2014 MLB Capsule: Top Position Players–16-20

Mike Trout

As we say goodbye to a memorable Major League Baseball season, we take a look back at the position players that helped make the 2014 MLB campaign, well, memorable. We will be using Felipe’s Ultimate Baseball Advanced Rankings (or FUBAR for short) to name our top 20 players of this past season as we march towards our 2014 Ultimate Baseball Player (or MVP).

For an explanation how we determined our list of top players, be sure to read our quick recap of the top 70 notable players of this past season. The stats used in offensive FUBAR is as follows:

  • 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.

Don’t forget to check out our Ultimate Starting Rotation

T-20th–Carlos Santana
Offensive FUBAR Traditional Stats
0.353 -0.6 0.91 27 85 5 0.231

Santana put up some good production numbers, but most people will point at the low batting average and wonder how Santana made it to the top 20 in anything. Plus he’s slow and not as athletic as a Carlos Gomez or Adam Jones.

However, what he lacks in physical makeup, Santana more than makes up for it in pure baseball skill and power. Santana struck out more than 100 times this past season, but also drew over 100 walks as well. Not a very flashy achievement, but only five other players finished ahead of Santana in BB:K.

Although his low batting average will have traditional fans roll their eyes at Santana, his wOBA would be welcomed on any team and his Isolated Power (ISO: per fangraphs.com, simply measures a player’s power) shows that he may not put too many balls in play, but when he does, they’re usually for extra base-hits.

T-20th–Yangervis Solarte
Offensive FUBAR Traditional Stats
0.317 -2.6 0.91 10 48 0 0.260

One of the biggest surprises of 2014, at one point of the season, Solarte was the best hitter on the New York Yankees. His hitting prowess did not hold steady for the entirety of the season, especially after being traded to the San Diego Padres, but Solarte did establish himself as one of the most patient hitters in the league. Along with his patience, Solarte also ranked 11th in overall Contact Rate. Plus, this past season, he displayed his versatility on the field by playing in at least 20 innings at four different positions.

19th–Anthony Rendon
Offensive FUBAR Traditional Stats
0.361 7.4 0.56 21 83 17 0.287

Long regarded as one of the best, up-and-coming players in the last couple of seasons, Rendon broke out in a huge way in 2014, helping the Washington Nationals obtain the National League’s best record.

Rendon’s wOBA would rank 26th among 146 qualified hitters, but the reason he makes it in our top 20 is due to his base running, finishing sixth in BsR. If that wasn’t enough, he chipped in 21 home runs, living up to the hype of the excitement that surrounded him in the minors.

Only 24 years old, Rendon has already displayed the maturity at the plate of more established players, is a threat on the base paths, can hit for power, and can be productive from a Sabermetric and traditional standpoint.

18th–Mike Trout
Offensive FUBAR Traditional Stats
0.402 4.8 0.45 36 111 16 0.287

Oh, what happened here? The American League MVP does not impress FUBAR? First of all, for the most part, both traditional and SABR proponents called a truce and agreed that Trout is the league’s best position player. The counting stats are impressive in a league that is seeing offensive production decrease since the turn of the decade. A .402 wOBA is nothing to scoff at either.

FUBAR, as mentioned, takes other factors into account. One of them is plate discipline. This year, Trout’s BB:K dipped down to his rookie level after making monumental strides in 2013. To be fair, Trout proved to be one of the most patient hitters in baseball, but a player can be too patient and see his strikeouts rack up pretty quickly.

Not only that, but Trout failed to garner points in the defensive categories. If he’s supposed to be a five-tool player, he should be able to be among the best in the advance defensive metrics. The fact is, Trout was not even a top 10 centerfielder in terms of defensive FUBAR.

So Trout is not the best player in FUBAR. That’s fine, he still has his riches, the MVP, and his youth. Now if he could only cut down on the strikeouts.

17th–Andrelton Simmons
Offensive FUBAR Traditional Stats
0.273 0.2 0.54 7 46 4 0.244

One quick glance at Simmons’ offensive production and compared to that of Trout’s and one can imagine people scratching their heads in ambiguity. But overall FUBAR takes account defensive metrics. This past season, Simmons finished among the best infielders, if not the very best infielder, in all of baseball.

What makes Simmons so good on defense? It’s his range being rewarded handsomely, mostly by the DRS defensive metric. Aside from getting to almost every ball, he’s also great at turning the double-play and also has one of the best arms in the infield you will ever see. It is completely justified to see Simmons in every highlight show for his glovework.

16th–Billy Hamilton
Offensive FUBAR Traditional Stats
0.287 6.4 0.29 6 48 56 0.250

Hamilton is the complete opposite of Carlos Santana. He lacks the polish at the plate that the burly Santana has, but Hamilton makes up for it in speed and athleticism. Hamilton uses both attributes not only on the base paths, but also in the outfield where he displays great range and also showcases an arm that keeps opposing base runners at bay.

It will be interesting to see if Hamilton can display the on-base skills that he showed during his minor league career. He’s only 24 years old so he has time to continue to hone his skills at the big league level. And when he does, he is going to be a complete nightmare once he’s on base, for many years to come.

All stats courtesy of fangraphs.com.

author avatar
Felipe Melecio
Felipe Melecio was the managing editor for the blog Pathological Hate. He believes that math is your friend and numbers can be fun, especially when it comes to baseball. Keep tabs on all his knee-jerk reactions on Twitter: !function(d,s,id){var js,fjs=d.getElementsByTagName(s)[0],p=/^http:/.test(d.location)?'http':'https';if(!d.getElementById(id)){js=d.createElement(s);js.id=id;js.src=p+'://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js';fjs.parentNode.insertBefore(js,fjs);}}(document, 'script', 'twitter-wjs');