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Wednesday, January 04, 2006

Who were the REAL MVPs?

The Major League Baseball writers voted for Alex Rodriguez and Albert Pujols as the AL and NL MVPs recently, and statheads around the country lauded them for “getting it right”.  But did they?

Every discussion I have read on the American League Award focused largely on whether or not David Ortiz game state performances should outweigh A-Rod’s overall performance compared to players at his position.  The lack of defense played by Big Papi played a large role in the number of votes he would get, and very large in the discussions here and around the baseball world.

Even in the National League, there was a good deal of clamor over whether or not a good defensive centerfielder hitting 51 home runs, leading the league in RBIs and lifting his team to their zillionth straight division crown was more deserving over a good fielding, great hitting first baseman – after all, he was still “just” a first baseman.

What I haven’t seen to date is a nice list of what every player contributed on both sides of the ball.  Defensive runs saved and offensive runs generated. 

There is a big problem – designated hitters, that scourge of baseball everywhere, don’t play defense.  So how do you quantify what they contribute to the defense?  Some want to say they are the worst fielder on their team, because that is the player a team chooses to put in the field instead of the DH.  One of the problems with that is that the DH may not have the ability to play that position – which I’m not sure mitigates the original question.

Perhaps they should only be “penalized” as the worst player in the league at the position they *would* play, were they to play. 

But that doesn’t really cover it either, because all that is really required is that they be a worse fielder than the player that is playing the position for the team.  I mean, being a DH when Jon Olerud is your defensive first baseman isn’t really damning.

However, if you aren’t very capable of playing defense, you are sucking up a roster spot and hurting your team overall defensively.  In addition, your team is stuck in interleague play on the road.  Okay, that’s just 8 games, but it is 5% of the time.

I’m not sure what the answer is, but I am certain a designated hitter that cannot play in the field adequately damages his team more than a player that plays defense poorly.  This we can be sure of because teams do choose to play a “Manny Ramirez” over a “David Ortiz”.

That is effectively saying that Ortiz at first base with Manny DHing and Jay Payton in LF is a *worse* lineup than Ortiz at DH, Manny in LF and Kevin Millar/Olerud at first base.

We know the Red Sox will make decisions on defensive value, and they stick with this lineup.  People argue that the Red Sox don’t do that for defensive reasons, but for health reasons.  Ortiz probably couldn’t take the grind.  That’s another reason to de-value Ortiz’ abilities, but does it de-value his performance?

For me, I’ll provide you with the two categories, and let you add your own weighting for the DH.  I personally discount the DH performance to a bad fielding first baseman – around -15 runs – think Mike Piazza or Frank Thomas.  In all honesty, that overstates the DH value, because if Frank Thomas can manage only a -15 and I can get another bat like Ortiz in the lineup, that’s very important.  Okay, that was a bit rant-like.

My ratings for defense can be found here.

My offensive ratings are Jim Furtado’s Extrapolated Runs above average at position, park-adjusted.  Why?  Because I already have all the spreadsheets set up, and it does a very good job, even compared to BaseRuns.

For these purposes, there is nothing wrong with using “average” as the baseline – it doesn’t undervalue an average performance for this usage.  Plus, you don’t put your eye out trying to guess at a defensive “replacement level”.

American League


Player	Team	pos	Offense	Defense	Total
rodriguez,alex	NYY	3B	81.0	-13.5	67.5
roberts,brian	BAL	2B	47.8	3.8	51.6
ortiz,david	BOS	DH	51.6	-1.6	50.0
hafner,travis	CLE	DH	49.0	Dnp	49.0
guerrero,vladim	LAA	RF	41.8	1.3	43.1
peralta,jhonny	CLE	SS	28.3	8.9	37.2
martinez,victor	CLE	C	39.4	-6.0	33.4
ellis,mark	OAK	2B	21.2	11.3	32.5
mora,melvin	BAL	3B	25.8	6.1	31.9
mauer,joe	MIN	C	23.3	8.0	31.3
chavez,eric	OAK	3B	17.8	13.2	31.0
crisp,coco	CLE	LF	19.9	10.2	30.1
teixeira,mark	TEX	1B	23.2	6.3	29.5
giambi,jason	NYY	1B	38.6	-10.3	28.3
crawford,carl	TB	LF	17.2	10.5	27.7
jeter,derek	NYY	SS	26.1	1.5	27.6
varitek,jason	BOS	C	29.1	-4.3	24.8
sizemore,grady	CLE	CF	22.6	1.4	24.0
gomes,jonny	TB	DH	18.7	3.5	22.2
polanco,placido	DET	2B	18.6	2.3	20.9
lugo,julio	TB	SS	15.3	5.6	20.9
young,michael	TEX	SS	28.0	-7.1	20.9
posada,jorge	NYY	C	21.1	-0.3	20.8
matsui,hideki	NYY	LF	26.8	-6.7	20.1

Offense is XR runs above average, park-adjusted for a player’s playing time.
Defense is runs prevented above average for a player’s playing time.
Thanks to Doug’s Stats for the offensive stats.
The decimal places are not meant to indicate a level of accuracy, but there so you can see where the math comes out.

Well, Ortiz’ clutch-hitting notwithstanding, ARod was definitely the correct MVP.  He had the best bat by a wide margin.  If you note, despite my rant, I did not dock the DHs for defense.  That’s wrong in the overall analysis, but I’ll let you make your own adjustment.

Look at that – Brian Roberts was the second most valuable player in the American League.  What a great season for him.  He has to be the bargain of the year.  Not a great bet to repeat, but a great season for him.

Ortiz played first base for 78 innings.  In that time, he cost the Sox two runs.  You don’t want that out there for 780 innings, much less 1400.  Playing Manny is probably the right move (Manny isn’t on the list, but ended up at +14 runs).

Travis Hafner, one of the top five AL players last year, didn’t play in the field.  He is a great secret.  Sure the Indians are becoming popular, but Grady Sizemore and Jhonny Peralta are getting the press.  Hafner is going to be a top candidate for the MVP for a few more years.

Above are the players that were twenty runs above average at their position.  It’s a nice list, with a good variety of teams and positions.

There are five Yankees on the list, and Sheffield was just off of it.  That’s a good team.

There are also five Indians on the list, and they are all twenty nine or younger.  That’s a good team.

National League

Player	Team	pos	Offense	Defense	Total
lee,derrek	CHN	1B	59.7	0.0	59.7
utley,chase	PHI	2B	34.3	19.4	53.7
giles,brian	SDP	RF	48.5	4.3	52.8
pujols,albert	STL	1B	52.6	-1.3	51.3
ensberg,morgan	HOU	3B	38.4	4.3	42.7
bay,jason	PIT	LF	40.9	-2.2	38.7
kent,jeff	LAD	2B	35.4	1.4	36.8
jones,chipper	ATL	3B	31.8	4.9	36.7
edmonds,jim	STL	CF	32.5	3.7	36.2
wright,david	NYM	3B	36.4	-5.0	31.4
lopez,felipe	CIN	SS	31.7	-2.2	29.5
winn,randy	SFG	CF	23.7	5.7	29.4
cabrera,miguel	FLA	LF	36.2	-7.2	29.0
furcal,rafael	ATL	SS	23.2	5.5	28.7
drew,j.d.	LAD	RF	21.8	6.5	28.3
helton,todd	COL	1B	19.1	8.6	27.7
hall,bill	MIL	SS	23.9	2.0	25.9
floyd,cliff	NYM	LF	16.1	9.7	25.8
abreu,bobby	PHI	RF	31.5	-5.8	25.7
jones,andruw	ATL	CF	25.3	-0.2	25.1
jenkins,geoff	MIL	RF	17.2	7.1	24.3
dunn,adam	CIN	LF	26.4	-2.5	23.9
delgado,carlos	FLA	1B	31.2	-8.2	23.0
burrell,pat	PHI	LF	17.9	4.7	22.6
rollins,jimmy	PHI	SS	18.4	1.6	20.1
valentin,javier	CIN	C	17.8	0.3	18.1

Chart key as above.

I added Javier Valentin because he was the highest rated NL catcher.  He’ll be the sleeper in next year’s fantasy leagues.

