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Secondary positions - a modest proposal

Secondary positions - a modest proposal

I have a proposal for some changes to how secondary positions are handled.
1) The reduction for using a player at a secondary position should be to dWar, not fielding percentage. Right now the penalty for using a player at their secondary position is a substantial increase in errors. But when players play a secondary position in real life, they don’t suddenly start making a bunch of errors, they just don’t play the position as well. Excellent defensive players will usually still play pretty well if playing a secondary position, but currently the best a PC player can do at a secondary position is a .950 fielding percentage (1 error every 20 chances) and that is only if they are a perfect fielder. Transferring the penalty to dWar would make it more feasible to use a player at a secondary position while still ensuring there is a penalty.

2) SS is the position where defense matters most in PC, followed by CF and 2B. But while Centerfielders can play any outfield position without penalty, a SS who plays another IF position (e.g. 1B) gets the same penalty as a 1B playing SS (for example, using Ozzie Smith at 2B would be the same penalty as playing Jason Giambi at SS). Why not make SS able to play any other IF position (or at least play 2B or 3B) without penalty, just like CFs can? This would also better reflect real life, considering that SSs who get older/lose a step usually wind up moving to (and playing good defense at) 2B or 3B?

Just a couple of thoughts.

Re: Secondary positions - a modest prop

I like it and would add this:

Use a standard league average fpct at each position for players moving to a secondary position and then cut dWAR

Here are the 2022 MLB averages:

1B: .994
2B: .982
3B: .963
SS: .970
OF: .989

So, an example- if Ozzie Smith moves to 3B he’s field .963, but if he moved to 1B he would field .994

Then just do something like -2 dwar (so a 3.3 dWAR Ozzie becomes 1.3 dwar)

Re: Re: Secondary positions - a modest

I generally agree with this idea. If I'm understanding it correctly - let's say you've got a SS/3b whose fielding% is .950 and DWar is 2.0. If you played him at 3b he'd get a fielding% of .950/.970 (the average SS) * .963 (the average 3b) = .943. Sounds good. You could probably figure out the average DWars of all the positions and do the same. Let's say the average DWar for SS is 1.2 and 3b 0.4. Then 2.0/1.2*.4 = +0.67. That seems reasonable

It's when the secondary position is more challenging than the primary that you'd have to build in some penalties. Say 1934 Lou Gehrig 1b/SS. We wouldn't want his .994 fielding% and -0.4 DWar at 1b (that DWar is really strong for 1b) to translate to a .970 / 3.0 DWar shortstop with a 1.171 OPS.

Re: Secondary positions - a modest

I was thinking something more simple. The player just gets league average fielding percentage for the position and -2 to his dwar.


1994 Jeff Bagwell is .991 fpct and -0.4 dWAR at 1B. His secondary position is OF.

Bagwell in the OF would be .989 fpct, but -2.4 dwar

1989 Ozzie Smith is .976 fpct and 4.76 dwar at SS and has a secondary position of IF

1B: .994 fpct and 2.76 dwar
2B: .982 fpct and 2.76 dwar
3B: .963 fpct and 2.76 dwar

It makes sense to me that Ozzie would be a fine fielder anywhere in the infield, while Bagwell would have very limited range in the OF

Re: Re: Secondary positions - a modest

I think shifting the penalty more to dwar makes sense. I don't necessarily think any IF can play 1B well We're not really accounting for a short player trying to catch balls over at 1B, not to mention guys who don't play that position often don't have experience scooping bad throws, or making stretches on the bag, etc.

A SS over at 2B or 3B is logical, but even there, the hot corner is a different animal if you haven't played it, whereas the differences in the outfield are less pronounced.

The one last thing I'll mention is that not all secondary assignments should be equal, but in PC they are because we don't have the data right now on how MANY games someone played somewhere else. On PC if a guy played one game at 3B, his secondary position is 3B, same as a guy who played 60 games there.

All that said, I understand that the penalty makes more sense generally on dwar, with maybe a lesser penalty on FLD.

Re: Secondary positions - a modest

I do not want to get bogged down in the example, but no one would play Ozzie at 1B.

I think the problem with this suggestion is you are thinking of a good fielder going to a secondary position and not considering a good hitter being used out of position. Do you want someone to be able to play Carlos Delgado at 2B/SS and be given the "league average" fielding pct? Playing people out of position is going to occur much more often for hitting than fielding. Again, anyone that would move Ozzie Smith, a terrible hitter, to a premium hitting position like 1B or even 3B deserves the penalty.

