“Out of Left Field” is an occasional post that covers matters that don’t require 1,200 words of analysis but still should be addressed, even if in a brief manner. So let’s get to it – in no particular order:
Is 2022 IKF an improvement over 2021 Gleyber?
Yankee fans don’t universally agree on just about anything, but I don’t think anyone would disagree with this: Gleyber Torres was a subpar shortstop in 2021 and the Yanks needed a big upgrade there. Although not universally in agreement, most fans would have loved to see the organization use the considerable resources at its disposal and sign Corey Seager, Carlos Correa, or Trevor Story to fill that need.
Due in very large part to highly regarded shortstop prospects Oswald Peraza and Anthony Volpe both waiting in the wings, the Yanks went with the stopgap option of Isiah Kiner-Falefa instead. Of course, the trade, on the whole, can’t be questioned as it resulted in a Josh Donaldson/DJ LeMahieu tandem at third base which has been a big upgrade, and it opened the door to acquiring Jose Trevino who’s also been a huge upgrade for the team.
As “not good” as Gleyber was in 2021, has IKF been any better?
On this date last season Torres was sitting on an 81 wRC+, -1.5 Defensive Runs Above average and a 0.2 WAR (FanGraphs).
Currently, IKF possesses an 84 wRC+, a 2.1 DRAA and 0.8 WAR.
As the smart kids will tell you if you’re talking decimal points in WAR you’re kind of missing the point. 2021 Gleyber and 2022 IKF are essentially the same players. If you want to extrapolate the WAR over 162 games IKF is on pace for about one win more so regarding him as an upgrade “may” turn out to be true. (Keep in mind, IKF went two for four with a double last night – the numbers above were closer this time yesterday.)
Meanwhile, Oswald Peraza has been on a tear lately for Scranton. After a slow start, he’s brought his wRC+ up to 90, his 10 long balls are second best both on his team and among shortstops in AAA, and he’s 19 for 22 on stolen base attempts. Keep in mind, as he’s been coming through the ranks, his defense has been considered his best attribute.
Perhaps the question shouldn’t be “Is IKF and upgrade over 2021 Gleyber?” Maybe “Is IKF better than Peraza?” the better question.
Speaking of Peraza having the second most home runs on his team, Estevan Florial has the most. Furthermore, his 142 wRC+ is the best in Scranton, his .303 BA and .534 SLG are both best among Triple A center fielders, and he’s 27 for 32 on stolen base attempts this season. We’ll come back to Florial in a minute…
The Yanks announced that they acquired old friend Tyler Wade from the Angels for a player to be named later and a few bucks. As someone who’s always been a fan and defender of Wade, I’m here to tell you that – based on what we’ve already discussed – if he gets called up before Peraza or Florial my head will explode.
Aaron Judge, 2022 MVP (…?)
We’re approaching the All-Star break which is the unofficial halfway point of the season, which brings many discussions about half-season award winners. Many folks have made a point of noting that if the season ended today, Aaron Judge would be the AL MVP.
I’m going to preface with this: If you would vote for Aaron Judge as the AL MVP I wouldn’t argue in the slightest. It’s more than a justifiable position and even folks who would disagree would have to admit that whoever they felt was more deserving, Judge getting the award wouldn’t be something about which to gripe.
But here’s the thing. Shohei Ohtani leads the AL in WAR with 4.8 and if you haven’t noticed he’s actually been getting progressively better for about a calendar year now (which is terrifying to consider). Mike Trout, Rafael Devers, and Yordan Álvarez are all ahead of Judge’s 3.6 WAR as well. Kyle Tucker, José Ramírez, and Julio Rodríguez are all standing right behind Judge with 3.4 WAR.
Of course there are many more factors to consider than just WAR in this conversation. Judge may lead the league in HR, R, and RBI (he currently leads in HR and R, and is second in RBI) and his ability to switch to center field has allowed the team to get more value from Giancarlo Stanton and Matt Carpenter – those are all significant items to weigh.
That said, if your argument – either now or potentially this fall – is: “Judge is the MVP over Ohtani because Rizzo, Gleyber, DJ, Nestor, Taillon, Severino, Holmes, and King all are markedly better than they were in 2021, and Donaldson, Trevino, and Marwin are all upgrades over their 2021 predecessors. Sho-Time couldn’t do that for the Angels so he can’t be the MVP.”
…then your argument is not based on logic or rational thought. Players have next to no control over how their teammates, their coaches, or their front offices perform. If Judge is the 2022 MVP it’s because he’s provided the most value to his team among AL players, not because he has better teammates than Ohtani (or Trout or Rodríguez or whoever.) The MVP is an individual award, not a team one – treat it as such.
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