So it looks like the voters got this one wrong – sort of.  Sure it’s close enough to not really be a travesty, but it looks like Lee was the better performer.  In addition, we can see Chase Utley and Brian Giles being top performers as well.  Utley, like Roberts in the AL, was a great bargain for maximum production.  The problem will be, in Philly, that Utley doesn’t “look like” a second baseman.  He’ll be an all-star there if he’s allowed to play it. 

Brian Giles wasn’t much of a secret before and now he has re-signed with San Diego.  That’s a great deal for the Padres.  Teams would have really benefited from Giles signing with them.  I would bet he has four more top-notch seasons in him.

It is interesting to note that JD Drew is in the top twenty considering he missed most of the season.  The combination of his injuries, his holdout and being platooned has probably sidetracked what could have been a stellar career.

All in all, the MVP awards were given to very deserving candidates.  What we did not see was deserving candidates being considered, like Giles and Utley and Roberts.  It isn’t likely that Utley and Roberts will be in this lofty position very often, so finishing high in the MVP voting is a good reward when you do deserve it.

No, I didn’t list any pitchers here.  We can discuss them, but that’s a different ranking system.

I may have missed someone else that performed at 20 runs above average, but I don’t think so.

Complete player rankings will be available (all players) when I combine the defense and offense.  That’s a bit of work.

Chris Dial Posted: January 04, 2006 at 05:45 AM | 197 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
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   1. Artie Ziff Posted: January 04, 2006 at 06:04 AM (#1805322)
Both leagues voted right. Next question.
   2. Boots Day Posted: January 04, 2006 at 06:24 AM (#1805326)
Chris, did you notice that Alex Rodriguez is the worst-rated defensive player up there? Even worse than noted Dial whipping boy Andruw Jones?

You would know better than I would if ARod's fielding is really that bad, but I found that the most surprising thing in the article. Good defensive shortstops playing third base generally aren't atrocious with the glove.
   3. Damon Rutherford Posted: January 04, 2006 at 06:41 AM (#1805329)
<a href="http://www.diamond-mind.com/">DMB<a> gave Alex Rodriguez an Av/67 (range/error; below 100 error is good, above not so good) rating at 3B for 2005. Melvin Mora was given Av/101. Yet above in Dial's numbers, they differ by almost 20 runs, with Mora above average and Alex Rodriguez below average.

Given the high variance of fielding estimates by various sources (Dial's, MGL's, David Gassko's, DMB's, etc.), I tend to ignore them all. Thus the confidence level that I apply to Dial's lists above is fairly low.
   4. CraigK Posted: January 04, 2006 at 07:13 AM (#1805342)
Pujols won the MVP fair and square.

The Cardinals won 100 games, and went to the NLCS.

Pujols led the best offensive team in the league in batting average, on-base percentage, slugging percentage, OPS, games, runs, hits, total bases, doubles, homers, RBI, walks, stolen ####### bases for God's sake, OPS+, runs created, XBH, times on base, walks, power/speed number, and AB/HR.

Pujols was in the top 3 in the NL in BA, OBP, slugging, OPS, total bases, home runs, RBI, OPS+, runs created, XBH, times on base, power/speed number.

And add in the residual effect of him losing out on the MVP to Bonds every other year in his career and it's a lead-pipe cinch.
   5. MM1f Posted: January 04, 2006 at 07:18 AM (#1805343)
Im in the boat with Tamer. I love defensive stats research but I think theyre not reliable enough to have this much faith in at this point
   6. Steve Treder Posted: January 04, 2006 at 07:22 AM (#1805345)
Given the high variance of fielding estimates by various sources (Dial's, MGL's, David Gassko's, DMB's, etc.), I tend to ignore them all.

That's exactly where I come down. I hate saying that, because I have nothing but huge respect for the honest effort that all these good people are putting into these defensive rating schemes. But the fact remains that they jump all over the place, not only between one another, but also from season to season. As a result I really don't know what it is they're measuring, and I'm able to invest no confidence in any of them.

They are noble works in progress, but at this point that's all they are.
   7. greenback calls it soccer Posted: January 04, 2006 at 07:48 AM (#1805360)
For these purposes, there is nothing wrong with using “average” as the baseline

Except it definitely over-rates guys like JD Drew and it might over-rate DH's.

But the fact remains that they jump all over the place, not only between one another, but also from season to season.

OPS, and any other batting metric for that matter, can fluctuate wildly from month to month or even half to half. That's not really a criticism of OPS as an offensive metric so much as a reflection of the sample size necessary to draw conclusions.
   8. Dr. Vaux Posted: January 04, 2006 at 11:02 AM (#1805428)
What other way is there to judge who's most valuable than Dial's way? He's convinced me, and made me think about a few players somewhat differently.
   9. Chris Dial Posted: January 04, 2006 at 02:23 PM (#1805462)
Given the high variance of fielding estimates by various sources (Dial's, MGL's, David Gassko's, DMB's, etc.), I tend to ignore them all. Thus the confidence level that I apply to Dial's lists above is fairly low.

Well, that's not very smart.

There are reasons there are differences, and you should try to figure out which one makes the most sense to you - There's a good diffrence between RC, XR, LWts, VORP, RARP - do you just put low confidence in them? Not likely - you probably have learned enough about them, so you have confidence in them to some degree. No, they don't have as big a difference as these, but they still differ a lot.

Make a list of what's different and why you think they are, and then simply eliminate hte methods that are most "offensive" to your list.

Of course, I favor that because I think my system (or Rally's) is the simplest, and the most grounded in the best analysis.

Now, I don't know for sure, but I'd bet that DMB weights their ratings on more than one season. Who made more errors in 2005? Does the lower error guy always have hte lower error rating (I don't know all of DMB's methods).

Dan seemed to indicate in the STL ZIPS thread that Pujols was an excellent *based on several seasons*.

I wrote a lengthy, nay three lengthy, articles explaining the differences in these methods and why some would work better than others.

You would know better than I would if ARod's fielding is really that bad

He had a bad season. It happens at the plate sometimes. ARod was good at third his first season - I don't know why he struggled this year.

Mike Emeigh likes to suggest ARod plays further off the line, allowing Jeter to play better defense.

I always say that BIP distribution is critical in defensive analysis, and you could *easily* be seeing a wierd distribution in ARod's number. What does that mean? That hte data is worthless? No, it means ARod had a bad season - his value, not ability, was less. However, if he is playing off the line (and I haven't studied this), and he is seeing a decrease in performance then he/the Yankees should reconsider positioning.

Mike also points out that the Yankees want to maximize defnese on GBs through the left side, so if Jeter+ARod (shift) is better than Jeter+ARod(straight up), then even though ARod's performance is worse wrt BIP=>outs, the team benefits.

It is also thus arguable that *any* 3B put in that position may have similar or worse numbers than AROd - but that's not really doable -

Before you consider that a defensive deal breaker, players on offense don't get to see the same chances of pitches - if David Ortiz got to see the same pitches David Eckstein does, he'd hit 100 HRs.

At any rate, I encourage you to look into the methods, and ask questions, rather than sayig - there are different results, so I'll ignore them all.
   10. villageidiom Posted: January 04, 2006 at 02:37 PM (#1805470)
At any rate, I encourage you to look into the methods, and ask questions, rather than sayig - there are different results, so I'll ignore them all.

Though, to be honest, that's not much different from saying, "I'll use these defensive stats because they're the simplest."
   11. Honkie Kong Posted: January 04, 2006 at 02:45 PM (#1805477)
The defensive shifts definitely affect the zone rating of a player. There was a prior discussion on this relating to the Braves 3B men, who almost always have a very bad rating, despite not looking too shabby. While you can blame lot of it on Chipper, Castilla didn't fare much better. The justification was that the Braves played their 3B men hugging the line, and encouraged them not too dive for balls in the deep hole, and let Furcal take care of them. ( seems like a perfectly rational explanation to me :) ). I was wondering whether this information could be conveyed in numbers though. Say a hybrid of Zone Rating and Range factors ( which David Gassko? ) published earlier lsat year. As always, am too lazy/busy to look it up right now !

