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

Felipe Melecio uses advanced stats to break down which players should be in the 2015 MLB All Star Game.

MLB, Bryce Harper


Our last look at each position in Major League Baseball, concludes with our overview of right field. Before we focus on these players, let’s take a look back at our previously covered baseball positions:

Once again, this is a quick synopsis of the 2015 MLB season, with the hope these overviews serve as guides when voting for this year’s All-Star game in Cincinnati, Ohio.

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).

        But we came to see

Bryce Harper

      !
  1. Bryce Harper: 1060.00–Without a doubt, we’re witnessing the most explosively exciting player in the game right now when it comes to power and prowess.
  2. Nelson Cruz: 920.00–We’ve discussed Cruz’s 2015 season before.
  3. Mark Trumbo: 565.00–Recently traded to Seattle, Trumbo provides another big bat for the Mariners.
  4. Jose Bautista: 560.00–One of the most feared sluggers in the game today is at it again this season.
  5. Andre Ethier: 505.00–No Yasiel Puig for the Los Angeles Dodgers? No problem, just insert super-sub Ethier into the lineup.

Here’s Bryce Harper hitting a walk-off home run:

And the one time where he thought he had flied out to left at Wrigley Field. Until he realized he was playing at Wrigley 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.

More Harper, all the time:

  1. Jose Bautista: 383.33–If it seems as if Bautista rarely swings at a bad pitch, it’s because he rarely swings at a bad pitch. Looking at Swing Percentage Outside the Strike Zone (O-Swing%), Bautista ranks fourth lowest among all right fielders.
  2. Josh Reddick: 380.00–No surprise to see an Oakland Athletics’ player at this spot. He ranks sixth in O-Swing%, nipping at Bautista’s heels.
  3. Nick Markakis: 320.00–Markakis has always had a reputation as being a patient hitter. The numbers confirm the perception as he ranks fifth in O-Swing%, between Reddick and Bautista.
  4. Bryce Harper: 308.33–Harper, matching intelligence and skill with his undeniable talent.
  5. Andre Ethier: 241.67–No surprise to see Ethier round out our top five in this category. Since his rookie season in 2006, Ethier has posted a Strikeout Rate (K%) over 20 percent just once (2012).

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.

There’s definitely “springs” on those legs:

  1. Gregory Polanco: 460.00–As of this writing, Polanco leads all right fielders in stolen bases with 16. He also measures up as a really good base runner as well.
  2. George Springer: 357.50–Springer is second among right fielders in stolen bases with 12.
  3. Jason Heyward: 307.50–A disappointing season thus far, he at least rates as a good base runner in the few times he has reached base.
  4. Steven Souza: 265.00–Souza’s Stolen Base Rate is in the low 60s, but the metrics suggest he can utilize his speed to get an extra base.
  5. Josh Reddick: 197.50–Not known for his speed or thievery on the base paths, but Reddick has proven to be a smart base runner.

All-Offensive

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

It’s Bryce Harper and then it’s everybody else. At 1,508.33 points, he has a comfortable 515-point lead over the runner-up.

The American League is a bit more competitive with three players within 70 points of each other. They are Josh Reddick, Jose Bautista, and Nelson Cruz.

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.

That moment you realize, you haven’t mentioned this dude’s name:

Giancarlo Stanton, his arm alone places him as the best defensive right fielder in baseball. However, he’s not a one-trick pony as he also has the range to go along with the howitzer he calls his arm.

Finishing a distant second and third is Gregory Polanco and Bryce Harper. J.D. Martinez represents the American League in fourth. Polanco probably lost plenty of points because of #THIS:

All-Star Right Fielders

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

  1. Bryce Harper: 1865.83 (NL Starter)–DOMINANCE!
  2. Josh Reddick: 1135.00 (AL Starter)–One of a handful of players who survived the mass restructuring of Oakland’s lineup during the offseason, Reddick has stepped up his game this season.
  3. Giancarlo Stanton: 1122.50 (NL Reserve)–Despite not being mentioned until our defensive portion of our overview, Stanton still does plenty of damage and draws plenty of walks.
  4. Jose Bautista: 970.83 (AL Reserve)–The more one thinks about it, the more one can say Bautista is the “old man” version of Stanton.
  5. Andre Ethier: 969.17–Listed as the fourth outfielder during spring training, Ethier has been the definition of a pro and has done a great job producing when called upon.
  6. Nelson Cruz: 920.00–Cruz may not be the definition of an all-around player, but there’s no questioning the power bat he wields.
  7. Gregory Polanco: 855.00–With Polanco making it as a top 10 player in his position, the Pittsburgh Pirates can boast having the best outfield in baseball. Starling Marte finished seventh in our left field rankings; Andrew McCutchen finished fourth in the center field rankings.

All stats courtesy of fangraphs.com.

Photo Credit: Keith Allison/flickr, Creative Commons

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