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   101. Kyle S Posted: January 03, 2006 at 07:48 AM (#1803983)
Where is the evidence that the spread between average defense and extraordinary (good or bad) defense is the same as the spread between average pitching and extraordinary pitching? Is that just an assertion?

I'm not sure where you got your 64 RAR anyway. According to BPro, Pedro had 119 PRAR in 2000. Barry Bonds was 149 BRAR in 2001. Manny's defense is nowhere near those levels. If you want a decent comp, Rafael Belliard was -22 BRAA in 315 PA in 1992 (roughly -45 BRAA if prorated to Manny's innings last year). I find it easy to believe that Manny is as bad a LF as Belliard was a hitter in their respective worst years.
   102. Psychedelic Red Pants Posted: January 03, 2006 at 07:50 AM (#1803985)
I'm not saying I am convinced that Manny Ramirez is -50. I have no idea (if I had to guess, I'd guess he was a lot closer to -30), but I don't just dismiss the -50 because it feels wrong. That's not how the scientific method works. I certainly would never claim that a -50 has to be wrong without having something a little more substantial than "it feels wrong" fuelling my assertion.

In theory, every team puts their worst starting OF in LF. 50 runs worse than the average of those players is pretty extreme when you consider that SS appears to be bound somewhere around +/-30. Again, in theory, there should be the most variation at SS because it's at the thin end of the talent pyramid and SS's have the most opportunities. (So there should be the most variation in talent AND the largest sample to manifest that range). A LF at -50 in the same system where a -30 at SS induces guffaws should be suspect. Manny could be that bad. Defense could be a far bigger part of the game than conventional wisdom dictates (if it is normal for LF's to be +/-50 then team defense could have a maximum range of +/- 50 wins, roughly). There could also be something singularly unusual about last season, either in Manny's performance or in our analysis of it. If Manny really is asking for a trade (who knows?) he could be missing some plays on purpose.

3) I still haven't gotten clear as to whether the -50 is how many runs Manny cost relative to an average LF would given the same opportunity, or how many runs Manny would cost in an average park compared to an average LF.

I believe it's relative to a theoretical average LF subbed in for Manny, but I can't put my finger on MGL's uzr rundown at the moment. I found and old link to it, but now it just goes to the Primer newsblog.
   103. Matt Clement of Alexandria Posted: January 03, 2006 at 01:07 PM (#1804020)
I did a quick 5/4/3 projection of both Tejada and Manny. For offense, I used VORP. For defense, I used Tejada's UZR in all three years, and Manny's '03-'04 UZR and '05 Zone runs from Chone Smith. I used Chone's number specifically because it was the most favorable to Manny in 2005.

I got a projection of 72 VORP+UZR for Tejada and 50 VORP+UZR for Manny.

So, just to put this in context, even if we take the most favorable of the pbp-based defensive evaluations, we still have Miguel Tejada as more than 20 runs better than Manny. Tejada should get another few runs for his baserunning, as well.
   104. Matt Clement of Alexandria Posted: January 03, 2006 at 01:26 PM (#1804023)
Hey, wait, I just thought of something as I was running those spreadsheets. AFAIK, the numbers MGL has been reporting since he locked up his UZR databases have been per 162 defensive games. Manny Ramirez never plays 162 defensive games. He plays only 115-130 defensive games because his defense really sucks.

So, that -47, in real terms, is actually about -38. That's still very, very bad, but I think it helps a little. Manny's defense, by UZR, cost the Red Sox about 40 runs below average in 2005, not 50.

(This also means that the -30 projection from Darren and MGL in the introduction, can be understood as a -22 projection based on Manny's typical playing time.)

Unless I'm wrong about what these numbers mean - and I'm only running off memory here, so please correct me if I'm all wrong - I think this significantly shortens the gap between the different measures. I substituted Manny's 2005 UZR into my quick projection spreadsheet, and it only cut his projection by ~5 runs. That's still worth noting, and if the trade happens and a lot of money changes hands, it might make a difference, but it's not a sum worth going to theoretical war over.
   105. Matt Clement of Alexandria Posted: January 03, 2006 at 01:35 PM (#1804025)
Neh, it says in the intro, if I bothered to read it, that Manny cost the Sox 50 real runs in 2005, not 50 runs per 162. So all should probably just disregard my post #8/108. Sorry. (I'm also not sure where I keep getting -47 from.)

At -50, the difference in Manny's projection for the simple 5/4/3 calculation is ~10 runs.

So, to return to my point from post #7/107, the question can be re-framed as asking whether Manny Ramirez projects as 20 or 30 runs worse than Miguel Tejada.

One could make a more far-reaching case that we should still not trust the pbp metrics for Manny's defense, and it's even better than -15 to -25 per season, but I find that argument unconvincing. We've established what kind of defender Manny is, now we're just haggling over price.
   106. Шĥy Posted: January 03, 2006 at 01:54 PM (#1804026)
I'm also not sure where I keep getting -47 from

MGL posted in the gold glove thread a while back that Manny's 2005 UZR was -47. Apparently, since then, he has changed UZR enough that Manny's 2005 UZR is now -50.
   107. BDC Posted: January 03, 2006 at 02:25 PM (#1804038)
Well ... I was a skeptic for several reasons: mainly, not understanding how the 2005 Red Sox could win 95 games if their left fielder was an average or even near-average player. The rest of them just don't seem to be all that good.

