The 2017 APBA Baseball card set is out and I thought I’d take my annual trip into “By the Numbers” by breaking the set down into the nitty-gritty. Putting into perspective by ranking the defense, pitching and hitting. Who has the best (like maybe the 3B fielding rating of Nolan Arenado), worst, highest, lowest, juiciest and the stinkiest?
For the first post, I’m going to begin with defense. For each position, I’ll post the highest rated players aas well as the general distribution throughout the whole set (note: this includes anyone who was rated at every position not just starters).
Let’s begin with the backstops.
Sal Perez and Russ Martin make a return appearance with a C-9 and are joined by Barnhart, Hedges, and Maldonaldo.
Only two catchers rated C-5 in the 2017 set. If you’re wondering, they’re Eduardo Escobar and Andrew Romine (we’ll talk about him later).
In my opinion, it’s a strong year for defensive catchers with more C-8 than C-7.
While we’re on the topic, it’s not a bad year for good glove firstbaseman either. There a total of eight 1B-5. On second look though, that’s down from twelve in 2016. All are worthy in my opinion even the two on my league teams :)
While most positions have a simple bell curve when it comes to distribution, first base is one of the exceptions. Most DHs are assigned a 1B-2 when they haven’t played another position.
I remember years when we would think, “Who would get the 2B-9?”. Well, a total of five got the rating in 2017. In fact, four of the same five from 2016 were rated 2B-9. Danny Espinosa replaces Joe Panik this year.
Almost a perfect bell curve in the secondbasemen distribution.
This is where the hyperbolic celebration stops. No player in the 2017 set received the coveted SS-10 rating. It’s been a couple year since we had a shortstop with a perfect rating (JJ Hardy?).
A total of fifteen were rated SS-9 though.
That’s an awful lot of SS-7s in my opinion. Three of the four SS-6 players were rated as outfielder as their primary position.
Colorado’s Nolan Arenado becomes the first 3B-6 since Manny Machado.
I’ve said before but… thirdbase is a strange position when it comes to APBA ratings. Consistently, there are always more 3B-3 players than the rest combined. Sometime, I am going to calculate just starters and see if that holds up. My theory is that a lot of those are backup positions.
If you’re wondering, the Outfield distribution is pretty much on par with last year.
Here is the distribution of J-ratings for both non-pitchers and pitchers. It should be too surprising that there are more J-4s among the hurlers.
Who had the best outfield arm?
Ok, I left Descalso in the list, sue me. He did play a little outfield in 2017. You won’t find any 40 arms like Clemente but Yasiel Puig and Aaron Hicks do their best with 38.
I’m a little surprised to see Yan Gomes on this list. Roberto Perez is the only returning on this list.
Remember Andrew Romine from earlier in the article? He is the only player to play every non-pitcher position. He even managed to achieve Fielding 2 at 2B, 3B, SS and OF.
Fifteen other players played every other position except catcher.
That’s all for tonight! Stay tuned for Pitching by the numbers soon!