Baseball for the Thinking Fan

Login | Register | Feedback

btf_logo
You are here > Home > Baseball Newsstand > Baseball Primer Newsblog > Discussion
Baseball Primer Newsblog
— The Best News Links from the Baseball Newsstand

Monday, December 09, 2013

Panas: How Bad Was Torii Hunter’s Defense in 2013?

Rip Hunter: Challenge of the known.

The top defensive right fielders in the majors in 2013 according to these measures were Shane Victorino of the Red Sox (+39 RSAA) and Gerardo Parra of the Diamondbacks (+28).  Both outfielders excelled at making plays outside the right field zone (+42 OOZAA for Victorino, +28 for Parra).

Veteran right fielder Torii Hunter of the Tigers was last in MLB with -21 RSAA.  Hunter was bad on plays inside the zone (-10) and outside (-15).  He also was rated well below average on other advanced measures including -13 on Baseball Prospectus’ FRAA, -9 on Total Zone and -10 or DRS. This was not what Tigers fans expected from a right fielder who was +11 RSAA for the Angels in 2012.  However, the results are probably not surprising to anyone who saw him play regularly this year.

So, this makes three Tigers who finished last in baseball in RSAA this year.  Hunter, first baseman Prince Fielder and third baseman Miguel Cabrera were a combined 64 runs below average defensively.  Theoretically, that means those three players cost the Tigers six wins with their defense.  The Tigers rectified that problem somewhat by trading Fielder and moving Cabrera to first, but Hunter is still in right and certainly not getting any younger at 38 years of age.

Repoz Posted: December 09, 2013 at 06:22 AM | 27 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: sabermetrics, tigers

Reader Comments and Retorts

Go to end of page

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

   1. McCoy Posted: December 09, 2013 at 09:23 AM (#4614009)
Detroit allowed the second fewest runs to score in the AL last year. I doubt those three guys really cost the Tigers 64 runs on defense.
   2. tiger337 Posted: December 09, 2013 at 10:12 AM (#4614029)
The Tigers also had the second lowest FIP of any team since 1990, so their pitching was pretty remarkable. Cabrera was playing with serious injuries the last couple of months which rendered him absolutely useless in the field. Fielder ballooned to about 350 pounds and may have been the worst defender at first I've ever seen. Hunter was also horrible. I don't know if it was 64 runs (DRS had them a -41) but their defense really did seem to cost them a lot of runs last year.

Of course, nobody knows how well any of these defensive measures works. They probably work better at the team level than the individual level. I've been seeing RZR and OOZ for years and was curious to see how they looked translated to runs like all the other metrics. I found Colin Wyers' algorithm from years ago and did the calculations based on that.
   3. Nasty Nate Posted: December 09, 2013 at 10:48 AM (#4614047)
His defense was about 8 inches askew. VIVA!
   4. tfbg9 Posted: December 09, 2013 at 02:13 PM (#4614363)
Not all cotton, Nate. Alas.
   5. Wahoo Sam Posted: December 09, 2013 at 02:29 PM (#4614400)
This doesn't surprise me. I noticed it in the first weeks of the season, that Torii was misjudging flyballs and he was slower afoot. Bad jokes aside about the Ortiz grand slam (blame THAT MANAGER), Hunter was pretty bad out there in 2013.
   6. Wahoo Sam Posted: December 09, 2013 at 02:31 PM (#4614402)
#1 --- you should look at how good the Tigers' starting rotation is. Two Cy Young winners, an ERA champion, three no-hitters, and they're all in their prime. That had a lot to do with them allowing so few runs. Bad defense can't hurt you when the other team fails to hit the ball. The Tigers staff set a MLB record for K's.
   7. toratoratora Posted: December 09, 2013 at 02:42 PM (#4614418)
The Tigers staff set a MLB record for K's.

Which, considering the defense behind them, was a mighty intelligent strategy.

