clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

The Indians infield was bad, good or average compared to the rest of the AL Central in 2014

New, 1 comment

Here we take a quick look at the infield as a whole, rather than by each position.

Looking forward to moving up even further in he infield rankings in 2015.
Looking forward to moving up even further in he infield rankings in 2015.
Dennis Wierzbicki-USA TODAY Sports

Over the past few weeks, I have been showing how the Tribe fared against the rest of AL Central, position by position, meaning only the statistics a player accumulated while playing that particular position were included. There were a couple of frightening positions (right field, center field), a few excellent positions (catcher, first base, left field) and a couple surprises (third base, shortstop).

Today I want to combine some of those positions to look at who had the best infield in the AL Central. For this exercise I will include catcher with the regular four infield positions. In the subsequent article I'll tackle the outfield and DH.

Before starting this evaluation, I figured the Tribe would be right around the middle due to Gomes and Santana being up while Kipnis was down and third base and shortstop were slightly below average.

I am also doing more of a quick and dirty summation. That is, I did not total the actual OPS by adding all the plate appearances and dividing out. As each position came out with roughly the same amount of appearances, I divided by the five positions to get the average.

First off, we'll look at the more traditional stat, OPS.

OPS

Avg Rank

Tigers

717

3.0

Twins

708

3.4

White Sox

706

3.2

Indians

701

3.2

Royals

680

2.2

The Tigers had the best hitting infield via OPS, but it wasn't by a lot. The only outlier is the Royals, who had a very poor offensive season overall. The second column is the average rank, where each team was ranked 1 through 5 for each of the five positions. Again, a very tight ranking, but the Tigers fall from first to fourth. That just shows how good Miguel Cabrera's numbers were last year compared to the rest of his infield. The Tribe tied for second behind the surprise winner, the Twins.

But as Jason has noted, OPS really doesn't tell too much from a statistical standpoint as it is not weighted for the park effects and such. Let's try wRC+, which has a much better reputation among the SABR crowd. Again, all I did was take the total of all five positions and divided by 5 for simplicity's sake.

wRC+

Avg Rank

Indians

101.4

3.8

Tigers

100.4

3.2

Twins

99.8

3.0

White Sox

94.6

2.2

Royals

90.0

1.8

Here the Indians fare much, much better. Not only do they rank first in wRC+, they also pull the highest rank (they had two firsts and three thirds).

Finally, let's add the dreaded (for the Indians at least) defensive component and look at FanGraphs' WAR.

fWAR

Avg Rank

Twins

13.5

3.0

Tigers

12.6

3.2

Indians

11.8

3.4

Royals

9.6

3.2

White Sox

8.0

2.0

Here, I did not average the score, I just added the total WAR for each position. Interestingly enough, the Twins leap to the top spot. This is because while not great with the bat, their defense was good enough to pass the rest of the division.

I guess the extraordinary WAR by Cabrera and Victor Martinez's time at first base could not negate the other infield black holes for Detroit, pushing them down to runner-up status. The Tribe slides back to third, but is not far off. Looking at the average rank here is also telling as the Tribe nudges back into first, and this time the White Sox fared the worst, instead of the Royals because not only could they not hit well, their defense was porous as well.

I believe the Indians have a decent shot at beating their results in the infield in the coming 2015 season. Kipnis should be healthy, which should help both on the offense and defense. A full season of Jose Ramirez/Francisco Lindor will help tremendously at short. I think Lonnie Chisenhall will continue to improve defensively and become less streaky. Yan Gomes should repeat his year fairly closely while I think Carlos Santana might even reach the ultimate meme, 30 homers.