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Monday, February 18, 2008

2007 Team Defense

There is no “team” offense.  Yes, there are bunts and hit-and-runs, but that’s a small part of offense.  There are mostly individual acts of hitting, representing upwards of 95% of a player’s offensive contributions.  You very rarely hear that a team plays good team offense.  You will see cumulative team stats, but most analysts have no problem reading a team line as the sum of its parts.

Sadly that type of understanding isn’t true about defense.  There is very little “team” in defense. Yes, there are double plays and proper relays, but that’s a small part of defense.  There are mostly individual acts of fielding that represent upwards of 95% of a player’s defensive contributions.  We’re going to set aside the pitcher’s component of a batted ball, and the ease with which it is turned into outs.  That’s a separate piece.

So which teams performed best defensively, and how much they could improve, or where they are giving away runs.

Here’s a look at the 2007 American League.

Team	1B DRS	2B DRS	3B DRS	SS DRS	LF DRS	CF DRS	RF DRS	C DRS	DRS SUM
TOR	0	12	-13	27	12	8	0	-12	35
BAL	-4	-1	0	16	-2	1	-5	-5	-1
BOS	2	5	5	2	-36	5	-8	-3	-27
NYY	-6	8	1	-22	-7	5	0	-4	-24
TB	-8	-15	-2	-24	14	-15	-2	1	-50
									
DET	12	-1	19	-7	9	4	17	3	54
KC	10	-7	-4	6	3	2	4	2	18
CLE	-2	-3	-7	-9	-1	12	14	7	11
MIN	2	-8	-1	7	5	3	-16	11	3
CWS	1	-11	-11	1	9	7	-2	-6	-11
									
OAK	-1	24	11	9	5	-7	10	-5	45
LAA	11	5	-2	3	7	-15	2	-4	6
TEX	-4	-11	3	-5	6	-4	9	3	-3
SEA	-15	3	1	-4	-25	-8	-21	12	-57
									
Total	0	0	0	0	0	0	0	0	0
Max	12	24	19	27	14	12	17	12	54
Min	-15	-15	-13	-24	-36	-15	-21	-12	-57
Range	26	39	31	50	50	27	38	23	111

Let’s start by tempering the Boston LF number.  Analyses have indicated this number is about –16, rather than –36, moving the Red Sox defensive score to –4 DRS.  In addition to having a good hitting year, the Sox also were a solid defensive team, and that certainly helps in close games. 

In the AL East, Toronto is the defensive leader.  If they can learn to hit more, they can step forward.  Even with Boston and the Yankees giving away five wins to the Jays, they stay on top.  The Devil Rays are predicted to be better, but they have to catch the ball first.  Imagine Kazmir with a good defense behind him.

The Tigers defense has been solid for several years, and I suppose they decided it could handle Miguel Cabrera.  With the significant gap between the Tigers defense and the Indians’, I suspect the Tigers will be well off.  With Santana leaving Minnesota, I can’t imagine they, nor the ChiSox and Royals will be contenders. 

There’s something rotten in Seattle.  Giving away nearly seven wins just by not catching the ball is a real problem.  The Mariners are the worst defensive team in the league by a wide margin.  They had one of the worst fielders at four positions, and when that happens, your pitchers look bad.  That really has to be taken into account when people judge the Mariners pitchers.  The A’s have strong defense, and that could easily have led to Beane’s interpretation about the success of his pitchers, and thus thinking he can let some go.

Team	1B DRS	2B DRS	3B DRS	SS DRS	LF DRS	CF DRS	RF DRS	C DRS	DRS SUM
PHI	-13	20	-1	-2	-5	3	13	8	23
NYM	-1	-4	1	15	-4	12	2	-2	20
ATL	3	-6	9	-9	8	-3	0	-1	-1
WAS	-14	1	13	-14	-2	1	7	6	-2
FLA	-1	-18	-28	-13	-11	-5	8	-1	-70
									
STL	12	5	24	-10	-2	-6	-7	8	25
CHC	-1	13	3	1	3	9	0	-8	21
CIN	8	1	-1	0	-3	1	-2	1	7
PIT	9	-14	-10	-6	-2	16	-11	-1	-19
MIL	-8	-12	-5	-10	3	-14	0	-2	-48
HOU	-5	-7	-16	-1	-23	-5	-6	2	-61
									
SF	10	-6	26	25	-9	-4	-6	2	36
COL	10	19	-14	16	14	-8	-6	-2	30
SD	1	9	2	9	15	-1	4	-22	17
ARI	-3	4	-2	-9	12	2	6	6	15
LAD	-7	-8	-1	8	7	2	1	6	8
									
Total	0	0	0	0	0	0	0	0	0
									
Max	12	20	26	25	15	16	13	8	36
Min	-14	-18	-28	-14	-23	-14	-11	-22	-70
Range	26	38	54	38	38	30	23	30	107

The Marlins are a terrible defensive team.  They improved defensively this off-season by trading away Cabrera.  He’s remarkably terrible.  Hanley Ramirez is a terrific hitter thus far, but he’s not good with the glove.  Dan Uggla is a powerful hitting second baseman, but can’t turn batted balls into outs.  Like their Florida brethren, until they field better, they aren’t going to be terribly competitive.

