Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Tigers Fielders Helped Pitchers in 2006

In my analysis of team run prevention, I found that the Tigers ranked 1st in the American League in ERA but only 3rd in FIP ERA. This is an indication that their pitching may not have been as good as their ERA. Their league leading DER suggested that their pitching might have been significantly aided by strong fielding.

However, DER does not take into consideration things such as: location of ball, how hard the ball is hit (soft, medium, hard), type of ball hit (e.g. ground ball, fly ball, line drive), handedness of batter and pitcher and ballpark. The Probabilistic Model of Range (PMR) system developed by David Pinto takes all those things into consideration in determining how many outs should have been made versus how many were actually made. The results for all Major League teams in 2006 are shown in Table 1 below.



The team RMR table provides further evidence of the Tigers fielding excellence. We can see that the Tigers were 2nd in the American League and 3rd in the Majors in converting balls in play into outs. There were 4,439 balls in play for Tiger fielders in 2006. Based on the batted ball data and associated probabilities, they should have made 3,069 plays. They actually made 3,112 plays so according to PMR they made 43 more plays than expected (the diff column). The last column of the table (Ratio) is actual outs divided by predicted outs. Since an extra out is worth .8 runs per play on average, the Tigers fielders saved approximately 43*.8 = 34 more runs than an average team. Theoretically, this comes out to about 4 wins.


In the 2007 Hardball Times Baseball Annual (a book I recommend to anyone who is interested in current sabermetric research), there is an article on team fielding written by John Dewan. In his article, he disscusses the Plus/Minus System which was described in last year’s Fielding Bible. Like PMR, the Plus/Minus system is based on analysis of detailed play by play data collected by Baseball Info Solutions video scouts. The Plus/Minus system does not rate the Tigers quite as high as DER and PMR but it still ranks them well. It has them 10th in the Majors and 3rd in the AL behind the blue Jays and Mariners.


The Tigers had a team score of +26 which means they made 26 more plays than the average team would have made. Dewan also broke it down by position: +15 for Tiger middle infielders, +31 for corner infielders and -20 for outfielders. The +46 total for the infield was 2nd in baseball to the Astros. Their outfield ranked 22nd. This supports what many of us observed – that the Tiger infielders were better than their outfielders defensively.


How did their individual fielders rank? That’s more complicated but I’ll get into in more detail once I’m done gathering and analyzing data which is currently being made available. I should have several posts about individual fielding over the next month.



Table 1: Probabilistic Model of Range for Teams in 2006

Team

In Play

Outs

Pred Outs

diff

Ratio

Cardinals

4448

3096

3045.22

50.78

101.67

Blue Jays

4326

2994

2951.45

42.55

101.44

Tigers

4439

3112

3069.37

42.63

101.39

Mets

4310

3028

2987.11

40.89

101.37

Cubs

4152

2903

2865.00

38.00

101.33

Yankees

4472

3103

3065.29

37.71

101.23

Giants

4422

3098

3062.31

35.69

101.17

White Sox

4528

3138

3106.11

31.89

101.03

Angels

4301

2970

2940.33

29.67

101.01

Brewers

4300

2950

2922.74

27.26

100.93

Dodgers

4536

3084

3057.68

26.32

100.86

Royals

4618

3120

3093.21

26.79

100.87

Mariners

4431

3054

3029.47

24.53

100.81

Padres

4386

3116

3093.20

22.80

100.74

Braves

4490

3078

3060.69

17.31

100.57

Diamondbacks

4462

3049

3033.47

15.53

100.51

Twins

4328

2967

2952.29

14.71

100.50

Astros

4342

3039

3024.90

14.10

100.47

Phillies

4438

3021

3009.27

11.73

100.39

Rangers

4542

3084

3075.69

8.31

100.27

Orioles

4435

3013

3011.80

1.20

100.04

Rockies

4590

3129

3139.99

-10.99

99.65

Athletics

4530

3120

3133.56

-13.56

99.57

Red Sox

4463

3028

3041.66

-13.66

99.55

Marlins

4339

2971

2985.34

-14.34

99.52

Indians

4594

3099

3122.02

-23.02

99.26

Nationals

4594

3173

3203.39

-30.39

99.05

Reds

4527

3081

3114.48

-33.48

98.93

Devil Rays

4545

3048

3085.21

-37.21

98.79

Pirates

4448

2997

3034.28

-37.28

98.77

2 comments:

  1. I think the impact of defense on pitching is not given the credit that it deserves.

    IMO, this analysis just scratches the surface of the true impact.

    First off, this analysis ranks all outs the same. There is a big difference between a middle infielder turning a single into an out, and a corner infielder turning a double into an out.

    This analysis also fails to consider defensive plays preventing extra bases. A sharply hit ball through the middle is usually a single. If a middle infielder makes a great play on the ball, but is unable to throw the runner out, it doesn't really matter. It is still a single.

    A sharply hit ball down the line is usually a double. If a corner infielder makes a great play on the ball, but is unable to throw the runner out, it makes a big difference, because he has just turned a double into a single.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Erik, there's no doubt that more can be done to measure defense. Another thing which has not been measured yet is first basemen taking throws from infielders. It has come a long way in a few years though. We are coming closer to the day where defensive stats can be used like offensive stats.

    ReplyDelete

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