Interesting to see that Chipper had positive defensive value, while Andruw had negative defensive value!!
   12. chris p Posted: January 04, 2006 at 03:05 PM (#1805491)
Andruw had negative defensive value!!

andruw got fat, right?
   13. Chris Dial Posted: January 04, 2006 at 03:09 PM (#1805495)
There was a prior discussion on this relating to the Braves 3B men, who almost always have a very bad rating, despite not looking too shabby. While you can blame lot of it on Chipper, Castilla didn't fare much better. The justification was that the Braves played their 3B men hugging the line, and encouraged them not too dive for balls in the deep hole, and let Furcal take care of them.

Well, I think that explanation is incorrect. The problem with the Braves 3B was simpler - lack of BIP.

Chipper was never a terrible fielder (save the one hurt year). Castilla dived for balls plenty.

Obviously with TBS and pre-ExInn days, I watched mostly Braves/Cubs/Mets games, so I think that analysis "hugging hte line, not diving" is incorrect.

I have done lots of analysis on this, and it is really just like Mike Emeigh's analysis of Jeter - the Braves simply produced fewer BIP to third base.
   14. Chris Dial Posted: January 04, 2006 at 03:12 PM (#1805497)
that's not much different from saying, "I'll use these defensive stats because they're the simplest."

Not at all. the simplest could be correct. Sure, not investigating them and deciding which one is best with your reasons for why you feel a certain set is hte best - it's not that different, but ignoring all data because you don't want to learn which ones are better is mediocy, AFAICT. (that is, Bill Plaschke doesn't want to understand VORP or WS, so he ignores it).
   15. Chris Dial Posted: January 04, 2006 at 03:14 PM (#1805500)
Andruw really just had an average value. I'd say -3 to +3 is just average "with a little BIP distribution luck".
   16. Cowboy Popup Posted: January 04, 2006 at 03:17 PM (#1805501)
"ARod was good at third his first season - I don't know why he struggled this year."

A-rod was good in the second half of the season too. For whatever reason, he was really struggling with his first step this year, to both sides, IIRC. His dives were late, he looked lethargic and hesistant. It most likely had to do with him bulking up but not remaining flexible IMO. By June/July he looked really good again.
   17. Chris Dial Posted: January 04, 2006 at 03:25 PM (#1805506)
Chacon,
that's verifiable. Even MGL should be able to check that.

Thanks for teh ob.

In the past, Andruw Jones has done something similar - been really weak to start the season, and play himself into shape to have a better season defensively.
   18. Mister High Standards Posted: January 04, 2006 at 03:32 PM (#1805520)
Certainly a fun and informative article, which is the expectations for a Dial-In. Unfortunately it falls into the trap that Dial always falls in. He mistakes best player for most valuable. The difference of course is that one needs to be context specific, while the other needs to be in a vacuum. At least as much of one as we can create. You cannot use standard linear weight run values to answer the question of value... well you can, it just won't give you any more than a vague notion. You need to use the actual event values that the player hit in. Sure some guys get more opportunity, unfortunately that's the way life works. We are trying to measure what actually happened on the field, not what might have happened if everything was equal.
   19. sunnyday2 Posted: January 04, 2006 at 03:37 PM (#1805525)
To my way of thinking the weighting of offense and defense is key here. The variance on offense (throwing out the top and bottom 3) is about 30 points, and the variance on defense is about 15 points. So offensive is 2/3 and defense 1/3 of the equation.

Don't really know if this is the right weighting. Maybe it just reflects that we are at least twice as confident in our offensive analysis than we are on defensive analysis. If offensive analysis is evolution, then defensive analysis is ID.
   20. caprules Posted: January 04, 2006 at 03:38 PM (#1805526)
CIMD has it right. Arod put on about 10 pounds of muscle, presumably to make up for a "disappointing" 2004 offensive season and because this was the first offseason where he knew he wasn't going to play short, so he could put on some muscle. It seemed that it took him a few months to adjust.
   21. Chris Dial Posted: January 04, 2006 at 03:45 PM (#1805535)
The variance on offense (throwing out the top and bottom 3) is about 30 points, and the variance on defense is about 15 points. So offensive is 2/3 and defense 1/3 of the equation.

sunnyday2,
in this case, both are converted to runs, so they are on the same scale. No seperate weighting is necessary. I think.
   22. Cowboy Popup Posted: January 04, 2006 at 03:45 PM (#1805537)
Chris, I'm curious about the positional adjustments on offense for SS. For the most part, your offensive numbers match with Bpro's RAP, except for the position of SS. They had Peralta at +38, Jeter at +41, Young at +45, and Lugo at +26. Any reason SS rank lower in your rankings? Do you have a higher average for SS production at the plate?
   23. Toolsy McClutch Posted: January 04, 2006 at 03:55 PM (#1805548)
Wow, Mauer is a beast. If he starts hitting with pop again, he may sneak into MVP discussions sooner than I thought. Yikes.

I think there's also some nice evidence here that Crawford is undervalued by the stat community at large, which I like.
   24. Chris Dial Posted: January 04, 2006 at 03:57 PM (#1805552)
He mistakes best player for most valuable. The difference of course is that one needs to be context specific, while the other needs to be in a vacuum.

I don't agree with that interpretation of the award. No big deal to me - I am comfortable with my position, and with your position considering me wrong. I think there is room for your interpretation, but even under those circumstances, didn't Ortiz just catch ARod? Then there is the matter of defense of a DH. Do you have any evaluation for that?

Are you evaluating defense by game state?
   25. Chris Dial Posted: January 04, 2006 at 03:58 PM (#1805555)
Do you have a higher average for SS production at the plate?

I seperate the leagues. I think that makes the AL SS have a higher baseline than the NL SS.
   26. Chris Dial Posted: January 04, 2006 at 04:00 PM (#1805563)
Wow, Mauer is a beast.

Yes, he jumped out at me too.

Last year Travis Hafner did. Chase Utley and Morgan ensberg were also very surprising to be *that* good.
   27. dcsmyth1 Posted: January 04, 2006 at 04:10 PM (#1805577)
Chris mention the Ortiz game state thing in his intro, and then ignored it in the analysis. So I think we have to keep an open mind until we see something which has factored in that info. Using B James RC instead of XR might help, as it does include some adjustment for situational hitting.
   28. Chris Dial Posted: January 04, 2006 at 04:18 PM (#1805586)
Ortiz game state thing in his intro, and then ignored it in the analysis.

There are about 1000 discussions regarding that in Sox Therapy.

I ignored it because I don't think it (nor clutch hitting) should be weighted as heavily as they are in those systems in these discussions.

IMO, 20 runs of situational hitting is overweighting. Particularly when you aren't considering defensive limitations of a DH.
   29. 1k5v3L Posted: January 04, 2006 at 04:24 PM (#1805599)
I added Javier Valentin because he was the highest rated NL catcher. He’ll be the sleeper in next year’s fantasy leagues.

And I have him for 2 bucks in my NL only keeper league. Heh heh.
   30. Kyle S Posted: January 04, 2006 at 04:27 PM (#1805608)
Andruw's body type/frame never looked like one that would age well defensively - I for one welcome his transformation to slow slugger. If he can hover around average on defense at CF till the end of his contract and hit .290/.370/.520 or so, more power to him. Yes, I realize the .370 OBP would be a career high, but a boy can dream, can't he?
   31. Chris Dial Posted: January 04, 2006 at 04:54 PM (#1805636)
If Andruw hits 40 HRs for a few more seasons, and gathers GGs whether he earns them or not, he'll probably stumble into the HoF. He'll have been overrated his whole career, and never been as good as people think, but he will have played on 10 division winners (or so) and have a ton of GGs. Plus - he'll only be second to MM for CF HRs.

You can pile up a career just by starting early - even if you aren't that dominant (which isn't to say Andruw hasn't ever been, but more that longevity counts for A LOT)
   32. Boots Day Posted: January 04, 2006 at 04:59 PM (#1805644)
I agree with Chris that Derrek Lee was the best player in the NL last year. He was slightly but unmistakably better than Pujols with the bat, and both my observations and the metrics have seen show that while Pujols is good with the glove, Lee is better.

I am surprised that Pujols would fall behind Giles, though (not to mention Utley). But Dial, he likes the defense.