The Cubs have been picked to win the Central, and their solid defense will be a big part of that.  The Astros are bad, and didn’t keep Adam Everett.  The Brewers defense is very weak, and from good hitters, which means they will continue to threaten to challenge, rather than challenge.

The NL West has all solid fielding teams.  The good defense for the Rockies helped push them ahead of their division opponents.  The Padres could have won with any decent amout of catching.  Giving up doubles on walks is a terrible way to try to win.

Overall, American League teams are more willing to swap offense for defense at shortstop, and National League teams swap at third base.  Overall, it looks like centerfield is the location where teams agree on the required skill set, as it shows the lowest variation to chances. 

 

Chris Dial Posted: February 18, 2008 at 03:04 AM | 91 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
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   1. Dag Nabbit is part of the zombie horde Posted: February 18, 2008 at 05:43 AM (#2693437)
According to win shares, the Cubs posted their best fielding team since 1945 last year. That sounds way high, but my hunch is that these numbers area a little low, especially in left where Soriano had all those baserunner kills.
   2. Charter Member of the Jesus Melendez Fanclub Posted: February 18, 2008 at 05:51 AM (#2693448)
Sadly that type of understanding isn’t true about defense.

Yes, I often hear about baseball player X being a great team defender.
   3. Chris Dial Posted: February 18, 2008 at 05:53 AM (#2693449)
OF ratings don't include arm, so it will be a *little* low, but not more than a run or three.
   4. The Keith Law Blog Blah Blah (battlekow) Posted: February 18, 2008 at 08:19 AM (#2693530)
You very rarely hear that a team plays good team offense.

I think this is semantic. Sure, the phrase "team offense" is rarely used, but so what? "Team defense" is just a catchphrase for referring to the overall defensive quality of a team, and certainly people also discuss the overall offensive quality of teams.
   5. BeanoCook Posted: February 18, 2008 at 11:43 AM (#2693557)
So 3B was the 4th best position for Milwaukee? I don't think so.
   6. Dan The Mediocre Posted: February 18, 2008 at 03:06 PM (#2693595)
So 3B was the 4th best position for Milwaukee? I don't think so.


Counsell and Graffanino combined for a little over 1/3 of innings at 3B. -5 might be a little better than they actually were, but it's probably not off by that much.
   7. Chris Dial Posted: February 18, 2008 at 03:08 PM (#2693597)
the phrase "team offense" is rarely used, but so what? "Team defense" is just a catchphrase for referring to the overall defensive quality of a team, and certainly people also discuss the overall offensive quality of teams.

Here's what (I think): People think of offense of individuals first, then the team. People think of team defense first and then the individuals. I'd like the order of that changed.
   8. Andere Richtingen Posted: February 18, 2008 at 03:30 PM (#2693609)
The Brewers defense is very weak, and from good hitters, which means they will continue to threaten to challenge, rather than challenge.

I completely agree that the Brewers' defense is an Achilles Heel, but this is an awfully strong statement. There are prospects for moderate improvement (Mike Cameron + dead cat bounce + Melvin is aware it is a big problem).
   9. Dan The Mediocre Posted: February 18, 2008 at 03:39 PM (#2693616)
I completely agree that the Brewers' defense is an Achilles Heel, but this is an awfully strong statement. There are prospects for moderate improvement (Mike Cameron + dead cat bounce + Melvin is aware it is a big problem).


Cameron to CF, Hall to 3B, Braun to LF should do a lot to improve the defense.
   10. Mike Emeigh Posted: February 18, 2008 at 03:51 PM (#2693621)
Cameron to CF, Hall to 3B, Braun to LF should do a lot to improve the defense.


If Cameron stays healthy.

Cincinnati's pitchers were *really* bad last year - they had a decent defense behind them, they walked the second-fewest number of batters in the NL, and they *still* allowed more runs than anyone but the Marlins.

-- MWE
   11. Padraic Posted: February 18, 2008 at 04:48 PM (#2693677)
"People think of team defense first and then the individuals. I'd like the order of that changed."

If it makes you feel better, I don't think that is true, or at least the "people" you refer to are few in number. In other sports, yes, but I can't remember the last time someone explained to me about a good "team defense" aside from saying simply that they have a lot of good defensive players.

I do also have a question about how positioning and pitcher tendencies are accounted for in these stats.

Take the Phillies for example. It is just hard to imagine, based on watching Utley and Rollins over several years that Utley is a 3-win plus defender while Rollins is actually a negative. Considering they play next to one another, I wonder if there is something with the way the Phillies position the infield, or in the tendencies of their pitchers (less likely since they have had some overhaul in the past 3 years).

I'm perfectly willing to believe that Utley is an above average defender and that Rollins is not a GG caliber SS, but it is the size of the discrepancy that seems to indicate their are other factors at work aside from player skill.
   12. Dan Turkenkopf Posted: February 18, 2008 at 04:55 PM (#2693685)
The Tigers defense has been solid for several years, and I suppose they decided it could handle Miguel Cabrera.


