Chicago Cubs, Milwaukee Brewers hold respective edges entering 2018
Milwaukee has a lot to look forward to in the outfield
The outfield units are assessed exactly as the infield units were. The resulting “total rank” is analogous to that same value for infielders. Thus, a comparison both within and across teams is easily understood.
The statistics utilized in this ranking match exactly those used for infielders, so I’ll spare you the repetition.
Figure 3: Outfield Comparison
Milwaukee made a significant financial investment in its outfield this winter. Knowing that, the fact they grade out substantially ahead of the others is to be expected. Chicago, St. Louis and Cincinnati each grade out solidly in the outfield, but for very different reasons.
Above-average – in very different ways
The Cubs parlay surprisingly good overall defensive ratings (they have the highest projected UZR) with solid run production and high on-base potential. The Cardinals make up for poor defensive numbers with superior offensive production while the Reds excel on defense and on the bases but struggle a bit more in producing runs and getting on base with consistency. And hey, look at that, the Pirates grade out as, well, bad.
Part of the “fun” of this lengthy exercise is drawing conclusions that may otherwise go unnoticed. One such conclusion as it relates to outfield is that big names don’t necessarily mean big production.
Related Story: Part I: A statistical analysis of the National League Central
Changing the way we look at the game
Take the Pirates as an example. They feature two outfielders in Starling Marte and Gregory Polanco who, most would tell you, are pretty good players. Yet their sabermetric totals tell a very different story and expose them both as flawed contributors.
While they may fill box scores up with the stats most casual fans relate to, their on-field play is not on par with those with whom they would otherwise compare favorably. This is another key factor in how analytics and sabermetrics – also know as “nerdology” – are changing the way teams are built and redefining the game’s future.
Now that both the outfield and the infield have been discussed, we have the opportunity to present a combined ranking for the five teams.