Offense is becoming harder to find these days, especially power. Only 23 players hit 30 or more home runs in 2011, compared to 34 players five years ago and 41 players ten years ago. Unsurprisingly, power hitters like Albert Pujols and Carlos Beltran have already landed sizable contracts on the free agent market while a number of other sluggers are still poised to cash in.
Perhaps the best way to measure power isn't home runs or even slugging percentage, but isolated power, or ISO. ISO is simply slugging percentage minus batting average, which effectively removes singles to tell you extra bases per at-bat. The league average ISO in 2011 was .144, and Jose Bautista led all qualified hitters at .306. Curtis Granderson was second at .290 and Mike Stanton was third at .275. No other hitter qualified for the batting title and cleared a .270 ISO this past season.
Here are the remaining unsigned free agents with better than league average ISO's in 2011 (min. 200 PA)…
- Prince Fielder – .267 ISO
- Andruw Jones – .247
- Carlos Pena – .237
- Jason Varitek – .203
- Jonny Gomes – .180
- Derrek Lee – .179
- Pat Burrell – .175
- Raul Ibanez – .174
- Wilson Betemit – .169
- Cody Ross – .165
- Jorge Posada – .163
- Johnny Damon – .156
Beside the Power rankings that the topic is about.. What a lean bunch of FA, several of which shouldn’t be on a big league roster, or should be retired.
Fielder of course had major value, Ross has a lot, some team will give Damon a job as a DH, Pena will find a job somewhere as a 1b eventually, Jones will find a job as a 4-5OF somewhere, but the rest are a VERY lean bunch of fringe retirees, with little to no value, or should be sitting at home, or in Gomes case at AAA or Indy league.
You just mentioned half of the players in that list but you decided not to mention Betemit LOL, the guy has batted 0.280 or better in the past 2 seasons as a role player when playing more or less regularly after years and years of being just a bench player.
Burrell is all but officially retired. His foot simply won’t allow him to play anymore, and there’s already rumors of the Giants looking at giving him a job as an instructor or some other coaching job that might allow him to travel with the team.
As to the rest of the crop… pretty meh all around, unless somebody wants to take a flier on Varitek or has a few million to burn on a backup catcher.
I love Pat the Bat, don’t get me wrong. However, he was constantly under scrutiny in Philly for “doing his own thing” and not listening to hitting coaches, instructors, etc. Seems ironic.
Maybe the Giants want to keep him around in a Baldelli-esque role in the event his foot is good enough to be added to the roster later in the season if they’re in contention?
He has been very, very well liked as a Giant, owing in now small part to his 2010 regular season heroics. That he and Aubrey Huff, who was having a similar bounceback, were good buddies only feeds into that.
He is a Bay Area native and likes the team, and the Giants seem to like him right back in return. I’ve heard many stories about questionable behavior in Philly, but I guess there was never time for the shine to wear off in SF.
The Giants have already employed Shawon Dunston a dugout rah-rah role of some fashion; ostensibly he’s been listed an infield coach, but heck if I know what he actually does. I would imagine that he will either be a roving hitting coach or instructor, or will be replacing Dunston if this coaching deal comes to pass.
I lived in the immediate Philly area for most of Pat’s tenure … there are quite a few stories I’ve heard. I don’t think people cared so much that he was infamous off-the-field.
i could see the a’s taking a flyer on andrew jones to be their DH/LF
Varitek managed a .203 ISO at the age of 39?? I hadn’t realized.
Excited to see where Betemit lands, he’s actually a really good role-player.
I can see Ibanez going back to Seattle. We’re big on the whole “recycling” thing in the Northwest…
Sweet Damon is a power hitter again, wait was he really ever a power hitter in the first place?!
I’ve always liked the idea of Jones in Cleveland, nice move, but I still believe Pena is the best for us of course, with a lower salary
Twins need more power. Period. Since Span and Revere are guaranteed in the OF I think a Raul Ibanez wouldn’t be a terrible fit. I don’t like the idea of putting Benson or Plouffe in the OF. Keep them on the bench for now, because Span has a history of Concussions so Benson would be good on the bench, and we all know Nishioka is probably going to start at 2nd only because we paid so much for him, and with the acquisition of Jamey Carroll. If he gets injured again we can have Plouffe back him up, or any of the other infield positions not including catcher or pitcher.