And I'm sure Harvey would be delighted to see Bill Hall on the list.
   33. Damon Rutherford Posted: January 04, 2006 at 05:00 PM (#1805645)
There are reasons there are differences, and you should try to figure out which one makes the most sense to you

Good point. Give me a few weeks.
   34. sunnyday2 Posted: January 04, 2006 at 05:04 PM (#1805647)
Chris,

I'm not saying I would weight your runs data, but that your system already weights the overall player evaluation about 2:1.

I just wanted to confirm 1) that that is a correct perception regarding your method, and 2) whether people generally think this is right.

The difficulty is in comparing the two scales which are quite different, one of which goes from 0 and up (to 80 or so), and the other which goes from 0 in both positive and negative directions. (Why the two different scales?) So I take your relative weighting of offense and defense to be the variance in scores on the two scales. The variance from low to high on offense is about twice what it is on defense.
   35. Danny Posted: January 04, 2006 at 05:09 PM (#1805654)
Nice to see Mark Ellis get some love, though using average as a baseline certainly helps him (only played 122 games).
   36. Mister High Standards Posted: January 04, 2006 at 05:12 PM (#1805661)

I think there is room for your interpretation, but even under those circumstances, didn't Ortiz just catch ARod? Then there is the matter of defense of a DH. Do you have any evaluation for that?


When considering defense of a DH in MVP consideration, I believe the only negative a player should get is a positional adjustment. The bottom line is if you don't take the field your not costing your teams runs. The analysis has to be focused on what actually happened not what have in a hypothetical what if situation.

I would use game stat defense if it was available. I don't have the computer accumen to calculate it.

In this specific instance I have Ortiz offense worth between 25 and 30 runs MORE than A-rods. I believe with a-rods defense/base running, and positional edge that cuts the gap to +/- even, with Ortiz also getting a small boost for his clubhouse contribution, where A-rod would get a neutral, though one could argue a minus based on his previous teammates comments.

In other words as I've stated previously they are extremely close with the difference being well within the error bars of any method. Either person was a reasonable choice. I selected Ortiz because from what I have read he is a major contributor to the Red Sox clubhouse atmosphere, and supposedly a very good teammate. A-rod gets much more mixed reviews in that regard.

Before anyone accuses me of being a Sox homer, I did vote Jeter a third place on my BTF Ballot and no other Red Sox in the top 10.
   37. Rusty Priske Posted: January 04, 2006 at 05:16 PM (#1805667)
The thing that annoys me about Derrek Lee not getting his just reward this year is that he will likely never have another season like this. Pujols is the better player over all and he will continue to play at the same level that he did this year and corral a number of these awards. Lee, otoh, just had the best season he will ever have, which was CLEARLY the best performance of any player in the NL, yet he doesn't get the trophy.

Shame, really.
   38. John Walsh Posted: January 04, 2006 at 05:30 PM (#1805685)
Plus - he'll only be second to MM for CF HRs.


Was Willie Mays' real first name Morris or something?
   39. Boots Day Posted: January 04, 2006 at 05:33 PM (#1805690)
He had a bad season. It happens at the plate sometimes. ARod was good at third his first season - I don't know why he struggled this year.

It still seems a little hinky to me. It's not just that ARod had a poor season defensively -- you've lined up the top 50 players in the majors and decided that Rodriguez had the lowest defensive value of all of them.

If next year when you choose the top 50, ARod has the lowest offensive value of any of them, that would be enormously surprising. It would be one of the biggest stories of the season. He's been a regular for ten years and has never come close to having negative offensive value -- but his defensive value can flip from being near the best in the league to being among the worst?

Let's just say I'm reserving my judgment.
   40. Honkie Kong Posted: January 04, 2006 at 05:33 PM (#1805692)
Castilla dived for balls plenty.
it may be visual evidence we are debating here, but I remember more than one occasion where Castilla had a stab at the ball in the hole, which he let go, as he would have awkward throws. The Braves 3B really do pretty much play by the line though, almost exactly a body length! But it is mainly visual/anecdotal evidence, nothing I can justify.
Whats the BIP theory? that the Braves pitchers have less balls hit in that zone than pitchers from other teams? Seems counterintuitive almost, esp for a GB heavy staff of recent past.
   41. Danny Posted: January 04, 2006 at 06:00 PM (#1805734)
If next year when you choose the top 50, ARod has the lowest offensive value of any of them, that would be enormously surprising. It would be one of the biggest stories of the season. He's been a regular for ten years and has never come close to having negative offensive value -- but his defensive value can flip from being near the best in the league to being among the worst?


You're comparing a flip of 20 runs in value to a flip of 80+ runs.
   42. SG Posted: January 04, 2006 at 06:02 PM (#1805738)
If next year when you choose the top 50, ARod has the lowest offensive value of any of them, that would be enormously surprising. It would be one of the biggest stories of the season. He's been a regular for ten years and has never come close to having negative offensive value -- but his defensive value can flip from being near the best in the league to being among the worst?


I think it's a question of opportunity. If you compare Zone Rating to batting average, a good defender makes the play say 85% of the time. Any missed plays make it harder to get back up to what a good defender makes. It's a lot easier to get a .250 batting average back to respectability than to get a .750 Zone Rating up.

Rodriguez was horrible in the first half. I'd be curious to see his splits too.
   43. Andere Richtingen Posted: January 04, 2006 at 06:13 PM (#1805749)
Given the high variance of fielding estimates by various sources (Dial's, MGL's, David Gassko's, DMB's, etc.), I tend to ignore them all. Thus the confidence level that I apply to Dial's lists above is fairly low.

Well, that's not very smart.

There are reasons there are differences, and you should try to figure out which one makes the most sense to you - There's a good diffrence between RC, XR, LWts, VORP, RARP - do you just put low confidence in them? Not likely - you probably have learned enough about them, so you have confidence in them to some degree.


What if I'm equally confident in all of them? Seriously, I read the explanations that you all put out, and they make sense to me. The criticisms you make of one another's approaches make sense as well. You would think that at some point all of you would be converging on the same answers.

How much of this is an analytical methodological problem and how much of it is a data problem?

Part of what I do for a living involves making historical inferences (phylogenetic trees) based on DNA sequence data. There are a number of fundamentally different methods for making these inferences, and the people who develop them (I am not one of these people) argue vehemently about whose is best. Fact is, when my data are good all of the methods give me the same answer with high confidence. When I get conflicting answers using different methods, it makes me suspicious of the dataset, not the methods. The different methods all have their own advantages and disadvantages, and some work better on some kinds of data than others, but when the data have a lot of signal, they all perform very well. I am waiting for the day when we see this with defensive metrics, and I'm afraid the problem isn't the methods, it's the data.

Not to dismiss what you say: I find comparing and contrasting the different methods interesting and useful. But I agree with Greg about the low confidence, and don't buy into the concept of choosing "the real MVP."
   44. Chris Dial Posted: January 04, 2006 at 06:22 PM (#1805762)
one of which goes from 0 and up (to 80 or so), and the other which goes from 0 in both positive and negative directions. (Why the two different scales?) So I take your relative weighting of offense and defense to be the variance in scores on the two scales. The variance from low to high on offense is about twice what it is on defense.

The offense scale goes negative. If I lined everyone up by defense and added in the offense, you'd see it. The offense goes -30 to +50 (usually). ARod and Bonds are teh only ones that really cream their position to 80-100 RAA.

I don't have different scales. Sorry that wasn't clear.
   45. greenback calls it soccer Posted: January 04, 2006 at 06:28 PM (#1805768)
I am waiting for the day when we see this with defensive metrics, and I'm afraid the problem isn't the methods, it's the data.

There are multiple sets of data floating around, some of which seem completely superior to others.
   46. Danny Posted: January 04, 2006 at 06:29 PM (#1805770)
If next year when you choose the top 50, ARod has the lowest offensive value of any of them, that would be enormously surprising. It would be one of the biggest stories of the season. He's been a regular for ten years and has never come close to having negative offensive value -- but his defensive value can flip from being near the best in the league to being among the worst?


To put it another way, it looks like A-Rod had at least as big of a swing in his offensive value from 2004-2005 as he did in his defensive value.
   47. Chris Dial Posted: January 04, 2006 at 06:30 PM (#1805772)
Whats the BIP theory? that the Braves pitchers have less balls hit in that zone than pitchers from other teams? Seems counterintuitive almost, esp for a GB heavy staff of recent past.

