our equivalent to the Most Valuable Player award.

For this award, only every day ball players qualify. It’s understandable that a pitcher, in an era where pitching has been dominating the game in recent years, can win his league’s MVP award. But for this exercise, we will be focusing on the hitters as their impact is felt almost every day throughout the season as opposed to every four or five days like a starting pitcher.

But before we shut the door on the 2014 season, let’s take a look back at some notable players that were not quite good enough to be awarded our MVP award, but good enough to have made some sort of impact this past season.

METHODOLOGY

FUBAR uses a few advanced statistics to come up with its version of the MVP. On offense, we look at the stats that best exemplifies the following skill-set:

  • Hitting Prowess–Weighted On Base Average (or wOBA for short).
  • Plate Discipline–Walks per Strikeout ratio (BB:K). Does the hitter know how to take a walk or is he out there hacking?
  • Base Running–Per fangraphs.com, Base Running (BsR) is a stat used to gauge the value of a player’s base running.

For more details on the stats used to determine our MVP, please be sure to check out our All-Offensive Team feature for more details.

For defense, we use both Defensive Runs Saved (DRS) and Ultimate Zone Rating (UZR) to evaluate defensive ability. For a more detailed look at both stats, be sure to check out our All-Defensive Team recap.

A points system is used to reward the top players from each statistical categories. Only the top 20 players in each category were awarded points. The higher a player’s ranking in each metric, the more points that player gets.

MISSING THE CUT COMPLETELY

A grand total of 72 players were awarded points in each of the five statistical categories mentioned. Finishing as the 72nd best player in 2014, Chase Utley received 2.5 points for his defense. The winner of this award received a whopping 1,815 points for his wonderful year. We can laugh at the insurmountable difference between Utley and the eventual winner, but at least Utley got points for this season. Here is a quick list of players that failed to garner one point in our MVP race:

Of course, injuries disqualified Goldschmidt and Tulowitzki from competition as they did not reach the minimum plate appearances needed to be in contention, per fangraphs.com. So in part, we do reward players for enduring close to a full season.

NOTABLE TOP 70 PLAYERS

  • Carlos Gomez and Adam Jones–Tied for 70th overall, both players are very similar to each other: they can cover a lot of ground at center, can run, can hit for power, and virtually swing at every pitch thrown at them.
  • Adrian Gonzalez–Silver Slugger Award winner was ranked 67th overall in our rankings.
  • Matt KempAfter getting off to a slow start, Kemp rebounded to get points for his hitting prowess.
  • Joe Mauer–Received all of his points because of base running, proving once again that you don’t have to be fast to be a good base runner.
  • Yoenis Cespedes–The only thing the Oakland Athletics miss about Cespedes is his defense. The poor plate approach and bad attitude was gladly traded away. He would finish at number 60 on our list.
  • Nelson Cruz–The home run leader (ranked 59th) got points for finishing in the top 20 in wOBA.
  • Buster Posey–The three-time World Series champion proves that he has plenty of skill in his bat despite playing catcher.
  • Freddie Freeman–With all the power bats in Atlanta, Freeman might have been the team’s best offensive player as he finished 51st in overall FUBAR.
  • Christian Yelich–Finishing 49th overall, Yelich is a budding star in the making.
  • Yasiel Puig–Ranking in at number 44, Puig makes it on hitting prowess alone, but can be so much more with his talent and ability.
  • David Ortiz–Ortiz finished in 40th place thanks in large part to his plate discipline
  • Matt Carpenter–Unfortunately for “Big Papi,” Carpenter finished one spot ahead of him because Carpenter’s discipline at the plate was slightly better.
  • Miguel Cabrera–The reigning AL MVP finished in 37th place as he still held his own in the hitting department
  • Hunter Pence–The crazy person on the champion San Francisco Giants finished 33rd as his base running helped him get some consideration for our MVP award.
  • Adrian Beltre–His career might be dwindling down, but Beltre is still producing. Just don’t touch his head.
  • Edwin Encarnacion–Finishing as our top-hitting first baseman, Encarnacion finished 27th in our player rankings.
  • Anthony Rizzo–Would finish as Encarnacion’s backup in our All-Offensive Team, but when compared to the rest of the league and removing Encarnacion’s relative, good base running skills, Rizzo is able to finish ahead here.
  • Jose Altuve–The feel-good story of the 2014 campaign, when matched up against all other players, Altuve gets points solely for his base running, which is good enough to make him a top 25 player.
  • Robinson Cano–It has been back-and-forth between Cano and Altuve for best second baseman. It’s only fitting that both players would be tied for 24th overall in our rankings. To Cano’s credit, he was still a top player despite the move to Seattle.
  • Dustin Pedroia–The Red Sox might have been terrible in 2014, but Pedroia played great defense at second and was able to edge out both Altuve and Cano in overall FUBAR.
  • Josh Donaldson–Despite the errors, Donaldson is ranked 22nd overall on defense alone.

There’s a lot of good ball players on this list, but they were not good enough to finish in our top 20 players’ rankings. We will take a closer look at the top 20 players of the 2014 season in the upcoming week as we close the door and put the finishing touches on our 2014 MLB Capsule.

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