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Saturday, September 12, 2009

YESNetwork: Goldman: A taste of the Secret Sauce

The thick lickquid Gino Marchetti searched the world over for…Goldman serves up here.

My pals at Baseball Prospectus have a little congeries of stats we call the Secret Sauce. Introduced in the book, Baseball Between the Numbers, to which your humble host contributed a chapter and a little page about the relationship between stats and Stephen King’s “Cujo,” the Secret Sauce ranks teams by how well they do in the three key areas that correlate to winning postseason games. As explained here by sauce-master Nate Silver, they are:

1.  A power pitching staff, as measured by strikeout rate.
2.  A good closer.
3.  A good defense.

No. 5 DETROIT TIGERS
The Tigers have allowed the third-fewest runs in the AL, just 4.5 per game. Their strikeout rate is roughly average, with only starter Justin Verlander, who leads the league with 230 strikeouts, really jumping out in that department. The Tigers have been an average to slightly above average fielding club, with few standout performances (Clete Thomas has been strong in right field, though he can’t hit like a right fielder) but no truly poor ones either, and overall they rank in the top half of the AL in turning balls in play into outs. Desperation closer Fernando Rodney has blown only one save all year, but walks too many batters for comfort against strong postseason lineups.

No. 4 BOSTON RED SOX
We begin with Jonathan Papelbon. We continue to the staff overall, which is tied with the Yankees for the league lead in strikeout rate, propelled by Josh Beckett, Jon Lester, Daniel Bard and Papelbon. We conclude with a defense that has been surprisingly weak. The outfield has been defensively shaky, the infield has lacked a shortstop of any defensive quality until Alex Gonzalez came over, and Kevin Youkilis has had to play too much third base, not to mention a couple of scary games in left field.

Repoz Posted: September 12, 2009 at 01:06 PM | 53 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: sabermetrics, special topics

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   1. Walt Davis Posted: September 13, 2009 at 12:01 AM (#3320579)
Two questions:

How well do team pitching HR rates hold up in the playoffs? It's fairly amazing that the Rangers can be 2nd in RA in that ballpark without striking anybody out. Either their defense is spectacular (and under-rated in these rankings) or they don't give up HR. OK, they give up 1.1 HR/9 ... just like virtually every other team in the AL ... cursed rounding!

And the Yankees have the best defense in the AL? Really? I want some eyeball reports!
   2. Best Regards, President of Comfort, Esq. Posted: September 13, 2009 at 12:32 AM (#3320586)
I would say that the only unequivocally bad defenders the Yankees have are Jeter and Damon. Tex is probably their only really good defender, but the rest of the defense is okay.
   3. NaOH Posted: September 13, 2009 at 12:35 AM (#3320588)
And the Yankees have the best defense in the AL? Really?

According to the article, the Yankees "rank third in the league in turning balls in play into outs." Which is to say, Defensive Efficiency. The team is now fourth by that measure, behind the Mariners and Rangers and essentially tied with the Rays.
   4. Dr. Vaux Posted: September 13, 2009 at 12:49 AM (#3320590)
Tim McCarver did!

Wait, that means it's wrong . . .
   5. Nineto Lezcano needs to get his shit together (CW) Posted: September 13, 2009 at 12:53 AM (#3320593)
Junk. Junk junk junk. Ugh.

JUNK.
   6. Tripon Posted: September 13, 2009 at 01:28 AM (#3320601)
Dodgers are 2nd!
   7. Mr. J. Penny Smoltzuzaka Posted: September 13, 2009 at 01:35 AM (#3320605)
I won't get into how these ranking are derived, because they involve some of those esoteric statistics that I suspect make many of y'all's eyes glaze over. Still, we can appreciate what the rankings say by looking at some more commonplace measures.


No need to look behind the curtain. All you need to know is that the Yankees have the best secret sauce in the Majors.
   8. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: September 13, 2009 at 01:40 AM (#3320606)
I would say that the only unequivocally bad defenders the Yankees have are Jeter and Damon. Tex is probably their only really good defender, but the rest of the defense is okay.

I'll give you Damon, although he's probably only below average, not bad. But Jeter has been average to above by UZR for 2 seasons now. There's no way he should be considered a bad fielder right now.