That depends on whether he moves Inge off third or not. The difference defensively between Tigers 3B and Marlins 3B was almost 4 wins by itself. Cabrera's offense more than makes up for it, but I wonder if they'd be better off putting Miguel in LF.
   13. PatrickInTheWoods, Apostate Posted: February 18, 2008 at 04:58 PM (#2693687)
Using this, the Phils/Giants CF/3B swap looks even better (for the Phils) from a defense perspective than I thought. Plugging in Feliz at 3B and moving Victorino (RF) to CF should do some nice things. Of course, the Phils won't get the full benefit from 3B, since they have relatively few GB pitchers. The RF-CF full time transition for Victorino should go well enough that he'll outperform Rowand. The new RF combo won't be nearly as good as The Flying Hawaiian either, but I'll take that for the CF move.
   14. Tricky Dick Posted: February 18, 2008 at 05:04 PM (#2693694)
Do I understand correctly that Baltimore was +16 at shortstop. I thought Tejeda was approximately "average" on defense. I realize that he didn't play a full season due to injury, but was the replacement that good?
   15. Chris Dial Posted: February 18, 2008 at 05:14 PM (#2693700)
Using this, the Phils/Giants CF/3B swap looks even better (for the Phils) from a defense perspective than I thought

Yes, I think the Phils made out defensively there, but offensively, it's going to kill them. Rowand had a HUGE year, and that's going away, and Feliz' offense is dropping like a stone. The park will mask some of that, and a few clutch HRs can win some games, but he's pretty awful.
   16. pkb33 Posted: February 18, 2008 at 05:17 PM (#2693703)
The difference defensively between Tigers 3B and Marlins 3B was almost 4 wins by itself.

Do you truly believe that there is a 40 run difference defensively between Inge and Cabrera?
   17. Chris Dial Posted: February 18, 2008 at 05:20 PM (#2693704)
If it makes you feel better, I don't think that is true, or at least the "people" you refer to are few in number. In other sports, yes, but I can't remember the last time someone explained to me about a good "team defense" aside from saying simply that they have a lot of good defensive players.

It does make me feel a little better, but I disagree based on the rampant use of DER. That's not a good statistic for the reasons I wanted to make above (but may not have because I need to do more research before going fully into this claim).
   18. RobertMachemer Posted: February 18, 2008 at 05:21 PM (#2693705)
Let’s start by tempering the Boston LF number. Analyses have indicated this number is about –16, rather than –36, moving the Red Sox defensive score to –4 DRS.
What am I misunderstanding? If you change -36 to -16, doesn't that merely give the Red Sox an additional 20 runs? Doesn't that move them to -7 since they're currently at -27?
   19. Chris Dial Posted: February 18, 2008 at 05:21 PM (#2693706)
Do you truly believe that there is a 40 run difference defensively between Inge and Cabrera?


Yes, I do.
   20. Chris Dial Posted: February 18, 2008 at 05:24 PM (#2693708)
I do also have a question about how positioning and pitcher tendencies are accounted for in these stats.

Take the Phillies for example. It is just hard to imagine, based on watching Utley and Rollins over several years that Utley is a 3-win plus defender while Rollins is actually a negative. Considering they play next to one another, I wonder if there is something with the way the Phillies position the infield, or in the tendencies of their pitchers (less likely since they have had some overhaul in the past 3 years).

I'm perfectly willing to believe that Utley is an above average defender and that Rollins is not a GG caliber SS, but it is the size of the discrepancy that seems to indicate their are other factors at work aside from player skill.


There are probably instances where positioning matters. SS/2B are too far apart for that to be the factor. Rollins is about average, and Utley is a stud. That's a real difference. Adding Feliz *may* impact Rollins rating, but only wrt cutting off balls near the hole. Not much, but you could see a 3-5 play bump in Rollins rating - but that's because Feliz isn't "average"; he's outstanding, and it would take a great palyer like that on the same side of the infield to make those small impacts.
   21. RobertMachemer Posted: February 18, 2008 at 05:26 PM (#2693712)
Incidentally, without moving the Red Sox score, I get -1 for the American League and +1 for the National League. Presumably the +20 runs we might give the Red Sox left fielder would come from somewhere. Would we theoretically subtract 20/29 runs from everyone else? Or would we subtract more than that from teams that played the Red Sox (possibly adjusting for how much they played the Red Sox -- say, more from the AL East teams and less from the AL West) and less or none from teams that didn't play the Red Sox?
   22. Chris Dial Posted: February 18, 2008 at 05:31 PM (#2693718)
What am I misunderstanding? If you change -36 to -16, doesn't that merely give the Red Sox an additional 20 runs? Doesn't that move them to -7 since they're currently at -27?

You are missing that I made an error. I wrote that, then realized I hadn't included catchers, and so my math was off.

Sorry about that.
   23. Chris Dial Posted: February 18, 2008 at 05:32 PM (#2693719)
Would we theoretically subtract 20/29 runs from everyone else? Or would we subtract more than that from teams that played the Red Sox (possibly adjusting for how much they played the Red Sox -- say, more from the AL East teams and less from the AL West) and less or none from teams that didn't play the Red Sox?

