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Friday, August 23, 2013

Dewan: Best Single-Season Runs Saved Totals

Baseball Info Solutions now has over 10 years of Defensive Runs Saved data. Over the last decade, we’ve witnessed some incredible defensive seasons. A pair of shortstops, Jack Wilson and Adam Everett, saved an estimated 32 and 34 runs in 2005 and 2006, respectively. In 2010, Brett Gardner set the then-record 35 Runs Saved split between left and center field. This season, someone new has broken that record.

Andrelton Simmons now has 37 Runs Saved this season, an impressive total on its own but even more spectacular in context. First, Simmons has set that record with a month and a half left to go in the season. It is possible that Simmons could cost his team runs going forward, but that seems unlikely. If he continues to save runs at this pace, he will run away from his nearest single-season competitors.

Second, Simmons’ pace is supported by more than just the four months this season. Because of the timing of his debut for the Braves in 2012, Simmons has now played 168 games in his career, a few more than he would play in a full, healthy season. In that time, Simmons has saved an incredible 56 runs.

The District Attorney Posted: August 23, 2013 at 02:14 PM | 28 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: andrelton simmons, braves, sabermetrics

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   1. RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: August 23, 2013 at 02:51 PM (#4526263)
Can't wait til the Mariners overpay for him someday.
   2. McCoy Posted: August 23, 2013 at 02:52 PM (#4526265)
I just wish that when Dewan did these releases he'd give us a little bit more info on how, say, Simmons got to 37 runs this year. Otherwise it is just, hey, Simmons has 37 runs. Wow.
   3. SG Posted: August 23, 2013 at 03:07 PM (#4526278)
I believe he's done it by playing good defense.
   4. Jim (jimmuscomp) Posted: August 23, 2013 at 03:11 PM (#4526283)
That video is worth a look.

At first glance it's no big deal, but then you realize he's racing to third, stops, changes direction, races to second, grabs the ball, touches the base, and throws against his body to complete the double-play.

I watched three times before I got how good it was and how athletic he needed to be to do it.

   5. puck Posted: August 23, 2013 at 03:17 PM (#4526292)
Fangraphs' UZR has Simmons at 23.4 runs, still crazy good.

Here's the UZR top 10 this season:

1. 24.2 Manny Machado
2. 23.4 Andrelton Simmons
3. 22.2 Shane Victorino
4. 17.2 Nolan Arenado
5. 17.1 Carlos Gomez
6. 16.4 Gerardo Parra
7. 14.6 Evan Longoria
8. 12.9 Russell Martin
9. 11.3 Jason Heyward
10. 10.9 Yunel Escobar


I don't really know what to do with these other than to take it as evidence the guys at the top of the list are good. We know the stat is not precise to the tenth of a run or even to the run or two or three.
   6. SG Posted: August 23, 2013 at 03:24 PM (#4526299)
Chris Dial's methodology of converting standard zone rating to runs has this for the top 10 in terms of runs saved compared to average.

1. Arenado, Nolan, 3B : 19
2. Machado, Manny, 3B : 18
3. Simmons, Andrelton, SS : 16
4. Tulowitzki, Troy, SS : 12
5. Gomez, Carlos, CF : 11
6. Escobar, Yunel, SS : 10
7. Escobar, Alcides, SS : 10
8. Donaldson, Josh, 3B : 10
9. Longoria, Evan, 3B : 9
10. Bianchi, Jeff, 3B : 9
   7. JE (Jason Epstein) Posted: August 23, 2013 at 03:40 PM (#4526312)
I just wish that when Dewan did these releases he'd give us a little bit more info on how, say, Simmons got to 37 runs this year. Otherwise it is just, hey, Simmons has 37 runs. Wow.

