Friday, August 10, 2018

The YES team claims Aaron Hicks is statistically the 2nd best CF in the AL. Is it true, or fake news?

First, this post is not to criticize Aaron Michael Hicks - age 28, from San Pedro, California - who is having an excellent year. Without him, Yank fans would be peering into Month 3 of Shane Robinson, with our heroes battling Joggy Cano's Space Needles for a glimpse of the one-game post-season. 

But lately, the Yank-owned YES channel has anointed Hicks "the American League's second best centerfielder, after Mike Trout." That's a bit like saying Little Stephen is the second best E-Street Band member, after Bruce, but you get the point. Last night, Hicks hit his 20th homer, his career best. He leads off. He bats cleanup. He patrols center. He'll soon head into his first Winter of Arbitration, likely moving into the rarefied air of at least $10 million per season. If he could boost his batting average by, say, 20 points, he'd reach Bernie Williams territory, aka "Great Yankee" status. But is he really the second best E-Streeter after Bruce? (And what about Clarence?)

Let's do a little Snopes.com urban legend investigation. Is Hicks real, or is he Memorex. And let's start with comparing batting averages... 

Hmmm. Second best after Trout? Not even close. Hicks' inability to climb above .250 - he's been there for a month - suggests he's hit his ceiling. He'll get hot, climb to .259, then go 0 for the weekend. There's Trout, there's Mallex Smith of Tampa, and then - poof - the cast of Glee.

How about power? Here, Hicks is Number Two (thanks to last night's blast.)

Let's skip RBIs, which depend on teams and batting orders. Here's the aggregate OPS - average, on base percentage and slugging. And yes, Hicks is up there, number 2, way ahead of Smith (who, by the way, has only one HR.)

Okay, let's get down to the mystery voodoo stat - WAR - Wins Above Replacement. I don't understand it. Neither do you. It's supposed to take into account everything - offense, defense, police records, sperm counts - everything. It's a cosmic number, the Loch Ness monster of stats. 

I can't give you a chart. But Trout in 2018 leads all MLB players with a WAR of 7.8. (Cleveland's Jose Ramirez, at 7.2, and Mookie Betts, at 7.1, follow.) Hicks - tied for 39th - stands at 3.4. The next AL CF is Smith at 2.4, followed by George Springer, 2.3. (By the way, Giancarlo stands at 3.1.)

CONCLUSION: As long as Mookie Betts isn't in CF, Hicks is the second best in the AL. And right now, he's a key to the Yankees. 

19 comments:

Local Bargain Jerk said...


He'll soon head into his first Winter of Arbitration...

There's no doubt the Yanks will appoint Randy Levine, their grinning, orange-haired Arbitration Maestro to head up the process. After all, he did such a bang-up job with Dellin Betances.

Don't tell anyone I told you this but I heard that, at a key moment in the negotiations, Levine plans to squirt Hicks in the face with water from his fake boutonnière.

KD said...

I promise to think kinder thoughts regarding Mr. Hicks.

John M said...

More Little Steven than Clarence. Maybe more Max Weinberg than either.

Carl Weitz said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Carl Weitz said...

Duque....I'd seen that Hicks statement as well about a month ago. It was from one of those very nerdy advanced metrics sites. His rank is not based solely on hitting but includes his defensive play which was very high up on the list.

TheWinWarblist said...

WAR is a lovely counting stat. It just counts up all the things a player does that make a difference, good and bad. Different sites measure it a little differently, but it's a really good overall measure of a players performance. He's having a very productive year, and let's be serious here, the rest of the AL CF all kinda suck. Except Trout. Crap-a-mighty can Trout play ball. Like a demi-god given human form, forced to toil in Anaheim as punishment for some insult given to some greater god.

KD said...

Of course Trout is awesome. He's from New Jersey!! ;-)

KD said...

what's worse? being bound and having and eagle tear out and eat your liver, doomed forever to relive the experience day after torturous day or spending a HOF career in wherever it is the Angels play?

well, he DOES have the Japanese Babe Ruth to spend time with. How's that working out for the Angels?

TheWinWarblist said...

I can think of worse places that California. Far worse. But yeah. He should play on a larger stage. I hope he eventually gets a Ring.

HoraceClarke66 said...

What I've never got a good answer to regarding WAR is who is supposed to be doing the replacing?

Almost everybody, at almost every position in the majors, has a positive WAR. But that always includes guys who come up during the season, and take over positions.

For instance, Neil Walker this year has a -0.2 WAR, and Brandon Drury, a -0.1 WAR, while the guys who came up and replaced them, Gleyber Torres and Miguel Andujar, have a 2.2 and 1.5 WAR, respectively.

(Andujar has a 3.0 "Offensive WAR" which is supposed to be cut in half by his defensive inadequacies, an analysis so stupid that it makes me want to spit. But don't get me started on the inanity of most of the new defensive statistics, which pretend to measure what did NOT happen.)

But if these guys who come up are so much better, how can anyone possibly say they are accurately measuring the "replacements"?

Instead, what they seem to be measuring is some Platonic idea of a "replacement" player, a statistical mirage which—like the sound and the fury—is signifying nothing.

Carl Weitz said...

Horace, here's your answer to who is doing the replacement:

https://www.fangraphs.com/library/misc/war/

They describe the metric very well, but here is their short answer:

WAR offers an estimate to answer the question, “If this player got injured and their team had to replace them with a freely available minor leaguer or a AAAA player from their bench, how much value would the team be losing?”.

They get into all sorts of mathematical equations to quantify how they determine WAR and subsets of WAR such as fWar , LOL. But my best guess is that they take some kind of
MLB position average statistic and then compare the chosen player to that average and come up with a + or minus rating for that guy.

TheWinWarblist said...

Yeah, your "replacement guy" is your standard Zoilo Almonte Ramiro Pena Joel Skinner lug nut who tries really hard and hopes he can help the team. Joel Skinner played 9 years in the Bigs and BB Ref has his career WAR at 0.0. Now that's some righteous replacement level play.

TheWinWarblist said...

More to the point is this: why the fuck isn't Mike Trout a Yankee?!?!?!?!??????

Anonymous said...

Here is the equivalent of duque et al. on this blog on the subject of WAR, etc.:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NOWZGky6Rc0

Anonymous said...

Yeah--why isn't every great player in the world automatically required to play for the Yankees?

Retired Stratman said...

That’s what I wanna know.

Retired Stratman said...

Hey Hoss - how about Judge and Stanton for Trout? But they gotta take all of Stanton’s contract.

HoraceClarke66 said...

Seems a little steep, Statman.

And TWW, a Joel Skinner reference!! I love it! I still have his father Bob's baseball card somewhere.

Bob Skinner, for those of you who make good use of your time on this earth, was a pretty fair country hitter for those hard-hitting Pittsburgh Pirates teams of the '60s.

He was also on not one but two NL teams that beat our guys in the World Series, the 1960 Pirates, and the 1964 Cards—though looking it up, Bob didn't do a whole bunch in either Series.

Joel Skinner came over to the Bronx with Wayne Tolleson and Ron Kittle in 1986, in exchange for Carlos Martinez and Ron Hassey, just as the Yanks of that era went over the deep end from perennial contender to free fall through the standings.

Skinner actually managed to bat .137, in 154 plate appearances for us in 1987. And we think Higgy can't hit!

Anonymous said...

The remarkable thing about HC66's ignorance and stupidity are their sheer brazenness. He has zero understanding of the concept of statistical probability, and irrationally clings to the soundness of statistical measurements that evolved pell mell a century ago rather than those that have been crafted meticulously by the most acute mathematical and scouting talents of the present day. What a jerk.