Yes, the other teams in the AL would tweak.
   24. David Concepcion de la Desviacion Estandar (Dan R) Posted: February 18, 2008 at 05:38 PM (#2693726)
Are these park-adjusted? If not, then I imagine that +30 for the Rockies is more like a +70 or something.
   25. PatrickInTheWoods, Apostate Posted: February 18, 2008 at 05:45 PM (#2693732)
I'll take Feliz, warts and all, over Greg "Oops there goes another one" Dobbs, Wes "Wickets" Helms, and Abraham "No Hit" Nunez.

Rowand did have a very good offensive year, but that's not the question going forward. The question is, will he do it again? I don't think so, but some might.
   26. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: February 18, 2008 at 06:22 PM (#2693770)
Do you truly believe that there is a 40 run difference defensively between Inge and Cabrera?

Why wouldn't you believe that? It looks like the best/worst range across the skill positions is in the 35-50 run range.

Inge is a great defender and Cabrera's an absolute butcher. That trade's not going to help Detroit as much as people think. I bet they wish they hadn't extended Sheff and had DH available.
   27. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: February 18, 2008 at 06:29 PM (#2693777)
Took a quick look at BPros projections. They have Inge as about a +5 run hitter (if you scale him to 500 PA) and Sheff as a +23 run hitter in 450 PAs.

Sheff should be on the bench, or playing as much left as he can, Cabrera at DH and Inge at 3B.
   28. Frisco Cali Posted: February 18, 2008 at 06:50 PM (#2693808)
I bet they wish they hadn't extended Sheff and had DH available

So Inge is better than Sheff?

I find it interesting where the advanced defensive metrics and player valuation methods are taking us.
   29. Dandy Little Glove Man Posted: February 18, 2008 at 07:12 PM (#2693831)
OF ratings don't include arm, so it will be a *little* low, but not more than a run or three.

I don't understand this. Isn't the difference between a very good and a very bad arm generally on the magnitude of the difference between a very good and a very bad baserunner (+7 runs v. -7 runs)? In the case of Francoeur or Soriano in 2007, it was more like +12. Is there some way that your system accounts for part of this, or should we add about 12 runs to ATL RF and CHC LF to be more accurate?
   30. Chris Dial Posted: February 18, 2008 at 07:15 PM (#2693835)
Are these park-adjusted? If not, then I imagine that +30 for the Rockies is more like a +70 or something.

No, they aren't, but I'm not completely sold on significant park factor changes.
   31. Chris Dial Posted: February 18, 2008 at 07:17 PM (#2693840)
I don't understand this. Isn't the difference between a very good and a very bad arm generally on the magnitude of the difference between a very good and a very bad baserunner (+7 runs v. -7 runs)? In the case of Francoeur or Soriano in 2007, it was more like +12. Is there some way that your system accounts for part of this, or should we add about 12 runs to ATL RF and CHC LF to be more accurate?

No, on average the arm differentials are muchmuch smaller (+3 to -3). I also do arm comps, but I think "baserunner holds" for OF arm are WAY too high. The baserunner and the BIP specific have much more to do with the base advancement than the arm of the OF.
   32. Chris Dial Posted: February 18, 2008 at 07:18 PM (#2693841)
So Inge is better than Sheff?

I find it interesting where the advanced defensive metrics and player valuation methods are taking us.


I'm getting there....
   33. Chris Dial Posted: February 18, 2008 at 07:19 PM (#2693843)
Rowand did have a very good offensive year, but that's not the question going forward. The question is, will he do it again? I don't think so, but some might.

No, I don't think he will either, and where it is relevant is in any discussion on whether or not the Phils repeat. They are going to lose 50 runs from the player changes/regression, and a that's going to be a problem.
   34. dugaton Posted: February 18, 2008 at 07:38 PM (#2693851)
Took a quick look at BPros projections. They have Inge as about a +5 run hitter (if you scale him to 500 PA) and Sheff as a +23 run hitter in 450 PAs.

Sheff should be on the bench, or playing as much left as he can, Cabrera at DH and Inge at 3B.



Is that Inge projection BRAA or BRAR? Brandon Inge has put up exactly one positive BRAA season in his career. If it's a BRAR, then you maybe better to use the BRAA just as DRS is essentially a measure around the median, right?

More interestingly, if it is BRAA, then it's predicting a pretty big year for Inge, with a career-high OBP (ZIPS is only .246/.319/.400), but I guess it must be BRAR.
   35. Oriole Tragic is totally awesome in the postseason Posted: February 18, 2008 at 07:51 PM (#2693863)
Tejada is such a butcher at SS.
   36. Dag Nabbit is part of the zombie horde Posted: February 18, 2008 at 07:59 PM (#2693867)
The difference between the worst catching in the NL (SD) and the next-to-worst (CHI) is almost as great as the difference between the next-to-worst and the best (Philly).

On a related note, going by b-ref's team splits, the 2007 Padres did the worst job throwing out opposing baserunners of any of the 1,270 teams since 1957.
   37. Chris Dial Posted: February 18, 2008 at 08:06 PM (#2693872)
That's pretty accurate, and they ran a handful of catchers throught hat - Bard is atrocious, and going to hurt the Pads quite a bit.
   38. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: February 18, 2008 at 08:18 PM (#2693882)
Is that Inge projection BRAA or BRAR?

