2009 AL OPD (Offense Plus Defense)
The MVP voting went along the lines most people thought it should, and so it won’t be a surprise in who led the American League in OPD in 2009. People did want to claim that Joe Mauer didn’t spread his performance out over as many games as other candidates, like Derek Jeter or Mark Teixeira, but the amount he produced then increases the chances they win the games that he does play. That’s one of the aspects of analyzing data like this. Mauer was a catcher, which makes him very valuable in how well he hits the ball. It really allows the Twins to put better performers at other positions and win more games.
Mauer (68.3 XR+AA, 0.8 DRS, 69.1 OPD) outpaced the rest of the AL by 20 runs. That’s huge. Typically, you’ll have a handful of hitters close enough to not quibble about the MVP, or at least there is an argument for another player. When a hitter is two full wins better, those arguments just don’t wash. In the analysis provided here, offense and defense are included, so that moves some of the better hitters down, which isn’t always apparent from looking at numbers generally.
Last year, there was considerable discussion of how the calculation used for Extrapolated Runs (XR), that I use for calculating offensive contribution, was possibly off. The offensive portion is XR+AA, which is eXtrapolated Runs (XR), adjusted for park and outs (+), above average at position (AA). You can see how Defensive Runs Saved (DRS) is calculated here. The offensive statistics come from Baseball Reference and the defensive raw data comes from CNNSI.com. My park factors are based on a the last three seasons’ average, averaged with the last season. Please recall that all these are “Runs Against Average”, and the typical Replacement Level (RL) is in the 25-run range. So, if you want to compare these numbers to any other site’s Runs or Wins above RL, add 25 runs or so.
Discussions with Tom Tango and other posters at his site (terpnats, I believe) led me to tweak the calculations a bit (doubles were too low, for example). Colin Wyers generously provided me with recent era values for the events in XR, and so I am using those this year (and going forward). I want to thank Tom and his readers and a special thanks to Colin, who helped with this, and generally is a big help in any research I am doing.
The second best hitter in the AL, as measured as XR+AA, was Derek Jeter. Jeter had a wonderful season, and many thought of him as MVP with his clutchiness and captainhood. With traditional defensive stats, someone might say he should be MVP, but Jeter was only average defensively, and a little below (effectively average), and the two players that hit most similar to him snuck past with better defense.
The Rays had three players in the top ten, and a fourth in the top fifteen. That’s a good number of good players. It turns out two were likely having career seasons, and won’t repeat, but still, the Rays had a good chance to do something. Unfortunately they were in the Yankees division, who had five players in the top 25. Leading the way for the Rays was Ben Zobrist (40.6, 6.0, 46.6), finishing second in OPD. Zobrist found a new power stroke in 2008, and hit a big handful of home runs in short order in a callup. In 2009, he played all over the field, primarily at second base, and played solid defense wherever he was penciled in. His +6 DRS on defense raised his overall performance past Jeter.
In third was Teixeira (36.5, 6.5, 43), who also had +6.5 DRS, to sneak past Jeter. Jeter (44.7, -3, 41.7) was fourth in the league. Alex Rodriguez, Johnny Damon and Jorge Posada can be found in the top 25 as well. Looking at overall OPD, the Yankees were roughly twice as good as the next team - the Angels. It was a powerful team, but almost all of it was offense. They managed to stay near average defensively, and had solid pitching.
Jason Bartlett (40, 1.5, 41.5) was just trailing behind Jeter, but had fewer PAs. Evan Longoria (22.9, 15.2, 38.1), the third Ray in the top ten, was seventh overall. Carl Crawford (22.7, 7.8, 30.5) was fifteenth in the league.
In the sixth spot in OPD is the Indians’ right fielder Shin-Soo Choo (33.7, 4.8, 38.5). That type of quality says something to me about teh Indians ability to identify good outfielders. It isn’t clear they know how to keep them.
The Angels’ top player finished 8th in OPD and is a free agent - Chone Figgins (19.7, 17.9, 37.6). They had other top performances from Kendry Morales (19.6, 5.8, 25.4) and Torii Hunter (22.5, 0.4, 22.9).
Next on the list was Marco Scutaro (27.6, 9, 36.6). Last year he appeared on this list, and there was a bit of a hullabaloo because he wasn’t a full-time SS and his offense was compared to SS, and so on. Well, he’s back. Scutaro has really blossomed in Toronto, and he will probably be a solid player again next season. I don’t know about top ten, but he’ll be valuable.
Rounding out the top ten is the Mariners Ichiro Suzuki (27.4 6.6, 34.0).
Some surprises and some confirmations. You always have to consider offense, defense and position when you evaluate a player.
On a final note, the Boston Red Sox Kevin Youkilis (29.9, 3.8, 33.6) was eleventh. The Red Sox defense, even allowing for the LF wall was not good. The Sox notably have moved in a more defensive direction this off-season.
Here is a Google Doc spreadsheet of all the AL, with team, position, games, PAs, XR+AA, DRS and OPD.
Here’s the 2008 OPD so you can compare.
Posted: January 04, 2010 at 03:16 AM | 35 comment(s)
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