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We have completed our overview of the best infielders in the 2015 Major League Baseball season as we try to figure out which players deserve All-Star game consideration from a numeric point-of-view. Here’s a recap of what we’ve done:
We now take a look at the outfield positions, beginning with left field.
Once again, we use Felipe’s Ultimate Baseball Advanced Rankings (or FUBAR for short).
FUBAR is a composite score using the most popular, advanced stats available to us. We are looking for position players who have demonstrated the best of the following criteria:
- Offensive Production
- Plate Discipline
- Base Running
We use two stats to measure production: Weighted On-Base Average (wOBA–basically, not all hits are created equal) and Isolated Power (ISO–a stat that measures power).
— MLB (@MLB) May 25, 2015
That swing, though:
- Justin Upton: 990.00 points–There was concern Upton would struggle in a notorious, pitcher-friendly ballpark. So far, however, he’s proven no ballpark is big enough to keep him from crushing the ball.
- Michael Brantley: 715.00–No surprise here, Brantley was our best-hitting left fielder in 2014 and he’s continuing his hitting prowess into 2015.
- Starling Marte: 670.00–Known more for his defense, Marte has had a pretty good start to this season.
- Colby Rasmus: 540.00–Long regarded as a disappointment, Rasmus has seen new life in a very hitter-friendly ballpark in Houston, where all he’s being asked to do is to swing for the fences.
- Matt Holliday: 415.00–Every preseason, we tend to overlook the aging Holliday, but the at 35 years of age, Holliday continues to be one of the more consistent hitters at this position.
FUBAR uses three stats to measure discipline at the plate: Walk Percentage (BB%), Strikeout Percentage (K%), and Walk:Strikeout (BB:K), as we attempt to reward those players who have shown the ability to take walks and limit their strikeouts.
- Michael Brantley: 506.67–One of the more patient hitters in the game, Brantley absolutely dominates this category.
- Nori Aoki: 418.33–He won’t dazzle anyone with his power, but the skills at the plate are legit.
- Matt Holliday: 356.67–Again, one of the most consistent hitters at his position.
- Melky Cabrera: 250.00–So far, the “Melk Man” has underwhelmed with his lack of production, but the plate discipline, hopefully for White Sox fans, show he has what it takes to turn his season around.
- Ben Revere: 208.33–A pesky hitter with speed is the best way to describe Revere.
We use two stats to measure base running: Ultimate Base Running (UBR—a way to quantify the value of a player’s base running skills) and Weighted Stolen Base Runs (wSB–basically, how many runs did a player contribute by stealing runs). For a more detail look at these two stats, click here.
Kevin Pillar, by far, is the best base runner at this position. Not only is he capable of stealing bases, but the metrics show a really smart base runner.
Justin Upton is the best base runner in the National League. As of this writing, Upton has stolen 10 bases and has yet to be caught, showing off the speed to go along with the power already described.
Combining all the offensive components, production, base running, and plate discipline, the following are the best, overall offensive left fielders according to FUBAR:
- Michael Brantley: 1451.67
- Justin Upton: 1276.67
Nori Aoki, Matt Holliday, and Starling Marte round out the top five.
FUBAR uses two stats to compute for defense: Defensive Runs Saved (DRS) and Ultimate Zone Rating (UZR). For further explanation on both of these stats, please read our more detailed look on defense.
You don’t always have to go full speed, into the stands, to make catches:
Yoenis Cespedes beats out Alex Gordon in the American League. Last season, Gordon was the best defensive left fielder. Chris Coghlan reps the NL with plays like these:
All-Star Left Fielders
Putting all these numbers together, we now try to figure out who deserves to be in this year’s All-Star Game:
- Michael Brantley: 1451.67 (AL Starter)–The plate discipline certainly gives Brantley the edge as the best left fielder in baseball.
- Justin Upton: 1276.67 (NL Starter)–One of the prettiest swings by a right-hander, Upton is once again showing off the power this season and certainly deserves a spot on All-Star team.
- Chris Coghlan: 1039.17 (NL Reserve)–Left field is a weak position, but something has to be said about a scrappy guy who brings the leather every game.
- Nori Aoki: 1005.83–Along with the really good batting eye, Aoki is an efficient base stealer as well, with 11 stolen bases as of this writing. He’s also hitting over .300.
- Alex Gordon: 989.17 (AL Reserve)–Gordon has made a name for himself with his glove, but don’t sleep on his hitting.
- Yoenis Cespedes: 934.17–The aggressiveness at the plate is once again a sore spot, but he still has solid power and his glovework has been on full display this season.
- Starling Marte: 910.00–The young Pirates’ player continues to improve and work toward reaching his full potential.
All stats courtesy of fangraphs.com and are good through May 26, 2015.
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