Yes, VORP which is above replacement. I'm not sure if they have the replacement right, I know BPro has had some issue with that. But, in any case, it looks like Sheff is only about 20 runs better than Inge offensively.

I'm not sure how to translate the RC numbers from Zips into runs above replacement, but for projections it has Inge almost exactly the same 246/319/400 vs 245/316/407, and Sheff quite a bit worse, 269/366/438 vs. 274/372/460 compared to BPro.

If the Inge/Cabrera gap really is almost 50 runs, Detroit is basically giving back Cabrera's offense on defense.
   39. David Concepcion de la Desviacion Estandar (Dan R) Posted: February 18, 2008 at 08:19 PM (#2693883)
Chris, are you actually suggesting that the fact that batting average on balls in play at Coors Field is WAY higher than anywhere else in baseball is simply because the Rockies have had bad fielders or pitchers prone to give up hard contact every year of their existence? Otherwise, there is clearly a need for a park correction!
   40. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: February 18, 2008 at 08:21 PM (#2693884)
Chris, are you actually suggesting that the fact that batting average on balls in play at Coors Field is WAY higher than anywhere else in baseball is simply because the Rockies have had bad fielders or pitchers prone to give up hard contact every year of their existence? Otherwise, there is clearly a need for a park correction!

I think that depends on what's causing the higher BABIP. If balls are just being hit harder and into zones where a lower % of balls are turned into outs, the PBP systems will correct for this automatically.
   41. Kyle S at work Posted: February 18, 2008 at 08:26 PM (#2693886)
Francouer's arm has been worth at least 5 runs all three years he's played (including 2005, when he only played half the team's games) and his kill rate has been well above average all three years. Why would you exclude that data, other than because it isn't measured by zone rating?
   42. JL Posted: February 18, 2008 at 08:36 PM (#2693893)
If the Inge/Cabrera gap really is almost 50 runs, Detroit is basically giving back Cabrera's offense on defense.

If you assume that Cabrera remains that bad on defense. I think the Tigers are assuming/hoping that in a new, winning environment, Cabrera will lose weight and work more on his defense. Cutting that number to a -10 DRS or so would add a lot of value back. With Inge still on the team, they have a late inning defense replacement, as well as the ability mobe Cabrera around to LF and DH.
   43. DCW3 Posted: February 18, 2008 at 08:39 PM (#2693895)
If that RF rating for Detroit is to be believed, then Ordonez, not A-Rod, was probably the AL MVP.
   44. Tricky Dick Posted: February 18, 2008 at 08:43 PM (#2693903)
Tejada is such a butcher at SS.

Or, is he? The Orioles are shown as +16 at shortstop. How much is due to him?
   45. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: February 18, 2008 at 08:50 PM (#2693910)
If you assume that Cabrera remains that bad on defense. I think the Tigers are assuming/hoping that in a new, winning environment, Cabrera will lose weight and work more on his defense. Cutting that number to a -10 DRS or so would add a lot of value back. With Inge still on the team, they have a late inning defense replacement, as well as the ability mobe Cabrera around to LF and DH.

Even if he's -10, and Inge is +15, the team is still better with Inge in the lineup than Sheffield.

Or, how about Guillen at 3B and Cabrera at 1B?
   46. Chris Dial Posted: February 18, 2008 at 09:15 PM (#2693928)
Chris, are you actually suggesting that the fact that batting average on balls in play at Coors Field is WAY higher than anywhere else in baseball is simply because the Rockies have had bad fielders or pitchers prone to give up hard contact every year of their existence? Otherwise, there is clearly a need for a park correction!

How much of that has been abated by the humidor. There used to be a big problem with it, BUT, yes, I think hitters get better contact there.
   47. Chris Dial Posted: February 18, 2008 at 09:17 PM (#2693931)
Francouer's arm has been worth at least 5 runs all three years he's played (including 2005, when he only played half the team's games) and his kill rate has been well above average all three years. Why would you exclude that data, other than because it isn't measured by zone rating?

I don't think Francouer's arm has been that high every year. I exclude it because of the reasons I already stated. I'll throw up his arm ratings later.
   48. Chris Dial Posted: February 18, 2008 at 09:25 PM (#2693944)
If you assume that Cabrera remains that bad on defense. I think the Tigers are assuming/hoping that in a new, winning environment, Cabrera will lose weight and work more on his defense. Cutting that number to a -10 DRS or so would add a lot of value back. With Inge still on the team, they have a late inning defense replacement, as well as the ability mobe Cabrera around to LF and DH.


Cabrera is that bad at third. Inge is that good. In a straight switch, it'd be problematic. The Tigers should do as you say, with Guillen (or someone) at third and Cabrera at first.
   49. Chris Dial Posted: February 18, 2008 at 09:26 PM (#2693947)
If that RF rating for Detroit is to be believed, then Ordonez, not A-Rod, was probably the AL MVP.

It is, and that made it very close.
   50. JL Posted: February 18, 2008 at 09:42 PM (#2693960)
The Tigers should do as you say, with Guillen (or someone) at third and Cabrera at first.

