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   1. karlmagnus Posted: January 14, 2008 at 02:13 PM (#2667683)
This has been obvious for at least 4 years, since the question was raised. By observation, Manny is a pretty reasonable fielder, occasionally very good, with good athleticism but a tendency to mental lapses. Time the Sox picked up at least the first year of his extension!
   2. IronChef Chris Wok Posted: January 14, 2008 at 02:26 PM (#2667685)
Time the Sox picked up at least the first year of his extension!

I would at least offer him arbitration when the year ends.
   3. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: January 14, 2008 at 02:44 PM (#2667689)
Time the Sox picked up at least the first year of his extension!

Why would you ever pick up an option before you absolutely have to?

That's the value of an option.
   4. Sexy Lizard Posted: January 14, 2008 at 03:11 PM (#2667709)
I thought Manny looked a lot more fluid in the field last year, maybe because the hamstring problems were cleared up. Was this just my imagination? I have no idea what the numbers look like...
   5. SG Posted: January 14, 2008 at 08:29 PM (#2667995)
I include a note saying that Cano is greater than Pedroia

Well, I guess technically you did it, but I don't think your heart was in it.
   6. villageidiom Posted: January 14, 2008 at 08:47 PM (#2668005)
The overall -17 seems to mesh with reality more than other estimates (-47?!).
I thought Manny looked a lot more fluid in the field last year, maybe because the hamstring problems were cleared up. Was this just my imagination?
I thought his range was a little shorter this year. He looked smooth as a battleship chasing a PT boat, and took turns about as fast.
   7. Matt Clement of Alexandria Posted: January 14, 2008 at 08:48 PM (#2668007)
Thanks for your work, Darren. And SG.

It's interesting that Manny shows up as basically average in Fenway. I always worry that he's still playing too shallow, but maybe he knows what he's doing there.

And the Fenway LF ZR for the season is .686. I think that pretty much caps it for the idea that we can reasonably trust STATS data for Fenway. .686. Come on.
   8. Darren Posted: January 15, 2008 at 01:24 AM (#2668321)
Thanks for your work, Darren. And SG.


There.

It's interesting that Manny shows up as basically average in Fenway. I always worry that he's still playing too shallow, but maybe he knows what he's doing there.


Playing shallow seems like it's the right idea in general, but you should never be so shallow that a fly ball lands on the track in front of the monster. That happened to Manny a couple times. Additionally, I'm not sure how you read his numbers as average in Fenway. He's 13 runs below average--isn't that well below average?

And the Fenway LF ZR for the season is .686. I think that pretty much caps it for the idea that we can reasonably trust STATS data for Fenway. .686. Come on.


Yeah, but we knew that already, didn't we? They score balls off the wall as being in play. SG attributed it to laziness in his email but even that seems generous. How hard would it be for a scorer to just record the ball as being out of zone/off wall? They make far more subjective calls than this quite often.
   9. JoeArthur Posted: January 21, 2008 at 09:50 PM (#2673071)
Sorry not to see this last week...
I did something similar with ZR data for 2006 and found mostly similar splits as SG found for 2007. [My 2006 numbers were reposted in a comment on Chris Dial's "Dialed In" blog around Jan 10.] Sample sizes for Fenway are still small, but combining the two years roughly doubles it.

two year totals:
Manny .. at Fenway 180/292 .616
other LF at fenway 352/512 .688

manny ..not at Fenway 170/204 .833
other LF not Fenway 17753/20437 .869

SG's "non-Fenway (all LF)" numbers which Darren quoted are the totals for all AL LF, with totals for Fenway subtracted out. That's an approximation of an AL specific ZR, but I assume the NL players at Fenway and NL venues for interleague game totals are not backed out of his Fenway and AL totals. My numbers are for all MLB LFers (it doesn't make much difference either way).

If I assume Manny faced chances of average difficulty, and that the other LF at Fenway (visitors + redsox backups) were average overall, then I extrapolate that Manny was 7 plays below average on the road in 956 innings over the last two years and 21 plays below average in 1159 innings at home. Depending on how you extrapolate to a "full" season, and how you convert to run value, Manny approached 20 runs below average for his fly-catching. Of course he's only played about 3/4 of a season on defense each of the last two years, and he deserves a little plus for his throwing. On the other hand as a defensive metric ZR can be a little forgiving of below average performers.
   10. dave h Posted: January 22, 2008 at 05:25 PM (#2673753)
It's odd that these numbers indicate that Manny is a worse fielder at home than on the road. Part of that is the worse rate compared with the rest of the league, which is surprising. You'd think a slower outfielder would appear closer to average with less ground to cover. The other part is that Manny is getting more chances at Fenway than on the road, per inning, which is also weird. Again with the smaller LF, you'd think he'd get fewer chances. Can that be entirely accounted for by the increased overall number of chances (assuming that's true, because offense is increased in Fenway)? Is there something else here I'm missing?
   11. JoeArthur Posted: January 23, 2008 at 02:31 AM (#2674318)
Dave H -
there's one fact to note which pertains to both your questions: with a high wall which is relatively close to home plate, some balls which would be catchable in other parks are unplayably high off the wall at Fenway; other balls which would be over the fence at other parks are also unplayably high off the wall. Zone Rating counts both types as chances; the lost home runs stay in play and are counted as extra "opportunities" for a LF at Fenway; the lost potential outs on shorter flies besides being "opportunities" become hits and bring more batters to the plate, who in turn have a chance to put additional balls into play. Over the last 2 years, there have been about 5% more balls in play at Fenway per inning than at other parks.

