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Ranking the 2018 Indians’ position players by 3WAR

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You know the drill by now

MLB: ALDS-Houston Astros at Cleveland Indians Ken Blaze-USA TODAY Sports

Hello again. While things that seem to be of low importance continue during the Indians’ offseason, we complete our look at the 2018 team using 3WAR. We previously analyzed the pitching staff, mixing in WPA for the relievers. Today, it is on to the position players.

Let’s not waste any time. The chart!

I’ve removed every player with fewer than 50 plate appearances. This removes most players that were inconsequential to the team overall but allows the inclusion of Chisenhall and Donaldson, who were regulars while on the team.

But what does it mean?!

Sometimes analytics show a pathway to an interesting new way of understanding the game or a players value. That is not this day. There isn’t much 3WAR is telling us about the Indians’ position players that we couldn’t already decipher with our own eyes over the course of the season

We’ve talked at length about how the Indians relied heavily on Jose Ramirez and Francisco Lindor at the plate. The inclusion of Baseball Prospectus’s WARP suggests that the gap between them and the rest of the roster is just enormous rather than utterly massive.

Michael Brantley and Yan Gomes come next and represent the only other players that fall into the “starter” quality range, which is defined as roughly 2.0 WAR. Gomes gets a nice boost from WARP due to the credit he receives for pitch framing and overall catcher defense.

Jason Kipnis, Edwin Encarnacion, and Yonder Alonso constitute the next tier, which might be considered as “Did fine”. They are also the last group of season-long regulars on the roster. Keep in mind that all three of these players struggled with bad luck — DRC+ suggests that they deserved better outcomes.

The rest leaves something to be desired. We can’t fault Lonnie Chisenhall and Josh Donaldson for their contributions. Chisenhall’s calves betrayed him once again, and Donaldson joined the roster for only a very limited stretch at the end of the season and playoffs.

Melky Cabrera and Greg Allen helped fill out the outfield platoons. While they occasionally came through with great performances they floated somewhere between replacement level and starter quality. I suppose that’s about right for a fourth outfielder, though having two (or four, or eight) on the same roster hurts.

Bradley Zimmer got hurt again and never had a real chance to impact the team. Yandy Diaz never struggled with any injuries, but did struggle with playing time.

3WAR suggests that around 650 plate appearances were used by players at or below replacement level. Brandon Guyer and Rajai Davis rounded out the outfield and none of the metrics were impressed with them. Roberto Perez is a more interesting case. Like Gomes, Baseball Prospectus gives him quite a bit of credit for his catching and framing ability.

Is this the end of the offseason 3WAR series?

Probably. I may revisit it pending any trades that may happen before now and opening day. I do plan on applying the same idea to the projection systems. I know ATC does something similar but tries to weight various systems on their historical accuracy per category (at least I think that’s how it works). It would be nice to wait until that and PECOTA are out to see how everything varies.