Wins above replacement loves the Dodgers’ position players, mostly

There is no perfect statistic for calculating a player’s value. Wins above replacement attempts to do so, but even that is inexact. In fact, there are two kinds of WAR, so even a universal definition doesn’t exist.

But for the sake of this post, I’m using FanGraphs WAR, which I think is a better determiner of overall value — even if the defensive value can be overrated at times.

Position fWAR
Catcher 30
First base 11
Second base 7
Third base 2
Shortstop 5
Left field 2
Center field 1
Right field 2
Pitcher 1
Overall 3

The table to the right shows the Dodgers’ FanGraphs WAR ranking by position out of all 30 MLB teams. It’s so good, well, except for that eyesore behind the plate.

We’ve written a lot about the catching situation here, and we’ll probably continue writing about it until it’s no longer an issue. And despite a dead-last ranking in WAR, the Dodgers’ offense is still 11th in runs scored in the league. With their pitching staff (when healthy), that should be enough. Even the Dodger pitching staff is producing at an above-replacement-level mark (one of eight teams).

For all the hand-wringing about the Dodgers’ center field situation, they still rank first in the majors. This is in spite of Matt Kemp‘s terrible defense and Andre Ethier‘s terrible bat. And they rank only second to Giancarlo Stanton and the Marlins, thanks in large part to Yasiel Puig and Kemp’s offensive output.

The biggest surprise to me is third base. They’re the second-best third base unit in the game, behind the Nationals (Anthony Rendon is really good). Juan Uribe has been worth three wins in 93 games. Justin Turner has been a great fill-in, and even Chone Figgins was a positive contributor. Third base used to be a black hole for this franchise, but Uribe and Turner have gone a long way to make it a definite strength.

For as good as Adrian Gonzalez has been this season, he — because it’s mostly him — only checks in at 11th at first base. First base defense isn’t as valuable as other positions, otherwise he’d probably rank higher, seeing as he’s one of the best defenders in the league. And despite his defensive deficiencies, Hanley Ramirez and Co., still rank fifth in MLB in WAR.

Carl Crawford has turned it up of late, and is nearly a 2-win player. He and Scott Van Slyke — you know, when SVS isn’t too busy playing center field — have been a nice duo in left field.

The fact is, the Dodgers have a lot of talent on this roster. Sometimes, they play down (and up) to their opponents. They’ll need a healthy Hyun-Jin Ryu for the playoffs, but they have plenty of good players to go deep into the playoffs. All things being equal, always bet on talent. Let’s just hope A.J. Ellis or Drew Butera don’t come up in a crucial spot in the postseason, because there isn’t a ton of talent there.

About Dustin Nosler

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Dustin Nosler began writing about the Dodgers in July 2009 at his blog, Feelin' Kinda Blue. He co-hosted a weekly podcast with Jared Massey called Dugout Blues. He was a contributor/editor at The Hardball Times and True Blue LA. He graduated from California State University, Sacramento, with his bachelor’s degree in journalism and a minor in digital media. While at CSUS, he worked for the student-run newspaper The State Hornet for three years, culminating with a 1-year term as editor-in-chief. He resides in Stockton, Calif.