Any indication that Guillen would be able to handle third with anything around the ability that he currently handles SS? I don't see him often enough to know, but the move to 1B was more health than performance. Is his first step quick enough?
   51. Chris Dial Posted: February 18, 2008 at 09:46 PM (#2693970)
JD,
I htink so.
   52. Kyle S at work Posted: February 18, 2008 at 09:47 PM (#2693974)
Francoeur's numbers from John Walsh at THT:

....... 2005 2006 .2007
RS..... +5.5 +4.6 +11.9
RS/200 +12.8 +4.1 +13.4


So he was slightly below +5 in 2006. Sue me.
   53. Chris Dial Posted: February 18, 2008 at 09:51 PM (#2693979)
As I said before, Walsh's numbers have issues with holds, and he overvalues kills (I think).
   54. Mike Emeigh Posted: February 18, 2008 at 09:57 PM (#2693986)
If balls are just being hit harder and into zones where a lower % of balls are turned into outs, the PBP systems will correct for this automatically.


Mostly true for the infield, not so much for the outfield.

Balls hit in the air at Coors tend to spend less time in the air (Clay Davenport noted this a couple of years ago, if memory serves), which normally means that they're harder to catch even when they are in-zone for the outfielders. The zone conversion rates for the OFs, especially CF, are likely affected by that to some extent.

-- MWE
   55. Chris Dial Posted: February 18, 2008 at 10:02 PM (#2693990)
The zone conversion rates for the OFs, especially CF, are likely affected by that to some extent.

Yes, but how large is the factor?
   56. Padraic Posted: February 18, 2008 at 10:04 PM (#2693994)
"It does make me feel a little better, but I disagree based on the rampant use of DER. "

But are people using DER talking about "team defense" in a way any different then when they use total runs scored to talk about "team offense?"

In both cases, I don't think most people think they are referring to a skill different from the sum of the individual players.
   57. Chris Dial Posted: February 18, 2008 at 10:06 PM (#2693997)
Isn't FIP based on DER?
   58. TDF, situational idiot Posted: February 18, 2008 at 10:29 PM (#2694028)
So the Reds' LFers were only -3, with Dunn accounting for just over 82% of the innings, leaving three possible explanations:

1. Everyone else who played the position must be as good as Carl Crawford.
2. Dunn isn't the butcher everyone thinks he is.
3. The numbers are off.
   59. TDF, situational idiot Posted: February 18, 2008 at 10:42 PM (#2694042)
As I look at the team's score, I think my explanation #3 is probably closer to the truth.

Encarnacion at 3B and Griffey in RF also played over 80% of the innings at their positions; Jr. is considered the worst in the majors at his position, and EdE is among the worst. There is no way the other positions were covered by guys good enough to make up the difference between these two and ratings above.

Cincinnati's pitchers were *really* bad last year - they had a decent defense behind them,


This is the first place I've seen Cinci's defense described as "decent".
   60. TDF, situational idiot Posted: February 18, 2008 at 10:55 PM (#2694049)
Three post in a row! Woohoo!

There is no way their positions were otherwise covered by guys good enough to make up the difference between these two and ratings above.
   61. Chris Dial Posted: February 19, 2008 at 01:44 AM (#2694164)
Jr. is considered the worst in the majors at his position

No, in center he was.
   62. AROM Posted: February 19, 2008 at 02:14 AM (#2694179)
It does make me feel a little better, but I disagree based on the rampant use of DER. That's not a good statistic for the reasons I wanted to make above (but may not have because I need to do more research before going fully into this claim).


I disagree. DER is a great statistic. It's what everything should add up to. "Everything" means more than just defensive performance. DER = defense + how hard pitchers are hit + ball distribution + ballpark effects.

I can understand that a proper defensive rating is not always going to match DER because of the other factors, but if the sum of individual defensive stats do not positively correlate with DER, then you have a useless defensive stat.
   63. Chris Dial Posted: February 19, 2008 at 02:51 AM (#2694201)
DER = defense + how hard pitchers are hit + ball distribution + ballpark effects.

I agree with this. Unfortunately, while we have a good idea about A, B, and D, C is a near mystery, with little available info.

And without C, we struggle to move forward with DER.
   64. bsball Posted: February 19, 2008 at 02:43 PM (#2694483)
How closely should these match up with David Pinto's PMRs? Several look to be fairly different. For example,

NYY: -24 (PMR 62)
Tigers: 54 (PMR 21)
Mariners: -57 (PMR -2)

PMRs are in outs, not runs, so the comparison is not one to one with DRS, but I would have guessed that they should be in the same ballpark. The two systems seem to produce fairly different views of who is really good and who is really bad.
   65. Chris Dial Posted: February 19, 2008 at 03:05 PM (#2694498)
How closely should these match up with David Pinto's PMRs? Several look to be fairly different. For example,

NYY: -24 (PMR 62)
Tigers: 54 (PMR 21)
Mariners: -57 (PMR -2)

PMRs are in outs, not runs, so the comparison is not one to one with DRS, but I would have guessed that they should be in the same ballpark. The two systems seem to produce fairly different views of who is really good and who is really bad.


I'd like for them to agree better. PMR uses a different base system and the same one as Dewan, and he and Dewan don't agree much, while this system and Dewan agree pretty well.

