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Campaign Season: Using FUBAR to Gauge MLB All-Star Center Field Candidates

Felipe Melecio uses advanced baseball stats to determine MLB All-Star Center Field candidates.

MLB, Mike Trout


Most likely, the marquee players reside at center field. There are former MVPs, freak athletes, the speed burners, and biggest base thieves playing this position. Before we uncover the best of the best, here’s a recap of all the other positions we’ve covered so far:

FUBAR

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:

  1. Offensive Production
  2. Plate Discipline
  3. Base Running
  4. Fielding

Offensive Production

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).

It’s not who you think:

      And if there was any doubt left, here’s another bomb:
  1. Joc Pederson: 1060.00 points–Pederson has lived up to the hype that was bestowed upon him as a must-watch prospect in the Dodgers’ system. He’s quickly becoming one of the best young players in baseball and, do we dare say it; he’s making people forget about Yasiel Puig.
  2. Mike Trout: 920.00–The reigning, American League MVP is once again in the running, but he will have to settle for second place in our centerfield, hitting prowess rankings. Will he be able to overtake Pederson? More than probably.
  3. Andrew McCutchen: 790.00–One of the most consistent players in the National League, Cutch is finally playing up to par after a slow start to the season.
  4. A.J. Pollock: 520.00–One of the more unknown players, but we’re hoping Pollock gets some much-deserved pub as he’s gotten off to a fast start this season.
  5. Charlie Blackmon: 480.00–One of the breakout players of 2014, Blackmon is showing he is no fluke. He’s actually hitting better on the road than at hitter-friendly, Coors Field.

Plate Discipline

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.

  1. Jacoby Ellsbury: 461.67–He’s always had one of the better approaches at the plate and this year is no different.
  2. Andrew McCutchen: 396.67–The one advantage McCutchen undoubtedly possessed over guys like Mike Trout has been his batting eye.
  3. Mookie Betts: 345.00–Ellsbury left Boston for New York when he hit the free agent market. The Red Sox had a guy in Betts who can step in and emulate the talented Ellsbury.
  4. Joc Pederson: 288.33–Another rookie on the list, it is amazing what Pederson is doing with his combination of power and approach.
  5. Mike Trout: 228.33–FUBAR has been unfriendly toward Trout because of plate discipline, but this season, Trout has made the necessary adjustments to at least finish among the top five at his position.

Base Running

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.

This dude right here moves like a cheetah:

  1. Billy Hamilton: 495.00–There’s speed, then there’s Hamilton speed.
  2. Lorenzo Cain: 397.50–We saw Cain’s speed on full display during the 2014 MLB Playoffs. He is up to his old tricks in 2015.
  3. Kevin Pillar: 345.00–Pillar measures as a good base runner. Of course, the speed is visible on defense.
  4. Jacoby Ellsbury: 335.00–Ellsbury has always been one of the more exciting players on the base paths and this year is no different.
  5. Charlie Blackmon: 302.50–Blackmon showing he has the leather to match the wood.

All-Offensive

Combining all the offensive components, production, base running, and plate discipline, the following are the best, overall offensive center fielders according to FUBAR:

  1. Joc Pederson: 1348.33–Because of the power and discipline, Pederson gets the nod as the best offensive, center fielder in the game right now.
  2. Mike Trout: 1260.83–Not too far behind, however, is the perennial MVP.
  3. Andrew McCutchen: 1186.67–Nearing his age 30 season, McCutchen has not shown any signs of declining.
  4. Jacoby Ellsbury: 1076.67–He is the engine to the Yankees’ offense.
  5. A.J. Pollock: 945.00–The same can be said about Pollock in Arizona, but no one cares enough to notice. But we care!

Fielding

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.

Kevin Kiermaier leads the way defensively at center with plays like these:

Lorenzo Cain finsihed in second, but became a household name during the 2014 American League playoffs because of his defense.

In the National League, A.J. Pollock continues to introduce himself to the rest of baseball:

All-Star Center Fielders

Putting all these numbers together, we now try to figure out who deserves to be in this year’s All-Star Game:

  1. Mike Trout: 1598.33 (AL Starter)–He’s a bit behind Pederson in the offensive categories, but Trout is proving once again he’s the king of the five-tool players.
  2. Joc Pederson: 1365.83 (NL Starter)–No shame in finishing second to one of the premier players in baseball, Pederson is making a name for himself with his power alone.
  3. A.J. Pollock: 1310.00 (NL Reserve)–This guy simply needs more votes and recognition. The state of Arizona needs to start a petition in the event Pollock doesn’t make it to Cincinnati.
  4. Andrew McCutchen: 1186.67–On the outside looking in, on stats alone, McCutchen’s reputation will surely get him a ticket to the All-Star game.
  5. Jacoby Ellsbury: 1076.67 (AL Reserve)–Unfortunately, injuries have sidelined Ellsbury and might not be playing again until late June, but when healthy, he is among one of the best at his position.
  6. Lorenzo Cain: 1050.00–If Ellsbury is not ready to go, Cain would definitely deserve a spot as Mike Trout’s backup.

All stats courtesy of fangraphs.com.

Photo Credit: Keith Allison/flickr

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