Baseball for the Thinking Fan

Login | Register | Feedback

btf_logo
You are here > Home > Dialed In > Discussion
Dialed In
— 

Monday, January 11, 2010

2009 NL OPD (Offense Plus Defense)

Everyone on the Stathead side of the aisle was pretty happy with the MVP awards this season.  There was plenty of the usual hand-wringing over how much the BBWAA would screw them up.  Then Statheads patted the BBWAA on the head and themselves on the back when Albert Pujols won.  But should he have won?  Don’t get me wrong, Albert Pujols is a fantastic player and is certainly an MVP candidate year-in and year-out.  However, he wasn’t anything like Joe Mauer over in the American League.

The offensive portion of OPD 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.  For catchers, there is a ZR portion of up to one run, and then a standard rating from SB/CS/PB/E compilation. 

The National League was fortunate to have three excellent MVP candidates:
OPD
62.3
58.9
57.3

When the race is this tight, there are other factors to consider - baserunning (outside of stolen bases), clutchiness, anything else that can tweak the needle, including additional positional considerations.  There is a reason the offensive and defensive methodologies have enough error, as well as luck, can have an effect at least as large as three and a half runs.  So while everyone was giddy with the Pujols selection, selecting any of these three is likely a fine MVP representative.

Pujols (53.3 XR+AA, 9 DRS, 62.3 OPD) did have the top mark, and he’s a good baserunner in general.  He’s a great player, and the best fielding 1B this past season, and is a deserving candidate.  Matt Holliday (23.2, 6.2, 29.4) only got 270 PAs, and still managed to perform at a high enough rate to tie for tenth in the league in OPD.  Now Holliday has re-signed with the Cardinals and having two mashers could strengthen the St. Louis grip on the NL Central.

The second spot went to the most underrated player in the NL.  Yes, those of you reading this know he’s terrific.  Heck, even the media knows he’s good.  Unfortunately, they constantly underrate just how good he is.  Chase Utley (45.5, 13.4, 58.9) is the best second baseman in baseball, and one of the top three or four players overall.  The last three seasons, Chase Utley has 174 OPD.  That’s 9 runs fewers than Pujols, who has won two MVP awards.  Utley is often thought of as the third best player on his team behind Jimmy Rollins (42 3-yr OPD) and Ryan Howard (36 3-yr OPD).

Hanley Ramirez (56.5, 0.9, 57.3) had the top offensive season in the league, but doesn’t have the defensive skils of Utley or Pujols.  Ramirez is improving.  A few years ago, people talked about moving him away from shortstop after a dismal defensive 2007, but 2008-2009, Ramirez has been average, with a slight trend upwards.  I wouldn’t be surprised to see Hanley improve a handful of runs on defense and wrest the MVP from Prince Albert.  Ramirez has been the top offensive performer in the league (relative to position) over the last three seasons.

The Milwaukee Brewers are assembling one excellent team on the field.  Ryan Braun (46.6, -3.8, 42.8) is definitely a star.  He’s a great hitter and a solid fielder.  He wasn’t great in left field, but he’s learning, and certainly capable.  As of now, he’s the best left fielder in the NL.  The Brew Crew had two other players make it to the top ten - Prince Fielder (39.3, -3.9, 35.4) at first base was seventh and Felipe Lopez (25.4, 4.1, 29.4) at second base tied for tenth.  The Brewers have the makings of a team that can challenge the Cardinals, with a little more pitching.

The Padres have Adrian Gonzalez (32.9, 5.5, 38.4) stationed at first base and he’s one of the league’s best players.  He’s a cut or two below Pujols offensively, but then almost everyone is, and he’s a terrific fielder as well - although a cut below Pujols there as well.  He’s Duke Snider to Pujols’ Willie Mays.  Okay, perhaps not quite that strong, but he’s a very good player that gets almost no recognition.  He stepped it up in 2009, and at his age, he’s a good bet to continue to improve.