The only cases that currently bug me a bit are the players who have specific secondary positions. Frankie Frisch is 2B/SS, Rico Petrocelli is SS/3B, Adrian Beltre is 3B/SS? Why do these players not have IF as their second position if they are penalized for moving to another position? These are good examples where I think lowering their dWAR would be the better penalty.

Re: Re: Secondary positions - a modest

To the 1B point, not to get too bogged down into the weeds, but I've always thought MI (middle infield) should be a primary position. Players like Trevor Story and Marcus Semien in recent times have shown that the transition is doable. Although the stats say one thing (i.e. Story hasn't played SS this year yet so he wouldn't get that on PC), I think it would be a nice option to give to commissioners that doesn't allow the player to play 1B without a penalty but gives more flexibility in lineup construction. Perhaps also LI (left infield).

Re: Re: Secondary positions - a modest

I agree with GB and MP. Why not keep it simple and do something like -1.0 DWAR and -.025 FLD%?

Anyway, that brings me to a question. When a player is listed as DH(1B), is he further penalized than the listed numbers when you actually use him at 1B like other secondary position situations?

Also, how is it handled when such a player has no Fld% ("all classes incomplete")?

Re: Re: Secondary positions - a modest

Just to address the idea of moving a great hitter to SS

Delgado’s best offensive year is 2003. He was -1.4 dWAR at 1B

In my system he would be able to have a league average fielding percentage at SS, BUT he would get -2 dWAR added to his -1.4, making him a -3.4 dWAR SS. I would say that if you want to play a -3.4 dWAR SS… be my guest.

Take a better fielder- 2017 Matt Olson is 0.6 dWAR at 1B… he would still be a -1.4 dWAR SS/2B/3B

On top of that, I don’t think Delgado or Olson are secondary position IF. If you are playing a guy out of position completely (neither primary or secondary) the penalty should be massive to both fpct and dWAR.

I think this system is better than now because errors do not hurt as much as dWAR helps. I’ve seen lots of people play 2004 Rolen at 2B or SS and get his HR power and 3.27 dWAR and it works pretty well. Under my system he would only be 1.27 dWAR if moved to 2B or SS. Much less incentive because he’s not THAT great a hitter.

Re: Secondary positions - a modest

I'm Curious, I see guys proposing a change to DWar when a player is out of his primary position and agree that there should be more of a penalty for doing so to your Primary DWar.

However seeing how nobody knows the exact formula of how DWar works how can you propose a change to it? a -1.0 Deduction to a SS is far worse a penalty then to a 3B - he simply doesn't get as many chances, and for the record I think 3B gets jobbed a bit in the DWar category

Take this example - a 1.5 Dwar averaging about 435 AB a season, but he bats fairly low in the Lineup - has saved 167 hits in 10 seasons
Same League, another everyday but player bats higher in the Lineup a +3.09 Dwar SS 8 Seasons has saved 556 Hits
So obviously a Blanket deduction of DWar without also considering the Position is tough to do.

Re: Re: Secondary positions - a modest

I think a small tweak is needed...

But i am also pretty sure that a Scott Rolen or even Robin Ventura would of been gold glovers at 1B, with a 3,4 or 2,5 DWAR maybe not, but still a real impact on games...surely not a tons of errors and that high of a dwar...but still a difference maker at that position vs anybody else playing !B...

Ozzie Smith at 2nb would of been insane...put 1B glove on him..and it's magic ..even if he is that small...

having Carlos Delgado playing SS..well this absolutely needs to be prevented severly...

Also we have to consider that with all those defensive shifts... a 3B playing SS or 2B is not that armfull...sine adv stats are saying that this is a winning strategy...

A guy like Chone Figgins and it's 2009 +3,22 DWAR or Hank Blalock 2,98 DWAR season were probably made out being able to play both 2B and 3B...metrics were then well upside down..and they end up getting an unjustified way too high positive DWAR...

Re: Secondary positions - a modest

I guess it just depends what you want from the game. I think all of these things are valid for people to be interested in but it is not for me. I mainly just do ATG and 1970-Present. I want teams where people are playing at their primary positions. I am not interested in knowing what Ozzie might have been as a 2B etc.

Again, think it is perfectly valid for someone to want to have fun with this, it just is not for me. That said, given that I would not do it, I am also fine if the formula is tweaked. I think a lot of good points have been made about the tweaks.