That's not a theory. The BIZ counts were severely low. One season in particular, if Chipper Jones had made 100% of the plays on balls hit to third base, his Range Factor would *still* have been lower than Aramis Ramirez' was (Ramirez just had that many more plays available).

It's one reason why I know not to trust "adjusted" range factors.
   48. Chris Dial Posted: January 04, 2006 at 06:32 PM (#1805776)
but his defensive value can flip from being near the best in the league to being among the worst?

There are good answers above, but also - the spread of hitting talent is greater than the spread of fielding talent.
   49. Steve Treder Posted: January 04, 2006 at 06:32 PM (#1805777)
I am waiting for the day when we see this with defensive metrics, and I'm afraid the problem isn't the methods, it's the data.

That's exactly my sense. The problems are:

- To a great extent, what's being measured doesn't accurately or comprehensively capture fielding "ability"

and

- To the extent it does measure ability, the samples it captures are too small to provide a stable, useful database
   50. Chris Dial Posted: January 04, 2006 at 06:50 PM (#1805803)
The different methods all have their own advantages and disadvantages, and some work better on some kinds of data than others, but when the data have a lot of signal, they all perform very well. I am waiting for the day when we see this with defensive metrics, and I'm afraid the problem isn't the methods, it's the data.

Lots of signal: did you read my article Dr. Strangelglove on how well the methods agreed?

See, I think this is just not understanding the limitations of the methods.

And your description applies to the offensive wts. You say you have equal confidence, but they will vary by 10 runs. You are fine with it in offense but not in defense? Why would that be?

I suspect it is simply your understanding of the methods and the dataset, *not* the methods or dataset.

If you understnad your tree methods well, then *that's* also why you question your dataset, not the methods.

In all these cases, I suspect there is more a lack of understanding what teh limitations are, rather than the perceived limitations.

Steve's point about capturing fielding ability is fine, but I don't think that it is significant. Plenty of people do think it is.

I also don't think the samples are too small - at least no smaller than a single season of hitting. So Steve's second point is just as true of offense, and no one is claiming that defense data is better than offensive data.


While there is no other way to view my comments about "not understanding" but as critical, I don't mean it as disparaging - few people have put the time in on defense that I have (or Mike Emeigh or MGL), and even then, it has usually been with interpretations of the data, not with teh data itself.

Many of you score games, and you have studied Bill James' work. And moreover, you were fed misinformation on Zone Rating for a decade that spoke of it's flaws - heck, people still say, "It's deeply flawed", but for the life of them, cannot identify one of the flaws - or a major/deal breaking one.

How many of you have scored games tracking balls in zones? Just how hard is it? People want to flail around claiming it's some crazy subjective technique, but few ever try it. It's like riding a bike(or ice skating). When you first try to do it, you crash on a constant basis. It seems impossible to get your weight on two small points touching teh surface.

But you get it, and then doing it right is almost second nature.

The grids are printable
in this thread.

Heck, you can all do yourself a favor and score the same game on a UZR grid and a ZR grid, and then you'll see why I have some issues with bigger zones.

And seriously, I'd like a show of hands of people that have scored a game by ZR/Project Scoresheet.
   51. Chris Dial Posted: January 04, 2006 at 06:51 PM (#1805807)
Was Willie Mays' real first name Morris or something?

Nice work, Dial...
   52. Chris Dial Posted: January 04, 2006 at 06:54 PM (#1805813)
Before anyone accuses me of being a Sox homer,

You are definitely a Sox homer, unless you can generate the use of Game State MVP argument you made prior to this season. And I'll expect your vote in 2006 to fall in line with teh Game State champ.

No offense, but if Ortiz had outpaced ARod by 30 runs in LWts, I sincerely doubt you'd be arguing for ARod over Papi based on Game State data (which AFAICT hasn't been peer reviewed *at all*).
   53. Chris Dial Posted: January 04, 2006 at 06:55 PM (#1805819)
Oh, MHS, I don't mean that mean - if Papi had a 30 run lead, you had no reason to look elsewhere (and neitehr would I).
   54. Damon Rutherford Posted: January 04, 2006 at 07:02 PM (#1805836)
There's a good diffrence between RC, XR, LWts, VORP, RARP - do you just put low confidence in them?

First, should I have sufficient time, I intend to investigate the differences between offensive run metrics and also the differences between fielding run metrics. I see that you have some comparisons in your Dr. StrangeGlove article, so I'll re-read that first.

Second, my confidence with the offensive metrics primarily lies in my ability to understand the methods, see the equations, and then take easily acquired data, plug 'em into the equations, and calculate RC, XR, etc. myself. Also, I can easily see how well these metrics work by using them on a team-level basis and comparing the metric's estimate to the actual runs scored by the team.

Fieldling estimates, however, aren't as clean. The equations are more complicated, in my opinion, and the data needed aren't easily available, although I do see you've provided data in your StrangeGlove article, so I'll start there. Also, although I haven't fully thought about it, is there a way to check one's fielding estimates on a team-level to how many runs the team actually allowed? It's more complicated, of course, since pitching is also involved. I suppose what I would like to see is a model that incorporates both pitching and fielding, providing runs allowed estimates for all, and sufficiently matches the actual runs allowed by the team. Unless of course, the pitching and fielding models start with this and work forward, separating pitching from fielding and then fielding into individual players. It appears I need to review all of the fieldling techniques, because they probably do this IIRC. In fact, I know Defensive Regression Analysis does exactly this.

So, I should be able to take any fielding runs allowed estimates (let's assume it's against the average fielder) and any pitching runs allowed estimate (also assume it's against the average), start with the average runs allowed and adjust upward or downward for each pitcher's RA estimate and each fielder's RA estimate and sufficiently match the actual runs allowed for that team. By sufficiently, let's say the p-value associated with the correlation between the estimate and the actual, when looking at all 30 teams, is less than .05. Or whatever.

But even should that succeed, fielding rating methods could start with that and divide up the fielding runs allowed to individual fielders differently, resulting in Player A rated significantly different by the fielding estimates. So why the ratings might work on a team level, it still might not be accurate on an individual level (also a possibility with offensive metrics).

Unfortunately, UZR and BPro's fielding ratings are essentially behind closed doors, although there are the old UZR articles. DMB also behind closed doors, but provides only a range rating anyway with only five classifications (Pr, Fr, Av, Vg, Ex).

My point -- it was easy to understand, use, and verify the offensive metrics. It's not so easy for the fielding ratings. Thus why I tend to ignore them, especially given what appears to be too high of a variance between fielding metrics on an individual player basis. But I'll make more of an effort now before quickly dismissing 'em.

Postscript -- perhaps if I saw range of error numbers associated with each run estimate number, I would feel more comfortable with the stats. So Lee was 8.4 runs better than Pujols by Dial's measure, but perhaps their 95%-confidence-level ranges overlap, indicating that Pujols could in fact have outperformed Lee.

Well, enough rambling. Back to work.
   55. Mister High Standards Posted: January 04, 2006 at 07:03 PM (#1805839)
Definitly not a sox homer. Ramirez wasn't in my top 10. I used Game State Wins last season for MVP talk as well.

James Click's similar stat, showed Ortiz with a similarly large margin.

Lack of peer review is a problem, but not as big a problem of just using static weights, and hoping everything comes out even.
   56. Steve Treder Posted: January 04, 2006 at 07:13 PM (#1805858)
I also don't think the samples are too small - at least no smaller than a single season of hitting. So Steve's second point is just as true of offense, and no one is claiming that defense data is better than offensive data.

I don't know, of course, but I have a nagging sense that this isn't true, that the number of pitches a batter sees in a full season makes for a better test of his true ability than the number of fielding chances a fielder faces. I have a nagging suspicion that this is a major part of the wild year-to-year swings in fielding metrics.
   57. greenback calls it soccer Posted: January 04, 2006 at 07:15 PM (#1805860)
Unfortunately, UZR and BPro's fielding ratings are essentially behind closed doors, although there are the old UZR articles.

BPro does have an article in its 2001 book which gives the basic explanation of their method. It's a lot like Gassko's method AFAICT.
   58. Chris Dial Posted: January 04, 2006 at 07:16 PM (#1805862)
that the number of pitches a batter sees in a full season makes for a better test of his true ability than the number of fielding chances a fielder faces.

