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Linear Weights: The Entire League

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Just wrapping up my linear weights work by looking at the performance of the entire league.

To keep the data set reasonable, I'm only looking at players who placed in the top 300 in at bats. These numbers represent the total performance of a player over the year, so if they were traded in mid season, I didn't separate the numbers from the two teams.

First, here's the top 50 players in terms of linear weights:

Player Value Added VA/PA
Ryan Howard 67.850 .096
Albert Pujols 62.081 .098
David Ortiz 59.326 .086
Travis Hafner 57.294 .102
Lance Berkman 55.558 .086
Jim Thome 51.245 .084
Manny Ramirez 49.434 .089
Carlos Beltran 47.597 .077
Miguel Cabrera 47.016 .070
Jermaine Dye 44.174 .072
Garrett Atkins 43.182 .062
Grady Sizemore 42.873 .057
Derek Jeter 40.611 .057
Nick Johnson 40.491 .064
Chase Utley 40.020 .054
Jason Giambi 39.977 .069
Matt Holliday 39.900 .060
Barry Bonds 37.907 .077
Justin Morneau 37.847 .057
Jason Bay 36.849 .053
Chipper Jones 36.516 .077
Alfonso Soriano 36.399 .050
Bobby Abreu 35.708 .052
Vladimir Guerrero 34.895 .052
Vernon Wells 32.326 .048
David Wright 31.915 .048
Aramis Ramirez 31.180 .047
Brian McCann 31.146 .063
Carlos Guillen 30.931 .050
Joe Mauer 30.565 .050
Todd Helton 30.354 .047
J.D. Drew 29.765 .050
Frank Thomas 29.382 .053
Alex Rodriguez 29.348 .044
Paul Konerko 29.136 .045
Carlos Lee 28.712 .041
Andruw Jones 28.034 .042
Mark Teixeira 27.647 .038
Gary Matthews 27.254 .039
Carlos Delgado 27.250 .044
Jose Reyes 27.164 .039
Scott Rolen 25.992 .044
Adam LaRoche 24.988 .045
Johnny Damon 24.935 .037
Brad Hawpe 24.848 .043
Ichiro Suzuki 24.234 .032
Pat Burrell 24.151 .043
Michael Cuddyer 23.275 .037
Carl Crawford 23.004 .035
Adam Dunn 22.680 .033

Depending on how you look at it, the best hitter in the league this year according to this system was either Ryan Howard or Travis Hafner. Howard lead in total runs over average contributed, while Hafner lead in runs contributed per plate appearance. The fact that Hafner was worth over a tenth of a run per plate appearance is pretty amazing if you about it. Now, consider that in 2002, Barry Bonds was worth over a fifth of a run per plate appearance. Scary.

Now, the 25 worst:

Player Value Added VA/PA
Angel Berroa -36.192 -.072
Ronny Cedeno -32.868 -.057
Brad Ausmus -30.428 -.061
Yadier Molina -27.872 -.060
Clint Barmes -25.899 -.048
Jose Castillo -22.195 -.039
Tomas Perez -20.601 -.081
Abraham Nunez -19.809 -.054
Adam Everett -19.556 -.035
Neifi Perez -18.864 -.065
Brian Schneider -18.580 -.041
Vinny Castilla -18.273 -.062
John McDonald -17.831 -.062
Royce Clayton -17.703 -.035
Rondell White -16.934 -.048
Pedro Feliz -16.779 -.026
Bobby Crosby -16.290 -.041
Jhonny Peralta -15.228 -.024
Jack Wilson -15.110 -.025
Reggie Abercrombie -14.974 -.053
Brian Anderson -14.537 -.036
Jorge Cantu -14.321 -.032
Juan Uribe -14.242 -.029
Russ Adams -14.181 -.051
Placido Polanco -13.854 -.028

Before this season, I thought that Angel Berroa was the worst starter in baseball. He has no patience, no power, can't play defense, but he at least hit for a decent average. After this season, he's probably the worst player in baseball, period. Berroa hit .234/.259/.333 to secure the worst hitter in baseball award by a good margin. Surprisingly, Berroa didn't come close to the worst season of all time, Neifi Perez's 2002 where he hit .236/.260/.303. Berroa's saving grace was that he only played in 134 games. I don't follow the Royals enough to know why he missed the time, but according to this quote from Royal's Manager Buddy Bell, I doubt it was because he stinks.

"[Berroa] is still going to be a heck of a player," Bell said. "[Andres] Blanco has got a long way to go even before he considers himself in Angel Berroa's category."

At least Neifi has a good glove. A team, even one as hopeless as the Royals, blindly sticking by Berroa is one of baseball's greatest mysteries.

Elsewhere on the list, it's interesting how many players that had solid to great seasons in 2005 were on the bottom in 2006. Jhonny Peralta, Bobby Crosby, Jorge Cantu, and Rondell White. Joining them were perennial "worst hitter in the league" candidates Brad Ausmus, Neifi Perez, Adam Everrett, and Royce Clayton, along with soon to be stalwarts Yadier Molina, Jack Wilson, and Pedro Feliz.

The final notable entry is Placido Polanco, one of the least productive hitters in the league, yet still hitting third for the Tigers in the ALCS. Jim Leyland's a shoo in for manager of the year, but it certainly won't be for his in game strategy.