Also Swisher is, and has historically been above average in the corners, and Gardner is fantastic.
   9. Howie Menckel Posted: September 13, 2009 at 01:44 AM (#3320608)
Have you seen Swisher play this year? He wanders around the OF like a fan with a mitt who fell over the guard rail, lol.

From what I've seen of Gardner, he covers a lot of ground, but Damon probably laughs at him as he tries to unload a throw to home plate on fewer than 5 hops.

;)
   10. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: September 13, 2009 at 01:58 AM (#3320612)
Have you seen Swisher play this year? He wanders around the OF like a fan with a mitt who fell over the guard rail, lol.

From what I've seen of Gardner, he covers a lot of ground, but Damon probably laughs at him as he tries to unload a throw to home plate on fewer than 5 hops.
;)


I've watched about half the games. Swisher is awkward, but he covers a good amount of ground. His UZR in RF/LF is in the +6-7 range in over 400 G's. He's +3 this year. He's a good fielder, despite his occasional misadventures.

Gardner can fly, he gets to everything. His arm is not strong, but nowhere near Damonesque, and is very accurate. In limited sample size, he has a strongly positive arm rating from UZR.

I think you're buying into stereotypes.
   11. Best Regards, President of Comfort, Esq. Posted: September 13, 2009 at 02:08 AM (#3320616)
But Jeter has been average to above by UZR for 2 seasons now. There's no way he should be considered a bad fielder right now.
This doesn't mean that he's a good defensive player. It simply means that he's had an above average UZR the last two seasons. Unless you can give a reason why he's better, you can't ignore the rest of his career, and that means he's an unequivocally bad defensive player.
   12. Best Regards, President of Comfort, Esq. Posted: September 13, 2009 at 02:10 AM (#3320617)
He wanders around the OF like a fan with a mitt who fell over the guard rail, lol.
It's not how you look, it's how many balls in play you turn into outs.
   13. Harold can be a fun sponge Posted: September 13, 2009 at 02:11 AM (#3320620)
Offense isn't involved in any of the three key areas that correlate to winning postseason games? I did not know that!

Nope. When I looked at what correlates with winning post-season series, to my surprise, offense didn't correlate at all.
   14. Jolly Old St. Nick Is A Jolly Old St. Crip Posted: September 13, 2009 at 02:14 AM (#3320621)
But Jeter has been average to above by UZR for 2 seasons now. There's no way he should be considered a bad fielder right now.


This doesn't mean that he's a good defensive player. It simply means that he's had an above average UZR the last two seasons. Unless you can give a reason why he's better, you can't ignore the rest of his career, and that means he's an unequivocally bad defensive player.

But he has been a good defensive player this year. And unless they throw the clock back to 2007 when the playoffs begin, the Yankees will have a pretty good shortstop out there.
   15. Best Regards, President of Comfort, Esq. Posted: September 13, 2009 at 02:27 AM (#3320627)
But he has been a good defensive player this year.
Not necessarily. However bad he *is*, his ability to get to most balls is not zero, it's just lower than the average shortstop. A full season is a small sample size for defensive numbers. Just as bad hitters often have a good two months, a bad defensive player can have a good season.
   16. Howie Menckel Posted: September 13, 2009 at 02:35 AM (#3320629)
"It's not how you look, it's how many balls in play you turn into outs."

Agreed.

I do not share your possibly evangelical faith in current methods of analyzing balls in play, alas.
The work continues to improve, at least, imo.

"I think you're buying into stereotypes."

I think you're buying into the idea that UZR can't miss on any player, even to a degree.
   17. fret Posted: September 13, 2009 at 03:07 AM (#3320645)
Howie, have you seen the "With and Without Derek Jeter" article by Tangotiger? You don't need UZR to conclude that Jeter has been a bad defender over his career. Of course he may well have improved recently.

Edit: Actually, maybe you were talking more about Swisher than Jeter.
   18. Best Regards, President of Comfort, Esq. Posted: September 13, 2009 at 03:14 AM (#3320647)
I do not share your possibly evangelical faith in current methods of analyzing balls in play, alas.
The work continues to improve, at least, imo.
What evangelical faith? I was the one telling snapper and Andy to not put too much faith in Jeter's UZR this season.

