An In-Depth Look At The New Dodgers Middle Infield


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Thirteen trades and many transactions later, Los Angeles will have a much different looking team for the 2015 season.

Center field is Joc Pederson’s job to lose, Yasmani Grandal will slot in as the primary catcher, but perhaps the most noticeable change is the brand new middle infield Andrew Friedman acquired (unofficially) on the same day.

Jimmy Rollins, the all-time hits leader for the Philadelphia Phillies, waived his no-trade clause to join the Dodgers, giving him a new uniform for the first time in his career. He is widely expected to be a one-year stopgap for top prospect, Corey Seager. In less than two hours later, Dee Gordon was turned into Andrew Heaney, whom was immediately flipped for Howie Kendrick.

Boom. Just like that, the Dodgers have a brand new second baseman and shortstop. It’s a very intriguing combo, but just how good were they last season? Let’s take a look:

Team Player Position Plate Appearances Weighted Runs Created Plus (wRC+) Wins Above Replacement (WAR) Combined WAR
Los Angeles
Dee Gordon 2B 650 101 3.1 6.5
Hanley Ramirez SS 512 135 3.4
Los Angeles
Angels of Anaheim
Howie Kendrick 2B 674 115 4.6 8.2
Jimmy Rollins SS 609 102 3.6

While Ramirez and Gordon had excellent seasons for the Dodgers, the combination of Rollins and Kendrick was even better. As noted above, Kendrick’s wRC+ was 14 percentage points higher than Gordon’s and while that doesn’t sound like a whole lot, it truly is.

For those not familiar with the statistic, it is used to sum up a player’s total offensive value measured by runs, compared with league average after controlling for park effect. The league average is 100, and any percentage point higher than 100 is a point above league average, vice versa.

It’s a much more efficient way to evaluate a player’s offensive ability, rather than, say, batting average. Further explanation of the stat can be viewed here.

Rollins is understandably not as offensively-gifted as Ramirez but he still put up a higher WAR, vastly because of his excellent defense. And while Rollins’ wRC+ was barely above league average, he is still one of the better hitting shortstops in the game today.

In terms of defense, both Kendrick and Rollins are superior when compared to Gordon and Ramirez. Kendrick ranked seventh among qualified second basemen last season with a 6.7 UZR/150 (Ultimate Zone Rating per 150 games). This calculates the number of runs above or below average a fielder is in a 150 defensive game sample size.

Generally, anyone with a rating that’s 5+ or above usually means that fielder is above average. To put that into perspective, Kendrick’s was over 5 while Gordon graded out to a -3.5. This is a much better way of judging a player’s defense when compared to fielding percentage.

Among qualified shortstops, Rollins ranked seventh with a 3.6 UZR/150, which is better than average. Ramirez’s -15.6 rating was the second-worst in the MLB last season, only better than Yunel Escobar’s -26.0 rating. Ironically enough, both of those players have new positions for the upcoming season.

CONTINUE READING: Breaking Down Steamer Projections

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