I don't see a BIP as equal to a pitch. I see it as equal to a PA.
   59. Tom Cervo, backup catcher Posted: January 04, 2006 at 07:17 PM (#1805865)
Didn't Larry write up an article on how a player would get more credit in game state wins for a SF late in a close game then a guy who hits a HR early in a game? If that is true, I have a hard time placing any value in such a metric.

Also, I still fail to see the logic that just because a player hits a HR late in a game that it's any more valuable than a HR hit early in a game. Say Ortiz hits a gamewinning 2-run homer in the bottom of the 9th. Well, what if say...Manny hadn't hit a 3-run homer earlier and Ortiz' HR still had the Sox down 2? Who's HR was more valuable in that game?
   60. Damon Rutherford Posted: January 04, 2006 at 07:21 PM (#1805873)
BPro does have an article in its 2001 book which gives the basic explanation of their method. It's a lot like Gassko's method AFAICT.

Cool ... IIRC, I recently acquired that book via Amazon. However, I'm fairly certain they've continued to tweak their ratings since 2001. I assume the foundation would still be the same, unless they now have access to different (better) data that requires a different method.
   61. Chris Dial Posted: January 04, 2006 at 07:25 PM (#1805886)
Greg, nice post.

Admittedly, defensive analysis hasn't been clearly open-source until my Dr. Strangeglove article, so there is a reason these biases exist. In my long response to Andere, I want to break down those old barriers - thus I put everything together so everyone can do the calculations, and with minimal data input - basically ZR and IP. That's far less than any offensive stat.

And sure you understand offensive stats now - but in 1987? RC was bizarro world. Linear wts? How is a single worth just 0.47 runs? How is a walk two-thirds of a single?

It took 20 years before people *really* got hte hang of offensive stats.
Even now, people forget that a play made is worth 0.8 runs, not 0.47 (preventing a single). I mean as late as 2002, I was reminding Tango of that.

is there a way to check one's fielding estimates on a team-level to how many runs the team actually allowed?

David and Rally say so, but I haven't come to that conclusion.

There's two views: all BIP are fieldable, and zones aren't right. I disagree. Zone based is the correct way - *but* it can still be donwe this way to some extent - I jsut haven't ever done it.

Rally tried to help, but I couldn't get it to make sense. I haven't tried hard enough - but that's because I don't know that it is important. But hey, anything that strengthens the sabrpublic's support for defensive stats I'll try.

Right now, I am in the camp that it is NOT important (due to so many BIP that aren't catchable). I am open to being shown otherwise.
   62. Steve Treder Posted: January 04, 2006 at 07:29 PM (#1805893)
I don't see a BIP as equal to a pitch. I see it as equal to a PA.

I don't. Nearly every PA consumes more than one pitch, and the sequence of pitches, and the batter's choice of swing/take, and what he is able to do with the pitch when he does swing, is all incorporated in the PA, and is part of its test of batting ability. The result of the PA may very well be, in fact often is, a consequence of much more than the single pitch that resolved the PA. Thus the result of the PA may reveal far more about the batter's ability than a fielder's handling of a BIP may reveal about the fielder's ability.
   63. Andere Richtingen Posted: January 04, 2006 at 07:37 PM (#1805911)
The different methods all have their own advantages and disadvantages, and some work better on some kinds of data than others, but when the data have a lot of signal, they all perform very well. I am waiting for the day when we see this with defensive metrics, and I'm afraid the problem isn't the methods, it's the data.

Lots of signal: did you read my article Dr. Strangelglove on how well the methods agreed?


(looks back at article)

Yeah, but this is different. Sure, the different methods give you nice correlation coefficients, and it looks like more often than not they give fairly similar value calls for individual players. But it's not the aggregate that I'm concerned with, it's the individual value calls, and these frequently disagree. Look at Troy Glaus: MGL gives him -27, DSG at +8, Rally at -6, Dial at -8. Perhaps there is an optimal method here applied to a player like Glaus, but I'm not going to know that. Maybe we should just average across methods or something, I don't know.

Now, I cherry-picked the Glaus example because it's fairly extreme, but this happens often enough that if you are interested in an assessment of an individual player, and this is almost always why people look to these metrics, your confidence has to be low. Not so much that it's worthless, but it's low, definitely to the point where I don't take to the bank that Lee was MVP.

<i>And your description applies to the offensive wts. You say you have equal confidence, but they will vary by 10 runs. You are fine with it in offense but not in defense? Why would that be?</i>

Are there reasonably acceptable methods that give you an offensive spread like what I showed for Glaus? Where one method says he costs his team nearly three wins per year with the bat and another says he was nearly a win in the black?

I suspect it is simply your understanding of the methods and the dataset, *not* the methods or dataset.

If you understnad your tree methods well, then *that's* also why you question your dataset, not the methods.

In all these cases, I suspect there is more a lack of understanding what teh limitations are, rather than the perceived limitations.


Yeah, but that's a serious problem, isn't it? What's the problem with the methods and dataset in the case of Troy Glaus? Do we have to make these assessments for each player individually? And what's scary is that there are probably cases where the methods all agree and they're all wrong.
   64. Chris Dial Posted: January 04, 2006 at 07:44 PM (#1805920)
Thus the result of the PA may reveal far more about the batter's ability than a fielder's handling of a BIP may reveal about the fielder's ability.

Is that how you evaluate pitchers?
   65. Chris Dial Posted: January 04, 2006 at 07:45 PM (#1805923)
But it's not the aggregate that I'm concerned with, it's the individual value calls, and these frequently disagree. Look at Troy Glaus: MGL gives him -27, DSG at +8, Rally at -6, Dial at -8.

Oooh, that's an easy one.

MGL and DSG are wrong.
   66. Chris Dial Posted: January 04, 2006 at 07:47 PM (#1805929)
Are there reasonably acceptable methods that give you an offensive spread like what I showed for Glaus? Where one method says he costs his team nearly three wins per year with the bat and another says he was nearly a win in the black?

Sort of.

Various offensive systems say David Ortiz was worth 30 offense runs less than ARod. Anotehr says he was worth 30 runs more.

That's a 6-win swing.
   67. Chris Dial Posted: January 04, 2006 at 07:55 PM (#1805933)
Yeah, but that's a serious problem, isn't it? What's the problem with the methods and dataset in the case of Troy Glaus? Do we have to make these assessments for each player individually? And what's scary is that there are probably cases where the methods all agree and they're all wrong.

Well, goodness yes, but the answer is for you to try to understand the systems, not to ignore tham (if you want - I mean feel free to ignore, but that's not what most people awant to do here).

Glaus is INCREDIBLY easy to explain when you understand the systems. My explanations of the methods in this blog (albeit in three different articles) should illustrate it to you.

DSG estimates chances by BIP/Assists and pitchingstaff handedness/GB/FB ratio. That's fine most of the time when teh BIP distribution follows teh norm. When it DOESN'T, it grossly misses a player (like Glaus, or ATL 3B, or Jeter).

MGL botches teh fielding in teh holes. He misses JEter (and Glaus) because he doesn't recognize, in UZR, that the opposite edges of his 56 zone don't overlap - BUT HE COUNTS THEM THE SAME. They are 25 feet apart. In ZR, Glaus isn't responsible for balls over by teh SS - in UZR he is. Again, under normal distribution, this works out - but when the distribution is atypical, it skews teh data (and not just his value, but everyone being compared to him).

Me and Rally don't do that. We only use zones that 50% of balls are outs in - and players get bonuses outside their zones, not penalties (which is effectively what UZR does for balls in the hole).

Glaus is an easy one. It's all about the BIP distribution.

Nick Swisher isn't.
   68. Steve Treder Posted: January 04, 2006 at 07:56 PM (#1805935)
Is that how you evaluate pitchers?

Of course not, but:

- Well-developed as they are, we all know that pitching metrics aren't as robust as hitting metrics; we're still arguing around the margins of DIPS ERA and so forth

- We don't have the same issues with pitching metrics as we do with fielding metrics, that they jump all over the place for individuals from year-to-year, or that competing methodologies rate individual pitchers vastly differently

I simply am not ready to dismiss the sample size issue in fielding metrics. It may very well be real, and problematic.
   69. Chris Dial Posted: January 04, 2006 at 07:56 PM (#1805937)
Not so much that it's worthless, but it's low, definitely to the point where I don't take to the bank that Lee was MVP.

