What are the ESPN Player Ratings?
A few years ago I was challenged to devise a formula with the goal of ranking players. Obviously, there are countless systems already in place in the baseball community. I did not attempt to create a new statistic or metric. Instead, I took the approach of using traditional statistics (with some variations) and using the daily volatility of where each player ranked in the major leagues to create a rating system. Each player's performance is put into direct context with his peers.
I did not use specific results from previous studies on how each statistic correlated to team wins or runs scored. However, the results of these rankings do seem to have a high correlation with the postseason awards, albeit with some notable exceptions (see below for examples).
The Player Rater allows users to rank players in various ways -- the top 100 players in the majors, the top candidates for MVP and Cy Young, the five NL shortstops, the top five AL starting pitchers, the top 10 Brewers, and so on. One of the most interesting tools is using the ratings to populate each league's 32-man All-Star roster. So have fun, don't take them too seriously, but then again, don't be surprised when MLB awards are announced in November. Since 2005, the batters rated highest for their league have been named MVP five of eight times and finished second in the voting the other three times. The top-rated starting pitchers have won six of the eight Cy Young Awards and finished second and third the remaining two times.
How players are rated
The ESPN Player Ratings give a rating ranging from 0 to 100 to all players based on points players accumulate off their current standings in the major leagues in numerous statistical categories and metrics. Consideration, although relatively minimal, is given for the difficulty of a player's defensive position and how often position players participate in a win.
The different categories are weighted individually, and there is a mix of counting stats and average stats. Playing time and innings pitched are important factors. A perfect rating is a score of 100, which would only be attainable by a catcher who led the major leagues in bases accumulated, runs produced, OBP, BA, HR, RBIs, runs, hits and net steals, and his team having a winning percentage of at least .615 when he plays.
Not every player earns a score. Batters who have not appeared in at least half of their team's games or pitchers who do not excel in any of the designated measurements will not be rated. Typically, 475-500 players earn points to qualify for the ratings.
Players receive points for their major league rankings in the following disciplines:
• Batters: Batting bases accumulated, runs produced, OBP, BA, HRs, hits, runs, RBIs, net steals, difficulty of defensive position, and team win percentage based on the games in which they play, not the overall team win percentage.
• Starting pitchers: ERA compared with league average weighted by IP, wins weighted by win percentage, defensive independent bases allowed per IP (limiting HR, BB and HBP), strikeouts, opponents' BA, and innings pitched.
• Relievers: Wins and saves with a stiff penalty for blown saves, ERA compared with league average weighted by IP, K-BB ratio, opponents' BA, and preventing inherited runners from scoring.
Batters MLB ranks in:
|Batting bases accumulated (TB + BB + HBP)||20%|
|Runs produced (Runs + RBI - HR)||15%|
|Win percentage||> .614 5%
< .390 0%
|Difficulty of defensive position||C 5%
Starting pitchers MLB ranks in:
|ERA vs. league average weighted by IP||40%|
|Wins weighted by win percentage||20%|
|Defensive independent bases allowed per IP
[ ( HR allowed * 4) + BB + HBP] / IP
Relief pitchers MLB ranks in:
|Saves/wins/blown saves (saves*2) + wins - (Blown saves * 3)||40%|
|ERA vs. league average weighted by IP||20%|
|Inherited runners stranded percentage||5%|
GlossaryFollowing are some definitions of terms listed above:
• Batting bases accumulated = TB + BB + HBP
• Runs produced = Runs + RBI - HR
• Team win percentage = points awarded for following ranges
Note: Players are eligible only if they played in 50 percent of team games.
• Difficulty of position = maximum points awarded for C and zero for DH
Note: Players are eligible only if they played in 50 percent of team games. Position defined as the position played in the majority of games. If there is a tie, the position with the highest point value is awarded. Players are eligible only if plate appearances are greater than or equal to 2.5 * team games.
Here's the order:
C: 50 points
SS: 35 points
2B: 30 points
3B: 25 points
CF: 20 points
RF: 15 points
LF: 10 points
1B: 5 points
DH: 0 points
• ERA vs. league average weighted by IP = [(League ERA - ERA) / league ERA] * IP
• Wins weighted by win percentage = wins * win percentage
• Defensive independent bases allowed per IP = [( HR allowed * 4) + BB + HBP] / IP]
• Saves and wins with blown save penalty = (saves * 2) + wins - (blown saves * 3)
A look at past season's results
ESPN PLAYER RATINGS: 2008 SEASON LEADERS
|Top Starting Pitcher||Halladay||Lincecum|
|Three of the top 15 players in the rankings played in both leagues in '08. In the overall ratings, Manny Ramirez was first, Mark Teixeira fifth and CC Sabathia 14th. When looking at the players who stayed within their league all season, both MVPs, Dustin Pedroia and Albert Pujols, finished as the top batters in the AL and NL respectively. NL Cy Young winner Tim Lincecum was comfortably ahead in the NL SP ratings over Johan Santana. In the AL, Cy Young runner-up Roy Halladay surprisingly beat out Cliff Lee thanks to Doc's combined edge in K, Opp. BA allowed and IP. It's also worth noting that K-Rod finished fifth in the AL rankings among relievers behind Mariano Rivera, Joakim Soria, Joe Nathan and Jonathan Papelbon. Despite his record 62 saves, Rodriguez trailed the others by a wide margin in Opp. BA and K-BB ratio.|
ESPN PLAYER RATINGS: 2007 SEASON LEADERS
|Top Batter||A. Rodriguez||Holliday|
|Top Starting Pitcher||Sabathia||Peavy|
|Alex Rodriguez and Magglio Ordonez finished 1-2 in the AL Player Ratings and the AL MVP vote. The Player Ratings had David Ortiz third and Vladimir Guerrero fourth while they were inverted in the AL MVP vote. In the NL, the Ratings had Matt Holliday as the top choice, while he finished runner-up in the NL MVP voting to Jimmy Rollins, who was the 10th-highest rated player in the NL due largely to making 527 outs -- a whopping 70 more than Holliday. Sabathia and Jake Peavy were their league's top-rated SP and winners of the Cy Young Award. J.J. Putz finished 13th in the AL MVP vote.|
ESPN PLAYER RATINGS: 2006 SEASON LEADERS
|Top Starting Pitcher||Santana||Webb|
|Derek Jeter and Pujols each finished second in their respective MVP votes. The AL MVP, Justin Morneau, finished as the fifth-highest rated AL batter. The NL MVP, Ryan Howard, finished as the second-highest rated NL player. Santana and Webb finished first in both the Player Ratings and Cy Young votes respectively. Joe Nathan finished tied for fifth in the AL Cy Young voting and Hoffman was second in the NL Cy Young voting.|
ESPN PLAYER RATINGS: 2005 SEASON LEADERS
|Top Batter||A. Rodriguez||Pujols|
|Top Starting Pitcher||Santana||Carpenter|
|A-Rod edged Ortiz in both the Player Ratings and the AL MVP vote (if you recall, this was a very heated debate down the stretch and into November). In the NL, Pujols swept both. Santana finished first in the AL SP Player Ratings but third in the Cy Young voting behind 20-game winner Bartolo Colon and reliever Mariano Rivera. Colon finished a very distant fourth in the AL SP Ratings. Chris Carpenter won both the NL Cy Young and finished as the top-rated NL SP in the Player Ratings. As mentioned, Rivera was the top reliever in the Ratings and nearly won the AL Cy Young Award.|
Jeff Bennett is the senior director of research for ESPN.