I *have* watched Swisher play, and the fact is that while he's made some crazy routes to balls, I haven't seen him miss too many balls that a normal right fielder would catch. He'll probably be pretty awful in a few years, like Bernie became, but he seems okay out there right now.
   19. Howie Menckel Posted: September 13, 2009 at 03:37 AM (#3320651)
I certainly agree that Jeter has improved defensively in his last year or two. I think his 'anticipatory' skills were terrible previously, hence my old "gracefully slow" comment - he covered no ground but looked good not doing it.

Swisher is an odd duck defensively - not sure I'd completely trust any eye observation or defensive rating. I'll grant that sometimes the ball eventually ends up in his glove, but overall I'd have a hard time saying this is a "plus" defensive team overall - granting that they have won titles in the past 15 years with less....
   20. Northpaw Posted: September 13, 2009 at 06:52 AM (#3320684)
I guess part of the secret is not telling us how well the formula has fared in the past.
   21. RollingWave Posted: September 13, 2009 at 06:58 AM (#3320687)
This doesn't mean that he's a good defensive player. It simply means that he's had an above average UZR the last two seasons. Unless you can give a reason why he's better, you can't ignore the rest of his career, and that means he's an unequivocally bad defensive player.
I think one of the resason is that he (or the Yankee coaching staff) is doing a much better job in the last couple of seasons on positioning him properly. he's a guy with great hands / below average range / averagish arm . but he use to play in a lot more . which is really dumb for a SS with below average side to side range. and probably compounded the problem. supposedly he did this because he isn't quiet as comfortable at charging weak grounders but is very good at going backwards on those bloop pop ups. so he thought playing in is playing to his strength. but forgot the bigger problem of lateral coverage.

in terms of defense, Damon (-8 UZR/150) combines inconsistent health (there are some games where he is noticablly slower than others) with inconsistent play (other than Nick Swisher, he hsa the most gaffe plays on the team.) Cano is at -5 but is currently going through a rough stretch. (he's amazingly inconsistent. going from one extreme to another quiet frequently) A-rod's at -6 but he was around -30 after his first month. so he's actually been quiet good since then. everyone else is either above average or right around average. with Gardner being awesome in his limited sample size.

Positioning effect defense... A LOT. so it is certainly concievable that a guy with the wrong positioning for a long while could end up looking a lot worse than his real ability.
   22. devil_fingers Posted: September 13, 2009 at 12:49 PM (#3320707)
Is the Secret Sauce still made with FRAA and/or Rate2 as it was a few years ago? That would be awesome. It's like leaving ketchup out in the sun.

Looking at individual UZR numbers for the last couple of seasons (without weighing and regressing, etc.), you'd have a hard time saying the Yankees are good defensively. And it's not all on Jeter, either. He's having a good year according to UZR, and it may not be completely a fluke/luck, as he was around average last season. But the earlier seasons aren't going away -- he's probably been at least a bit lucky this year. I suppose some people will want to blame Jeter for A-Rod's mysterious transformation from excellent SS to below-average 3B. I'd say it more likely age and injuries, but what do I know?


I can buy Teixeira being average or a bit above at best, but his glove at first is overrated, and UZR agrees. Cano was great in 2006, but pretty bad every other season (including this one). Damon's range is, well... approaching the quality of his arm. And why isn't anyone mentioning that Melky is average at best in CF? Posada is a great hitter. Not so much on defense, although there's no UZR for that at the moment. Whatever people think of his routes, in RF Swisher is arguably the best defensive player relative to position among the current starters, although if Gardner gets more playing time, that could really help.
   23. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: September 13, 2009 at 02:34 PM (#3320729)
I think you're buying into the idea that UZR can't miss on any player, even to a degree.

For Swisher, he's been statistically a plus RF/LF for his whole career, this is not a one season fluke. He also looks to me like he has good range. Finally, several teams thought he could hack CF (he really can't) which says they must think his defense in the corners is pretty good.

Everything, except his occasional awkwardness/bad route lines up on Swisher being a good OF. I think it's far, far more likely that you are "missing" on him than UZR.

For Jeter, every observer says he looks much, much better at SS the last two years. Whether it is improved positioning, or health, he's gotten better.

Not necessarily. However bad he *is*, his ability to get to most balls is not zero, it's just lower than the average shortstop. A full season is a small sample size for defensive numbers. Just as bad hitters often have a good two months, a bad defensive player can have a good season.