I haven't really "gotten" PMR, so I can't really address why he differs so much from my system, UZR and Dewan.
   66. zack Posted: February 19, 2008 at 05:03 PM (#2694588)
So, assuming for a second that every player recieved the same number of balls in play, there would be no difference between a team with a +32 LF and a -4 at every other position, and one with an entire team of average players?
   67. AROM Posted: February 19, 2008 at 05:13 PM (#2694599)
So, assuming for a second that every player recieved the same number of balls in play, there would be no difference between a team with a +32 LF and a -4 at every other position, and one with an entire team of average players?


If every position gets the same # of balls, I don't see how there would be any difference.

If a real team had this situation, with CF getting more chances than corner guys, they'd move the left fielder, Darin, to center, and the centerfielder, Garret, to left. Then they'd go win their first championship in a 42 year history.
   68. Mike Emeigh Posted: February 19, 2008 at 05:54 PM (#2694636)
This is the first place I've seen Cinci's defense described as "decent".


Well, it really was, when you consider the park and how hard their pitchers were hit most of the year. Encarnacion was probably the worst glove out there. Dunn's really not a horrible outfielder - like Manny, I think he gets a bit of a bad rap because the environment makes him look worse than he is.

How closely should these match up with David Pinto's PMRs?


Probably not well at all. There are different performance models underlying each system.

Pinto's model is based on how visiting team fielders do at each ballpark - or alternatively, how the home team hitters do. The problem you have with taking this approach is laid out in this Pinto article (check out Guy's comment, in particular) - if the home team hitters vary significantly in their performance from the rest of the league's hitters, that in turn will affect how the home team fielders are perceived by Pinto's system.

IMO, the biggest barrier to progress in defensive analysis is that we have no idea whether the underlying model that we use to determine baseline performance is accurate. How do we model the default expectation for the conversion rate for a Yankee shortstop given the nature and distribution of the balls put into play against the Yankees? There are problems with both the visting-team model and the all-fielders, all-teams model when there is variation in ball-in-play distribution between the baseline and the actual distribution against a particular team - but how do we model and measure the effects of that variation? Where do those effects show up?

-- MWE
   69. SG Posted: February 19, 2008 at 06:10 PM (#2694666)
I've made a Google spreadsheet for team Zone Rating by position that includes ZR Chance distributions if anyone is interested in seeing the differences over 2007.
   70. Chris Dial Posted: February 19, 2008 at 06:12 PM (#2694671)
Thanks, Mike, I struggle to really explain why Pinto's model is so, er, "off".
   71. Mike Emeigh Posted: February 19, 2008 at 06:41 PM (#2694705)
Thanks, Mike, I struggle to really explain why Pinto's model is so, er, "off".


Better to say "different", at this point.

-- MWE
   72. Chris Dial Posted: February 19, 2008 at 06:41 PM (#2694706)
That's outstanding SG. How odd for you...I wish I had your skillz.

Are there significantly more LHBs in the AL than in the NL? I note that the BIP distribution favors the 1B/2B/LF in the AL and the 3B/SS/RF in the NL. (For those that don't know, when you make an out on a FB, it tends to be to the opposite field, and most FBs are outs).
   73. SG Posted: February 19, 2008 at 07:18 PM (#2694738)
Here's how the ABs by lefties/righties broke down in 2007.

<u>AL</u>
Lefties:33348
Righties: 44844
Percentage of AB by lefties: 42.6%

<u>NL</u>
Lefties: 34996
Righties: 54558
Percentage of AB by lefties: 39.1%

I think BIP distribution in the NL is skewed by bunts. I don't know how many bunt attempts there were in each league, but there were 495 successful bunts by an AL team last year and 1045 by an NL team, in about 11,000 more AB (78K to 89K).
   74. Chris Dial Posted: February 19, 2008 at 07:21 PM (#2694742)
The bunts is just a half percent differential, while the handedness is 3.5%.
   75. Ron Johnson Posted: February 19, 2008 at 07:58 PM (#2694785)
Chris, I wonder if the difference in the NL isn't partially related to pitcher batting. I suspect that pitchers hand out relatively few tough chances and unequal distribution of tough chances is one of the major potential sources of error in any ZR type model.

It ought to be possible to do ZR for pitchers only now. I'd bet the results would be interesting (though of course, sample size and all that)
   76. Mike Green Posted: February 19, 2008 at 08:03 PM (#2694790)
At various points, PMR has used both the "smoothed visiting player" model and the "all player" model.

It is probably best to use some combination of the two. It is difficult to account for park factors in defence evaluation, and the "smoothed visiting player" model is one good way to do it. As Mike Emeigh alluded to earlier, one does need to temper the use of the model depending on the characteristics of the team's offence, which may sometimes cause unusual BIP distributions for the visitors, both in location and type.
   77. Chris Dial Posted: February 19, 2008 at 08:07 PM (#2694796)
I wonder if the difference in the NL isn't partially related to pitcher batting. I suspect that pitchers hand out relatively few tough chances and unequal distribution of tough chances is one of the major potential sources of error in any ZR type model.

