The Creedence Clearwater Poll: Who’s the Second-Best Player in Baseball?

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Quick, not meant to be taken seriously, triggered by Goldschmidt’s three-homer game. Ignore age--literally, right now. Just position players. I don’t think Bryant really belongs with this group but threw him in anyway. I left out Correa because the injury cuts short his first truly great season. I'm sure Machado will bounce back. Etc., etc., etc. (If you don’t get the CCR connection, it has to do with their run of #2 hits without a #1.)

Poll Results

Jose Altuve 8
Mookie Betts 2
Bryce Harper 2
Joey Votto 1
Kris Bryant 0
Paul Goldschmidt 0

clemenza, Saturday, 5 August 2017 04:39 (two years ago) link

Voted for Altuve. I love the idea of the smallest everyday player in baseball finishing among the league leaders in slugging each year.

NoTimeBeforeTime, Saturday, 5 August 2017 17:22 (two years ago) link

Rendon and Arenado are better RIGHT NOW than Votto, and maybe others

ice cream social justice (Dr Morbius), Saturday, 5 August 2017 19:27 (two years ago) link

yeah as much as i love him votto is the odd man out here. voted altuve

k3vin k., Saturday, 5 August 2017 19:32 (two years ago) link

bWAR this year + last

Altuve 13.8
Arenado 11.5
Rendon 9.1
Votto 8.5
Harper 5.9

ice cream social justice (Dr Morbius), Saturday, 5 August 2017 19:44 (two years ago) link

FWIW (and because I realized just this week how well he's been hitting this year), Andrelton Simmons has 9.9 bWAR this year and last, and a higher career bWAR than Harper (both began their careers in 2012).

NoTimeBeforeTime, Saturday, 5 August 2017 20:36 (two years ago) link

Actually wasn't drunk-polling when I put this up last night, just testing what I think--maybe I'm wrong--is the general consensus that Harper's second-best. I don't think he is, I think it's Altuve or Goldschmidt, and there seems to be agreement. Contrary to what I wrote about "literally, right now," I meant it as kind of a 2-3 season snapshot. Maybe Corey Seager belongs on a short list too. I'm reading this '75 Reds book, and about the only thing Altuve won't do this year is match Morgan's 1975 (11.0 WAR, his best fielding year). He may end up in the range of Morgan's three 9.0-10.0 seasons, though.

clemenza, Sunday, 6 August 2017 03:54 (two years ago) link

I kinda think Goldschmidt is the second best hitter in baseball over the past few years with a combination of power, average and OBP. I think Altuve taking his game up another notch this year and playing a less offensive minded position at second is next to Trout in most valuable in mind. Harper is the big star and a couple years ago, he had a season for the ages but he hasn't been a consistent as Goldschmidt. That said, he's not that far back either. Arenado has been pretty darn excellent the past couple years in Denver, which is always a bit of a shadow. Rendon has definitely been a beast this year too.

I voted Altuve, that dude is freakishly good.

earlnash, Sunday, 6 August 2017 04:12 (two years ago) link

Goldschmidt is essentially Bagwell right now, if you look at Bagwell's whole career (i.e., including the end of Bagwell's career--Goldschmidt falls short of Bagwell's peak). Per 162 games:

G: 2B-41, 3B-3, HR-30, RBI-109, SB-21, CS-5, BB-100, .302/.404/.534, TB-313, OPS+-148

B: 2B-37, 3B-2, HR-34, RBI-115, SB-15, CS-6, BB-106, .297/.408/.540, TB-317, OPS+-149

Two seasons' worth of Future Hall of Famer Troy Tulowitzski has made me more suspicious than ever of anything out of Colorado. Which is not to take anything away from Arenado's fielding--Tulowitski has been great in the field here too. At bat, Arenado's been Hank Greenberg at home, Tino Martinez on the road.

clemenza, Sunday, 6 August 2017 12:45 (two years ago) link

WAR park-adjusts.