I don't agree with Larry here. We're at almost two full seasons now, and the Stats and the eyes say he's much better. Why is it impossible to improve on defense, even at his age? Jeter was always a good athlete, so his poor defense was somewhat surprising. If it was a matter of technique or positioning, rather than physical, it is very possible that he finally figured it out, with some help from the new coaching staff. (I don't think it is a mere coincidence that his defense improved as soon as Torre left.)
   24. Jeff K. Posted: September 13, 2009 at 04:25 PM (#3320766)
No need to look behind the curtain. All you need to know is that the Yankees have the best secret sauce in the Majors.

Anyone in the slightest bit familiar with Prospectus Entertainment Ventures, LLC should not be in the remotest surprised by this, any more than you should be surprised the sun came up this morning.
   25. Steven Goldman Posted: September 13, 2009 at 04:40 PM (#3320769)
Of course, it was a YES column, not a Prospectus column. I write for a general audience at YES, not a stats-oriented one, and so I felt that a general explanation was all that was merited. I wanted to skip past things like normalized strikeout rates and fielding runs. If you read the actual piece, you'll see that I justified the rankings with more basic concepts like defensive efficiency. The actual methodology to Nate's secret sauce is available in a lot of places -- on the BP web site and in the book Baseball Between the Numbers, which is still in print and is also partially available through Google Books -- it's not some proprietary thing, and it's really not all that complicated. The anti-BP snark is entirely unmerited and highly irritating.
   26. Northpaw Posted: September 13, 2009 at 04:50 PM (#3320772)
I just asked about who the formula provided as winners in past years. That should have been part of the article. Don't be so sensitive about it.
   27. Steven Goldman Posted: September 13, 2009 at 05:02 PM (#3320778)
I wasn't responding to you, Maholm, but to #25, and you're right, it would have been a good add.
   28. GuyM Posted: September 13, 2009 at 05:05 PM (#3320780)
We're at almost two full seasons now, and the Stats and the eyes say he's much better.

Over his career, Jeter's range factor per 9 innings has been 4.16. He's been worse each of the past 3 seasons: 2007: 4.01, 2008: 4.05, 2009: 3.96. It is very hard to reconcile this with the idea that he has become a better fielder.

There are of course reasons that RF alone may not tell us how good a fielder a player is. Maybe Jeter has had fewer opportunities over his career than other SSs for various reasons. But how likely is that Jeter became a better SS in recent seasons, but coincidentally his opportunities (already very limited) dropped just enough to exactly offset that improvement? Far more likely that he's the same player, but 3 consecutive GGs have led many observers to "see" improvement that isn't really there.
   29. Jeff K. Posted: September 13, 2009 at 05:06 PM (#3320781)
I believe he's talking to me. Steve, first off, I actually meant no disrespect, and that wasn't intended as "anti-BP snark". There are what, at least three BPro contributors (current or former) that are often seen around here, including yourself. I like, enjoy reading, and respect the knowledge of all three. That said, I don't live under a rock, and neither do you. BPro has a well-established MO, and it doesn't include making the actual nuts and bolts behind things available. This isn't a new charge, and it's not an unfounded one. In this case, you're correct, mea culpa; the process is laid out in Nate's article. I'd point out that this isn't really a formula or anything, it's just ranking each team by EqK9, FRAA, and WXRL and then adding up the ranks. How do I reproduce the numbers for WXRL, or BPro's FRAA? But that's beyond the point that I pointed an incorrect finger.

Thing is, I don't disagree with what Prospectus Ventures does. It's smart. There's a reason BPro has been able to do what it's done and why it has the reach it has. It's not anti-BPro to point out a part of the business model. It's not snark when I point out, as I have done many times, that Prospectus Ventures decided years ago that the cash cow was going to be fantasy players. Regardless of whether or not their focus is different than mine, it's not my place to put a value judgment of right/wrong on that decision, outside of debating its long term potential (which I do have some issues with.) So I apologize for the miscast aspersion here, truly, but at the same time I do not apologize for my intentions when I posted it.
   30. Steven Goldman Posted: September 13, 2009 at 05:23 PM (#3320785)
Jeff, I appreciate what you say, and I never mind pointing out that the posters here have been almost unfailingly kind to me. I don't mean to single you out for the occasional bit of reflexive anti-BP sniping that sometimes occurs here. When there is something you care about, and a group of informed baseball fans takes shots at it, it is sometimes difficult to swallow your response in the name of taking the higher road. As far as the legitimacy of your particular comment. I would argue that there is a lot more transparency than not when it comes to the metrics. I will also say add fantasy is just one baseball audience that we try to serve among many. It exists in parallel to other coverage, not in place of it.
   31. Srul Itza At Home Posted: September 13, 2009 at 05:27 PM (#3320788)
I don't mean to single you out for the occasional bit of reflexive anti-BP sniping that sometimes occurs here.


