We are constantly being inundated with blog post after blog post and article after article of players that are bound for regression or, conversely, set for a great rest of season; the hundreds of waiver wire posts advising you to add someone, drop someone, or even trade someone; and the countless hours of chit chat about who’s poised to break out or hit a slump. We never really get around to appreciate the guys that stick to the status quo. Now don’t get me wrong, consistency can be great but it can also be terrible if you’re a guy who can’t seem to break the Mendoza line*. Playing to your ability – not above it or below it – is a highly undervalued trait to the average fan. The purpose of this article is to shine a light on those players who play in this consistent fashion, so without further ado, I present the 2015 MLB All-Consistency Team (so far):
Percentage Change is explained in ‘Methods’
Catcher – Kurt Suzuki (Actual wOBA: .297, Projected wOBA: .297)
Kurt Suzuki quietly had an above average season last year, with career marks in batting average (.288) and wRC+ (107). Although Suzuki was a fairly solid catcher when he entered the league in 2007, last season seems to be more of an anomaly than a career rejuvenation. This season, Suzuki has a slash line of .234/.310/.333 which is much more in line with his career averages.
First Base – Freddie Freeman (Actual wOBA: .376, Projected wOBA: .369)
This season, Freddie Freeman is playing pretty similar to how he’s played the past two seasons, and that’s pretty darn good. So far, Freeman is tops on his team in wOBA and twelth among first basemen. Being consistently very good is no easy task, keep on keeping on Freddie.
Second Base – Johnny Giavotella (Actual wOBA: .289, Projected wOBA: .290)
This season marks Johnny Giavotella’s first full-time starting gig in the major leagues. Giavotella has, arguably, the greatest name on this list and is a “tough out” according to his manager, Mike Scioscia . Giavotella’s stats suggest he’s slightly above replacement level, but the key word here is consistency, and Johnny has it.
Shortstop – Wilmer Flores (Actual wOBA: .317, Projected wOBA: .316)
Wilmer Flores is your average, middle-of-the-road shortstop. Offensively, there not much to look at with his .240/.280/.424 slash line. Defensively he has a ultimate zone rating (a stat that puts a run value to defense) of 0.6 that ranks him thirteenth out of twenty-seven shortstops…average. As Flores illustrates, being consistently average isn’t that bad, he has a starting job in the major leagues and is named Wilmer.
Third Base – Luis Valbuena (Actual wOBA: .318, Projected wOBA: .318)
Luis Valbuena, over this season and the past two seasons, has risen above AAAA** player status to become a solid contributor to his team. This season, Valbuena is on pace for 20+ home runs all while sporting the lowest BABIP*** (batting average on balls in play) among qualified third basemen. Look for Valbuena’s average to increase, his power to decrease, and his production and wOBA to stay relatively the same…consistency!
Outfield – J.D. Martinez (Actual wOBA: .352, Projected wOBA: .351)
J.D. Martinez seemed to be bound for some regression after his stellar 2014 season, and although he has slowed down a bit, Martinez still ranks in the top twenty (among outfielders) in runs, isolated power (a measure that tells you how often a player hits for extra bases), and wRC+. Martinez is another example, albeit with a smaller sample size, of being consistently very good.
Outfield – Dexter Fowler (Actual wOBA: .343, Projected wOBA: .344)
It’s another above average season so far for speedy outfielder, Dexter Fowler. Fowler contributes to his team with his bat (.349 wOBA), his legs (tied for ninth in the majors in stolen bases), and his glove (twelfth among qualified outfielders in range runs****).
Outfield – Marcell Ozuna (Actual wOBA: .326, Projected wOBA: .327)
A wOBA of .320-.339 is considered to be average. Marcell Ozuna’s career wOBA is .326. Although, this ‘average’ number is somewhat misleading. Ozuna was not very good his first season, but had a fairly solid sophomore year. This year is somewhere in between that. Ozuna’s spot on this list is sort of gimmicky because of his lesser years in the majors so it’s still to be determined what kind of player he will turn out to be. If Ozuna can keep up his average production from this year into the later years of his career, he should have no trouble finding teams in need of his services.
Designated Hitter – Billy Butler (Actual wOBA: .307, Projected wOBA: .322)
Last but not least, the man known by the moniker “Country Breakfast,” Billy Butler. Since he starting getting full-time reps in the big leagues, with the exception of a weak 2014 campaign, Butler has been a model of consistency. From his second year, in 2009, to 2013, Butler’s wOBA had a minuscule range of .345-.377. Although in recent years, he has slipped into ‘average’ territory. It would seem as though Butler’s best years are behind him, but as goes the resounding message of this article, being consistently average ain’t that bad.
The ‘Percentage Change’ refers to the percent difference between a player’s actual stats so far and his ZiPS Rest of Season projections (which analyzes potential regression by using weighted averages from previous seasons as well as a player’s BABIP. The stat in question that I used to guage current and future performance was weighted on-base average or wOBA. Originally, I had wOBA, OBP, SLG, and HR/PA, but I found that these gave convoluted and redundant results and that ultimately I only needed to use wOBA. This is because wOBA, “combines all the different aspects of hitting into one metric, weighting each of them in proportion to their actual run value”. So for example, if a player has a wOBA of .300 and ZiPS projects that player to improve to a wOBA of .400 for the rest of the season, they would have a Percentage Change of 25%.
Adam is a student at McGill University. You can follow him on Twitter @adam_m3318.
You can follow Hit the Cut on Twitter @hitthecutblog.
*Batting below the Mendoza line refers to instances in which a player’s batting average is below .200
**A AAAA player is “a player who is an outstanding player at the AAA level but always has trouble succeeding at the major league level, either because of a lack of one of the five major tools or bad luck” (Baseball-Reference).
***BABIP or batting average on balls in play is a great stat that measures how often a ball in play goes for a hit. For more information, visit Fangraphs
****Range runs are “the number of runs above or below average a fielder is, determined by how the fielder is able to get to balls hit in his vicinity” (Fangraphs).
All data used can be found at this Google Spreadsheet