The Rookie of the Year award has a limit on experience.  No more than 130 PAs to be considered a rookie.  If the Giants had called Pablo Sandoval (37.4, 0, 37.4) up ten days later in 2008, Sandoval would have been a runaway ROY.  He was the sixth best player in the league overall, and the top third baseman.  He’s going to have to continue to produce at the position, as it is loaded in the NL with Chipper Jones, David Wright, Mark Reynolds and Ryan Zimmerman.

Speaking of which, the eighth best in the NL was Zimmerman (29.5, 5.4, 34.9).  The Nationals third baseman has improved as he learns, and is one of the top fielders as well as a top hitter.  Zimmerman is getting help in DC, and his efforts may turn the franchise around sooner rather than later. 

Rounding out the top ten at number nine is the Rockies stellar shortstop Troy Tulowitzki (31.3, 2.2, 33.5).  Tulo was terrific in his rookie season, and struggled in his sophomore year, but was superb in 2009.  It’s harder to be the top SS when Hanley is in the league, but Tulo is certainly making his mark. 

The most remarkable thing, to me, about this top ten was the age.  The average age was just 26, and six of the top ten players were 25 or younger.  That is coupled with the young pitching in the league.  The entire set of 2009 NL OPD can be found at Google docs.  Please enjoy, research, verify and ask all the questions you can.

Chris Dial Posted: January 11, 2010 at 03:54 AM | 37 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Related News:

Reader Comments and Retorts

Go to end of page

Statements posted here are those of our readers and do not represent the BaseballThinkFactory. Names are provided by the poster and are not verified. We ask that posters follow our submission policy. Please report any inappropriate comments.

   1. Harold can be a fun sponge Posted: January 11, 2010 at 07:07 AM (#3433731)
Thanks, Chris. Again, good job with the writeup, and thanks for posting the spreadsheet available.
   2. Ivan Grushenko of Hong Kong Posted: January 11, 2010 at 10:19 AM (#3433748)
Ditto. Thanks Chris.
   3. alilisd Posted: January 11, 2010 at 01:37 PM (#3433768)
Thanks Chris. If you have a chance, would you mind discussing/explaining how Pujols could be worth so much more defensively than Ramirez considering position? It boggles he could be 8 DRS better playing 1B than a SS.
   4. Foghorn Leghorn Posted: January 11, 2010 at 02:34 PM (#3433792)
Pujols is 8 DRS better than the average 1B, not just any defensive player. Positions are limited in their opportunities, and so Pujols, given his chances at 1B, and comparing that to what the "average" 1B does, Pujols prevents 8 runs. Similarly at SS, Hanley turns balls into outs at roughly the league average rate for shortstops.

Rough example:
We could certainly say that Hanley actually has 400 runs saved, and Albert has 270, however, that's not informative because it doesn't speak to their opportunities nor their positional peers. Everyone else that plays Hanley's position, and gets Hanley's chances saves 400 runs. The other 1B, compared to Pujols' chances, save only 260 runs. Hanley's positional advantage comes at the plate - some systems will compare all hitters equally, and then adjust (say, +12 runs for a SS vs a 1B), where this system compares players to their actual peers - the other players that were deemed good enough to field the position, and how they hit.

It is like VORP in that respect, but I suppose it is VOA. Then add defense. As noted, the difference between these numbers and VORP should be about 20-25 runs (and a different park factor).

I hope that helps. And thanks for the kind words, all.
   5. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: January 11, 2010 at 02:42 PM (#3433795)
Pujols is 8 DRS better than the average 1B, not just any defensive player. Positions are limited in their opportunities, and so Pujols, given his chances at 1B, and comparing that to what the "average" 1B does, Pujols prevents 8 runs. Similarly at SS, Hanley turns balls into outs at roughly the league average rate for shortstops.

So, no position adjustment here Chris?

Because your numbers seem to say that if you have two identical offensive players, and one is an average defensive 1B and
one is an average defensive SS, they are of equal value. But, in reality, the SS is much more valuable b/c the average offensive level of an average fielding SS is much lower than that of an average fielding 1B.

So really, you're measuring production, not value. Not criticizing, but just want to know how to use your numbers.