A lot of that stems from the time BPro had its lawyers send a cease-and-desist letter to BPrime, claiming that it was ripping off BPro's name. That did not go over very well here, and some of us have a long memory for that kind of thing.
   32. Steven Goldman Posted: September 13, 2009 at 05:40 PM (#3320796)
Srul: Yes, but that was a very long time ago, most of us weren't involved then, to quote Sonny Corleone, it wasn't personal, it was business, and to paraphrase Shakespeare, there is no need for ancient grudge to break to new mutiny.
   33. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: September 13, 2009 at 05:44 PM (#3320800)
Over his career, Jeter's range factor per 9 innings has been 4.16. He's been worse each of the past 3 seasons: 2007: 4.01, 2008: 4.05, 2009: 3.96. It is very hard to reconcile this with the idea that he has become a better fielder.

There are of course reasons that RF alone may not tell us how good a fielder a player is. Maybe Jeter has had fewer opportunities over his career than other SSs for various reasons. But how likely is that Jeter became a better SS in recent seasons, but coincidentally his opportunities (already very limited) dropped just enough to exactly offset that improvement? Far more likely that he's the same player, but 3 consecutive GGs have led many observers to "see" improvement that isn't really there.


Range Factor? Really?

Back in the GG seasons, Yankee fans here were routinely panning them. The turnaround didn't come until 2008.

BTW, it is quite possible than the composition of the Yankee pitching staff changed in 2008-09 leading to fewer GBs to SS, at the same time Jeter improved the % of those GBs he was fielding.

A major contributor, off the top of my head, is Wang's effective disappearance from the rotation the last 1.5 yrs. Quick fangraphs check, the Yankees GB % is down to ~43% in 2009 from ~46% in the recent past.
   34. GuyM Posted: September 13, 2009 at 06:48 PM (#3320822)
Try again. NYY GB%:
2006 43.3
2007 42.8
2008 45.7
2009 42.5
Over Jeter's career, many pitchers have come and gone. The excuses also change. But one thing is constant: Jeter makes far fewer outs than other shortstops.

Yes, UZR says he's been passable some years. But plus/minus, based on same data, usually says he's terrible. All of these metrics have limitations. But given enough seasons, the difficulty of chances a SS has will tend to even out. And Tango controlled for the pitchers Jeter played behind -- and much else -- and still the verdict is always the same.
   35. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: September 13, 2009 at 06:56 PM (#3320829)
Try again. NYY GB%:
2006 43.3
2007 42.8
2008 45.7
2009 42.5


Odd, I got different numbers when I checked before, but now I see the same ones as you. Must be user error.
   36. Mike Emeigh Posted: September 13, 2009 at 07:33 PM (#3320843)
one thing is constant: Jeter makes far fewer outs than other shortstops.


Correct. But "Jeter is awful defensively" doesn't (necessarily) follow from "Jeter makes fewer outs".

My argument is that Jeter's failure to make outs resulted from a combination of his defensive skills, the way that the Yankee pitchers pitched, and the way that the Yankees positioned their infield (at least under Torre), and that until you can figure out how to quantify the effects of the latter two factors, the best that you can do is conclude that there is no evidence of GG quality for Jeter's defense (which is probably damning enough).

But given enough seasons, the difficulty of chances a SS has will tend to even out.


Again, not necessarily. Infielders tend to do worse in zone-based ratings when playing behind a flyball pitcher than they do behind a groundball pitcher, to some extent because GBs hit against a flyball pitcher tend to be more difficult to field. If you have a SS who plays for years behind a staff of mostly flyball pitchers (as Jeter has for much of his career), I would suggest that you would probably NOT see the degree of difficulty evening out.

-- MWE
   37. GuyM Posted: September 13, 2009 at 07:50 PM (#3320850)
Mike, we don't have to guess about the impact of the pitching staffs: Tango's WOWY analysis compares Jeter to other shortstops playing behind the exact same pitchers and Jeter's large gap vs. other shortstops remains just as large.

