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Thursday, May 01, 2014

BtBS: Which hitters are responsible for the most and least ‘free outs’?

Anyways, outs must happen. However, all outs are not created equal. There are (relatively) guaranteed outs, and there are less certain outs. A short investigation of the former is what follows.

Since baseball players must make outs, we can at least prefer outs that aren’t free, but we can’t always have what we want. There are two types of what I call “free outs”: the strikeout and the popup. Since we track these things, we can look at who are the leaders and laggards of the free out. What follows are the top 10 and bottom 10 hitters in free out percentage, which is the sum of K% and IFFB%*FB% from FanGraphs. IFFB%*FB% isn’t a perfect measure of popups, but it’ll do.

bobm Posted: May 01, 2014 at 12:31 AM | 12 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: outs

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   1. What did Billy Ripken have against ElRoy Face? Posted: May 01, 2014 at 04:04 PM (#4698385)
Is there actual evidence that popups result in significantly fewer errors than grounders or outfield flies? The article doesn't cite any.
   2. SoSHially Unacceptable Posted: May 01, 2014 at 04:16 PM (#4698393)
Is there actual evidence that popups result in significantly fewer errors than grounders or outfield flies? The article doesn't cite any.


Due to the fact that many pop-ups that result in a runner on first are ruled hits (often the result of defensive confusion), I can't imagine that pop-ups come anywhere near grounders when it comes to ROEs (and outfield flies result in significantly fewer ROEs than groundballs). Hell, the simple fact that a groundball out usually requires two parts and a pop-up or flyball only one would indicate that ROEs are far more likely to occur on the latter.

   3. Fred Lynn Nolan Ryan Sweeney Agonistes Posted: May 01, 2014 at 04:38 PM (#4698407)
the simple fact that a groundball out usually requires two parts and a pop-up or flyball only one would indicate that ROEs are far more likely to occur on the latter.

The defense has to get three things right on a ground ball: catch / throw / catch. Five on a double play ball.
   4. Steve Balboni's Personal Trainer Posted: May 01, 2014 at 06:07 PM (#4698467)
Talk about "free outs"! In certain situations, thanks to the infield fly rule, a pop up would be an automatic out even if the infielder dropped the pop up. It doesn't get an freer than that.
   5. Walt Davis Posted: May 01, 2014 at 08:00 PM (#4698507)
I believe pop-ups are so error-free that they are essentially removed from IF defensive ratings.

And no, nobody ever drops a pop-up. Heck, pretty much nobody ever drops a fly ball that they get to.

One of the things that finally got me to stop playing softball is that I dropped (what I'm pretty darn sure was) the first (real game) pop-up of my life.

Splits don't distinguish pop-ups but the do FB vs GB. In the AL this year, there have been 13 RoEs on 3321 FB, roughly one every 250. There have been 136 ROEs on 4834 GB, roughly one every 35.

As noted, there are probably more "team errors" on FBs (guys letting it drop between them) and IF fly rules would ideally be removed from my little analysis (I suppose they have to get counted as a chance don't they?). And I haven't counted OF throwing errors which give up bases of course. I would be willing to believe that "serious" throws from the OF have an error rate similar to IF throws, although OF throws are more likely to be backed up well enough not to surrender a base and so no error.
   6. What did Billy Ripken have against ElRoy Face? Posted: May 01, 2014 at 08:40 PM (#4698529)
Hell, the simple fact that a groundball out usually requires two parts and a pop-up or flyball only one would indicate that ROEs are far more likely to occur on the latter.


I agree that it makes sense on its face, but has anyone actually done a study?
   7. SoSHially Unacceptable Posted: May 01, 2014 at 10:49 PM (#4698604)

I agree that it makes sense on its face, but has anyone actually done a study?