Thanks for all the work!
   6. sunnyday2 Posted: January 11, 2010 at 02:51 PM (#3433800)
Is Chase Utley the new Bobby Grich?
   7. Foghorn Leghorn Posted: January 11, 2010 at 02:51 PM (#3433801)
Because your numbers seem to say that if you have two identical offensive players, and one is an average defensive 1B and
one is an average defensive SS, they are of equal value. But, in reality, the SS is much more valuable b/c the average offensive level of an average fielding SS is much lower than that of an average fielding 1B.
I don't think so. Let's say Hanley creates 150 runs and Pujols creates 150 runs (Identical offensive numbers). Pujols is +50 runs above average, because the offensive level of 1B is 100 RC. Hanley is a +65 because the average SS has 85 RC. However, they don't hit like that. Pujols creates 150 runs, and Hanley creates 135 runs, but they are compared to different offensive baselines (Pujols to the 1B baseline of 100 runs and Hanley to the SS baseline of 85 runs), so they both contribue to their team 50 RC above what their opponents got from that position using that number of outs.

I think it yields the same as Hitter-Average hitter+Position adjustment, if you allow the positional adjustment to "float" with the specific yearly performance. Instead of being *12*, it's "12 this year, 14 last year..." etc.
   8. Foghorn Leghorn Posted: January 11, 2010 at 02:53 PM (#3433802)
Is Chase Utley the new Bobby Grich?
Grich wasn't this good, I don't think. Utley hits third on his team. People know he's very good. What they don't know is that he's a top 5 player (non-pitcher variety).
   9. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: January 11, 2010 at 02:59 PM (#3433804)
I don't think so. Let's say Hanley creates 150 runs and Pujols creates 150 runs (Identical offensive numbers). Pujols is +50 runs above average, because the offensive level of 1B is 100 RC. Hanley is a +65 because the average SS has 85 RC. However, they don't hit like that. Pujols creates 150 runs, and Hanley creates 135 runs, but they are compared to different offensive baselines (Pujols to the 1B baseline of 100 runs and Hanley to the SS baseline of 85 runs), so they both contribue to their team 50 RC above what their opponents got from that position using that number of outs.

I think it yields the same as Hitter-Average hitter+Position adjustment, if you allow the positional adjustment to "float" with the specific yearly performance. Instead of being *12*, it's "12 this year, 14 last year..." etc.


OK, I see what you're doing. Makes sense.

I think that the SS is still "more valuable" in the sense that elite hitting SS are still rarer, and acceptable SS are just rarer in general.
   10. Foghorn Leghorn Posted: January 11, 2010 at 03:05 PM (#3433807)
I think that the SS is still "more valuable" in the sense that elite hitting SS are still rarer, and acceptable SS are just rarer in general.
I think the system identifies the rarity. If "good hitting SS" were rarer, then Hanley would outperform the average by a greater amount. It is reflective of the scarcity of performance at a given position.
   11. AROM Posted: January 11, 2010 at 03:14 PM (#3433814)
but doesn’t have the defensive skils of Utley or Pujols.


I can see how this sentence could be a bit confusing. Hanley almost certainly does have better defensive skills than Pujols and is probably fairly close to Utley. But relative to position, they are better than Hanley is.

Chris has the position adjustment figured into the offense side of the equation. If it were in the defensive side, it would be more apparent who the most skilled players are. But once you add it up to get the final OPD number, it's all the same.
   12. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: January 11, 2010 at 03:24 PM (#3433817)
I think the system identifies the rarity. If "good hitting SS" were rarer, then Hanley would outperform the average by a greater amount. It is reflective of the scarcity of performance at a given position.

Well, largely. I think that average may not completely express the scarcity, depending on the talent distribution.
   13. Matt Clement of Alexandria Posted: January 11, 2010 at 03:53 PM (#3433833)
Chase Utley has been the best second baseman in baseball for each of the last five years and one of the five best players in baseball over the same span, year in and year out.

That's most of a Hall of Fame resume, so long as Utley remains in baseball and reasonably competent for another five to seven seasons. Utley's already had Ryne Sandberg's peak. And Sandberg's case doesn't consist of much more than peak. Sadly, Utley's glove hasn't received the respect it deserves, so he won't have the string of gold gloves to point to. Hopefully Utley can go out there and put up, say, a 30/30 season, and get the MVP his case will probably need.
   14. davekemp Posted: January 11, 2010 at 03:55 PM (#3433835)
Milwaukee had an amazing combination of 2B last year (at various times).