I'm skeptical of the positioning argument: if Jeter was required to play in non-standard positions given the hitter/pitcher/baserunner/out situations, it seems likely this was a response to Jeter's weakness rather than its cause. Different positioning would just as likely have led to still worse numbers for Jeter.

So no, I don't think we need any more data to conclude Jeter has been an historically bad SS (among those allowed to play a lot of innings there). The burden of proof now rests on anyone wanting to argue the contrary position.
   38. Ray (RDP) Posted: September 13, 2009 at 08:42 PM (#3320871)
But Jeter has been average to above by UZR for 2 seasons now. There's no way he should be considered a bad fielder right now.

This doesn't mean that he's a good defensive player. It simply means that he's had an above average UZR the last two seasons. Unless you can give a reason why he's better, you can't ignore the rest of his career, and that means he's an unequivocally bad defensive player.


I agree that Jeter shouldn't be considered a bad fielder right now. Why do we have to give a reason why he's better, apart from citing something like UZR? Maybe he's learned a new trick or two. While fielders generally decline in their 30s, especially SSs in their mid-30s, that doesn't mean that all of them have to. Jeter was so bad that if he could just learn something new (say, with respect to positioning), there were a lot of gains available to him.

Barry Bonds changed his game at age 35. I don't see why Jeter couldn't have.

And citing Range Factor is weak sauce, GuyM.
   39. Eric J can SABER all he wants to Posted: September 13, 2009 at 10:07 PM (#3320894)
Over his career, Jeter's range factor per 9 innings has been 4.16. He's been worse each of the past 3 seasons: 2007: 4.01, 2008: 4.05, 2009: 3.96.

2009 is the first time in a while that the Yankees have had multiple left-handed starters.
   40. Nineto Lezcano needs to get his shit together (CW) Posted: September 14, 2009 at 12:11 AM (#3320953)
Jeff, I appreciate what you say, and I never mind pointing out that the posters here have been almost unfailingly kind to me. I don't mean to single you out for the occasional bit of reflexive anti-BP sniping that sometimes occurs here. When there is something you care about, and a group of informed baseball fans takes shots at it, it is sometimes difficult to swallow your response in the name of taking the higher road. As far as the legitimacy of your particular comment. I would argue that there is a lot more transparency than not when it comes to the metrics.


Maybe there's a lot of transparency on the metrics (where "a lot" means "not as much as everyone else but not entirely nonexistant.") Maybe there is "some transparency" to FRAA (I can't find anything useful to figure out how it's actually computed, though, and I've checked all the expected places - old annuals, Google's USENET archive, etc.) I'll leave that point alone.

But there is very little accountability.

What we do know about FRAA is that it simply isn't a very good fielding metric, especially restricted to a single season sample size. We do know that there are better fielding metrics. Dan Fox even came up with one when he worked for BPro. And yet FRAA persists.

As for WXLR, Tom Tango has addressed the problems with the underlying Leverage metric BPro uses.

So then we get to the Secret Sauce. Again, it's not that nobody knows what's in the sauce; we all know it's Thousand Island dressing. It's that there's no evidence it works.
   41. Obama Bomaye Posted: September 14, 2009 at 01:20 AM (#3320966)
I would say that the only unequivocally bad defenders the Yankees have are Jeter and Damon. Tex is probably their only really good defender, but the rest of the defense is okay.

This doesn't mean that [Jeter]'s a good defensive player. It simply means that he's had an above average UZR the last two seasons. Unless you can give a reason why he's better, you can't ignore the rest of his career


It doesn't matter if he "is" a good defensive player. He's been playing well (or at least, decently) defensively. No one has to give a reason why. What he did in 2000 has nothing to do with now.

I'd certainly pick Posada as a bad defender over Jeter these days.


He's been worse each of the past 3 seasons: 2007: 4.01, 2008: 4.05, 2009: 3.96. It is very hard to reconcile this with the idea that he has become a better fielder.

It's very hard to reconcile how he looked in 2007 (incredibly horrible) with how he looks this season (quite competent).


2009 is the first time in a while that the Yankees have had multiple left-handed starters.

Which should mean more balls to SS, not less.



[Gardner']s arm is not strong, but nowhere near Damonesque, and is very accurate.

I actually think his arm is average strength, but not accurate at all (i.e., too many of his throws tend to go straight down, rather than forward).


