2018 Positional Power Rankings: Left Field

The phrase “out of left field” is typically used to describe the emergence of something strange and unexpected into our lives. Apparently, the expression came from Chicago. There was a mental hospital near left field of the West Side Grounds where the Cubbies used to play up until the early 20th century. Sometimes Cubs fans at the ballpark could hear the patients of the hospital scream. That’s some wild, wild stuff.

It’s also probably baloney.

What follows is the opposite of baloney. What follows is the post containing the left-field portion of our positional power rankings. Which is fortunate, because we’re out of baloney. Have a scrumptious graph instead:

It’s finally here. The promise: fulfilled. You asked for it and you got it.

The Marlins Takeover.

Yep, the top three depth charts here each contain a member of the 2017 Miami Marlins outfield. Including Ichiro and Derek Dietrich, five out of 30 teams can make this claim. That’s good for 16.7% of baseball. Always be specific with your wishes, kiddos.

Bless his heart, Roger was reared in Brooklyn, New York. He co-founded and co-hosts the Good Fundies podcast and website. He's too busy and self-involved to hate your favorite team. @yayroger and @goodfundies on Twitter.

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6 years ago

I wouldn’t be surprised if this was happening elsewhere, but this is the first place I noticed that something about the Depth Chart projections seem…not quite right?

Yelich’s page:
ZiPS: 4.1, 682 PAs, 0.006012 WAR per PA
Steamer: 3.9, 647 PAs, 0.006028 WAR per PA

Depth Charts projects 630 PAs, so it should come out to approximately 3.8 WAR (this being a weighted average and all).

Instead, we get:

Depth Charts: 3.4, 630 PAs, 0.005397 WAR per PA

My understanding is that Depth Charts was just an average of ZiPS and Steamer, but somehow we wind up with a lower rate of WAR per plate appearances. Can someone shed some light about what’s going on here?

Joe Joemember
6 years ago
Reply to  sadtrombone

My completely uneducated guess is that Steamer and ZiPS think he will play in CF more causing his bat to be worth less in Depth Charts.

6 years ago
Reply to  Joe Joe

Joe Joe, I think you are on to something. The Brewer’s DC shows nearly all Yelich’s play time as a corner outfield.

As I understand it, one of the general theories of WAR was that as one move’s down the defensive spectrum one’s positional adjustment will go down, but their’s Fielding Runs will likely rise to compensate. Correct? It seems the Fangraph’s depth charts might not account for this:
For his career Yelich has a UZR/150 of +4.4 runs. (versus -5.9 runs in CF, a delta of 10.3 runs which is for all intents and purposes exactly the difference is positional adjustment between those positions!)
And yet the depth charts project him to accumulate just 0.7 fielding runs as a corner OF. Tack on 3 or 4 more runs to that total and we’ve found the 0.4 wins discrepancy in his DC WAR projection.

6 years ago
Reply to  Joe Joe

That shouldn’t matter. The Positional Adjustments should balance the differences out in WAR, if it was done properly. I too am curious about this. Depth Charts splits the Woba of both Steamer and Zips in the middle and the Flding is the same, but you would expect a ~4 WAR. The only thing I can think of is that there is an adjustment on all players as the total WAR can only add up to 1000 for MLB. My guess is the total WAR of Steamer and Zips comes in higher and they need to adjust down for Depth Charts.

Joe Joemember
6 years ago
Reply to  Mooser

I don’t see the same adjustment in WAR for every player so total WAR rounding isn’t the only thing here.

League-wide positional adjustments aren’t perfect for every player. If ZiPs/Steamer project fielding runs at different positions based on past performances at different positions, players will lose value if not played at their player-specific optimal position.

Jeff Sullivanmember
6 years ago
Reply to  sadtrombone

I’m trying to find out more on this. Stay tuned!

Joe Joemember
6 years ago
Reply to  Jeff Sullivan