ice cream social justice (Dr Morbius), Sunday, 6 August 2017 13:31 (two years ago) link

ie unlike every stat clem has cited in his entire life.

i'll show myself out.

ice cream social justice (Dr Morbius), Sunday, 6 August 2017 13:39 (two years ago) link

Not sure if arenado is as good as my man Kris Bryant nor does he have the dreamy eyes to the same extent but he's playing like a HOFer thus far.

nomar, Sunday, 6 August 2017 15:44 (two years ago) link

i don't have any real evidence to back this up but i do share clem's suspicion that the park adjustments don't adjust "enough" for coors

k3vin k., Sunday, 6 August 2017 17:07 (two years ago) link

i suspect that a bit but also don't have the evidence. i was checking out charlie blackmon's stats this morning, the guy is Ted Williams at home (.393/.466/.806) and Melky Cabrera on the road (.273/.313/.426.)

he's on pace to score 144(!) runs, he's scored 59 in 53 games(!!) at Coors.

nomar, Sunday, 6 August 2017 17:12 (two years ago) link

yeah some of the splits are just dumb...that said, there is a serious adjustment baked into WAR. take another CF with identical unadjusted hitting stats for comparison:

player A: .328/.386/.600, .408 wOBA, 135 wRC+
player B: .310/.384/.590, .407 wOBA, 161 wRC+

k3vin k., Sunday, 6 August 2017 17:20 (two years ago) link

(and no, player B is not prime mike trout, it's george springer! (uconn!))

k3vin k., Sunday, 6 August 2017 17:22 (two years ago) link

Here's how Arenado at Coors compares to the other NL players on the list above:

Arenado - .313/.358/.594
Votto - .353/.464/.618
Harper - .377/.493/.639
Goldschmidt - .320/.409/.560
Bryant - .346/.370/.615

Bryant's sample size is very small--about 25 AB. Harper and Goldschmidt are between 60-70, Votto over 100.

I'm going to try to redo their career stats as if the other four played in Coors half the time, and Arenado only played five or six games a year there. Just curious.

clemenza, Monday, 7 August 2017 02:40 (two years ago) link

clem, this is basically what wRC+ and OPS+ do!

k3vin k., Monday, 7 August 2017 16:02 (two years ago) link

don't confuse-a-cat

ice cream social justice (Dr Morbius), Monday, 7 August 2017 16:05 (two years ago) link

be nice!

k3vin k., Monday, 7 August 2017 16:15 (two years ago) link

Yes and no, k3vin--those adjustments arrive at what everyone would do if they played all their games in a neutral park. I want to estimate what everyone would do if they all played half their games in Coors Field. Relative to each other, there's no difference in the two methods, but I'm interested in how we might perceive the other guys if they played in Coors.

What I did: 1) Took his career number of home AB and projected them to reflect whatever’s he done at Coors (see above); these now become his career home numbers. 2) Took his career number home numbers and divided them by 14--the park he plays in now becomes just one of 14 other away parks. 3) Took his overall career numbers, subtracted what he’s done in his current home park and what he’s done in Coors, leaving his career numbers in all the other major league parks. 4) Added everything back up for new career stats.

Seasonal notation, per 162 games (Arenado has been left as is):

Arenado:      AB-626   R-95  RBI-115 HR-33   BB-44 .290/.337/.533
Votto: AB-574 R-100 RBI-105 HR-30 BB-114 .335/.444/.576
Goldschmidt: AB-586 R-109 RBI-129 HR-30 BB-91 .311/.401/.542
Harper: AB-582 R-135 RBI-94 HR-30 BB-112 .328/.436/.576
Bryant: AB-610 R-99 RBI-127 HR-37 B-56 .310/.372/.547

Votto and Harper basically turn into Joe DiMaggio with better on-base percentages.

What Trout (very small sample--25 PA) and Cabrera have done in Coors:

Trout: .571/.640/1.048
Cabrera: .431/.506/.764

(Surprisingly, Coors has been basically neutral for Pujols over his career.)