Cano was great in 2006, but pretty bad every other season (including this one).

I think he's been about as good (i.e. pretty good) this season as he's ever been (certainly better than '05 or '08, when he had lots of weird "mental" errors). My friend thinks he's been excellent this season.


So, all of this goes to show..........we still don't know #### about defense!
   42. Eric J can SABER all he wants to Posted: September 14, 2009 at 01:29 AM (#3320968)
Which should mean more balls to SS, not less.

I'm a moron.
   43. fret Posted: September 14, 2009 at 02:08 AM (#3320976)
I am trying to read the Fangraphs fielding stats and getting very confused.

First of all, from the definitions of "defensive games" and "expected outs," exO should be a constant multiple of DG, namely the average number of putouts per game at that position. Sure enough, looking at Jeter's page, the ratio is about 2.6 for every year from 2002-08. But for 2009 the ratio is only 1.9. What gives?

It's hard to figure out how many plays Jeter actually made looking at only putouts and assists. (Maybe PO + A - DP is a good approximation?) But for an outfielder, plays made should be almost equal to putouts. Take Grady Sizemore as an example. In 2005 he had 373 putouts to 348 expected outs. His UZR was +5.4. In 2006 he had 409 putouts to 428 expected outs. His UZR was +14.8.

I can't figure out what is going on. It shouldn't have to do with the difficulty of his chances, because that should already be accounted for in the calculation of expected outs.

By the way, Sizemore also has the weird issue where the ratio of expected outs to defensive games is much lower in 2009 than in previous years.
   44. Eric J can SABER all he wants to Posted: September 14, 2009 at 02:28 AM (#3320981)
Take Grady Sizemore as an example. In 2005 he had 373 putouts to 348 expected outs. His UZR was +5.4. In 2006 he had 409 putouts to 428 expected outs. His UZR was +14.8.

Different run value of the catches and misses? Deep catches would save more runs per play. Not sure if that's actually what the issue is or not.
   45. fret Posted: September 14, 2009 at 04:37 AM (#3321021)
Could that really be responsible for such a huge swing? I doubt it.
   46. Eric J can SABER all he wants to Posted: September 14, 2009 at 04:52 AM (#3321028)
Could that really be responsible for such a huge swing? I doubt it.

Does seem unlikely. The difference between a single and a double is what, .3 runs? Yeah, turning -19 plays into +15 runs would take a whole lot.
   47. Nineto Lezcano needs to get his shit together (CW) Posted: September 14, 2009 at 07:20 AM (#3321055)
Different values between LD and FB.
   48. Mister High Standards Posted: September 14, 2009 at 12:26 PM (#3321083)
Fielding bible has him at +2 this year after -8 last year. I would say there is very little evidence that Jeter is a good defensive player. He MAYBE... but it seems unlikely.
   49. Jeff K. Posted: September 14, 2009 at 01:19 PM (#3321108)
I would argue that there is a lot more transparency than not when it comes to the metrics.

Steven, if I'm not mistaken, and please correct me if I'm wrong, the particulars of FRAA / PECOTA / (the adjustments for) WARP2 and 3 / BPro's WARP / PAP are all kept back. If that's the case, we'll have to agree to disagree on our assessments of the overall transparency.
   50. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: September 14, 2009 at 01:37 PM (#3321126)
Fielding bible has him at +2 this year after -8 last year. I would say there is very little evidence that Jeter is a good defensive player. He MAYBE... but it seems unlikely.

No one is saying "good" we're just saying not "bad". All the evidence (UZR, observation, and now Fielding Bible) seems to indicate that while Jeter was "bad" (~-15) three or four years ago, he has stepped up his game defensively and is now average (~+/-5).
   51. Nineto Lezcano needs to get his shit together (CW) Posted: September 14, 2009 at 03:19 PM (#3321194)
PAP/PAP3 are pretty public, Jeff. PECOTA isn't fully open but it's pretty well understood, at least in broad strokes. WARP - I think one could probably calculate it from BRAA/FRAA if they wanted to invest the time.

FRAA, the timeline adjustments - those are still pretty secretive.
   52. Ron Johnson Posted: September 14, 2009 at 03:33 PM (#3321206)
#14, I also did a preliminary check and found pretty much the same thing. Not sure why, but I think it has a lot to do with the increased frequency of deadline deals.

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