I always thought that the Tigers were willing to sacrifice some defense specifically because they had such a high K staff. They knew it would hurt them less than a team built around a staff that pitched to contact.
   8. rudygamble Posted: December 09, 2013 at 03:38 PM (#4614482)
Agree with #6 that Detroit was willing to accept bad defense because they had such a K-tastic pitching staff.

Not a perfect metric but Tigers were 4th worst in BABIP @ .306 (http://www.fangraphs.com/leaders.aspx?pos=all&stats=pit&lg=all&qual=0&type=2&season=2013&month=0&season1=2013&ind=0&team=0,ts&rost=0&age=0&filter;=&players=0&sort=2,d) and that's with Scherzer @ .259.


   9. McCoy Posted: December 09, 2013 at 04:08 PM (#4614517)
The Tigers staff set a MLB record for K's.

They struck out about 50 more than the next team and about 200 more than average. They also allowed about 40 less walks and HBP than average as well. We're not talking about keeping a 1000 less balls from going into play here.
   10. Tim D Posted: December 09, 2013 at 05:31 PM (#4614588)
Watched the Tigers all year and Hunter's numbers were truly deserved. Notwithstanding that, every time did make a nice play Rod Allen would start going on about the value of having a GG CF playing RF. Hunter's throwing was pretty awful too, and it was even fundamental stuff like overthrowing the cutoff man. He will be out there again this year, and I doubt they will pull him in the late innings because of his rep, so Tiger fans might be in for some critical failures. At least they have shored up the IF.
   11. McCoy Posted: December 09, 2013 at 06:05 PM (#4614619)
And if the author had said the three horrendous fielders had cost the Twins 40 runs would you say that it was too low? How about if he had said it cost them 85 runs?
   12. Tim D Posted: December 09, 2013 at 06:36 PM (#4614655)
I have no idea how many, but Cabrera's immobility, Hunter's general suckitude and Fielder's all-around inability to play 1B cost them a $hitload of runs this year. Fielder was forever waving at one hop throws. And the high ones better not be too high. And forget about the come off the bag to grab the bad throw and make the sweep tag play. Cabrera was passable in 2012 but brutal after he started getting dinged up. Hunter let a bunch of liners drop in, didn't go back well, gave up extra bases, etc. Assuming Cabrera can stay healthier playing a less demanding 1B, he is better there, certainly better than Prince. Castellanos is no wizard but he will be an upgrade too. Wish they could have kept Avi Garcia to play RF but I am fine with the Iglesias deal.
   13. Mike Emeigh Posted: December 09, 2013 at 06:51 PM (#4614674)
Oddly, Detroit only had the second-fewest BIP against in 2013; Cleveland had fewer.

Remember that defensive systems measure the average cost of a missed fielding play to an average pitching staff assuming an average distribution of events otherwise. And Detroit's pitching staff was anything but average, in terms of the events that were generated against it.

-- MWE
   14. Crosseyed and Painless Posted: December 09, 2013 at 07:05 PM (#4614685)
This thread just reminded me how fearful I am that the Tigers window has closed.

"Oh, Boohoo!", I'm sure, from fans of the Royals/Twins/Tribe, but still bums me out.
   15. Walt Davis Posted: December 09, 2013 at 08:03 PM (#4614728)
Remember that defensive systems measure the average cost of a missed fielding play to an average pitching staff assuming an average distribution of events otherwise. And Detroit's pitching staff was anything but average, in terms of the events that were generated against it.

To put that into English :-) ... a missed play costs you something like .8 runs on average ... it likely costs you less if Verlander is pitching.
   16. Tim D Posted: December 09, 2013 at 10:19 PM (#4614787)
The window hasn't closed yet, and Dombrowski is a good bet to keep them competitive. The rotation less Fister plus Smyly will still be good. They need a bat, preferably an OF who can defend. Kemp would be nice but I doubt they have the pieces. DD says they aren't in on Choo. Jason Kubel et al isn't going to do much for me. And they need about seven more bullpen arms.
   17. Tubbs Posted: December 09, 2013 at 11:06 PM (#4614823)
I've always been a bit puzzled in the big discrepancy of how DRS and total zone view Hunter's fielding
   18. cardsfanboy Posted: December 09, 2013 at 11:34 PM (#4614833)
Remember that defensive systems measure the average cost of a missed fielding play to an average pitching staff assuming an average distribution of events otherwise. And Detroit's pitching staff was anything but average, in terms of the events that were generated against it.