I can see not including Votto on the list above. I just can't see including Arenado.

clemenza, Monday, 7 August 2017 16:52 (two years ago) link

i don't think there's any value in at most half a season's worth of PAs in a certain park. goldy's career numbers in coors and dodger stadium are almost identical over ~230 PAs in each. his OPS at AT&T is only 20 points lower and that's an extreme pitcher's park.

qualx, Tuesday, 8 August 2017 00:05 (two years ago) link

if you have to choose between two classics like moby dick and anna karenina, it comes down to counting pages. moby dick comes in with an impressive 720 pages, but anna karenina just edges it out with 864.

Karl Malone, Tuesday, 8 August 2017 00:37 (two years ago) link

(xpost) True for Goldschmidt, yes, but you're cherry-picking a bit, no? There are always anomalies. For the other three NL guys on the list, the difference between Coors and Dodger Stadium is pronounced, as you'd expect. Ditto for Arenado. If you took any 100 players at random, even at a 50-AB sample size, I'm sure the difference would be pronounced.

Arenado is a fine player and, from the looks of it, one of the best defenders in the game. (I don't pretend to understand how defensive WAR is arrived at, but his yearly numbers are impressive, ditto this YouTube video of his 20 greatest plays. I rarely see him.) I just don't think he belongs with Altuve, Harper, or Goldschmidt. The numbers I was messing around with above compare a hypothetical--what if these other guys played in Coors?--with the real Arenado. If the situation were actually reversed--they all play in Coors, Arenado plays in some neutral park--I think his numbers would be so deflated that no one would think to make the comparison.

clemenza, Tuesday, 8 August 2017 03:26 (two years ago) link

(I got through Tom Jones in university, must have been 1,000 pages. So that beats Melville and Tolstoy.)

clemenza, Tuesday, 8 August 2017 03:31 (two years ago) link

but you're cherry-picking a bit, no

i was
1. using him as an example of the unreliability of your tiny sample sizes
2. using him specifically because he has by far the biggest sample size, if there's this much noise in his 230 PAs what do you expect to derive from bryant's literally 27

qualx, Tuesday, 8 August 2017 03:49 (two years ago) link

I think I made note of that: "Bryant's sample size is very small--about 25 AB." (And noted in the original post that I wouldn't even include Bryant in this group myself, not yet.) I don't think the sample sizes for Harper, Goldschmidt, or Votto are all that small, and neither are the numbers they post in Coors misleading. I'm not sure what you're trying to argue here...That hitters' numbers aren't really inflated all that much in Coors?

clemenza, Tuesday, 8 August 2017 03:59 (two years ago) link

your whole procedure here is extrapolating an entire career's worth of home numbers based on very small sample sizes. every hitter you've chosen has away parks where they've hit for higher OPSes in a similar or higher number of PAs. at this point i'm not saying these are small, meaningless numbers, i'm saying i'm surprised you're even humoring them

goldschmidt is hitting .456/.522/.848 in 90 PAs at miller park, which is 13 more than harper has at coors, a "not all that small" number. do you think it'd be wise to assume goldschmidt would have a 1.370 home OPS if he'd been a brewer this whole time?

qualx, Tuesday, 8 August 2017 04:08 (two years ago) link

votto has hit almost exactly the same in petco and coors in the exact same number of PAs. who gives a shit?

qualx, Tuesday, 8 August 2017 04:10 (two years ago) link

Of course there are parks where guys hit really well in small sample sizes for no apparent reason--I'm sure every player has one or two of those. And if they played half their careers in those parks, common sense tells you their numbers would come back to earth. But I don't see what that has to do with Coors, where there's a mountain of evidence--small samples, medium-sized samples, large samples--that numbers are inflated. If Harper or Votto played half their careers there, I have no reason to believe their career numbers would be significantly different than the 60-AB sample suggests.

