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A Second Look at the Baseball Theorem of Relativity

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We've recently been discussing how the last few rosters stack up -- were the 2008 Rays more talented than in 2009? How does 2010 fit in, and how good will 2011 be?

Well, I thought I'd encourage the discussion further: I've been toying around with Tableau Public and figured I aught share the following chart. It features B-Ref Wins Above Replacement for starters (or players with 100 or more games) over the last three seasons.

Note: I've recorded player's positions according to what they played 2/3 of the time. Therefore, Ben Zobrist -- though very much a utility man, is a second baseman in 2009 but a right fielder in 2010. Likewise, Eric Hinske -- who played less than 2/3 at any one position, is considered utility.

What intrigues me most is how -- at least by starting position players -- the 2008 Rays appear quite inferior. Granted, the strength of the Rays teams have always been defense, pitching, and brawlfense, none of which these charts capture (or capture well, in the case of defense*).

*Am I correct to say B-Ref WAR doesn't use UZR?

Still, the differences are intriguing -- especially considering the disparity of results. This no doubt reminds the faithful reader of my previous ruminations concerning the BASEBALL THEOREM OF RELATIVITY in which I espoused: "When fleeing a ravenous cheetah, do not worry about outrunning the cheetah; focus on outrunning your loved ones."

So what say ye?! Which era of fielders would you choose if given a time desk with which to transplant historic lineups into modernity?