Well, Lee outperformed Pujols on offense, and if you ignore defense, then you *should* take it to the bank he was MVP.
   70. Chris Dial Posted: January 04, 2006 at 08:05 PM (#1805949)
Thus the result of the PA may reveal far more about the batter's ability than a fielder's handling of a BIP may reveal about the fielder's ability.

This is certainly true- it may, but *each* pitch doesn't.

I am surprised you would comapre the two, given the loads of baseball you have seen over the centuries.

You can see the fielding and tell something about quality. I think there are some sample size issues, and prefer a couple of seasons (see ARod's fluctuation this season), but that's more for a "true talent" discussion. For MVP types, these are tehir chances and conversions - and they all have had like chances (and FWIW, Hitters are not judged on pitches seen, but *SOLELY* on PA outcome).

Like I stated, you are more comfortable with hitting and pitching metrics because you understand them better. In fact, you'll find the more people are comfortable with DIPS the more they trust it -
   71. Danny Posted: January 04, 2006 at 08:08 PM (#1805954)
I don't. Nearly every PA consumes more than one pitch, and the sequence of pitches, and the batter's choice of swing/take, and what he is able to do with the pitch when he does swing, is all incorporated in the PA, and is part of its test of batting ability. The result of the PA may very well be, in fact often is, a consequence of much more than the single pitch that resolved the PA. Thus the result of the PA may reveal far more about the batter's ability than a fielder's handling of a BIP may reveal about the fielder's ability.


Does anyone do this type of analysis?
   72. Mister High Standards Posted: January 04, 2006 at 08:11 PM (#1805961)
Well, Lee outperformed Pujols on offense, and if you ignore defense, then you *should* take it to the bank he was MVP.

This completly ignores how valuable the runs they were produced for each team.

AP runs were much more valuable to the cards than Lees.
   73. Steve Treder Posted: January 04, 2006 at 08:13 PM (#1805967)
This is certainly true- it may, but *each* pitch doesn't.

Right, but the point is that a PA isn't (usually) a single pitch, but rather the result of a sequence of pitches. That's significant in the issue of comparing PA results for batters to BIP results for fielders.

Like I stated, you are more comfortable with hitting and pitching metrics because you understand them better.

Undoubtedly true. But you have to realize that I (and I'm sure many like me) would understand them better if we had a greater sense of confidence that the investment of understanding would be cost-beneficial. It's a chicken-and-egg thing, I know, but there it is: the wackiness of the ratings doesn't provide a compelling advertisement for we uninitiated to dive in, and so we don't.

And please allow me to repeat: I sincerely have a ton of respect for the work that you (and MGL et al) have contributed to these things. Primitive as I may believe they still are, fielding metrics have advanced miles in the past several years, thanks entirely to you and people like you, and thanks none at all to me and people like me.
   74. AROM Posted: January 04, 2006 at 08:15 PM (#1805973)
is there a way to check one's fielding estimates on a team-level to how many runs the team actually allowed?

Close. You have to back up a bit and look at hits instead of runs. Since balls hit to the outfield have greater run values than those to the infield, use "hits saved" - the number you can get from ZR before applying the run value.

You can compare this to hits saved on a team level calculated from the team's DER.

I did this in a post in one of the defense articles, but can't find it here. Its a decent correlation though far from perfect, around .50 to .60 I think.

I think its crucial. If good defense ratings didn't result in actual hits and runs being saved for your pitchers, I'd agree that defense ratings were worthless.
   75. Chris Dial Posted: January 04, 2006 at 08:15 PM (#1805976)
AP runs were much more valuable to the cards than Lees

Were they? Who was teh game state MVP in teh NL?
   76. Chris Dial Posted: January 04, 2006 at 08:21 PM (#1805983)
But you have to realize that I (and I'm sure many like me) would understand them better if we had a greater sense of confidence that the investment of understanding would be cost-beneficial. It's a chicken-and-egg thing, I know, but there it is: the wackiness of the ratings doesn't provide a compelling advertisement for we uninitiated to dive in, and so we don't.

I completely understand that. That's why I'm trying to change it with the handful of articles I've had on defnese here.

And I do NOT think that peopel don't respect and appreciate the work, so I don't want to seem as pissy as I surely do.

It took 20 years for people to "get" RC. I am sure in 1987 people said about RC what you are saying now about fielding ratings (people like Elias). If offensive metrics (LWts, RC etc) were "black boxes", people would still be wary of them as well.

But if I can't get sincerely interested and open-minded researchers like you, Tamer and Andere to try to sort out the differences, well, I'll know why James "broke the wand."

I know it has to be explained better and calculated more simply - and easily for *ANYONE* to check.

However, if someone posted some ratings that showed, say, Tony Gwynn to be the greatest hitter ever, you wouldn't decide all offensive metrics were thus bogus - you'd know that one was.
   77. Steve Treder Posted: January 04, 2006 at 08:33 PM (#1806005)
It took 20 years for people to "get" RC.

Yes, but:

I am sure in 1987 people said about RC what you are saying now about fielding ratings (people like Elias).

No, the dynamic was different. The issue with RC wasn't that there were multiple competing new methods of batter evaluation that (a) fluctuated crazily from year-to-year for individual batters and (b) showed great deviation for the same batter in the same year across methods. The issue with something like RC was sheer ignorance (indeed, hostility) from the mainstream. People within the sabermetric community (and it wasn't big, but yes, it existed) didn't resist RC.

But if I can't get sincerely interested and open-minded researchers like you, Tamer and Andere to try to sort out the differences, well, I'll know why James "broke the wand."

Understand, and point taken. The onus is completely on us, not on you.

How about this: for my one and only New Year's resolution, I resolve to make myself significantly less ignorant than I am about the nuts and bolts of advanced fielding metric methodologies.

I mean it. You've turned one from ignorant skeptic to seeking-knowledge skeptic.
   78. Mister High Standards Posted: January 04, 2006 at 08:39 PM (#1806014)
Delgado was the leader. Lee and AP were 1 win apart, not enough for me to be fully confident in the number. However the point was a run prodcuded for a 100 win team is more valuable than a run produced for a 70 win team. The value of a run is not constant, must like the value of a single isn't constant. You'd likely disagree with that as well, but you'd be "simply wrong".
   79. Chris Dial Posted: January 04, 2006 at 08:41 PM (#1806022)
Well, Steve, Tamer and Andere also said that - but there is some onus on me (and Mike and othrs) - to do a better job of making sure hte information is consistent and makes sense - and explain where it doesn't.
   80. Chris Dial Posted: January 04, 2006 at 08:44 PM (#1806029)
Hmmm, Delgado, huh? Sounds like you are a Sox homer... 8-P
   81. Mister High Standards Posted: January 04, 2006 at 08:52 PM (#1806050)
If the Marlins won 90 games instead of 83 I would have voted for Delgado. Instead I voted for Roger. Delgado was in my top 10, and perhaps I should have voted for him a bit higher.
   82. Boots Day Posted: January 04, 2006 at 08:52 PM (#1806052)
However, if someone posted some ratings that showed, say, Tony Gwynn to be the greatest hitter ever, you wouldn't decide all offensive metrics were thus bogus - you'd know that one was.

Chris, now you know my reaction when someone says Alex Rodriguez -- a Gold Glove shortstop two years ago -- was one of the worst fielders (maybe even the absolute worst, for all I know) in all of baseball at third base this year.
   83. Chris Dial Posted: January 04, 2006 at 09:03 PM (#1806069)
was one of the worst fielders (maybe even the absolute worst, for all I know) in all of baseball

Boots,
acknowledged.

However, there are tons more worse than ARod this year. Manny Ramirez (look at that thread if you want a hoot!).
   84. Eraser-X is emphatically dominating teh site!!! Posted: January 04, 2006 at 09:08 PM (#1806076)
This completly ignores how valuable the runs they were produced for each team.

AP runs were much more valuable to the cards than Lees.


So Mr. Trump's pennies are "more valuable" than my Benjamins?

