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The Position Players

Here's how I edit the stats for all the position players in MLB: The Show.

This guy is one of the top position players in my version of The Show. Sadly, Mike Trout ranks under him.
This guy is one of the top position players in my version of The Show. Sadly, Mike Trout ranks under him.
David Kohl-USA TODAY Sports

My first post today touched on how I edit the stats for pitchers. However, that was just a small part of what I do because it's far more extensive when it comes to position players. Namely, because there are more stats to tweak.

As I did with the pitchers, I started by creating The Perfectly Average Player. Whereas the pitcher was named Joe Smith, I gave my position player the name of Jim Johnson. Now, he should not be confused with current major league reliever Jim Johnson, but this guy is just as mediocre.

Just like the pitchers, it turned out that certain positions were rated differently than others. As Jim Johnson moved around the field, here's what I found.

Jim Johnson, The Perfectly Average Player

C (61), 1B (59), 2B (67), 3B (62), SS (63), LF (62), CF (60), RF (61)

What's going on with second base? Apparently there's a very low bar to clear there, while you have to be pretty darn good in order to be a good first baseman (which is to be expected). But enough jibber-jabber for now, let's get to the stats. As a reminder, the Impact on Rating numbers are the difference from average that Jim Johnson and other players experience from average when the particular stat is bumped from 50 up to 99 or down to 0. I will show how I calculate each stat for both "Veterans" (players with over 600 career plate appearances) and "Rookies" (those below that threshold).


Impact on Rating: None

Calculated (All): Eyeball it

Reasoning: I covered this in the Pitchers post.

Contact vs. R

Impact on Rating: C (+6), 1B (+10), 2B, 3B, LF and RF (+8), SS and CF (+7)

Calculated (Veterans): Batting average vs. righties

.333 = 99

.300 = 80

.250 = 50

.200 = 20

Eyeball it in between those marks

Calculated (Rookies): Steamer projected batting average + x stat points (if platoon advantage) or - x (if platoon disadvantage) where x is eyeballed (usually around 5-8 stat points)

Reasoning: For the Veterans, I think it's pretty obvious. For the Rookies, it's reasonable at first. Virtually all hitters have platoon splits and it's especially rare for a hitter to perform better against same-sided pitchers. I just do the +x/-x adjustment to give the hitter a natural platoon split. Also, I'm pretty liberal for batting averages below .200. The guy is already a terrible hitter, so I offer a little mercy and only give a Contact rating of 0 if the guy literally has a batting average of .000, which only happens with pitchers. Also, I can't explain why I eyeball it when for pitchers I actually make a hard calculation. *shrugs*

Contact vs. L

Impact on Rating: C (+4), 1B, 2B and LF (+6), 3B, SS, CF and RF (+5)

Calculated (Veterans): Batting average vs. lefties

Same scales as Contact vs. R

Calculated (Rookies): Same as Contact vs. R for Rookies

Reasoning: See above. I do find it interesting that players get a smaller boost against LHP compared to RHP, but I think there's an easy explanation. Most pitchers are righthanded, so it makes sense that you're more valuable if you can hit them. By the way, if you were wondering if the batter's handedness affected this, I fiddled and made Jim Johnson righthanded and then lefthanded and it makes no difference.

Power vs. R

Impact on Rating: C (+9), 1B (+12), 2B, 3B and RF (+10), SS (+6), CF (+7)

Calculated (Veterans): ISO vs. righties

.250 = 99

.200 = 80

.150 = 50

.100 = 20

.000 = 0

Calculated (Rookies): Steamer projected ISO + x stat points (if platoon advantage) or - x (if platoon disadvantage) where x is eyeballed (usually around 5-8 stat points)

Reasoning: I mentioned back in The Intro that I learned that ISO (slugging percentage minus batting average) was a better measurement of power than slugging percentage. For example, if Miguel Sano and Eddie Rosario both have a slugging percentage of .450, but Rosario is hitting .300 but Sano is hitting .250, ISO shows that Sano has hit a higher number of extra-base hits.

Power vs. L

Impact on Rating: C (+6), 1B (+8), 2B, 3B, LF and RF (+7), SS and CF (+4)

Calculated (Veterans): ISO vs. L

Scale same as Power vs. R for Veterans

Calculated (Rookies): Same as Power vs. R for Rookies

Reasoning: See above.

Bunting Ability and Drag Bunting

Impact on Rating: None

Calculated (All): Eyeball it

Reasoning: I don't really care about this. Although it's definitely part of the game, it feels like it's far too easy for me to bunt for hits, even with mediocre bunters. However, I finally learned this spring that pitcher fielding was rated poorly, so perhaps I've made it harder to succeed by changing. Another reason is that to my knowledge, it's not particularly easy to find how often a batter bunts for a hit. Sac bunts are easy to find, though. I don't know, I just don't worry about this. I want to see hitters swing the bat, not make productive outs.

