In the Mariners “Bat” Search primer, I listed nearly 100 names of players who can play first base, third base/second base, left field, or catcher, and could be considered by some as an offensive upgrade over one of the Mariners players that regularly play those positions.
The criteria for elimination will be based on three things: “contention” relative to the point in the season (we’ll do this more than once as the Mariners needs, and player availability begins to take shape), ability compared to their Mariners competition, and perceived availability (Players with full no trade clauses will be eliminated, unless there is reason to believe the player would waive said clause).
For Round One
Contention: Players on teams at or above .500 will be eliminated. It’s so early in the season that many of the team’s atop divisions aren’t imposing enough for rival teams to call off their efforts for 2010. Later entries will probably be determined by “games out of playoff berth.”
For offense we will use wRC+ to determine the players value. wRC+ is, in my mind, an easier to understand and communicate for of wOBA, which is considered among. Anything over 100 is considered above average, though wRC+ isn’t adjusted for position.
For defense, when applicable, we will use UZR/150. I’m not a huge proponent of UZR, if only because I think that it goes against the ideals of statistical analysis because its data isn’t readily available, and the inputs are in some ways left up to potentially biased observers. That stated, it is the best metric available to evaluate defensive value, and can be easily translated to compare directly to offensive value, in order to create an overall picture.
Catcher: Offense only, it’s hard to judge catcher defense, but if it really becomes necessary we may use percentage of stolen bases attempts and Catcher’s ERA (CERA) to better determine a players value .
Rob Johnson’s career wRC+: 62
Adam Moore’s career wRC+: 26
Eliminated by team being at or over .500 as of May 7: Dioner Navarro, John Jaso, Kelly Shoppach, John Buck, Gerald Laird, Brian Schneider, Rod Barajas, Ivan Rodriguez, Ramon Hernandez, Eli Whiteside, Miguel Olivo, Chris Iannetta
Eliminated by career wRC+ under 62: None
Eliminated by full no-trade clause: None
Remaining: Lou Marson, John Baker, Dave Ross, Greg Zaun, George Kottaras, Ryan Doumit, Ronny Paulino, Miguel Olivo, Chris Iannetta, Chris Snyder, Miguel Montero, Russell Martin
First Base: Offense and defense. The player must have a positive UZR/150 in a sample size of at least 1000 innings at first base, or non-embarrassing metrics with a smaller sample size (Jack loves defense) and have a wRC+ higher than Casey Kotchman’s career numbers. Also, the team isn’t willing to pay for right-handed power, and an offensive upgrade at this point over Kotchman would likely be a fairly highly-touted player. Assuming that Zduriencik isn’t willing to spring for a marginal upgrade statistically from the right batter’s box, we’ll eliminate all hitters that hit exclusively right-handed (but a platoon situation is highly possible later in the season).
Casey Kotchman’s career wRC+: 97
Eliminated by team being at or over .500: Carlos Pena, Nick Swisher, Nick Johnson, Travis Snider, Adam Lind, Justin Morneau, Jason Kubel, Jim Thome, Miguel Cabrera, Adam Dunn, Joey Votto, Adrian Gonzalez, Aubrey Huff, Todd Helton, Travis Ishikawa, Brad Hawpe, Chris Davis
Eliminated by full no-trade clause: Paul Konerko
Eliminated by offensive value below Kotchman: Matt LaPorta
Eliminated for being right-handed: Connor Jackson, Troy Glaus, Derrek Lee
Eliminated by defense: Prince Fielder, Travis Hafner, Adam LaRoche, James Loney
Remaining: Luke Scott (because of small sample size on defense), Lance Berkman (expressed willingness to waive no-trade clause if Astros fall out of contention, to play for a contender)
Left Field: Offense and defense. Offense must be better than Milton Bradley’s career wRC+, or defense must rate higher than Bradley’s 5.1 career outfield UZR/150, less than one-third of Michael Saunders 18 UZR/150 in a very small sample size. Players who are on the list by way of their offense should be left-handed or switch also, for the same reason that the first base candidates were left-handed or switch hitters, because the Mariners won’t pay premium compensation for right-handed power, though an exception could be made for Manny Ramirez.
Milton Bradley’s wRC+: 119
Eliminated by team record at or over .500: Carl Crawford, B.J. Upton, Curtis Granderson, J.D. Drew, Jeremy Hermida, Delmon Young, Johnny Damon, Jayson Werth, Raul Ibanez, Jeff Francouer, Josh Willingham, Ryan Ludwick, Jay Bruce, Brad Hawpe
Eliminated for being right-handed, offensive oriented, and not named Manny Ramirez: Carlos Quentin, Cody Ross, Alfonso Soriano, Corey Hart, Chris Young
Eliminated for being defensive oriented with a sub-5.1 UZR/150: David DeJesus, Nate McLouth (this list will certainly expand if Mike Sweeney is cut, as Bradley can step into the right-handed platoon DH role, and cheap options for a righty-platoon in left become realistic. DeJesus is almost definitely a defensive upgrade to Bradley, but as the Royals sit near .500, its probably unwise to pine for him too much now anyways.)
Eliminated for having a wRC+ less than 119: None
Remaining: Andruw Jones (UZR still has his defense at average-ish over a small sample since his weight gain), Shin-shoo Choo, Grady Sizemore, Manny Ramirez, Andre Ethier
Second/Third Base: Offense and Defense. Positive UZR/150 required for each position. Jose Lopez has a career wRC+ of 87. Chone Figgins has a career wRC+ of 107. Special consideration for left-handed or switch hitters.
Eliminated by team being at or over .500: Ian Stewart, Mark DeRosa, Chase Headley, Scott Rolen, Brandon Phillips, Ryan Zimmerman, Willie Harris, Christian Guzman, Fernando Tatis, Daniel Murphy, Placido Palanco, Gregg Dobbs, Jason Bartlett, Ben Zobrist, Jose Bautista, Michael Cuddyer, Brandon Inge, Carlos Guillen, Chris Davis, Mike Young, Kevin Kouzmanaoff, Reid Brignac, Willy Aybar, Alex Gonzalez, Marco Scutaro, Orlando Hudson, Luis Castillo, Juan Uribe, Clint Barmes, Frank Catalanotto
Eliminated by offense below wRC+ of 87 (if third base only): Andy LaRoche, Pedro Feliz, Andy Marte
Eliminated by offense below wRC+ of 107 (for second base or position-versatile, right-handed): Ronnie Belliard, Geoff Blum, Jhonny Peralta, Alexei Ramirez, Ryan Theriot, Maicer Izturis,
Eliminated by perceived negative UZR at second or third base: Eric Hinske, Chipper Jones, Rickey Weeks, Kelly Johnson, Mark Reynolds,
Remaining (mostly by handedness redemption): Alex Gordon, Alberto Callaspo, Chris Getz, Mike Fontenot, Yunel Escobar, Rafael Furcal