Dial, I think you are underrating Jones. If he puts up 5 more years in the 2001, 2004 range (his worse two years so far) and retires at 33, he should be into the Hall easily. His "peak" was passable, and his career value would be more than enough.
   85. Damon Rutherford Posted: January 04, 2006 at 09:18 PM (#1806104)
How about this: for my one and only New Year's resolution, I resolve to make myself significantly less ignorant than I am about the nuts and bolts of advanced fielding metric methodologies.

I mean it. You've turned one from ignorant skeptic to seeking-knowledge skeptic.


Count me in.

It took 20 years for people to "get" RC.

I understood RC immediately upon reading about it. The equations were right there. I was familiar with the raw statistics used. This is not the case when I'm studying the fielding metric methods. But I'll start with Dial's StrangeGlove article and go from there. I also really like Humphrey's DRA method, and will re-study that as well.
   86. Mister High Standards Posted: January 04, 2006 at 09:34 PM (#1806128)
This completly ignores how valuable the runs they were produced for each team.

AP runs were much more valuable to the cards than Lees.

So Mr. Trump's pennies are "more valuable" than my Benjamins?


Wrong analogy. If you have no place to live and have exactly 900 dollars. The only place you can live costs 900 dollars to rent. Each of those dollars is more important to you than a person who has 500 dollars because he is homeless regardless. They are also more important than each dollar a person with 1,800 because he has a place to live regardless.
   87. Starlin of the Slipstream (TRHN) Posted: January 04, 2006 at 09:48 PM (#1806151)
But the Cardinals were like the guy with $1800 last season. They won the NL Central by 11 games.
   88. Slinger Francisco Barrios (Dr. Memory) Posted: January 04, 2006 at 09:48 PM (#1806154)
Each of those dollars is more important to you than a person who has 500 dollars because he is homeless regardless.

Let's take it another step in your direction. How do you know the Cardinals' home costs $900 and that Pujols "money" made up the difference between having that home and not having it, i.e., that the Cardinals needed any of Pujols' runs? Maybe they have a place to live (i.e., finish in first place) with a replacement (i.e., $0) 1B. You could conceivably find out that essentially they don't need any one player, which would by your analogy make them all equally valuable.
   89. Mister High Standards Posted: January 04, 2006 at 09:49 PM (#1806155)
btw: in our fictional world from post 86 their are no other ways to spend money.
   90. Mister High Standards Posted: January 04, 2006 at 09:52 PM (#1806161)
Dr Memory - thats why I didn't vote for AP for first. I voted for Roger for 1st.

AP was second for exactly the reason you mentioned.
   91. Slinger Francisco Barrios (Dr. Memory) Posted: January 04, 2006 at 09:56 PM (#1806170)
You would therefore seem to be saying Clemens carried his team to the post-season. And he didn't.
   92. Slinger Francisco Barrios (Dr. Memory) Posted: January 04, 2006 at 10:05 PM (#1806190)
To sum up what I'm saying, in your #86 analogy, a player would have to be amazingly great to be "most valuable". Everybody else, no matter how good, are just essentially cogs in their respective machines.
   93. Mister High Standards Posted: January 04, 2006 at 10:44 PM (#1806275)
Thats not remotely what I'm saying. I'm saying if a team doesn't achieve its goals the contributions of those players are discounted. At least in terms of THE most valuable player.

If Clemens doesn't play for the Astros they don't make the playeoffs. Its true for a number of Astros, but I believe Roger was the most valuable Astro.

Puljos could have won if he was a little better compared to Roger. Lee would have had to have been Bondsian to win... Simply because it doesn't matter how good he was he wasn't in a position to be as valuable as some other players. Its not fair... but it is what it is. The cubs finnished in 4th place with Lee they would have finnished last without him. The difference between 4th and last in a 6 team league isn't signifigant.

I would have voted for Derek Lee for best player.
   94. Chris Dial Posted: January 04, 2006 at 11:54 PM (#1806421)
MHS,
we just disagree on how the players should be evaluated in determining the MVP. I say it's the player with teh most value, and to me, that's the player that had hte most value. Not the sNot hte player that batted in the most valuable situations the most. If the Sox had had ARod, they wouldn't need higher game states. It's a self-defeating situation - if you are good enough, you never have a late inning situ. That's a bad way to analyze it - but you are entitled.
   95. Booey Posted: January 04, 2006 at 11:59 PM (#1806430)
This method of ranking defense looks like it gives no positional adjustments whatsoever. Are you all seriously okay with crediting a DH or an average first baseman with MORE defensive value than a slightly below average shortstop or catcher? I appreciate the effort, but that's just ridiculous. Sorry.
   96. Chris Dial Posted: January 04, 2006 at 11:59 PM (#1806431)
I understood RC immediately upon reading about it. The equations were right there.

Come on.

The first time you ever heard someone say "A single is worth 0.47 runs" you got it immediately? You didn't go, "Huh?"

That makes you a lot smarter than everyone else.
   97. Steve Treder Posted: January 05, 2006 at 12:21 AM (#1806471)
Come on.

The first time you ever heard someone say "A single is worth 0.47 runs" you got it immediately? You didn't go, "Huh?"


Are you talking about Runs Created, or Linear Weights?

I'll certainly admit that the first time (or probably more like the first several hundred times) I encountered Linear Weights it went right over my head. I distinctly recall a panel discussion at the 1985 SABR National Convention, in Oakland, when the moderator (Cappy Gagnon) asked Pete Palmer to try and explain Linear Weights to all of us morons. I'll say this for Palmer: he tried. Very few of us morons got it, and I'd been reading about them for a few years before then.

But Runs Created is different. That was extremely intuitive for me. That hits, walks, extra-base hits, etc., all work together to create runs had always been obvious; all James did for me was show me the precise calculation. I had no issues with it at all.
   98. Boots Day Posted: January 05, 2006 at 12:24 AM (#1806477)
The first time you ever heard someone say "A single is worth 0.47 runs" you got it immediately?

That's linear weights, isn't it? Not runs created.

What made runs created make sense (at least for me) was that there was an answer to check it against. James would show every year how the runs created formula came close to matching almost every team's actual runs scored. The only leap of faith required is to believe that it's similarly accurate at the individual level.

One of the problems with the defensive metrics is that we have no idea what the "correct" answer is, at the personal level, team level, or league level. You can't look at the Padres statistics and figure out how many runs their defense prevented, the way you can look and see how many runs they scored.

You mentioned in response to Greg Tamer that Glassko and Rally have taken a stab at this; I'd be interested to see their work. Do you know where it's available?
   99. Andere Richtingen Posted: January 05, 2006 at 12:29 AM (#1806484)
Well, goodness yes, but the answer is for you to try to understand the systems, not to ignore tham (if you want - I mean feel free to ignore, but that's not what most people awant to do here).

I wasn't ignoring them, but otherwise, fair cop, and I'll go on board with Treder's and Tamer's New Years Resolution.

Glaus is an easy one. It's all about the BIP distribution.

This is great. But my feeling, and I could be completely wrong about this, is that the only people who know these nuances are you, MGL, DSG, Rally, etc., and very few people who are equipped to think about it critically. You know those nuances because you've been getting down and dirty with the data, but that's asking a lot from people. And remind me of when you've mentioned this shortcoming of UZR before, and how MGL responded.

Or maybe I can conjure him up on my own, since we've only heard your side of it in this thread: Where does UZR outperform your version of ZR? Or is your metric just so much better that we should use it and throw away the others? I know this has been discussed somewhere before, and my apologies for being ignorant and/or not keeping up. THIS was where the original "Primer" concept would come in handy.

Various offensive systems say David Ortiz was worth 30 offense runs less than ARod. Anotehr says he was worth 30 runs more.

That's a 6-win swing.


Yeah, but it's a matter of "insanely great" versus "quite excellent". Are there any examples where one system shows a player at -27 runs offensively and another at +8?
   100. Steve Treder Posted: January 05, 2006 at 12:29 AM (#1806486)
What made runs created make sense (at least for me) was that there was an answer to check it against.

Yep.

The only leap of faith required is to believe that it's similarly accurate at the individual level.

But even there, it isn't all that hard to add up the RC's for every member of a team, and see how close they come to the team's actual runs scored.

One of the problems with the defensive metrics is that we have no idea what the "correct" answer is, at the personal level, team level, or league level.

Precisely.
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