The sport of baseball is unlike any other in that you can compare all position players’ offensive stats equally. Each position group in football does a different task. You can’t compare a guard to a center in basketball because their jobs are different.
Using the same stats for any sport other than baseball doesn’t paint an accurate picture when comparing two players.
That in mind, we can interpret baseball players’ performance better than any other sport. You can compare a short stop’s average to a second baseman’s equally, and you can compare a third baseman’s home run tally to a first baseman’s without fault as well.
So, I took the liberty of tallying up all qualifying players’ averages, home runs and RBIs at each position in order to find which position produces the most at the plate. Believe it or not, one position dominated, leading in all three categories.
The best position group in the MLB
Led by league-leading hitter Ryan Zimmerman (.368), the first baseman position leads the MLB in not only the power numbers, but also average. Among qualified players, the position group leads the MLB in average, hitting at a clip of .268.
Five players are hitting above .300 for the position, but what’s special is that there’s only one player hitting below .200 (Mike Napoli at .197). Everyone else at the position hits .220 or better. No other position does that.
In terms of power, everyone knows that first basemen generally smack more dingers than any other position, but the margin is what’s insane. With 248 home runs, first basemen crush the competition. The next best position is right field, as 209 home runs have been clubbed by right fielders this season.
First basemen have driven in 749 runs, which again is first among all positions. Yet again, right fielders knock in the second-most runs, while still being well behind first basemen with 665 RBIs.
What’s more, according to The Game Haus columnist Avery Seltzer, 12 of the top 50 players in the MLB are first basemen. According to TOVAR (total offensive value above replacement) which takes into account nine offensive stats (R, XBH, SB, HR, RBI, BA, BB, TB and OPS), four of the top ten players in the MLB are first basemen (Goldschmidt, Zimmerman, Freeman and Votto).
With names like the aforementioned Zimmerman, Paul Goldschmidt, Joey Votto and a resurgent year from Mark Reynolds, the first baseman position is in as good of shape as ever.
Right Field Sweeps Second PLace
With players like Aaron Judge and Bryce Harper, many wonder how the right field position isn’t in first. Because the position is top-heavy, many of the bottom-performing players drag the position down.
Of the players with the top 11 most at bats among the position, only one is hitting above .300, while seven are hitting below .270. This causes the entire potion’s composite average to be brought down enough points to trail first base.
Even if you were to break this down to home runs per qualifying player, right field trails first base by 2.02 home runs. First basemen average 10.72 home runs per player, while right fielders average 8.70.
In terms of blunt star power, right field isn’t getting the production it usually gets. Carlos Gonzalez is hitting just .237 this season and has just four home runs. Yasiel Puig is still yet to find a stroke from his rookie campaign, hitting .229. Andrew McCutchen’s fall from the grace of the baseball gods has been well documented, and he’s the third-worst right fielder in terms of average this season.
Barring Anthony Rizzo, the first baseman position is seeing all of its stars produce in the top ten of qualifying players which helps carry the position.
So, who’s the worst?
After documenting the top two positions, it just feels right to tell which position is the worst in offensive production. It would be obvious to point out the catcher position, but only eight players qualify right now, so we’ll spare them.
In terms of average, third basemen are by far the worst hitters, batting at a clip of .251. However, the position known traditionally for producing power has done that, as it has produced 195 home runs, and could overtake right field for the No. 2 spot as the season grinds on.
Second basemen and short stops are never known for power, and rightfully so. They are neck-and-neck at the celler of the home run standings, as second basemen have produced 116 home runs compared to short stop’s 117 long balls.
In terms of total star power, short stop should definitely be thrown into the conversation with how well the top players have played this season, especially in the A.L. However, the lack of consistency within the position really hurts it.
Although many people may believe first basemen are around the top of offensive production every season, the position is dominating every other position this season.