The actual ratios? I don't think so. But the fact that GB yield more ROE than FB or Pop-ups seems so obvious that I don't know if anyone's felt the need to. Infielders commit more errors. Most errors by outfielders are on throws, not on dropped fly balls (which result in advancement, but not ROE). Groundball pitchers yield more earned runs than fly ball pitchers. Everything points in that direction. I imagine the early-season numbers Walt noted are rather consistent year-to-year. The 1 for 250 rate for fly balls is actually greater frequency than I would have expected.


I suppose they have to get counted as a chance don't they?


The overwhelming majority of IF are simply caught, so that covers the e bulk of them. When someone Kozmas an IF Fly, I suppose he still gets credit for the putout.
   8. Walt Davis Posted: May 01, 2014 at 10:52 PM (#4698605)
Study schmudy, look at #5. Granted, I forgot to take the HRs out of the FBs. So it's 13 RoEs on 3058 FB in-play or one every 235 FBs in-play. Or alternatively, BABIP on FBs is 101 -- nearly 90% of the damn things are caught. (Note, not 90% of all FBs that are gotten to ... 90% of all FBs. Of course most of the other 10% are clean hits, of course FBs are rarely dropped.)

FBs don't include LDs but there's an RoE on a LD in play once every 260 PA.

Again, there's an error on one out of about 35 GBs. If you take the hits out of it (i.e. GBs that couldn't be fielded) it goes down to 1 out of 27.

Heck, they've recorded 165 bunts in play in the AL so far this year and there have been 6 RoE already ... compared to 9 RoE on over 2300 LDs and 13 RoE on over 2900 FBs in play.

I suppose there's one glimmer of hope. It's hard to tell how many FBs are "on the infield" because IF/FB includes LDs (only caught ones?). Let's say it's 10% of all FBs so that would be about 290 so far this year in the AL. If, say 10 of the 13 RoEs have been on dropped pop-ups, that would have a fielding %age about the same as GBs. We could even remove IF fly rules from pop-ups and maybe we'd need only 6-7 of the RoEs to be on dropped pop-ups. I simply can't imagine though why pop-ups would be substantially harder to catch than FBs. So I would guess that in the AL 2014, there have been maybe 1-2 dropped pop-ups (IF fly rule drops not included).

Given 90% of FBs are caught, it seems to me that OF defensive runs saved must come predominantly from an ability to flag down more LDs.

Side note, I've noticed before there seems to have been a change in how LDs were defined or measured between 2012 and 2013. Seems to have continued in 2014.

LD%

2014 23
2013 23
2012 19
2011 18
2010 19

BABIP on LDs also went down substantially in 2013. Similarly BABIP went down on FBs from the high 130s to 100. While it's possible this was some real change in batter behavior it seems sort of unlikely that they'd start hitting more LDs but doing worse on them and FBs at the same time. I'm assuming some BIP that used to be classed as FBs are now classed as LDs. Those were presumably fliners that were tough to catch by FB standards but relatively easy to catch by LD standards -- hence both BABIPs went down.

Not necessarily anything wrong with changing the measurement, it just makes it hard to compare across time.
   9. Walt Davis Posted: May 01, 2014 at 10:53 PM (#4698608)
It just occurred to me ... could the change in LD measurement explain some of the crazy OF Rfield numbers we saw in 2013. If they didn't adjust the expected outcome of a "LD", all those extra "LDs" turned into outs look massive. Calling all Tangos.
   10. SoSHially Unacceptable Posted: May 01, 2014 at 10:55 PM (#4698609)
Looking back at the NL Wild Card game, it does appear Kozma was credited with a putout on the infield fly that hit the turf.

   11. Lassus Posted: May 01, 2014 at 11:19 PM (#4698618)
You guys are making Luis Castillo cry.
   12. What did Billy Ripken have against ElRoy Face? Posted: May 02, 2014 at 02:54 PM (#4699050)
A strong case, I agree, w/r/t grounders. But I'm not quite as convinced that it's stunningly obvious that, other than the infield-fly rule definitional issue, popups are so significantly easier than outfield fly outs for one to be categorized as "free" and the other not.

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