clemenza, Tuesday, 8 August 2017 04:16 (two years ago) link

you can literally just say "they'd hit better in coors probably" without introducing a pile of meaningless math to the discussion

it doesn't matter how extreme coors is 73 plate appearances sprinkled throughout six seasons isn't a sample

qualx, Tuesday, 8 August 2017 04:27 (two years ago) link

you can literally just say "they'd hit better in coors probably" without introducing a pile of meaningless math to the discussion

And "they'd hit better in coors probably" would be such an interesting way to make some kind of an attempt to figure out if Arenado and Harper and Goldschmidt belong on the same plane. Will keep that in mind, thanks.

clemenza, Tuesday, 8 August 2017 04:36 (two years ago) link

anything not worth doing is worth doing badly

qualx, Tuesday, 8 August 2017 04:39 (two years ago) link

Machado's really come on since the break; should have included him, and obviously he would have been automatic before the season started.

clemenza, Tuesday, 8 August 2017 05:09 (two years ago) link

if Tino Martinez had been the best defensive third baseman when he played, he'd have been great

ice cream social justice (Dr Morbius), Tuesday, 8 August 2017 11:21 (two years ago) link

Automatic thread bump. This poll is closing tomorrow.

System, Friday, 11 August 2017 00:01 (two years ago) link

I voted Altuve, as it looks like most people will. After Trout, I put him, Harper, and Goldschmidt in the #2 group; if talent’s arranged like a pyramid, you can put Betts and four others in the #3 group. The distance between Trout and the #2s is probably greater than the distance between the next two groups.

Part of me wanted to vote for Goldschmidt, he’s such a complete player and still under-publicized (starting to change, will change more if he and Arizona have a good postseason). But, unless you’re talking about peak-era Pujols, it’s hard to put a first baseman who does everything ahead of a second baseman who does everything. The highest seasonal WAR for a second baseman since Morgan was Biggio’s 9.4 in ’97. Altuve’s on track for 9.2, and an unadjusted batting line that’ll be somewhat similar to Morgan’s in ’76--more hits, more doubles, fewer walks, fewer stolen bases.

I think Correa will join the second group next year.

clemenza, Friday, 11 August 2017 00:48 (two years ago) link

Write-in vote for Judge.

Jersey Al (Albert R. Broccoli), Friday, 11 August 2017 07:09 (two years ago) link

Automatic thread bump. This poll's results are now in.

System, Saturday, 12 August 2017 00:01 (two years ago) link

Gary Sanchez hit his 27th this afternoon in another partial season. May have to add him to the second tier soon--a catcher who might hit 40-45 in a full year with (going by dWAR, anyway) pretty good defense would be pretty irreplaceable.

clemenza, Thursday, 24 August 2017 21:46 (two years ago) link

eight months pass...

I shouldn't have left Machado off this list--gave in to the having-an-off-year fallacy.

clemenza, Sunday, 13 May 2018 23:22 (one year ago) link

(That is, the fallacy that someone his age having an off year has something to do with his actual ability.)

clemenza, Sunday, 13 May 2018 23:24 (one year ago) link

one year passes...

Right now, after Trout, I might put Lindor. If you look at his career box on Baseball Reference, he's never had an oWAR or dWAR less than 1.2, or a WAR less than 4.6. He's got power, hits for average, draws a decent number of walks, steals bases at an 80%+ success rate, gold-glove defense...I can't see a weakness anywhere. Betts or Yelich is probably #2 among position players, but Lindor's so good.

clemenza, Wednesday, 7 August 2019 18:05 (six months ago) link

I'm biased here but Yelich since the 2018 ASB has basically been Barry Bonds

frogbs, Wednesday, 7 August 2019 21:31 (six months ago) link

If first-half Mike Trout and second-half Mike Trout were separate players they'd arguably be 1 and 2

Guayaquil (eephus!), Wednesday, 7 August 2019 23:09 (six months ago) link

In WAR its got to be Scherzer over the last 3 seasons.

Van Horn Street, Thursday, 8 August 2019 03:44 (six months ago) link

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