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Old 11-05-2019, 03:11 PM   #1
Argonaut
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What position is the most important? I ran some tests (of course)

I was inspired by this thread here, in which neugey claims that 3B is the most important position. Although his caveat is that it pertains to real baseball, he does implore people to change his mind. Well, here I am, and I can say that 3B isn't even in the running for top positions in OOTP. Sorry neugey.

Setup: I took the modern day Texas Rangers, and edited all of their players to a "baseline" defensive rating of 125 for their position (1 to 250 scale). This meant different things for different positions; SS needed about 143 in Range/Error/Arm/Turn DP, while 2B needed 122 in each for instance. I also edited their bench players (except catcher) to very poor fielding ratings so that they didn't interfere with the results.

The Test: I then tested positions one-by-one, first with an excellent rating (200/250), and then with a very poor rating (50/250). I wanted to see the effect on team wins when Texas had a great 1B compared to a poor 1B, etc. For catcher only I edited both the starter and backup each time, as they would have the most off-days.

Entire season simulations took too long and had wildly variable results, so I decided to just play against the Los Angeles Angels a bunch of times. 5,000 simulations each was all I had patience for. Both the Rangers and Angels are mediocre teams that had a good mix of different types of players.

The Results: The results are attached below. Note that running the simulations again can and will produce different results. There's always some variance. But I was just looking for the overall trends.

In the end the data I was most interested in was the delta between wins with a great position player and poor position player. I then boiled those results down to wins added per 162 games. It gives you a rough idea of how many wins per season you would get if you upgraded a poor fielding position player to a Gold Glove caliber one (all bats being equal).

The Rankings:

1. CF - 8.65 wins added
2. SS - 8.52 wins added
3. C - 6.22 wins added
4. 2B - 5.54 wins added
5. RF - 3.60 wins added
6. 3B - 2.56 wins added
7. 1B - 0.84 wins added
8. LF - 0.78 wins added

Conclusions: The results are somewhat, but not totally, in line with the commonly used defensive spectrum. CF and SS are pretty much tied at the top, I'm sure I could run it a few more times and they'd be interchangeable. 1B and LF don't seem to add much value with an elite defender over a poor one, so feel free to put your absolute slugs with a heavy bat here. The position I was most surprised with was RF, and I ran that test a couple more times to be sure. At least from this test it looks to be the most important corner position defensively.

Caveats: This is not a perfect test by any means, and there's definitely some caveats. For one, the same two teams playing each other is not the ideal setup, but it's all I could do with time and computer limitations.

There may be some quirks with the Angels and Rangers that skew the results -- flyball/groundball tendencies, L/R bats, pull/spray hitters -- there's tons of variables. The Angels seem to have a fairly balanced L/R bat offense, maybe other teams have an abundance of righties.

This is also only testing the 2019 MLB environment... likely in earlier eras a lot of the defensive positions would be more important and result in higher estimated wins added with an elite defender.
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Old 11-05-2019, 03:18 PM   #2
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Excellent work. Thanks
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Old 11-05-2019, 03:22 PM   #3
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Thanks for doing this. It is really interesting. I am surprised that 3B is so much more important then 1B. I was under the impression that a good 1B makes the whole infield better with the ability to turn bad throws into outs. Maybe that is not true, or maybe OOTP just doesn't model that aspect very well.
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Old 11-05-2019, 03:24 PM   #4
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Thanks for doing this. It is really interesting. I am surprised that 3B is so much more important then 1B. I was under the impression that a good 1B makes the whole infield better with the ability to turn bad throws into outs. Maybe that is not true, or maybe OOTP just doesn't model that aspect very well.
The general perception is a mediocre defender can play first base but not other infield positions.
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Old 11-05-2019, 04:39 PM   #5
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Did you happen to check the WAR of the SS?
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Old 11-05-2019, 04:57 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by CBeisbol View Post
Did you happen to check the WAR of the SS?
There's no such thing as WAR in the simulation module, at least in the head-to-head option. But the module and my testing did track real wins. This specific test is saying that the difference between a bad shortstop (50/250) and a great shortstop (200/250) is 8.5 wins per season.

For visual reference using the 1-100 scale on OOTP ratings pages, when I gave guys the 50/250 rating, it would come up as an orange-red bar with a score of 26. When I gave guys a 200/250 rating, it would come up as a blue bar with a 100 score. The baseline rating of 125/250 would come up as a green bar with something like a 63 rating.
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Old 11-05-2019, 05:11 PM   #7
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There's no such thing as WAR in the simulation module, at least in the head-to-head option. But the module and my testing did track real wins.
Bummer

Would have been nice to feed two birds with one scone and been able to test if OOTP's WAR also credited the plus SS with 8.5 more wins than the poor SS.
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Old 11-06-2019, 03:21 AM   #8
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Great work.

As others have said I'm surprised by CF.
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Old 11-06-2019, 08:10 AM   #9
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Thanks

Argonaut,

I want to thank you for all the testing you have been doing. It is invaluable when someone like yourself comes along and works on something that can benefit the community. Kudos to you and full steam ahead!
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Old 11-06-2019, 09:26 AM   #10
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Good work, but Sparky Anderson told us this in 1984 when he had Lance Parrish, Alan Trammell, Lou Whitaker, and Chet Lemon manning the middle.
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Old 11-06-2019, 09:32 AM   #11
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Good work, but Sparky Anderson told us this in 1984 when he had Lance Parrish, Alan Trammell, Lou Whitaker, and Chet Lemon manning the middle.
Sparky always believed in strength up the middle, remember the Reds:
Johnny Bench, Joe Morgan, Davey Concepcion, Cesar Geronimo.
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Old 11-06-2019, 10:16 AM   #12
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probably a naive question, but can you change manager strategies to have an impact on simulation module results?

