Aug 15, 2014; Atlanta, GA, USA; Oakland Athletics second baseman Andy Parrino (12) throws a runner out at first against the Atlanta Braves in the first inning at Turner Field. Mandatory Credit: Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports
dWAR is a new sabermetric statistic that measures how effective a player is on defense. According to FanGraphs’ rule of thumb chart, you can get an idea the value of cumulative WAR as follows:
1-2 Role Player
2-3 Solid Starter
3-4 Good Player
Josh Donaldson had a cumulative offensive and defensive WAR of 7.7. Likely MVP Mike Trout ended the season with a cumulative WAR of 8.2, according to Baseball Reference. If it helps JD get some votes, he had more hits in one game against the Royals this postseason (two, plus a walk in six at-bats) than Trout did (1-for-12 with 3 walks) in his team’s three-game sweep at the hands of Kansas City. But that’s an argument for a later time. Back to defensive metrics.
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I was looking over some player’s dWARs this season, and two jumped out at me: Andy Parrino, who had a 0.6 dWAR in just 21 games, and Coco Crisp‘s -1.5 in 126 games. Parrino’s 0.6 ranked 6th on the team for the whole season. This either tells me he’s really good with the glove (which he is) or the Oakland Athletics aren’t a defensive team (which they aren’t).
The rest of the team’s scores are as follows: Donaldson came in at #1, Josh Reddick (1.2 dWAR, 108 games), Craig Gentry (1.2, 96 games), Eric Sogard (0.8, 116 games), #5 Sam Fuld (0.6, 61 games with Oakland), Parrino, then Derek Norris (0.5, 114 games).
Skip a few more down the list, and Yoenis Cespedes ranked 11th on the team with a 0.3 dWAR in 91 games. Highlights don’t tell the whole story it would seem.
Alberto Callaspo (no surprise here) was bad at defense in 2014, coming in with a dWAR of -0.4. If there was a metric for moving parallel to the ball instead of at a grounder, then that would have likely counted against him as well.
All this is saying that our everyday players are hurting our defense. If there is one thing we should all have learned this postseason, its that defense is actually still played, and playing it well can bring you to the World Series.
For argument’s sake, let’s consider one option. Jed Lowrie is a free agent, and is notably a weak defender. Andy Parrino plays shortstop, and is an excellent defender. If you extrapolate Parrino’s 0.6 dWAR over the course of 150 games, and account for his -0.1 offensive WAR, you come up with a total WAR of 3.57. I’ll call it 3.6. According to the chart above, that’s a borderline All-Star player, solely on defense.
If Parrino could hit just a little, he becomes huge for the Oakland Athletics in 2015, and could save the A’s $7-15M, instead of signing an expensive free agent shortstop. With the money saved, the A’s could add more missing parts and legitimately go for it again in 2015, without losing some of their young free agent talent.
While I don’t quite believe the sabermetrics entirely, there is one man that is always toying with numbers, and that man in the Oakland Athletics General Manager.