Betemit to the Cards perhaps? He’d be a good pinch hitter, as well as a good backup plan in case Freese gets injured.
Im shocked Jason Varitek is 4th
This list may bode well for the Sox’ efforts to trade Carlos Quentin.
i thought Betemit landed in Pittsburgh? Did the ghost of Honus Wagner withdraw the offer?
Andruw Jones just hasn’t stopped hitting. I would love if the Sox picked him up as a 4th OF/DH. He was one of the best bargains in baseball in 2010.
Betemit would be a good upgrade over Mike Martinez for the Phillies. Plus Betemit can cover third. Better bat too of course and switch hitter. Hope we can get this guy for the cheap
Martinez isnt going to be on the team
Would love for the Reds to pick up Jones as a platoon partner with Heisey. Last year: Jones .286 Avg, .384 OBP vs LHP, Heisey .271 Avg, .324 OBP vs. RHP
I’ve been saying the same thing for a while. Plus the fact that Jones still has flashes of his GG abilities wouldn’t hurt, it’d certainly be an upgrade over Dunn and Alonso in LF over the past few years.
Besides, Jones may slightly be able to come back to form (not all the way at this age) in a low pressure city like Cincy. But mostly for what you said, having a killer Lefty/Righty platoon and could also play some CF when Stubbs (Mr. K) needs a break.
Oh great. More sabermetrics. Pretty soon we’re gonna have a stat so specific, it’ll tell us how good a player is when he plays at exactly 3:48 PM in the afternoon on Wednesdays under sunny skies. His value only goes up if he farts walking to the batter’s box from the on-deck circle.
Yes, measuring a batter’s extra base power is just as useless as that …
You’re right. It’s so hard to take a stat like ISO seriously. I mean it has only been used since the late 1940’s when Branch Rickey created it. We all know what a crazy loon Rickey was. He used statistical analysis, created farm systems and pushed for black players in MLB. It’s obvious none of his ideas were good.
Like any other stat, you have to give some thought to what it tells you, or doesn’t tell you. Seems to me that ISO is going to bias in favor of free-swingers. Take Ross for example. His BA was a pretty weak .240 last year, and his strikeout rate over his career is fairly high. Yet he earns a place on the top ISO chart because he doesn’t hit many singles. Seems kind of arbitrary to me.
considering its a stat that measures power, how is adding singles to it arbitrary?
You may have missed my point. For ISO singles are subtracted. Again using Ross as an example: If he’d hit 25 more singles last year, his BA would go up to .300, his SLG goes to up .467, but his ISO stays the same. So if you take a closer look at a high ISO/low BA player, he’s probably going to be a high strikeout rate player, which in the case of Ross at least, is true. I’d prefer to look at the full line in evaluating the player’s usefulness in a lineup. Power shows up in other ways.
It is idiotic to judge a player solely on his ISO, plus it is not a good ‘predictor’, its purpose is to explain what type of hitter a player was during a period of time and not what anybody would expect from such player, specially washed up players like Varitek who have only had 3 or 4 good seasons (when he bulked up the same years his teammates were using PEDs).
“Perhaps the best way to measure power isn’t home runs or even slugging percentage, but isolated power, or ISO.”
I want to say, “What a ridiculous stat!!!” Maybe there is some validity, but to be better than Home Runs or Slugging Percentage?? No Way.
Number two on the list, Andruw Jones, hit all of 13 hrs in 2011. Yeh, let’s go out and get him. Percentages are one thing, but home runs and rbi’s not only tell you whether or not someone is a “power hitter” (the title of the article) but whether or not they can sustain that power over a full season.
The actual difference between Fielder at an ISO of .267 and Jones at .247 is so much more than a mere .020 points it seems a bit absurd. Jones at 13 hrs and 33 rbi’s vs Fielder at 38 hrs and 120 rbi’s.
That was the best use of sarcasm in a post ever! Congratu…wait, you were serious?
Why do you think ISO is bad? It’s just SLG minus batting average.