Weeks = +6.7
Lopez = +14.8
Counsell = +16.0

Counsell, 38, putting up a +11 defense...wow. 2nd best among NL 2b.
   15. Foghorn Leghorn Posted: January 11, 2010 at 04:04 PM (#3433840)
The improvement of the Milwaukee defense from a few years ago is tremendous. Just a huge difference.
   16. alilisd Posted: January 11, 2010 at 04:08 PM (#3433842)
I hope that helps. And thanks for the kind words, all.


Ah, OK. Thank you for the explanation!
   17. Honkie Kong Posted: January 11, 2010 at 04:15 PM (#3433847)
Chris, does the year by year RC average for each position vary much?

I don't know how much extra work it involves, but you do you have the data to do a 3 yr OPD run, instead of calculating it year by year?

And you are group think approved. Thanks for all the effort you put in.
   18. Foghorn Leghorn Posted: January 11, 2010 at 05:16 PM (#3433904)
I don't know how much extra work it involves, but you do you have the data to do a 3 yr OPD run, instead of calculating it year by year?
I basically have this for 22 years. I need to make it into a usable database. I cobbled together the 3-yr numbers because I thought it would be useful, and if anything, it may provide some predictive powers. I will work on it.
   19. Elvis Posted: January 11, 2010 at 05:56 PM (#3433947)
Thanks Chris!

You have Jeff Francoeur with a -7.03 DRS, which comes down closer to UZR (-5.9/150) than Fielding Bible Runs Saved (+8).
   20. Elvis Posted: January 11, 2010 at 06:19 PM (#3433982)
Actually, that was Francoeur's DRS with the Mets. His overall total was -10.78, which was the 9th-worst mark in the NL.

Fun to note that three of the four worst DRS numbers belonged to Houston players. Lee (worst), Tejada (3rd) and Bourn (4th).
   21. Foghorn Leghorn Posted: January 11, 2010 at 06:51 PM (#3434038)
Lee is partially victimized by the Houston LF. Not unlike Fenway. Correction research is underway.
   22. Pops Freshenmeyer Posted: January 11, 2010 at 07:26 PM (#3434090)
Milwaukee had an amazing combination of 2B last year (at various times).

Weeks = +6.7
Lopez = +14.8
Counsell = +16.0

Counsell, 38, putting up a +11 defense...wow. 2nd best among NL 2b.


Correct me if I'm wrong, Chris, but don't you use innings played at the defensive position as the denominator?

In that case, Milwaukee's bad pitching will (theoretically) result in more batters faced/inning and therefore more opportunities/inning for the fielders. Under those circumstances their performance, relative to average, will get magnified. I don't see if there is a way or a reason to adjust for this factor but it's something we should take into account if that's how the system grades them.
   23. Foghorn Leghorn Posted: January 11, 2010 at 08:38 PM (#3434188)
Correct me if I'm wrong, Chris, but don't you use innings played at the defensive position as the denominator?

In that case, Milwaukee's bad pitching will (theoretically) result in more batters faced/inning and therefore more opportunities/inning for the fielders. Under those circumstances their performance, relative to average, will get magnified. I don't see if there is a way or a reason to adjust for this factor but it's something we should take into account if that's how the system grades them.
I must be missing something.

Player has X chances in his IP
Player converts X chances into outs at Y rate yielding Z plays made
League avg rate times X chances yields league Z plays made