The best hitter on each team:

Overall Player Value Added VA/PA Team
1 Ryan Howard 67.850 .096 PHI
2 Albert Pujols 62.081 .098 STL
3 David Ortiz 59.326 .086 BOS
4 Travis Hafner 57.294 .102 CLE
5 Lance Berkman 55.558 .086 HOU
6 Jim Thome 51.245 .084 CHW
8 Carlos Beltran 47.597 .077 NYM
9 Miguel Cabrera 47.016 .070 FLA
11 Garrett Atkins 43.182 .062 COL
13 Derek Jeter 40.611 .057 NYY
14 Nick Johnson 40.491 .064 WAS
18 Barry Bonds 37.907 .077 SF
19 Justin Morneau 37.847 .057 MIN
20 Jason Bay 36.849 .053 PIT
21 Chipper Jones 36.516 .077 ATL
23 Vladimir Guerrero 34.895 .052 ANA
24 Vernon Wells 32.326 .048 TOR
26 Aramis Ramirez 31.180 .047 CHC
28 Carlos Guillen 30.931 .050 DET
31 J.D. Drew 29.765 .050 LAN
32 Frank Thomas 29.382 .053 OAK
36 Mark Teixeira 27.647 .038 TEX
44 Ichiro Suzuki 24.234 .032 SEA
47 Carl Crawford 23.004 .035 TB
48 Adam Dunn 22.680 .033 CIN
49 Miguel Tejada 21.302 .030 BAL
61 Bill Hall 19.430 .032 MIL
63 Mark Teahen 18.897 .043 KC
65 Mike Cameron 18.400 .029 SD
103 Luis Gonzalez 9.858 .015 ARI

A few weeks ago, I wondered if J.D. Drew was the worst best hitter in baseball. Surprisingly, he beat out the best hitters from 10 teams, including Frank Thomas, Mark Teixiera, Miguel Tejada, and Adam Dunn. This is primarily due to the fact that linear weights emphasizes on base percentage, and really punishes double plays, two things that Drew excels at. Drew grounded into double plays in 5.6% of opportunities, 11th in baseball amongst players with at leas 300 plate appearances. Drew lead all of these players in on base percentage, Tejada and Teixiera hit into a lot of double plays (32 and 20 respectively), Dunn wasn't that great this year in general, and Thomas missed about 30 games. Still, it is pretty impressive that a guy that seems to get blamed for most of the Dodgers failures had a better season than some perennial All-Stars.

Finally, the worst hitter on each team, keep in mind that only players with 230 plate appearances on the team are included:

Player Value Added VA/PA Team
Angel Berroa -36.192 -.072 KC
Ronny Cedeno -32.868 -.057 CHC
Brad Ausmus -30.428 -.061 HOU
Yadier Molina -27.872 -.060 STL
Clint Barmes -25.899 -.048 COL
Jose Castillo -22.195 -.039 PIT
Tomas Perez -20.601 -.081 TB
Abraham Nunez -19.809 -.054 PHI
Brian Schneider -18.580 -.041 WAS
John McDonald -17.831 -.062 TOR
Rondell White -16.934 -.048 MIN
Pedro Feliz -16.779 -.026 SFN
Bobby Crosby -16.290 -.041 OAK
Jhonny Peralta -15.228 -.024 CLE
Reggie Abercrombie -14.974 -.053 FLA
Brian Anderson -14.537 -.036 CHW
Placido Polanco -13.854 -.028 DET
Brandon Fahey -11.686 -.041 BAL
Carl Everett -11.336 -.033 SEA
Mark Bellhorn -11.326 -.039 SD
Jeff Francoeur -10.920 -.016 ATL
Andy Phillips -10.765 -.041 NYY
Alex Cora -10.305 -.039 BOS
Adam Kennedy -9.969 -.020 ANA
Damian Miller -8.747 -.023 MIL
Brad Wilkerson -5.557 -.015 TEX
Craig Counsell -5.350 -.013 ARI
Brandon Phillips -2.240 -.004 CIN
Cliff Floyd .200 .001 NYM
Russell Martin 1.138 .002 LA

This table best represents why the Dodgers offense was so successful. While they had no stand out hitters, the worst player who got substantial playtime was still above average. While part of this was due to Ned Colletti and Grady Little's habit of booting/benching anyone who under performed for any period of time, it speaks volumes about the depth the Dodgers had this year. What's interesting is that while I was looking for these players, a few teams took most of the bottom spots. The Astros, Cardinals, White Sox, and Twins, certainly not bad teams, all gave substantial playing time to several bad players. It's amazing how just one stud or a few great players can make up for using below average players in several spots in the lineup.

Some random facts:

The players closest to an average player (0 runs added): Shawn Green and Brandon Inge.

Julio Lugo's combined runs over average: 1.899. He was having himself a mighty fine season until he got traded

Wilson Betemit with the Dodgers: -3.736 runs over average. Willy Aybar with the Braves: .304 runs over average.

Marlon Anderson in five months with the Nationals: .105 runs over average, or about what Travis Hafner produces per plate appearance. In one month with the Dodgers, 9.201 runs over average, better production per plate appearance than Hafner.

Biggest swing in production after a trade, non-Julio Lugo division: Kevin Mench. 6.374 runs above average pre trade, -9.285 afterwards.

Finally, the entire table is here.