Had Dewan hired a PR firm when the Fielding Bible first got published, it is quite possible that his annual awards today would be on their way to replacing the Gold Glove as the accepted method of finding the best fielders in the game.
   8. The District Attorney Posted: August 23, 2013 at 03:50 PM (#4526323)
The Fielding Bible seems to get a decent amount of press (I think the name at least seems to work PR-wise...), and the award panel consists of people whom the mainstream media can't just write off. I hold out hope.
   9. JE (Jason Epstein) Posted: August 23, 2013 at 04:23 PM (#4526345)
There's some press, TDA, but few in-booth announcers and commentators mention, let alone mention the Bible.
   10. Sweatpants Posted: August 23, 2013 at 04:32 PM (#4526353)
On the other hand, DRS got listed on Baseball-Reference as THE defensive stat and managed to stay there despite having to recalibrate their numbers in the middle of last season (remember when Darwin Barney and Brett Lawrie were the two best players in baseball?). I don't think they're doing that badly for themselves.
   11. The Clarence Thomas of BBTF (scott) Posted: August 23, 2013 at 04:42 PM (#4526361)
So, over a full season Andrelton Simmons has been worth 5-ish wins on defense? That's insane. I'm not discounting that DRS might be overestimating Simmons, but that has got to be peak Ozzie status.
   12. Mike Emeigh Posted: August 23, 2013 at 04:52 PM (#4526369)
Machado's season, I'd suggest, is equally as amazing, if not more so, considering that Baltimore has a fly-ball staff (third lowest GB rate in MLB) that is pretty heavily right-handed, with Chen missing time and Britton ineffective.

-- MWE
   13. JE (Jason Epstein) Posted: August 23, 2013 at 05:41 PM (#4526402)
On the other hand, DRS got listed on Baseball-Reference as THE defensive stat and managed to stay there despite having to recalibrate their numbers in the middle of last season (remember when Darwin Barney and Brett Lawrie were the two best players in baseball?). I don't think they're doing that badly for themselves.

Agreed. I'm only saying a little pimping several years back would have resulted in way more progress today.
   14. McCoy Posted: August 23, 2013 at 05:48 PM (#4526406)
I think a little bit less black box to the masses would have made it more widespread. I don't know what that would do to their revenue streams but it would make more people use it.
   15. Mike Emeigh Posted: August 23, 2013 at 06:48 PM (#4526449)
I think a little bit less black box to the masses would have made it more widespread.


If they'd made it a little bit less black box it might have wound up like the BCS formula - or the NFL quarterback rating formula.

-- MWE
   16. Brian White Posted: August 23, 2013 at 06:49 PM (#4526452)
So, over a full season Andrelton Simmons has been worth 5-ish wins on defense? That's insane. I'm not discounting that DRS might be overestimating Simmons, but that has got to be peak Ozzie status.


You should always question a number as mindbogglingly large as five wins per year. As I've mentioned elsewhere, there are some plays that Simmons makes (ground balls between third and short, and pop flies into left) because the Braves have bad fielding 3B and LF. These plays have value to the Braves, but put him on a team with a good 3B and LF and those numbers would go down.

On the other hand, the Braves run out lead gloves at 2B, 3B, and LF, and have steady but unremarkable defenders at C, 1B and CF. Yet they're tied for fifth in all of MLB in BABIP allowed. A really big part of that is Simmons (and a smaller part is/was Jason Heyward). So the numbers might slightly overstate him, but man Simmons is great.
   17. McCoy Posted: August 23, 2013 at 06:58 PM (#4526461)
If they'd made it a little bit less black box it might have wound up like the BCS formula - or the NFL quarterback rating formula.

I'm not saying they need to dumb it down but that he should show the components that go into the final number. It would have been nice to include in this release something like Simmons has made 15 out of zone plays this year and 12 plays in which he had to range 15 feet to his left and your typical would get to only 6 of those. Other things like balls hit to zone X and how many of those Simmons got to compared to how many balls get hit to zone X for the average player and how many they get to. Is he doing it because of positioning, range, arm, quickness or some combination of all four? What is really great at? Is there anything he's merely good at?
   18. Publius Publicola Posted: August 23, 2013 at 08:10 PM (#4526498)
I wish there were a better way of evaluating catchers because I think they have the toughest and most impactful defensive job.
   19. The District Attorney Posted: August 23, 2013 at 08:42 PM (#4526521)
James' site breaks down the numbers a bit more. Simmons is +21 on grounders to his right, +12 on grounders straight on, +0 on grounders to his left, and +10 on balls in the air. (The latter sounds like a lot for a SS, but I'm not gonna start looking up guys to compare.) I assume that represents "outs" or "plays", and the +43 plays then become +36 (hey, it did go down!) runs.