Why subtract the batting average — as if the batting average is not important? I would ask you, why do you think the SLG is so bad that it needs to be replaced?
It doesn’t need to be replaced. ISO just illustrates the difference between a high-average singles hitter like Ryan Theriot and a low-average doubles hitter like Carlos Pena.
My issue was primarily the quote from the article that ISO was a better indicator of power than hrs or rbis. If you really want to know sheer power, then have a statistic for average distance per home run — like they have in golf. I just look at ISO as not being a very meaningful stat compared to BA, OBP, SLG, home runs, and rbis. Of the newer stats I think WAR is also very informative and useful.
Stating hrs and rbi’s to compare two totally different players is just as absurd. Jones accumulated his stats in 190 AB while Fielder got his in 569 AB. Break that down and Jones got a hr every 14.6 AB vs. Fielder every 14.9 AB, not a huge difference. The larger disparity is found in RBI’s with Jones getting one every 5.7 AB to Fielder every 4.7, although I would argue that position in batting order affected this stat.
Absurd? Hardly. I would agree that comparing Ichiro’s home runs and rbi’s to Fielder’s is absurd. HOWEVER, the article was about power hitters. What is the best way to compare “power hitters”? I guess it depends on the purpose. If you just want to compare sheer strength, then a measurement of home distance might be appropriate. But, if you want to know who you can count on to drive in runs when you need it, I guess I’d rather know how many home runs and how many rbi’s each player drives in during a course of a year. Is Jones Fielder’s equal? I don’t think so. Jones only took 190 ab’s, ALL AGAINST LEFTIES. Fielder 569 ab’s against both righties and lefties. Which would be more valuable on your team???? I’m thinking Fielder!
You lost me at “What a ridiculous stat!!!”
Truth be told, new stats usually make my head spin. But this one makes sense to me. Still, I’m not touching Andruw Jones with a cattle prod
I would like to see the results if you did.
Okay, let’s use ISO for Ty Cobb and Cap Anson over their entire careers. Ty Cobb averaged 103 rbi’s per year. His SLG was .512m his BA was .366, so his ISO was .146; Cap Anson averaged 133 rbi’s per year. His SLG was .447, his BA was .334 so his ISO was .113. So on this scale — well, they are not enough as good as the last person (Johnny Damon) on the list. And, Jason Varitek would be 53 points better than Ty Cobb, and 90 points better than Cap Anson. I repeat this stat (ISO) is not very informative or useful. I’ll take home runs and rbi’s over ISO any day. When it comes to power, I want to know who can drive in runs when needed and do so over an entire season — if not career. Part time players like Andruw Jones and the others on this list (except for Fielder) are not impact players.
In fairness, I don’t think the ISO stat is meant to say which player is “better,” but I agree that it’s not a very useful measurement of performance.
This guy doesn’t win fantasy baseball leagues.
No, he’s probably more interested in the 30 teams playing real baseball.
I am so sorry, I didn’t realize that this article was about Fantasy baseball leagues. In that case, I am wrong. ISO is probably the perfect stat for Fantasy.
I would have more interest in players that can impulsate 100+ runs every year without hitting tons of homeruns, and also have a good OBP (close to 0.400 or even above that number), players who don’t rely heavily on the homerun to produce, because those usually (though not always) also have high strikeout ratios and are prone to get worse at that when their power begins to diminish.
Patrick the Pragmatist
Did I miss something about ISO? I thought it was a measure of extra base power not a rating of who is the best player. You can have a ton of power and not be a very good player and you can be a MVP without being a big home run hitter.
Yet, people are all over the stat as if it rates something beyond power.
It is a slow news week I guess.
It thought that SLG was supposed to be the measure of extra base power. ISO tends to diminish a player who gets a single with runners in scoring position. I have to say again, as for percentages, I like BA, OBP, and SLG. but I also want to see raw numbers: Home Runs and RBI’s because that tells me what a player is worth over an entire season, i.e. the result of those percentages.
Patrick the Pragmatist
SLG counts singles. There are a lot of hard hit singles and sometimes they go fairly deep and BA, OBP and SLG all take them into account.