This combination only partly explains the increased number of ZR chances for left fielders at fenway the last two years (which is a 15% increase per inning); it's worth further study to find out whether this is just luck or something else (like hitters at Fenway trying harder to pull the ball).

As far as "less ground to cover", that's true in a sense, but the side-to-side dimension (foul line to left center) of the left fielder's territory at Fenway is unchanged; the disappearing area to defend is over the left fielder's head. Mike Emeigh has made the point several times in threads at BTF that if an outfielder optimizes his range by playing 60 feet in front of the fence in a normal park he should also play (about) sixty feet in front of the fence in a smaller park. But then he is closer to the plate and has less time to react (which is no help to a player who is slow because he gets a bad jump). So it's not clear how much difference the reduced outfield territory at Fenway really makes. In 2007 the media repeatedly commented that Manny was playing "too shallow" at Fenway, and was overly eager to play caroms off the wall - a number of catchable balls hit low off the wall or on the warning track while he positioned himself for the rebound.
   12. Joe Bivens, Minor Genius Posted: January 23, 2008 at 02:38 AM (#2674323)
A metric that calls a ball that hits off The Wall "playable", as in "catchable" is a seriously flawed metric. That's understating it.
   13. Joe Bivens, Minor Genius Posted: January 23, 2008 at 02:42 AM (#2674327)
I watched most of all 162 games last year, and I don't recall too many balls hitting low off the wall that any other LF could have gotten to. Maybe a couple. I do not recall saying "Gee, Manny got burned on that one" too many times...again, maybe a couple.
   14. JoeArthur Posted: January 23, 2008 at 03:16 AM (#2674346)
CJB- You may have misunderstood me slightly. I do not mean that there were many balls at Fenway which he (or Carl Crawford) could have caught given where Manny started from; but I watched maybe 30 RS games at Fenway last year, and I think I saw several more than just a couple of balls which were catchable if he had been positioned deeper to start with. Dave's question is "how could Manny do worse at Fenway than on the road, since the territory is smaller than average", and I think his unusual positioning is the main part of the answer.

I don't deny ZR is flawed; but there are no complex assumptions involved in it. I tracked home/road splits with it in 2006 to get a sanity check on the wide disagreements between metrics such as PMR and UZR for Manny in 2005.
   15. Darren Posted: January 23, 2008 at 03:18 AM (#2674351)
Manny is also very slow and unsure of himself going back on the ball, from my observation. He sure does miss too many over his head for my taste.
   16. Joe Bivens, Minor Genius Posted: January 23, 2008 at 03:15 PM (#2674575)
He plays LF opposite of how Rice played it. Rice played it relatively deep, and his strength was coming in on line dives and bloops. Rice had trouble going back on balls. Manny is a better fielder than Rice was, IMO. Manny makes some difficult catches, surprisingly.
   17. 1k5v3L Posted: January 23, 2008 at 03:25 PM (#2674588)
how many balls he wouldn't have gotten that were hit in front of him if he had been playing deeper?

And how many sprinklers?
   18. dave h Posted: January 23, 2008 at 08:18 PM (#2674808)
Also, how could he take cutoffs from CF if he were playing deeper?

Seems like we just have a disagreement on how many balls fell in over Manny's head (and no idea how many extra ones in front of him he got to). I would look through all the condensed home games, but I don't have mlb.tv anymore. If this were a problem, would the team realize it and make him move back? Or would they not deem it worth the trouble of disturbing him?
   19. JoeArthur Posted: January 24, 2008 at 01:58 AM (#2675019)
Francona audio on July 7,2007 discussing not correcting Manny's positioning even if he is playing too shallow

Around July 19, 2007 Francona said to admit speaking to Manny about playing too shallow

It's been noted for at least 3 years that Manny plays a shallower left field at Fenway than other left fielders. If the data suggests that Manny is "worse" at Fenway than on the road, after accounting for park effects, it seems a credible theory that the unusual positioning and the results are related. Note the "if". I am not insisting that Manny's positioning has been a losing trade-off (though by playing shallow he needs to take away about 3 extra singles for every 2 extra doubles he gives up). The apparent discrepancy between home and road certainly may be an illusion from a small sample size. But if it's real, his unusual positioning is the likely cause.

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