I'm not sure how much more specific they can get in a format that would be at all approachable. There are, of course, three Fielding Bible books now, each of which has an intro that explains what their methodology is. Do you want them to go PBP for each guy? I mean, they could of course put that all in a database or something -- it's 2013 -- but I dunno.

Re: the future of the Fielding Bible/its awards: Didn't we just have a discussion about how live broadcasts seem to be sabermetrics' final frontier? Either it was here, or on Rany & Joe's podcast, or both. Anyway, we are just seeing the advent of play-by-play and color guys who are willing to introduce sabermetrics at all, so I don't put any special stock in the fact that they don't mention the Fielding Bible in particular. But with people like Posnanski and Gammons involved, it will be able to piggyback off those guys' reputations in a way that e.g. the Internet Baseball Awards can't. (Although I totally think we should be playing up the IBAs as well.)
   20. DKDC Posted: August 23, 2013 at 08:51 PM (#4526526)
Do any of these systems still have issues with shifts? The Oriolea shift a ton and Machado gets a bunch of 5-3 put outs from shallow right field.
   21. McCoy Posted: August 23, 2013 at 10:29 PM (#4526579)
There are, of course, three Fielding Bible books now, each of which has an intro that explains what their methodology is. Do you want them to go PBP for each guy?

I'd like them to give more info in their press releases.

   22. Walt Davis Posted: August 23, 2013 at 10:43 PM (#4526586)
I'm not sure how much more specific they can get in a format that would be at all approachable.

Video. Not necessarily TV video but a camera set up at a few games to track the SS say. Have video of Simmons, lay the zone grid on top of that. Show a ball hit to his right and how he crosses 1.5 zones (or whatever) to get to it fairly easily then guns out a reasonably fast runner. Do the same with an average SS, show he crosses only 1.25 zone and barely misses the ball (and would have had a tough throw). Take a lousy SS and show how he only crosses 1 zone and misses it by a mile.

Basically make it clear that this is what the system is set up to track. It is not hard to understand the basic concept of "for a ball hit here, the good guy gets it, the average guy might sometime get it and the bad guy doesn't come close." A visual lay out of the zones along with some way of representing how often balls are hit there will help people understand what's going on. Then explain how it's important to control for the number of balls actually hit there, etc. Then explain how you convert it to runs ... or just emphasize plays and have the run conversion there as an add-on.

To a sabermetric audience, the point to make is that this is just the flipside of BABIP. People like to talk about how stable the offensive numbers are vs. the defensive. But that's usually comparing total offensive numbers to BIP defensive numbers. The stability of PBP defensive stats should be compared to the stability of BIP offensive stats.

I mean, if I did it right, Puig's wOBA just on BIP is over 400 (and 441 on BnIP, not including IBB). Adam Dunn's wOBA in-play is 286. That's plenty wide. I will let somebody else figure out what league average is.

I believe a SS gets about 600 BIP a year and the Puig-Dunn difference comes to about 60 runs over 600 BIP. The usual spread between best and worst SS is, what, about 40 runs. Simmons is having a Puig season.

That said, I don't get the DRS system here. According to fg, the RZR difference between Simmons and Desmond is only .02. For Simmons' number of BIZ (much higher than Desmond in about the same IP), that comes out to just 7 more plays made. Meanwhile Desmond has 8 more plays OOZ which must essentially balance that out. But Desmond had -2 Rfield while Simmons has +36. Near as I can tell the only way to get there is to give Simmons credit for having extra balls hit to his zone (48) but I thought the whole point of DRS was to measure relative to similar opportunities.

I used .9*1B + .92*RoE + 1.25*2B + 1.56*3B divided by BIP. Those are the non-season specific wOBA weights (I'm lazy). May have mis-entered stuff into the calculator.

EDIT: Grrr... got BIZ confused with what DRS uses again. So that's what I want somewhere, the detailed breakdown on balls hit into what zones and how many plays the guy made.
   23. Dr. Chaleeko Posted: August 24, 2013 at 08:36 AM (#4526664)
DRA could use a PR person even more. Great system, fully transparent, based on publicly available data, and hasn't made a dent.
   24. shoewizard Posted: August 24, 2013 at 09:25 AM (#4526686)
Walt, i linked the thread to a fox producer i know and highlighted your idea to him. He liked it. You never know , they might develop something like that one day. If i were you i would hurry up and copywrite the idea and go work with a developer to start it up. It is actually a really good idea.
   25. BDC Posted: August 24, 2013 at 09:32 AM (#4526691)
DRS, UZR, and Dial are all in terms of runs saved compared to average at the position, correct? (Or is it average of all defensive players, like dWAR?)

