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Thursday, October 24, 2013

Phil Rogers: Series teams live up to defensive metrics in opener

Roll out the Small Sample Hypothesis Test!

As an organization, the St. Louis Cardinals embrace statistical analysis. But when you live by the numbers, sometimes you die by them—or at least by the trends they reveal.

One of the biggest advantages in this seemingly classic, extremely even World Series is that only one of the two teams is really strong in the field—and that’s not the one that was fifth in the Majors in fielding percentage.

These Cardinals aren’t nearly as solid defensively as their old-school numbers say they are, and you only had to watch two innings of Game 1 to see that flaw revealed.

...Shortstop Pete Kozma—who along with catcher Yadier Molina and Beltran, is among the Cards’ top fielders—made two quick errors that helped bury Wainwright. A seventh-inning throwing error by third baseman David Freese kept that inning alive long enough for David Ortiz to blast a two-run homer, and there were at least a couple of other moments—when Wainwright and Molina allowed a popup by Stephen Drew to fall in between them, and a run-scoring grounder by Dustin Pedroia that skipped past Freese on an in-between hop—that illustrated the point that John Dewan, the founder of the Chicago-based “Baseball Info Solutions,” had made before the game.

While the Cardinals’ fielders weren’t often charged with errors during the regular season, they allowed more than their share of balls to fall into gaps and they left too many double plays unturned. And never forget, all pitchers like their double plays turned.

The Red Sox—behind their steady shortstop, Drew, and the outfield tandem of Jacoby Ellsbury and Shane Victorino—have been solid in the field since April. They finished the regular season with 24 defensive runs saved, according to Dewan’s metrics, compared to a minus-39 for the Cards.

...It was a case of the Red Sox making all the plays they were supposed to, plus one or two more. That’s what good defensive teams do, and the Sox have been one all season.

Repoz Posted: October 24, 2013 at 05:47 AM | 16 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: world series

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   1. BDC Posted: October 24, 2013 at 09:57 AM (#4582105)
You might as well conclude that Wainwright and Siegrist are AAAA-quality punching bags of pitchers. After all, look at how easily Napoli and Ortiz knocked the ball around.
   2. Charles S. is a big fan of Outerbridge Horsey Posted: October 24, 2013 at 10:07 AM (#4582122)
One of the biggest advantages in this seemingly classic, extremely even World Series is that only one of the two teams is really strong in the field—and that’s not the one that was fifth in the Majors in fielding percentage.

Do any of the stat guys take the official scorer into account when rating fielders? Just from watching a lot of NL baseball every year, it seems as if the St. Louis and Cincinnati official scorers are the most generous when it comes to awarding hits rather than errors.

The Cardinals do live on their reputation. Even this piece refers to Beltran as one of the Cardinals best fielders barely a week after he allowed a triple to a guy who was a spectator for half the play.
   3. SoSH U at work Posted: October 24, 2013 at 10:12 AM (#4582131)
That was the Red Sox scorekeeper (or someone from the league, I don't know if it's handled differently for the postseason) being generous last night. That pop-up has to be an error on Wainwright (though Molina contributed by continuing to run at the ball the entire time).

Either that, or introduce the team error to handle situations like this. There's no reason to score that damn thing a single.
   4. SG Posted: October 24, 2013 at 10:27 AM (#4582162)
Do any of the stat guys take the official scorer into account when rating fielders?


For advanced defensive metrics, it's irrelevant. Plays are rated based on their likelihood of being converted into outs, and whether the official scorer deems them hits or errors doesn't matter.
   5. Ray (CTL) Posted: October 24, 2013 at 10:44 AM (#4582194)
That was the Red Sox scorekeeper (or someone from the league, I don't know if it's handled differently for the postseason) being generous last night. That pop-up has to be an error on Wainwright (though Molina contributed by continuing to run at the ball the entire time).

Either that, or introduce the team error to handle situations like this. There's no reason to score that damn thing a single.


I find it odd that people care whether it was ruled a hit or an error. This is accounting, no more, no less. It means nothing.
   6. Foghorn Leghorn Posted: October 24, 2013 at 10:56 AM (#4582216)
What SG said.

Also, SG, can we talk?
   7. Foghorn Leghorn Posted: October 24, 2013 at 10:57 AM (#4582219)
I find it odd that people care whether it was ruled a hit or an error. This is accounting, no more, no less. It means nothing.
I care. Historical comparisons should care. Predictive models should care.
   8. SG Posted: October 24, 2013 at 11:00 AM (#4582223)
Also, SG, can we talk?


Here?
   9. SoSH U at work Posted: October 24, 2013 at 11:03 AM (#4582230)
I find it odd that people care whether it was ruled a hit or an error. This is accounting, no more, no less. It means nothing.


The same can be said for your opinions on most things baseball.

I care because I think the scorebook should give the most accurate description of the game as possible.
   10. Charles S. is a big fan of Outerbridge Horsey Posted: October 24, 2013 at 11:05 AM (#4582234)
Do any of the stat guys take the official scorer into account when rating fielders?


For advanced defensive metrics, it's irrelevant. Plays are rated based on their likelihood of being converted into outs, and whether the official scorer deems them hits or errors doesn't matter.

I probably phrased that question badly. What I meant to ask was if anyone keeps track of which official scorers are more likely to give errors. Fielding percentage is still a stat that some people use, and the Gold Glove is still a somewhat respected award. It would be interesting (to me at least) to know if fielding percentage is at all park-affected.
   11. The District Attorney Posted: October 24, 2013 at 11:40 AM (#4582282)
Hey, Phil Rogers is citing defensive metrics with approval. At least that's something. (And arguably even citing them against the established narrative -- it seems like the uninformed opinion would be that the Cardinals Play the Game the Right Way, while the Sox are a bunch of big dudes with beards standing around waiting for a pitch they can kill, thus the Cards would be better defensively.)

Rogers very well might not be doing so if Dewan were from Sacramento rather than Chicago, but, nonetheless.
   12. Bob Tufts Posted: October 24, 2013 at 12:49 PM (#4582341)
Small sample size reaction to this piece confirms I will not click on any Phil Rogers columns in the future.
   13. John DiFool2 Posted: October 24, 2013 at 12:56 PM (#4582346)
Freese should also have had that single that Pedroia sneaked by him with the bases juiced. Craig Nettles would have had it-Adrian Beltre would have gotten to it, among many others. Freese just seemed to stumble after the thing, flailing helplessly as it bounced by him.
   14. Ivan Grushenko of Hong Kong Posted: October 24, 2013 at 01:20 PM (#4582374)
Ya it would be have been a pretty good play, but Freese looked so terrible going after it, he made it seem like an error
   15. villageidiom Posted: October 24, 2013 at 02:37 PM (#4582447)
It would have been a fitting end to the game had Victorino successfully completed the 9-3 putout on Freese's hit to RF.
   16. Bob Tufts Posted: October 24, 2013 at 02:54 PM (#4582468)
I was waiting for someone to say that Victorino's attempted to throw out Freese at first was a violation of unwritten rules and was a player showing up the Cardinals.

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