I ask, as I would be very curious to how manipulating the infield shift frequency would change the infield wins you've calculated. I'd hypothesize that this may lead to a larger SS advantage.

In addition, if possible I'd be interested to see how much the catcher results would change as you manipulate the "pitch around" frequency. My hypothesis is that teams that have elite catch ability behind the plate may be able to magnify the catchers impact [by framing more balls into strikes, and pitch sequencing].

as always Argonaut, great work!
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Old 11-06-2019, 01:06 PM   #13
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Originally Posted by sabrtoothtiger View Post
probably a naive question, but can you change manager strategies to have an impact on simulation module results?

I ask, as I would be very curious to how manipulating the infield shift frequency would change the infield wins you've calculated. I'd hypothesize that this may lead to a larger SS advantage.

In addition, if possible I'd be interested to see how much the catcher results would change as you manipulate the "pitch around" frequency. My hypothesis is that teams that have elite catch ability behind the plate may be able to magnify the catchers impact [by framing more balls into strikes, and pitch sequencing].

as always Argonaut, great work!
I think manager strategies have an effect on sim results. I remember chazzycat testing bunting against the infield shift, which turned out to be a good strategy. I'm taking a bit of a break from the sim module, but it's something someone else could test.

Catchers are always the wildcard defensive position, and you could be right about your hypothesis. I wager catchers would rank as the most important defensive position if you're facing a team that's heavy on the three true outcomes. A full team of Joey Gallos as an extreme example. Fewer balls in play means that what happens between the pitcher and catcher becomes the most important thing on the field. More strikes, fewer balls... defensive catchers help with that as I've shown before.

It would be interesting to do this same test in a different era, for those like me who enjoy historical play in OOTP. Maybe I'll get around to it if I get the sim craving again. Any specific eras people are interested in?
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Old 11-06-2019, 02:12 PM   #14
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Left field shocks me
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Old 11-06-2019, 02:19 PM   #15
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Kinda goes along with Bill James' "Defensive Spectrum".
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Old 11-06-2019, 02:30 PM   #16
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Left field shocks me
Like I said, don't take my results as gospel. Just one test with many variables at play. I know that my Al Oliver in the 1970s has put up great numbers in LF, the highest was +17 ZR. That should be worth more than 0.78 wins. And my Pirates Bonds in Perfect Team does great in LF as well.

But maybe the ZR numbers are deceptive and these great players in LF don't add as much value as you think??

Just an invitation to do more testing!
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Old 11-06-2019, 04:09 PM   #17
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the thing to consider is the type of human being that can play the various positions and the different requirements.

the higher the requirements for athelticism, the less likely you see the bigger guys.

it's not that it takes less to play 1b, well it does, atheletically. so the big, slow, yet very coordinated guys can play there. "slow" for a mlb player, not slow for an average person

you can have a fat pitcher that is a hall of famer, and being fat had no affect on that - upto a point.

some positions will simply have a greater weight on defense than others, and that will impact which body type and atheleticism etc you will likely see there. always exceptions. this is more about quantity and reduced likelihood of an a-rod type guy playing SS, which he could have for a longer time.

the gist is often known. what the data mining will give you is is greater resolution, and sometimes correct long-standing beliefs that happen to be erroneous. some things the stats tell us now will be corrected later, too.

a whole bunch of stuff is relative to how the game is currently played, too. A higher BA league will shift some weights around etc. if there's a huge power drought, the increases the relative weight of other things like baserunning and stealing compared to what some 10-year baseline might say.

Last edited by NoOne; 11-06-2019 at 04:13 PM.
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Old 11-06-2019, 06:28 PM   #18
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I think you should do this again in a completely neutral park, with basic dimensions, a real controlled environment. And like NoOne alludes to, weight and height are factors here. A better system would to make generic players and alter their heights and weights to see what changes (or what doesn't). As in, what's better, a short CF or a tall one? A skinny SS or a heavy one? Could be interesting.
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Old 11-06-2019, 08:04 PM   #19
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I think you should do this again in a completely neutral park, with basic dimensions, a real controlled environment. And like NoOne alludes to, weight and height are factors here. A better system would to make generic players and alter their heights and weights to see what changes (or what doesn't). As in, what's better, a short CF or a tall one? A skinny SS or a heavy one? Could be interesting.
A bit of nerve asking me to re-do something that took a while to assemble and was freely posted for everyone to look at. If you want a test with different parameters feel free to run it yourself.

By the way, I don't think height and weight does anything in the game, aside from taller players being better at 1B.
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Old 11-07-2019, 04:55 PM   #20
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That test yields about 37 more wins for the Gold Glove team, that is roughly 370 more defensive runs than the poor fielding team. This is an extreme test but it does show that the game should not be using the entire scale for fielding ratings, as I have said in the past. Assuming that the poor fielding team is equally distant from average as the Gold Glove team, that means the Gold Glove team is still about 185 defensive runs above average. The 1906 Cubs were probably about 130 defensive runs saved above average and that was in an era which it was easier to be a dominant player.
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