But if Manny costs the Sox 50 runs, he was adding about half a run to the ERA of each of their rotation starters, so really the team got fine pitching, bad as it may have looked. Meanwhile, the other guys, Damon and Trot & Co. and the apparently undistinguished bunch of infielders, were perhaps really very good fielders.

I guess I can accept that.

I still wonder about Fenway -- not that it skews the raw numbers, but that the numbers may have different values there. A ball is hit to the track in Boston, Manny runs into the wall, Damon picks up the ball, and the batter stops at first. A ball is hit to the track in Detroit, Manny falls down chasing it, the batter ends up on third.

I don't know if that means anything. It may mean that it's easier to "hide" a truly bad fielder in Fenway's LF than in almost any other park and place: a missed chance has less impact there than in other left fields. A lot of defense takes place after a chance has been missed or made.

Of course, Manny has to play in Detroit, too. And the mitigating effect of all those singles-instead-of-triples might be pretty minor in any event.
   108. dcsmyth1 Posted: January 03, 2006 at 02:39 PM (#1804046)
I did another comparison for Manny. His -50 runs in 350 chances is *worse* that a typical pitcher batting would put up in 350 PA at the plate. Even Ozzie Smith would not have played if he had been that bad on the other side of the ball.

One question I have is, is it legit to regress an apparent outlier even more than the standard amount when doing a projection? I believe there is a technique in statistics which involves discarding the outliers. So, the idea apparently shouldn't be dissmissed out of hand.
   109. RobertMachemer Posted: January 03, 2006 at 04:13 PM (#1804129)
The people who completely reject the -30, -40, -50 assessments of Ramirez's defense out of hand may well be people who reject DIPS out of hand; nevertheless...

Red Sox 2005: 4.31 dERA, 4.74 ERA, 5.07 RA

They pitched 1429 innings in 2005 and allowed 752 earned runs, 805 runs total. Taking away 50 runs from those (with the same number of innings, for lack of something better to do) would give them an ERA of 4.42 and a RA of 4.76.

It seems to me, given the differences between dERA and ERA that there is ample room for Ramirez to be about -50, Renteria to be bad (though considerably better than Ramirez), and the rest of the team to, on average, be average.

This is all back-of-the-envelope stuff and shouldn't be taken too seriously, but it seems to me that if -50 were WAY TOO BIG for Ramirez, subtracting his 50 runs from the Red Sox's numbers would give them an ERA vastly better than their dERA (which would not jibe with the general impression of the rest of the team's defense as pretty much mediocre, on average).
   110. RobertMachemer Posted: January 03, 2006 at 04:16 PM (#1804137)
Incidentally, ESPN is reporting that Burnitz is going to sign with the Pirates, not the Orioles. If true, the Orioles would now need another outfielder after all (which would allow the Sox to avoid the whole "Ramirez, Clement, Marte, and the kitchen sink for Tejada and Gathright" silliness).
   111. Darren Posted: January 03, 2006 at 04:45 PM (#1804186)
MCoA,

Those numbers in the intro are /150 games. I don't know why, but for some reason that got edited out when I changed the intro. Sorry. So you're right to lower the number, but you've lowered it too much. (I also think that in the games where you put Manny at DH, you have to adjust for forcing Ortiz to play 1B somehow, and forcing a good bat like Youks to the bench).

As for Rally Monkey's #s, Dial's spreadsheet comparing various systems has Rally's #s at -34 (or did you adjust this for games already). One other number you didn't include was DSG's which was -35. (Dial was -34)

One other factor: MGL emailed me to say that the numbers he gave me above did not include arm. Here are those numbers:


01: 0
02: -2
03: +6
04: -6
05: +6

Overall, I think that it'd be very close to a wash for future projections (maybe 1-2 runs better).
   112. dave h Posted: January 05, 2006 at 01:17 AM (#1806568)
Where is the evidence that the spread between average defense and extraordinary (good or bad) defense is the same as the spread between average pitching and extraordinary pitching? Is that just an assertion?


I specifically said that this just contradicted my intuition - I might be wrong, but I believe that to say a LF can have that much impact on runs allowed relative to a pitcher's impact is an extraordinary assertion and demands extraordinary proof.

I'm not sure where you got your 64 RAR anyway. According to BPro, Pedro had 119 PRAR in 2000.

Sorry, my mistake, I meant to say 64 runs above average, which I think is the important comparison here, since Manny is comared to average. If Manny were as much worse than a replacement fielder as Pedro were better than a replacement pitcher, well, he'd be in Little League. (I know he looks like he his sometimes.)

Before we spend too much time (or have we already) looking for flaws in the metric, can anyone give any sort of indication as to the variability of uzr? I'm not just talking about projection - what is the inherent error in the measurement. Mgl changes the method in some way during the year and Manny's number changes 6%. There are other parameters I imagine he's not changing which also have some error associated with them. Do any of us have any idea what sorts of magnitudes we're talking about? Even if there are no systematic errors to produce the -50 number, if the random error is +/- 30 runs, that's a big deal. You'd have to discount the defensive projection relative to the more defined aspects.

To repeat a couple things I've said earlier - even if the error is 50%, uzr is by no means useless, and if we can move Manny in such a way that even if he were -10 or something on defense it would be fruitful, that would be spectacular.
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