I was merely looking at the total chances distribution, and out of 89000 PAs, pitchers only get 5200 (or so). I don't know what the pitcher batting L/R breakdown is, but I'd be surprised that's an issue.
   78. Darnell McDonald had a farm Posted: February 19, 2008 at 09:27 PM (#2694916)
Ichiro just mumbled something about a recount
   79. Tango Posted: February 20, 2008 at 05:41 PM (#2695586)
Mike/68:


How do we model the default expectation for the conversion rate for a Yankee shortstop given the nature and distribution of the balls put into play against the Yankees?


Your concern has been addressed by my WOWY system, described in The Hardball Times 2008 Annual.

Tom
   80. galaxieboi Posted: February 20, 2008 at 06:02 PM (#2695608)
quote]Ichiro just mumbled something about a recount

Yeah, what's the deal with that? This the second system I've seen that doesn't care much for Ichiro! in CF.

Nice work though, Chris. Defense has become my favorite thing to read about and to try to understand.

Your concern has been addressed by my WOWY system, described in The Hardball Times 2008 Annual.


Best article in the Annual this year.
   81. Pops Freshenmeyer Posted: February 20, 2008 at 06:08 PM (#2695615)
Yeah, what's the deal with that? This the second system I've seen that doesn't care much for Ichiro! in CF.


By the defensive metrics, Ichiro didn't seem to score all that well as a RF either.
   82. Chris Dial Posted: February 22, 2008 at 05:49 AM (#2697154)
How do we model the default expectation for the conversion rate for a Yankee shortstop given the nature and distribution of the balls put into play against the Yankees? There are problems with both the visting-team model and the all-fielders, all-teams model when there is variation in ball-in-play distribution between the baseline and the actual distribution against a particular team - but how do we model and measure the effects of that variation? Where do those effects show up?


I'm not convinced we need to. In addition, I'm not sure that BIS doesn't take that data, and effectively do that.
   83. Chris Dial Posted: February 22, 2008 at 05:50 AM (#2697155)
Your concern has been addressed by my WOWY system, described in The Hardball Times 2008 Annual.

How so?
   84. Tricky Dick Posted: February 22, 2008 at 03:49 PM (#2697286)
Since Carlos played virtually all the Astros' innings in LF, the -23 obviously reflects a terrible rating for him. I just checked out Dewan's +/- rating for Lee in 2007, and he is +2, and ranked 13th among ML LFers last season. That is quite a difference in rating from what you show. How much of that could be ballpark related?
   85. Chris Dial Posted: February 23, 2008 at 05:54 AM (#2697859)
THere's definitely a park effect for the wall in Houston. Check my other defense articles for more on it.
   86. studes Posted: February 23, 2008 at 03:45 PM (#2697925)
I see no one answered this, Isn't FIP based on DER?

But no, it's not. Not sure what you might be referring to.

Speaking for myself, I hardly ever hear much about team defense in the way Chris describes. When I refer to it, I'm speaking of how the team did as a whole, the same way I would for team runs scored or runs allowed. That's how I interpret other people when they use the term. I agree that team defense is just about as individualistic as team batting.
   87. SG Posted: February 23, 2008 at 04:50 PM (#2697956)
At least for 2007 there was a marked split for Boston RF between home and road.

<u>Drew</u>
Home ZR: .743
Road ZR: .932
Home plays made above/below average: -13
Road plays made above/below average: -11
Home runs saved above/below average: +8
Road runs saved above/below average: +7

<u>Hinske</u>
Home ZR: .737
Road ZR: 1.000
Home plays made above/below average: -2
Road plays made above/below average: -2
Home runs saved above/below average: 0
Road runs saved above/below average: 0

<u>Kielty</u>
Home ZR: 1.000
Road ZR: 1.000
Home plays made above/below average: +1
Road plays made above/below average: +1
Home runs saved above/below average: +1
Road runs saved above/below average: +1

<u>Pena</u>
Home ZR: .769
Road ZR: .913
Home plays made above/below average: -2
Road plays made above/below average: -2
Home runs saved above/below average: +1
Road runs saved above/below average: +1

<u>Total</u>
Home ZR: .756
Road ZR: .933
Home plays made above/below average: -18
Road plays made above/below average: -15
Home runs saved above/below average: +10
Road runs saved above/below average: +8
   88. SG Posted: February 23, 2008 at 05:34 PM (#2697974)
Messed up the totals, they should read:

<u>Total</u>
Home ZR: .756
Road ZR: .933
Home plays made above/below average: -18
Road plays made above/below average: +10
Home runs saved above/below average: -15
Road runs saved above/below average: +8
   89. Chris Dial Posted: February 24, 2008 at 10:33 PM (#2698839)
I'd need a logical explanation for why that occurs, rather than that it occurs.
   90. MrIncognito Posted: March 19, 2008 at 12:08 AM (#2715089)
The A’s have strong defense, and that could easily have led to Beane’s interpretation about the success of his pitchers, and thus thinking he can let some go.

Various people within the A's organization have been quoted as saying they see defense as the next big underrated commodity. It was specifically why they acquired Mark Ellis, for example. Rather than "Beane's interpretation," I think it's more accurate to call it Beane's strategy. His pitchers play in front of a consistently great defense. He pays less than other teams for the raw value of the defense, and as a nice bonus, his pitchers are worth a lot more on the trade market to teams who don't understand DIPS.

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