Wow... You know I've been debating defensive stats often times and I can't remember anyone bringing that point up, but it's a fantastic point (It's so obvious in retrospect, that someone had to have brought it up and I never caught it.)

I'm not sure if a system should be set up based upon expected performance relative to the pitching staff that the player is playing with or if going by average is the right way to go, but it adds another wrinkle to the debates.
   19. Ardo Posted: December 10, 2013 at 01:51 AM (#4614874)
I'm not sure Hunter was THAT bad in 2013, but I certainly agree that he was below average. If the Tigers sign Choo (or trade for Matt Kemp... a boy can dream, can't he?), I'd want them in Comerica Park's spacious RF and Hunter shifted to left.
   20. Fancy Pants Handle doesn't need no water Posted: December 10, 2013 at 01:59 AM (#4614875)
Wow... You know I've been debating defensive stats often times and I can't remember anyone bringing that point up, but it's a fantastic point (It's so obvious in retrospect, that someone had to have brought it up and I never caught it.)

I'm not sure if a system should be set up based upon expected performance relative to the pitching staff that the player is playing with or if going by average is the right way to go, but it adds another wrinkle to the debates.

They shouldn't take pitcher's into account. If a pitcher is good enough that defensive shortcomings don't hurt him as much as normal pitcher's, then that is value provided by the pitcher, not the fielder.

Should a fielder be penalized for playing behind the Twins rotation? Makes no sense to me.
   21. Arva Posted: December 10, 2013 at 08:44 AM (#4614897)
This is an FIP vs RA question. Weighing the defense to the pitching staff causes the stat to reflect what actually happened. A missed play behind Kevin Correia is more damaging than a missed play behind Justin Verlander. Its the Runs Allowed stat. However, weighing the play against the average opportunity neutralizes it. This gives you a better idea of how good or bad the player's defense is in reality, but does not tell you much about their performance in any given year, kind of like FIP. So it depends on if you want a measure of what happened vs what should happen in the future.

Or, in other words: Hunter probably did not cost the Tigers 25 runs because of the pitching staff, its probably more like 10 or 15. On a poor staff, he might cost 30. It would be nice to have a stat that reflected a player's actual defensive cost/gain to team this year, as well as a predictive stat. This would help give insight to a team's decision making.
   22. vivaelpujols Posted: December 10, 2013 at 08:49 AM (#4614898)
Detroit allowed the second fewest runs to score in the AL last year. I doubt those three guys really cost the Tigers 64 runs on defense.


Really? 'cause the Tigers had a 3.27 FIP last year and a 3.61 ERA in 1462.2 innings, which is a difference of 55 runs.
   23. vivaelpujols Posted: December 10, 2013 at 08:53 AM (#4614900)
Remember that defensive systems measure the average cost of a missed fielding play to an average pitching staff assuming an average distribution of events otherwise. And Detroit's pitching staff was anything but average, in terms of the events that were generated against it.


It's a good point but the effect is likely very small. Kind of like how HR's aren't as damaging for pitchers with great K:BB's because they have fewer men on base for their average home run.

Also, I'm assuming defensive stats are meant to be context neutral like the other components of WAR, so that's irrelevant as far as WAR is concerned (is relevant to this article however).
   24. Jorge Luis Bourjos (Walewander) Posted: December 10, 2013 at 09:35 AM (#4614912)

"The window hasn't closed yet, and Dombrowski is a good bet to keep them competitive."

