Average full-time player statistics by position – 2011

Bobby Crosby

Crosby started five games at 1B for the 2010 Pirates - Matt Bandi, Pirates Prospects

Over at Baseball-Reference, it is very easy to find league average offensive numbers broken down by position. This is convenient if, for example, you would like to see how a fringe everyday player such as Garrett Jones compared to the average production of MLB first basemen in 2011 (Jones: .753 OPS, Average 1B: .797 OPS). However, these numbers can be misleading when trying to determine whether a player is an acceptable full-time starter.

Throughout a given season, numerous bench and replacement level players see sporadic bits of playing time for every team, and those plate appearances usually weigh down the overall league average numbers. For example, Bobby Crosby, a shortstop by trade, made five starts at first base for the Pirates in 2010, meaning his lousy production in those games was included in the overall league average line for first basemen. That might seem like a small and inconsequential number of plate appearances, but these situations add up around the league and affect the final stats. In reality, the average major league regular produces better numbers than those found on the league splits page at Baseball-Reference.

I decided to attempt to determine the average numbers for each position, using only the starting nine for each team. This is a bit trickier than it sounds, as it is not always easy to identify the starter at every position for each team around the league. The least complicated method would be to use the player who received the most playing time at each position, and that was what I did for the most part. However, I made some subjective changes based on each particular situation. For example, the Astros traded Hunter Pence to Philadelphia at midseason, so he could not be treated as either team’s full-time right fielder. In this situation, I split Pence’s season stats with Brian Bogusevic’s for Houston and split Pence’s stats with Ben Francisco’s for Philadelphia. I did the same with a few other players around the league. Also, in a few situations that were pretty clearly straight platoons, I combined the stats of multiple players for that position. The Reds’ catching situation is a good example, where Ryan Hanigan and Ramon Hernandez received mostly equal playing time. Otherwise, I kept it as simple as possible and used the player with the most playing time at each position. You can see which players I used for each position here, with all changes highlighted.

Anyway, here are the results. Remember that these positional averages are just estimates, and are affected by the subjective decisions I made.

C .250 .317 .408 .725 .312
1B .278 .353 .464 .817 .347
2B .266 .326 .407 .733 .321
SS .269 .320 .390 .710 .310
3B .260 .327 .419 .746 .324
LF .265 .327 .434 .761 .330
CF .266 .328 .420 .748 .328
RF .271 .349 .454 .803 .345
DH .274 .347 .428 .775 .335

For comparison’s sake, here are the Pirates players that received significant playing time at each position in 2011.

C Ryan Doumit 236 .303 .353 .477 .830 .360
  Michael McKenry 201 .222 .276 .322 .598 .259
  Chris Snyder 119 .271 .376 .396 .772 .340
1B Garrett Jones 478 .243 .321 .433 .754 .328
  Lyle Overbay 391 .227 .300 .349 .649 .289
  Derrek Lee 113 .337 .398 .584 .982 .422
2B Neil Walker 662 .273 .334 .408 .742 .322
SS Ronny Cedeno 454 .249 .297 .339 .636 .271
3B Pedro Alvarez 262 .191 .272 .289 .561 .256
  Brandon Wood 257 .220 .277 .347 .624 .274
  Josh Harrison 204 .272 .281 .374 .655 .287
LF Jose Tabata 382 .266 .349 .362 .711 .320
  Alex Presley 231 .298 .339 .465 .804 .350
CF Andrew McCutchen 678 .259 .364 .456 .820 .360
RF Garrett Jones 478 .243 .321 .433 .754 .328
  Matt Diaz 231 .259 .303 .324 .627 .280
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About Matt Bandi

Matt has covered the Pirates at Wait ‘Til Next Year, Pittsburgh Lumber Co. and now Pirates Prospects. He served as Pirates team expert for Heater Magazine in 2009 and 2010 and has contributed to Graphical Player 2009, 2010 and 2011. Matt was also the editor of the 2011 and 2012 Pirates Prospects Annuals.
  • salempirate

    Things that quickly stick out; BA, except for C, vary very little, SS hit higher than I would expect, and DH is not the high average or power bat expected.

    Didn’t realize, except for power, that Jones was only slightly better than the awful Overbay.

    Very good info.

    • john.alcorn

      Funny way to put it salem “except for power” is kind of like “except for the most important thing”. Jones had a decent year in 2011, while Overbay was awful and below replacement level.

    • ElGaupo77

      He was 100 points better in OPS and 40 in wOBA.  That is a TON.