Mark Ellis’ PR Hits Bottom and Bounces
by Ken Arneson
2008-01-18 8:50

OK, so yesterday I wrote a blog entry explaining that Mark Ellis gets ZERO publicity, and deserves plenty. And then, just before I went to bed, I found a new blog entry (subscribers only) from ESPN.com’s Rob Neyer, where he ranks the best second basemen in baseball. So what did Neyer conclude about Ellis?

Nothing. Neyer didn’t even mention Ellis.

See what I mean?

To be fair, Neyer had decided to exclude anyone over 30 from his analysis. But that didn’t stop him from mentioning four other 2Bs who were over 30, only one of which (Placido Planco, 8.6) had a higher score in Neyer’s chosen metric (WARP1) than Ellis’ 8.4. Meanwhile, Brian Roberts (7.1), Orlando Hudson (6.9) and Jeff Kent (5.0) all got their props.

So I went to bed more ticked off than ever–even the one mainstream writer in America most likely to appreciate the value of Mark Ellis had completely overlooked him. I was beginning to sense a crusade of Rich Lederer proportions welling up inside me.

Fortunately, when I woke up this morning, I found I did not need to go off and fight windmills. Rob Neyer didn’t become Rob Neyer without the ability to realize a mistake: today, he wrote this:

Yesterday Mark Ellis didn’t make my list of the 10 best second basemen (2008-2012). I doubted myself almost immediately, thanks to something a reader said in the comments section (from the bottom, the ninth up). Now, along comes Catfish Stew saying Ellis was more valuable last season than Derek Jeter … and I’m having trouble finding a massive flaw in his analysis.

Thank you, Rob. Mark Ellis’ level of publicity is now greater than zero. Mission accomplished!

 


* * *

 

If there is a flaw in my analysis, is that I didn’t use a coherent measurement to compare players. The defensive stat I used, Average Range Score, is a combined rate stat that compares players to league average, while my offensive stat is a counting stat that compares players to replacement level. I figured it didn’t matter much, because I was only trying to compare relative value. I could have used WARP, like Neyer did, but I don’t agree with Neyer’s belief that BP’s basic fielding stat (FRAR) is "is a generally worthy metric". I wanted to use the newer, more advanced and accurate fielding stats based on play-by-play data.

The funny thing is, if I had used WARP instead of my mixed-up stat, it would have made my argument even stronger. According to my measurement, Ellis was the 7th-best 2B in baseball last year. According to WARP, he was 4th-best:

Name Defense Offense Total WARP1
Utley 20 69 84 9.3
Polanco 8 49 57 8.6
Cano 11 41 52 9.2
Phillips 13 37 50 7.6
Roberts 0 49 49 7.1
Hudson 12 33 45 6.9
Ellis 19 24 43 8.4
Hill 13 27 40 5.2
Pedroia 0 36 36 5.3
Kinsler 6 29 35 5.4
Matsui 11 17 28 4.7
Kent -13 40 27 5.0
Kendrick 7 19 26 2.0
Belliard 2 21 23 5.3
Grudzielanek 4 18 22 2.6
Johnson -12 33 21 6.7
DeRosa – 1 21 20 4.5
Sanchez – 9 28 19 4.5
Uggla -15 30 15 7.9
Iguchi 3 9 12 2.1
Weeks -18 26 8 3.9
Castillo – 2 10 8 1.0
Lopez 6 – 9 – 3 2.0
Giles – 3 – 9 -12 2.5
Kennedy 0 -13 -13 0.3
Barfield – 2 -14 -16 0.3
Durham -15 -11 -26 0.0
Biggio -19 – 7 -26 -0.1

 

Comments: 2
1.   williamnyy23
2008-01-18 09:24

1.  When I saw Neyer's ranking, just after posting in response to your article, I had to chuckle.

Still, I think it's easy to see why Ellis flies under the radar. He is already over 30, has played only 650 games and is very inconsistent on offense (good year/bad year). What's more, he has never had a great season to establish his name.

Also, for what's it worth, I found this old Peter Gammons extolling the virtues of Ellis, so it seems as if he has had some love over his career. Still, I don't think a player like Ellis really "deserves" much attention, which doesn't mean he isn't a good baseball player when his offense clicks.

http://tinyurl.com/2pmhnq

2.   Jon Weisman
2008-01-18 09:35

2.  Kudos to you both, I say.

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