2009 Replacement Level: Second Base

As most of you know, the Win Values we present here on FanGraphs are wins above a replacement level player. Replacement level, essentially, is the expected performance you could get from a player who costs nothing to acquire and makes the league minimum. That’s the baseline that players add value over – performance over their no-cost substitute.

However, I know examples can be extremely helpful, so starting yesterday, we began looking at some players who currently personify replacement level, and what their respective organizations should expect from them in 2009. We’ve already covered first base and catcher, and we’ll move on through the positions this week.

Second Base

I thought about just combining all the middle infield spots into one big pool, because let’s face it, a minor league FA shortstop is perfectly capable of playing second base in the majors. However, there are some differences in skills between SS and 2Bs that I figured we should not ignore, so I split them up by the position. Here’s the list.

Chris Burke, San Diego, .318 wOBA
Jason Bourgeois, Milwaukee, .313 wOBA
Jolbert Cabrera, Baltimore, .296 wOBA
Andy Cannizaro, Cleveland, .303 wOBA
Callix Crabbe, Seattle, .324 wOBA
Ryan Roberts, Arizona, .321 wOBA
Luis Maza, Los Angeles, .304 wOBA
Argenis Reyes, New York (NL), .274 wOBA
Pete Orr, Washington, .299 wOBA

The average wOBA for the group is .306. For the most part, they have a common skillset – some contact ability, below average power, decent but not great range, and some speed but not a huge stolen base threat. As usual, let’s convert wOBA to runs.

((.304 – .330) / 1.20) * 600 = -13

13 runs below average with the bat, -5 defensively (Reyes and Burke are good with the glove, the rest not so much), and a +2.5 run position adjustment leaves us with these guys being right around 15 runs below average. So far, so good – all three positions we’ve looked at at have been between -1.5 and -2.0 wins per 600 PA, right in line with generally accepted replacement level.

Dave is the Managing Editor of FanGraphs.

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13 years ago

One thing that may need revision in a more detailed study is, what is replacement level defense?

As a group it probably washes out between the guys that can actually hit a little are probably bad fielders and that is why they are replacement level. The guys that can actually field probably can’t hit worth a damn and that is why they are replacement level. On the flip side of the coin most organizations are not doing an adequate job evaluating defense, so just because an organization treats a player as replacement level does not mean that they do not have a positive impact.

Out of the guys with at least 50 games of UZR data they work out to about 6 runs above average. We just don’t have enough data (as with almost everything) to really lay claim to their defensive abilities as a group.