Plate Vision

Impact on Rating: All (+3)

Calculated (Veterans): Career K%

<10% = 99

20% = 50

>30% = 0

Calculated (Rookies): Steamer projected K%, same scale as Veterans

Reasoning: When it comes to Plate Vision and Plate Discipline and deciphering what they meant, I went to a player years ago that was quite obvious in his approach: Jim Thome. He was a guy that had a ton of strikeouts but also a lot of walks. The Show gave him an excellent Plate Discipline rating, but his Plate Vision was awful. Thus, I figured out that this was for strikeouts. The league average K-rate is around 20% so naturally that becomes average, and I chose 10% and 30% for the upper and lower bounds because nearly all players fall in between.

Plate Discipline

Impact on Rating: All (+3)

Calculated (Veterans): Career BB%

10% = 80

7.5% = 50

5% = 20

Calculated (Rookies): Steamer projected BB%

Same scale as Veterans

Reasoning: See Plate Vision.

Batting Clutch

Impact on Rating: C, 3B, SS, LF, CF and RF (+2), 1B (+1), 2B (+3)

Calculated (Veterans): "Clutch points" = Clutch / career plate appearances * 600 PA

2.00 Clutch points = 99

0 Clutch points = 50

-2.00 Clutch points = 0

1 stat point for ever .04 clutch points

Calculated (Rookies): Set to 50

Reasoning: This was one that I never used to touch but I finally adjusted this spring. You may not like my explanation here, but I'll do my best to justify my position. It seemed like good players were always given high Clutch ratings while mediocre players were given lower ratings. However, there was this interesting post on FanGraphs this winter that pointed out that Willie Bloomquist had been the "most clutch" active player when he retired. I thought this was insane! But, according to FanGraphs' "Clutch" stat, there Bloomquist was, up at the top. Now, this didn't mean that Bloomquist turned into Mike Trout in high leverage situations, but it meant that he did perform better than his overall stats when it mattered.

Thus, I took each player's Clutch stat and adjusted it. This was necessary because the FanGraphs Clutch score is a counting stat, just like home runs. Therefore, 10 year vets had accumulated more value than younger players, so my calculation above is an effort to make it into a "per year" number by multiplying by 600 plate appearances. It turns out that the vast majority of players actually aren't really that clutch (nearly everyone's calculation came out to just barely above or below 0), but hey, there's a reason saber guys keep telling us that "clutchiness" is a myth. I just happened to calculate it.


Impact on Rating: C, 3B, SS, LF, CF and RF (+2), 1B (+1), 2B (+3)

Calculated (All): Set to 70-75

Reasoning: I don't really care about this. See the pitching post for a more detailed explanation if you really want.


Impact on Rating: C and 1B (+1), 2B and SS (+5), 3B (+2), LF and RF (+4), CF (+6)

Calculated (Veterans): Speed from Fans Scouting Report on FanGraphs

Calculated (Rookies): Set to 50 for most players, adjust higher or lower if a scouting report on speed is provided, usually adjusted lower for catchers and first basemen

Reasoning: If Statcast data was publicly available, I'd use that in a heartbeat since it measures running speed. But it's not, so I can't. Therefore, for lack of any other way to calculate it, I turned to the Fans Scouting Report. It's not perfect, but it's the best that I can get right now. There has been research that shows that with a large enough sample, the aggregate can predict or assess as well as an algorithm. Therefore, with enough submissions to the Fans Scouting Report, we can generate ratings for players as if a scout is telling us.

However, the FSR spit out that Byron Buxton's speed last year was an 85. Come on, people, we're better than that.

Arm Strength

Impact on Rating: C, SS and RF (+5), 1B (+1), 2B, 3B, LF and RF (+4)

Calculated (Veterans): Arm Strength from FSR on FanGraphs

Calculated (Rookies): Set to 50 for most players, adjust higher or lower if a scouting report on arm strength is provided

Reasoning: Again, no Statcast publicly available. The FSR rates most 1B arms poorly, but I suppose the only throws they ever really make are short throws to home or to second base, and I guarantee I've never seen a 1B make a throw and thought, "Wow, he has a strong arm."

Arm Accuracy

Impact on Rating: C, 2B, SS and RF (+5), 1B (+2), 3B, LF and CF (+4)

Calculated (Veterans): Arm Accuracy from FSR on FanGraphs

Calculated (Rookies): Set to 50 for most players, adjust higher or lower if a scouting report on arm accuracy is provided

Reasoning: No Statcast. FSR better. Me caveman.


