The Astros Player Performance Rankings

Slap hands! Slap hands!

With the help of Clack, I've put together our first of what I hope to be is a weekly ranking of Astro players on hitting, pitching and defense.

For hitting I'll be using Weighted On Base Average (wOBA) which is an all encompassing offensive statistic created by Tom Tango. Simply put, what it does is give weighted values to different types of hits. A double is better than a single, a triple is better than a double and so on (wOBA>AVG). It's also been shown that on base percentage is slightly more value than slugging percentage and takes that into account as well (wOBA>OPS). For a more in-depth look at wOBA check out the FanGraphs library.

For pitching we'll be using Fielding Independent Pitching (FIP) which looks at what a pitcher has control over, created by Voros McCracken. This takes into account exactly what the name implies, pitching minus the fielding component. According to McCracken a pitcher controls his strikeouts, walks, hit by pitches and homeruns. A pitcher also has little control over balls put into play and the defense placed behind him. FIP throws out all those random variables and produces a statistic that can be compared to ERA. Fora more in-depth look into FIP check out the FanGraphs library.

I thought about using xFIP or SIERA instead of FIP, because they give a more accurate look at what to expect from a pitcher, but decided to instead look at what a pitcher has done so far up to this point in the season. xFIP adjusts a pitchers homerun rate close to league average to give a better idea of a pitchers ability. SIERA goes a step further and accounts for different pitching scenarios. Later down the road I may switch to xFIP or SIERA, but for now we'll start with FIP. If you want to take a more in-depth look at xFIP and SIERA check out the FanGraphs library.

For defense I've averaged Ultimate Zone Rating (UZR) and Defensive Runs Saved (DRS). UZR is a publicly available metric using zones to calculate defensive value and DRS is The Fielding Bible defensive statistic. As with any stats this early, including the ones above, sample size is a big issues more so with defensive metrics, which is why I'm averaging two of them. If you want to read more about either statistic again to FanGraphs library we go, UZR and DRS.

Now that we've gotten through that I'll reveal the rankings...after the jump.

Top 5 Hitters wOBA
1) Jose Altuve .434
2) J.D. Martinez .412
3) Travis Buck .350
4) Jordan Schafer .330
5) Carlos Lee .321

Top 5 Pitchers FIP
1) Wandy Rodriguez 2.35
2) Rhiner Cruz 2.44
3) Wilton Lopez 2.99
4) Lucas Harrell 3.83
5) Wesley Wright 3.90


Top 5 Fielders UZR/DRS
1) Jordan Schafer 3.75
2) Jed Lowrie 2.5
3) Marwin Gonzalez 1.7
4) Justin Maxwell 1.15
5) Travis Buck .7

Thoughts

  • There's a huge gap offensively between Jose Altuve, J.D. Martinez and everyone else. Both players at this point are .300/.400/.500 hitters which is absolutely fantastic and more than anyone, even the most optimistic, could have expected from either player. Unfortunately, both carry a higher than expected BABIP, but that shouldn't entirely wipe out the good vibes from either player. They're both showing improved approach at the plate and some of the underlying variables in BABIP could prove to work in their favor. I think BABIP regression will show that Martinez is the better hitter, but I expect Altuve to not be that far behind.
  • I'm worried about Schafer whose .330 wOBA is accompanied by a .395 BABIP. All that good will he built up to begin the season is slowly beginning to waste away at the hands of a 32.1% strikeout rate. He is still walking at a good clip, 11.9%, but has only three extra base hits to this point in the season. He's going to need to cut back on the strikeouts.
  • Not on the board, but could be making an appearance soon is Brian Bogusevic who has an average wOBA at .320, but a .239 BABIP. As that BABIP regresses to .300 we could find ourselves with a solid offensive/defensive right fielder.
  • Expect Wandy Rodriguez and Lucas Harrell to start giving up a few more runs, their FIP's are below their xFIP and SIERA.
  • J.A. Happ's FIP is worse than his 3.66 xFIP and 3.84 SIERA, meaning he's probably due to allow a few less runs in the future.
  • I'm sure many are surprised Wright makes the list. A 3.90 FIP is by far the friendlest stat for Wright. His xFIP, SIERA and ERA are all at least one run higher than his FIP. And this is one of the issues using FIP with relievers, they're to volatile and as you can guess there's a sample size issue here, especially with Wright, who is the teams LOOGY. Still his FIP, xFIP and SIERA are all at least a run and half lower than his ERA which means we could be in for some good outings from him in the future.
  • Defensively it's no surprise that Shafer, Lowrie and Gonzalez top the list. Lowrie at least defensively seems to be playing higher than expected and Schafer has always had the potential to be an above average centerfielder.
  • Chris Johnson, not on the list, trails all fielders with a -2.25 UZR/DRS.
  • What are some of your thoughts on the rankings?
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