Everyone here knows this, but I couldn't have told you that when I clicked on the link, and couldn't have told you that even after clicking on quite a few links from the link that promised to explain it. Still can't tell you after 24 comments in this thread.

That's the first thing to do in popularizing a metric: explain it very basically and intuitively, and don't be afraid of patronizing the people who already know what it means. They are not your target audience.

I think people have done that for WAR, which is why you now see mainstream WAR debates. The acronym itself contains a brisk definition, and people can easily say what the metric means, even if they're skeptical.
   26. boteman is not here 'til October Posted: August 24, 2013 at 10:59 AM (#4526730)
If #24 is talking about the camera idea, I think you'd run up against stiff competition from the proprietary interests at FIELDf/x who have already set up their own cameras for their purposes. Unless you could sweet-talk them into using a properly positioned camera for this additional input.
   27. Walt Davis Posted: August 24, 2013 at 07:01 PM (#4526919)
#24 ... I would be happy to contribute to the Fox financial empire!

BDC ... you gotta admit that "runs saved" is about as self-explanatory as a moniker could be. :-) But I share your frustration with some of the glossary links and such. Even something as simple as park factor at b-ref which starts with this sentence:

"These numbers are difficult to calculate and I would refer you to a copy of Total Baseball if you wish to recreate the park factor values."

Gak. They are, of course, a rather simple concept and this simple concept should be explained up front followed by the simple basic formula. Instead the casual reader is told this is horribly complicated and they should go off and find some other source if they want to understand it.

Then there's this head scratcher (emphasis added):

I largely follow the method spelled out below. Historically, B-R has been using single-year park factors for recent years and 3-year park factors historically. I have changed that to now use 3-year factors by default for all years. Of course, the current season is only really a 2-year factor. The current year and last year.

Huh? I use 3-year factors but the current year factor is really only a 2-year factor ... and since it's the current year it's actually a less than 2-year factor.

I know how hard it is to write technical material so I don't mean to be critical. Finally, after more detail, we get to:

Step 1. Find games, losses, and runs scored and allowed for each team at home and on the road. Take runs per game scored and allowed at home over runs per game scored and allowed on the road. This is the initial figure, but we must make two corrections to it.

See, now that's reasonably straightforward although, for some reason, the formula is not presented. Alas, this is followed by:

Step 2. The first correction is for innings pitched at home and on the road. This is a bit complicated, so the mathematically faint of heart may want to head back at this point.

Well, it's not that complicated but anyway probably best to explain the point conceptually first. Something like "Of course when the home team is ahead after the top of the 9th, they don't bat. Therefore, in that situation, we need to correct for the fact that they used only 24 outs to score their runs. Similarly extra-innings, etc. may come into play. So we need to adjust for the innings pitched which is done ..."

Step 3 is really about applying this to players, noting that if you play your home games in Coors then your road games are played in tougher than average parks for hitters.

WAR is in some ways worse. First the "WAR explained v 2.2" starts with technical info about the version history before it gets to "WAR: The general idea". Underneath that you get a link to "WAR for position players". In that link, under Rbat the first sentence is:

For batting runs we use a linear weights system based on Tom Tango's wOBA (weighted on-base average) framework

Sheesh, yet another acronym. And I don't think you can even find wOBA on b-r anywhere. That has a link to "how we calculate wRAA." That in turn links to Tango's wOBA primer ... but that's not a primer at all, rather it links to somebody else. That piece seems OK at first glance, at least it starts by trying to explain the idea behind it.

And as I've pointed out elsewhere, the calculation of wRAA is one of the steps in calculating wOBA only they don't seem to realize that. They then reverse engineer wRAA from wOBA.
   28. Jim (jimmuscomp) Posted: August 24, 2013 at 07:09 PM (#4526922)
I nominate Walt as an editor for all things BBREF. Sean - get on board and hire Walt....

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