Player Z minus League Z times run value.
   24. Tom Nawrocki Posted: January 11, 2010 at 08:44 PM (#3434200)
I still think this method is overrating Utley, just because he happens to play at a time without other great 2Bs in the league. If the Marlins moved Hanley Ramirez to second base, Tulowitzki would probably move ahead of Utley in value - even though nothing has changed for either player.
   25. Foghorn Leghorn Posted: January 11, 2010 at 08:51 PM (#3434218)
I still think this method is overrating Utley, just because he happens to play at a time without other great 2Bs in the league. If the Marlins moved Hanley Ramirez to second base, Tulowitzki would probably move ahead of Utley in value - even though nothing has changed for either player.
But the advantage the Phils have is real. I can perform your "check" if you'd like this evening. The Phils team has an advantage by Utley's play, and position.
   26. Foghorn Leghorn Posted: January 11, 2010 at 08:51 PM (#3434219)
Likewise, Tulo and Hanley are overrated by Utley playing second instead of SS. And Pujols playing first base instead of SS.
   27. Pops Freshenmeyer Posted: January 12, 2010 at 02:02 AM (#3434786)
Ok, so you use Plays Made / Chances as opposed to Plays Made / Innings Played?

I was mistaken then. It's been a while since I read your defensive stuff.
   28. Tricky Dick Posted: January 12, 2010 at 03:46 AM (#3434901)
The negative defensive rating for Michael Bourn is way off from UZR and Fielding Bible. UZR has Bourn at +8.7. Plus/Minus has him at +9. Hardball Times' RZR has Bourn as the 4th best CFer in NL. That seems out of line with -16.
   29. Tom Nawrocki Posted: January 12, 2010 at 04:14 AM (#3434943)
Likewise, Tulo and Hanley are overrated by Utley playing second instead of SS. And Pujols playing first base instead of SS.


Is there any reason to think Utley can play shortstop? I know there's no reason to think Pujols can play short. But there's every reason to think Hanley Ramirez could play a decent second base.
   30. Chris Dial Posted: January 12, 2010 at 05:11 AM (#3435029)
Is there any reason to think Utley can play shortstop?
Well, sure, he is a fantastic defensive 2B. Why couldn't he play short? And Pujols can play short. He's going to field fewer balls (and he played third), but his bat is going to make up for a ton of errors.
   31. zenbitz Posted: January 12, 2010 at 06:42 AM (#3435110)
Edgar Renteria, 2nd best defensive SS in the NL?

That's an unusual rating.
   32. asdf1234 Posted: January 12, 2010 at 10:17 AM (#3435156)
Utley's a fantastic player, but I can't help but think he'll be the 2B version of Jim Edmonds, particularly given his late start and high likelihood of burning out early due to playing the keystone. He's already 31, consistently leads the league in HBP, and has fewer than 600 career RBIs--I can't imagine that he's going to keep up his current production & health for the next 5+ years, which he'd need to receive serious consideration from the writers for the Hall. Alan Trammell can't get a reasonable hearing for what he brought to the game. Why would voters take a 2B who lacks the first seven seasons of Trammell's career and has none of Trammell's Gold Gloves and give him serious consideration for the Hall of Fame?
   33. Robert in Manhattan Beach Posted: January 12, 2010 at 12:52 PM (#3435177)
There is a reason the offensive and defensive methodologies have enough error, as well as luck, can have an effect at least as large as three and a half runs.

This is obviously a very poorly written sentence. It seems to say that you have quantified the effect of luck in the calculation but not the error. That is a - let's say - unusual statement.

Or maybe that sentence says something else. It's not really readable.
   34. Der Komminsk-sar Posted: January 12, 2010 at 07:27 PM (#3435582)
I think that average may not completely express the scarcity, depending on the talent distribution.
I agree with this, snapper - which is not to say that this (Chris' method) is unreasonable, just different than what I (or you) might do.
   35. Foghorn Leghorn Posted: January 12, 2010 at 08:34 PM (#3435679)
And I agree, it may not completely express the scarcity, but will anything?
   36. Joyful Calculus Instructor Posted: February 17, 2010 at 11:25 PM (#3462397)
According to this, Matt Kemp is a below average defender. That doesn't seem right.
   37. Foghorn Leghorn Posted: February 18, 2010 at 12:22 AM (#3462426)
It says he performed below average on his chances last year. Not *quite* the same thing.

You must be Registered and Logged In to post comments.

 

 

<< Back to main

BBTF Partner

Support BBTF

donate

Thanks to
Tuque
for his generous support.

Bookmarks

You must be logged in to view your Bookmarks.

Syndicate

Page rendered in 0.6076 seconds
70 querie(s) executed