Competitive, sure, but waking up to the news the Tigers are looking at a Dirks/Rajai Davis platoon in LF doesn't exactly set a man to dreaming of a World Series parade down Woodward Avenue.
   25. Tim D Posted: December 10, 2013 at 12:34 PM (#4615057)
Rajai Davis. Color me disappointed.
   26. Nasty Nate Posted: December 10, 2013 at 12:50 PM (#4615068)
Competitive, sure, but waking up to the news the Tigers are looking at a Dirks/Rajai Davis platoon in LF doesn't exactly set a man to dreaming of a World Series parade down Woodward Avenue.

At least that's slightly better than the Dirks/Tuiasosopo platoon they had last year in LF, right?
   27. Fancy Pants Handle doesn't need no water Posted: December 10, 2013 at 01:19 PM (#4615101)
Or, in other words: Hunter probably did not cost the Tigers 25 runs because of the pitching staff, its probably more like 10 or 15.

I think that is a vast exaggeration of the effect. Certainly one I am not going to accept without some hard evidence attached. My "guess" would be something like 22-23 runs instead of 25.

It would be nice to have a stat that reflected a player's actual defensive cost/gain to team this year, as well as a predictive stat. This would help give insight to a team's decision making.

And again, I disagree with that interpretation. The fielders did cost the team those runs. The pitchers just saved them back. If you want to account for that effect, they are the ones that should be credited, not the fielders.

You must be Registered and Logged In to post comments.

 

 

<< Back to main

BBTF Partner

Support BBTF

donate

Thanks to
greenback likes millwall, they don't care
for his generous support.

Bookmarks

You must be logged in to view your Bookmarks.

Hot Topics

NewsblogVIDEO: Brewers, Pirates brawl after Carlos Gomez triple
(107 - 8:55am, Apr 21)
Last: Brian

NewsblogIvan Nova’s season in jeopardy after tearing elbow ligament
(8 - 8:53am, Apr 21)
Last: Jose Can Still Seabiscuit

NewsblogPirates Acquire Ike Davis From Mets
(55 - 8:51am, Apr 21)
Last: formerly dp

NewsblogDoug Glanville: I Was Racially Profiled in My Own Driveway
(417 - 8:51am, Apr 21)
Last: The Id of SugarBear Blanks

NewsblogPrimer Dugout (and link of the day) 4-21-2014
(1 - 8:50am, Apr 21)
Last: Dan Lee prefers good shortstops to great paintings

NewsblogOT: The Soccer Thread March, 2014
(957 - 8:42am, Apr 21)
Last: Jose Can Still Seabiscuit

Newsblogmets.com: Through hitting system, Mets aim to build winner
(21 - 8:30am, Apr 21)
Last: billyshears

NewsblogMorosi: MLB must evolve to let players express themselves without rebuke
(1 - 6:58am, Apr 21)
Last: The Id of SugarBear Blanks

NewsblogDaniel Bryan's 'YES!' chant has spread to the Pirates' dugout
(133 - 5:59am, Apr 21)
Last: SouthSideRyan

NewsblogBryce Harper benched for 'lack of hustle' despite quad injury
(103 - 2:21am, Apr 21)
Last: theboyqueen

NewsblogTim Federowicz has rough night behind the plate - True Blue LA
(14 - 1:18am, Apr 21)
Last: Robert in Manhattan Beach

NewsblogOT: The NHL is finally back thread, part 2
(162 - 1:12am, Apr 21)
Last: Robert in Manhattan Beach

NewsblogOT: NBA Monthly Thread - April 2014
(384 - 1:09am, Apr 21)
Last: Los Angeles El Hombre of Anaheim

NewsblogZander Hollander, Sports Trivia Shepherd, Dies at 91
(11 - 12:21am, Apr 21)
Last: puck

NewsblogChase Utley is the hottest hitter in baseball and has a shot at .400
(72 - 11:39pm, Apr 20)
Last: Lassus

Demarini, Easton and TPX Baseball Bats

 

 

 

 

Page rendered in 0.3844 seconds
52 querie(s) executed