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WARP Speed

A week or so ago, a commenter asked whether my VORP listings were a good indicator of how good a player is. Since VORP did not take into account defense, it isn't the end-all measure of a player's worth. And that's true. Baseball is full of tradeoffs; you can live with a poor defensive player at a position if he can hit like Manny Ramirez.

So I took the liberty of ranking AL position players at each position by WARP, which does includes both hitting and fielding. Let's start with the infield positions.

A quick note about what exactly WARP is. Baseball Prospectus, which calculates the statistic, states that WARP1 is: "The number of wins this player contributed, above what a replacement level hitter, fielder, and pitcher would have done, with adjustments only for within the season." I'm also going to list BRAR (Batting Runs Above Replacement) and FRAR (Fielding Runs Above Replacement) in order to give you some idea where each player's strength lies. And I've also included WARP2, which incorporates difficulty.

No big surprises here; the leaders are the mashers. Offense is a real necessity here, and defense seems to matter less. Ben Broussard, who has mediocre offensive and poor defensive ratings, ranks near the bottom. Once you get past Sexson, the first base position is really weak in the AL.

Roberts, through his potent bat, leads the AL second basemnn by a large margin. But the real surprise here is Orlando Hudson; his stellar defense is good enough to place him second even though he's only hitting .266/.319/.404. Alfonso Soriano probably won't be worth what he'll get in arbitration this offseason. And Ronnie Belliard comes in at a solid third thanks to a very good FRAR; 33 is a career high for Belliard.

Peralta finishes in second place, but not because of his offense. Jhonny's FRAR is suprisingly high, and does seem to indicate that the defensive knocks on him may be unfounded. Overall, the AL crop of shortstops is very strong, with four players above 6.5 WARP.

A-Rod is the unquestioned winner here, and probably would have a greater lead if not for a career-low FRAR. Brandon Inge should be a dark-horse Gold Glove candidate, and Aaron Boone has the only negative BRAR among qualified third basemen.

I'll tackle catchers and outfielders in a future installment.