Kiermaier Says Mystifying Stat Geeks Know He’s “A Game-Changer Out There”

March 10th, 2016

A nod to the nerds

WAR … what is it good for? Kevin Kiermaier doesn’t know himself.

Still, the stat geeks have placed the Rays’ center fielder/heartthrob in elite company.

Normally, next-level numbers go over Joe’s head. After all, what’s the point of hawking a stat few can understand? Sometimes, seamheads invent overly complicated formulas for the lone purpose of smirking at the rest of us when our eyes glaze over at their murky math.


With all that said, Gabe Lacques of USA Today penned a noteworthy piece about Kiermaier’s defensive value to the Rays, using the trendy WAR figure:

In 2015, the top two position players in the American League based on Wins Above Replacement were Mike Trout and Josh Donaldson, also the top two finishers in AL MVP balloting.

No. 3 in WAR, according to Baseball-Reference? That would be Kiermaier – he of the 11 home runs, .263 batting average and .298 on-base percentage. …

For traditional baseball observers, any measure that places Kiermaier above Cabrera and Davis … seems like pure folly.

Kiermaier hears the talk as well – from his own friends. And he makes no apologies for how the modern game views his performance.

“People always say, ‘You can’t tell me So-and-So is less valuable than Kiermaier,”’ he says. “I want to say, go look at some of the video from last year, late in games, when I made a diving catch with runners in scoring position, when I threw a guy out when we were up one in the ninth. We win those games.

“I still don’t know how WAR is calculated, but I think, even though I’m not out there hitting 35 home runs and driving in 120 – and those guys are very valuable – I’m a game-changer out there. I’ll let those guys up there working on the computers value that whatever way they want.

“If people want to be bitter about where I was ranked, go ahead. The game’s changing. It’s not just about offense anymore.”

Kiermaier has a point. Baseball isn’t just about offense. Joe must give The Outlaw credit: He has carved out a niche as the plucky underdog who has morphed into the Rays’ Superman in center field. (He has also starred in a fashion shoot at Bern’s Steak House! What can’t he do?!)

Forget the stats. Kiermaier passes any eye test.

Sure, it would be great if he could add muscle to his offensive game. But defense always will be his forte, his moneymaker.

No matter which data you choose to believe, Kiermaier deserves to be considered among the majors’ best impact players.


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