May 23, 2014; Miami, FL, USA; Miami Marlins right fielder Giancarlo Stanton (27) connects for a solo home run during the first inning against the Milwaukee Brewers at Marlins Ballpark. Mandatory Credit: Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

MLB valuable position players: The top 5


Dictionary.com has four different meanings for the word “valuable”. One such is “of considerable use, service, or importance”.

Who doesn’t like lists and/or rankings? I think we all do. Since baseball is just past the season’s quarter point, I thought we’d look at a few players that have attained a certain “value”.

The way I went about this is actually quite simple. First, I went to Fangraphs and checked out the batting leaders. From there, I went to the Value tab. It was automatically sorted by that number. From there, I cross-referenced with the player’s contract for this season. To obtain that, I went to Cot’s Contracts.

So…Fangraphs Value – contract value = overall “value”

Again, this is an extremely simplistic approach. I do have to admit that the results I found for both position players and pitchers (which I will have later today) were a little surprising. There’s more “big names” among the position players than there are the pitchers.

Yes, that’s a tease.

There will be no questions that all six (yes, six as there was a tie for fifth) of these players are performing well. All statistics used are as of the end of play for May 24th.

T5. Giancarlo Stanton, OF, Miami Marlins
Fangraphs value = $16.9M
2014 contract = $6.5M
Overall = $10.4M
Fangraphs value ranking = 2

When we think of Giancarlo Stanton, we usually think of his thundering bat and those long home runs. According to ESPN Home Run Tracker, Stanton has this season’s longest home run with a true distance of 484 feet (He also holds the 4th longest at 469 feet). He averages almost 430 feet per homer with only two home runs not exceeding a true distance of 400 feet.

Stanton has produced a slashline of .268/.367/.549 with 14 HR and 47 RBI. He also swiped 4 bases, which is only 2 steals off his career high. And Stanton is striking out less frequently. His 24.4% thus far in 2014 is a career low.

The question will be if Stanton can withstand his .364 BABIP.

This season, Stanton has contributed in the field as well. Last season, that wasn’t the case which was a head scratcher. That hasn’t been the case so far in 2014. Among all MLB outfielders, Stanton ranks 5th overall in DRS (11) and UZR (6.8), and 6th in UZR/150 (21.2).

T5. Todd Frazier, 3B, Cincinnati Reds
Fangraphs value = $11.0M
2014 contract = $600k
Overall = $10.4M
Fangraphs value ranking = 15

With Joey Votto currently on the disabled list and Jay Bruce just now coming off the DL, the Reds have needed to replace some of that offense. Frazier has been one that has provided Cincy an offensive push. Like Stanton, Frazier can hit some majestic homers. They might not be a long, but they can sure look pretty.

A slashline of .271/.349/.494 is somewhat reminiscent of his rookie season of 2012 (.273/.331/.498). He’s added 9 homers and driven in 27 runs. The walks are slightly up and the whiffs a slightly down.

But The ToddFather (or Flava Fraz, if you prefer) is more than a bat. He can add defense as well. Frazier has carried over his defense from last season, currently ranking 3rd among all MLB third basemen in DRS (6), UZR (4.5), and UZR/150 (15.8).

4. Brian Dozier, 2B, Minnesota Twins
Fangraphs value = $11.3M
2014 contract = $540k
Overall = $10.76M
Fangraphs value ranking = 14

Unless you a Twins fan or a hardened baseball fan, you likely didn’t see this one coming. Or maybe you did and you realize the season Dozier is having.

The batting average won’t grab your attention (.255), but his OBP of .364 will. Having a BB% rate of 13.6% will certainly enhance the OBP. Dozier also leads the AL in runs scored with 42. Plus, he’s already popped 11 HR. And while we’re at it, a dozen stolen bases can add to his value as well. He’s the only player in all of baseball with double-digit home runs and steals.

He’s putting together his best offensive season with a BABIP of .267.

May 24, 2014; Philadelphia, PA, USA; Puig (watches his ball off the bat and reaches first on a fielding error during the sixth inning of a game against the Philadelphia Phillies at Citizens Bank Park. (Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports)

3. Yasiel Puig, OF, Los Angeles Dodgers
Fangraphs value = $15.9M
2014 contract = $3.7M (rounded)
Overall = $12.2M (rounded)
Fangraphs value ranking = 4

Say what you will about Puig. The immaturity on and off the field. The boneheaded mistakes in the field and on the basepaths. This guy is worth the money LA is giving him and worth the price of admission to a game, bat flips aside.

His slashline of .347/.439/.624 demonstrates his offensive capabilities. Add 10 HR, 38 RBI, and 26 runs scored, and you see even more how valuable he is to the Dodgers.

Now imagine Puig’s value if he didn’t commit unnecessary baserunning blunders (-0.6 BSR) and the occasional defensive guffaws (-3 DRS).

2. Josh Donaldson, 3B, Oakland A’s
Fangraphs value = $14.1M
2014 contract = $500k
Overall = $13.6M
Fangraphs value ranking = 5

Had to figure a Oakland player would be on this list. And you had to figure it would be Donaldson.

He’s showing us that last season was no fluke. A slashline of .267/.362/.492 to go along with his 10 HR and 35 RBI tells us about he bat. I think we saw this same Josh Donaldson last year. He’s also walking at a rate of 12.7%, currently a career best.

Now Donaldson isn’t only a bat. He leads all MLB 3B in DRS (12), UZR (7.3) and UZR/150 (25.9).

And the A’s shelling out only $500k for those services. Absolute robbery.

1. Mike Trout, OF, Los Angeles Angels
Fangraphs value = $16.7M
2014 contract = $1.0M
Overall = $15.7M
Fangraphs value ranking = 3

And Trout is supposedly having a “down year”. Maybe that’s because he’s striking out a rate we’re not used to seeing from him (26.5%). Or could it be that he’s not atop Fangraph’s value board? We already saw that Stanton was #2. Troy Tulowitzki currently holds at “title” ($23.3M).

Nevertheless, Trout still has a rather respectable slashline of .277/.363/.538 with 10 HR and 33 RBI. He’s also scored 31 runs, but only has added 5 thefts this season.

But Trout has balanced his less than usual offense with his defense. Among all MLB outfielders, Trout is among a pack with a DRS of 5, which ranks as 11th among all outfielders. His UZR of 7.7 and UZR/150 of 29.8 are both third best in the majors.

It will be interesting to see how this list will change come the season’s midpoint. I have a feeling we could see some new names at that time.

Tags: Brian Dozier Featured Giancarlo Stanton Josh Donaldson Mike Trout Popular Todd Frazier Yasiel Puig