Impact on Rating: C and CF (+5), 1B and LF (+3), 2B (+6), 3B and RF (+4), SS (+7)

Calculated (Non-C Veterans): UZR

+10 UZR = 90

0 UZR = 50

- 10 UZR = 10

Eyeball it from there

Calculated (C Veterans): Reaction from FSR on FanGraphs (UZR doesn't exist for catchers)

Calculated (All Rookies): Set to 50

Reasoning: This is one I've debated lately. For a long time I've been pleased with UZR, but admittedly some players can have better UZRs due to speed rather than reaction time. Therefore, I've considered switching to using the FSR Reaction score for all players, especially since it's the only way I can score it for catchers. However, I will note that the FSR is exceedingly pessimistic for catchers. I think I saw only one catcher rated above a 50 and everyone else was in the 30s.

Fielding Ability

Impact on Rating: C and CF (+5), 1B and LF (+3), 2B (+6), 3B and RF (+4), SS (+7)

Calculated (Veterans): Hands from FSR on FanGraphs

Calculated (Rookies): Set to 50 for most players, adjust higher or lower if a scouting report on fielding is provided

Reasoning: I'll admit, I did consider using fielding percentage first. However, that includes throwing errors and we're trying to measure strictly a player's fielding ability. Instead of manually calculating a player's fielding percentage with just fielding errors used (because I've done enough work already), I decided just to use the Hands rating on the FSR.


Impact on Rating: C (+7)

Calculated (All): ???

Reasoning: I have no idea what to do here. I found RPP (catcher blocked pitches, measured in runs above average) on FanGraphs but there were two problems: first, it's not available for players last season, and second, it wasn't available before 2008. That means I'll probably add a catcher's wild pitches and passed balls and divide it by innings caught or something.


Impact on Rating: C and 1B (0), 2B (+5), 3B, LF and RF (+2), SS and CF (+3)

Calculated (Veterans): Stolen bases per 600 plate appearances

Calculated (Rookies): Steamer projected stolen bases per 600 plate appearances, or SB per 600 PA in minor leagues

Reasoning: I think this one is obvious. I don't get why second basemen get such a big boost on stealing bases while shortstops and center fielders are nearly half as valuable, though.

Baserunning Aggressiveness

Impact on Rating: None

Calculated (Veterans): Ultimate Baserunning (UBR) / career plate appearances * 100 + 50

Calculated (Rookies): Set to 50

Reasoning: This is a fun one, similar to Clutch. We think that those big, slow players must be poor baserunners because, why would they be aggressive if they can't be speed demons? However, UBR tells a completely different story. This stat on FanGraphs measures the contributions of a player's running on the bases without including stolen bases or caught stealings. With no other theoretical way to measure a player's aggressiveness without simply setting it to 50 and calling it a day, this was what I chose. It's going to be interesting to see slow catchers with above-average aggressiveness, because this is something I never fiddled with until this spring. It's either going to make the game more fun or it'll be an utter disaster, I bet.

So there you have it, all of the data that I use to edit my players in The Show. It's extremely labor-intensive, that's for sure, but I take some sort of sadistic joy in doing it every single year. I consider myself quite lucky that I have a wife that hasn't left me through all of this, because I'm sure there's a good chunk of people that would consider that I'm insane for doing all of this. But, I never said that I wasn't crazy, did I?

In case you're wondering, here's how all the Twins players ranked with my methodology. They rank in the top 10 in power, but they're one of the worst teams when it comes to contact. Meanwhile, the team speed is around average and the team defense is slightly below average.

  1. Miguel Sano, 79
  2. Brian Dozier, 77
  3. Byung Ho Park, 75
  4. Byron Buxton, 74
  5. Eddie Rosario, 74
  6. Trevor Plouffe, 69
  7. Joe Mauer, 67
  8. Eduardo Escobar, 65
  9. Max Kepler, 65
  10. John Ryan Murphy, 64
  11. Kennys Vargas, 64
  12. Eduardo Nunez, 61
  13. Danny Santana, 61
  14. Darin Mastroianni, 60
  15. Jorge Polanco, 59
  16. Oswaldo Arcia, 58
  17. Kurt Suzuki, 58
  18. Juan Centeno, 52
  19. John Hicks, 48


- The Show vastly overrated Arm Strength before I edited it. For example, Coco Crisp has one of the worst arms in the game. He was originally rated with nearly average Arm Strength.

- Catchers have putrid ratings after all of this. Nearly every team has at least one catcher that rates below a 60.

- Sadly, first basemen are overrated in this game, as Mike Trout is not the best player (he has a 92 rating). However, Trout's defense isn't exactly stellar so it's not like it's entirely the game's fault. The top five regulars are Miguel Cabrera, Joey Votto and Paul Goldschmidt (95), Nolan Arenado (93), and a slew of players tied at 92 with Trout (Donaldson, Machado, Tulowitzki to name a few). Meanwhile, the bottom five are nearly all catchers except for Chris Johnson (48) who is laughably bad now that he barely hits anymore.

If you have any questions, feel free to drop them in the comments!