The idea of ISO is to take them out of the equation when measuring “Power” not overrall offensive production.
OPS counts home runs twice and every other hit including singles twice. Just in SLG home runs are of more value than the other hits.
And OBP counts walks and HBP.
I read the oppostion to ISO as the usual predictable anti modern stats agenda.
If the score is tied in the bottom of the ninth with two outs and a runner on third, I’d rather have someone who gets a single once every three at bats, than someone with a high ISO who hits a home run once every 8 at bats.
Patrick the Pragmatist
I don’t disagree with that.
I didn’t know anyone regarded ISO as a measure of who is a better hitter or player, just power.
Saying sign the best ISO guys is different than saying “If your shopping for power, here is how the available guys rate.” and that is all that should have been being debated.
Patrick the Pragmatist
100+ RBI tell you someone was productive. But they don’t tell you accurately who was better in rating players.
They tell you which productive players were fortunate enough to have lots of opportunities to hit with runners on.
Some will say it tells you who comes through in the clutch.
But to hit runners in, there have to be runners on. That is something a player has no control over.
Patrick the Pragmatist
Not sure where ISO is so flawed: Bautista led the majors in home runs and was on top and Granderson was second in the majors in home runs and was second.
Stanton hit 34 in 516 at bats. Fielder hit 38 and was fourth.
Then Beltre, Braun, Kemp, Reynolds and Longoria.
As for Andruw Jones the main reason he is still around is that he can come off of the bench and hit home runs. He had 13 in only 190 at bats.
That is why his ISO is high. He did not play enough to be compared to the real leaders.
But if you sign him, you want that power. Maybe he would not hit 13 in 190 at bats in a pitchers park. But as for the numbers he did post, the ISO is a accurate rating of his value in a role he is still useful in to some teams.
ISO it is not flawed in itself, but to take a decision based solely on that stat, its where the flaw resides.
Patrick the Pragmatist
Maybe not, I don’t see that as what was happening. What I would ask is who has more power? A player with 35 home runs in 650 at bats?
or a player with 33 home runs in 500 at bats?
In actual home runs the guy with 150 more at bats rates ahead as he had two more home runs.
An “Average” helps to sort that out. If you like home run % better so be it. if you like Slugging % because it counts the singles also that is fine. ISO is a medium between the two as it regards EXBH, not just home runs and does not include singles.
Not sure where ISO is so flawed? Here’s an example:
Let’s say you have a player that hits a home run every 10 at bats. He strikes out the other nine times. He has a SLG average of .400 and a BA of .100. Therefore, his ISO is .300!!! His ISO would be 33 points higher than Fielder. I’m sorry I would rather have Fielder!!!!!!!
Patrick the Pragmatist
The free agent ISO is accurate:
If you want a big slugger to play 1B for several years and are willing to pay for it you sign the #1 guy who has been a regular player: Fielder, Pena is next among everyday guys. He may not be great all-around offensively, but he is good enough ( decent OBP & Defense) to play as a regular. And if you sign Pena, it is not for his batting average it is for 25 or more home runs, hopefully 30 or more.
If you looking for a reserve and you look at ISO as a measure of power.
And you consider the small sample guys, ISO rates them well.
Jones can still hit home runs. If you want a reserve RHB power hitter, he still has some power. Maybe he is not a good 4th OF beyond that anymore. But this measures power.
If you give a small sample slugger who hits 10 or more in less than 250 at bats a chance to play everyday they will usually hit 20 or 30 home runs.
But there is a reason why they don’t play every day and you have to take that along with the home runs. Pena once got another chance after almost falling to AAAA status and hit 46. Russ Branyan could always hit home runs, and when the M’s gave him a chance in 2009 he hit 31 as a regular.
Of course it’s accurate. The question is whether it’s useful.
Patrick the Pragmatist
Well you don’t need ISO to tell you Bautista has power and Juan Pierre does not. You could watch them everyday and know that without stats. But all differences are not that dramatic. And there is nothing wrong with a stat that might be a better actual measure of such things.
You can measure almost anything. That does not necessarily make the measurement useful. I think this basic principle often gets lost when tossing around baseball stats.