Saturday, January 06, 2007

Aggregation of Fielding Measures

Over the last few weeks, I have presented several different fielding range metrics. I have placed all these articles in the fielding category on the side bar so that they can be easily referenced. The measures include range factor (RF), zone rating (ZR) and Chris Dial’s translation of zone rating into runs saved, Probabilistic Model of Range (PMR), Clay Davenport’s Fielding Translation (DFT), the Fan Fielding Survey, and the Fielding Bible Awards.

Two other respected measures – Ultimate Zone Rating (UZR) and the Fielding Bible Plus/Minus system (not to be confused with the Fielding Bible Awards) have not been discussed for individual players as the data are not available this year. UZR is summarized in an article written for The Hardball Times by David Gassko. The Plus/Minus system is discussed in an article at The Baseball Graphs Blog written by Dave Studenmund.

Fielding metrics are not yet as reliable as hitting metrics but much progress has been made in the elusive measurement of fielding performance in the past several years. I think we can generally say that players who do well on all of the metrics are good fielders and that players who do poorly on all of the metrics are below average fielders. However, there is a lot of variation across measures.

So, rather than rely on just one measure, I thought it might be a good idea to get an aggregate measure which combines all the individual measures. I am eliminating range factor from my aggregate because, although it’s a good baseline measure, I think it has too many holes to be a good summary of fielding performance. That leaves us with 4 measures for which data are available: ZR, PMR, DFT (specifically Fielding Runs Above Average) and the Fielding Bible Awards (of which the Fan Fielding Survey is a subset). The Fielding Bible Awards measure is different from the others in that it is subjective. However, I think that subjective evaluation is important in painting a complete picture of fielding performance.

This is how my system works: For each position, I ranked each player on each of the four measures and then calculated an average rank (which I call Average Fielding Rank or AFR). For example, Brandon Inge ranked 2nd among Major League third basemen in ZR, 6th in PMR, 2nd in DFT and 5th in the fielding Bible Awards. This comes out to an AFR of 4.

The benefit of this system is that if one of the measures doesn't work for a particular player, that one "bad rank" will be tempered by ranks on other measures. I used a straight arithmetic average in this example but one could easily use a weighted average if if it was thought some measures were more reliable than others. I’ll keep it simple for now. I won’t give the ranks for the individual methods for all the players because the Fielding Bible Awards are proprietary. I will, however, give a best ranking, a worst ranking and an average.

Table 1 below lists the 30 third basemen with 600 or more innings played in 2006. The table shows that Brandon Inge and Joe Crede tied for the best Average Fielding Rank in baseball. Pedro Feliz and Freddie Sanchez tied for 3rd at 5.5. The worst average rank (25) belonged to Alex Rodriguez.

Other positions can be found at the following links:

C 1B 2B SS LF CF RF

Table 1: Average Fielding Rank for Third Basemen in 2006


Player

Team

GP

Innings

Best Rank

Worst Rank

AFR

Crede

CWS

149

1260

1

11

4.00

Inge

Det

159

1392

2

6

4.00

Feliz

SF

159

1372

3

8

5.50

Sanchez

Pit

99

822

2

8

5.50

Beltre

Sea

155

1358

1

9

5.75

Rolen

StL

142

1216

1

8

5.75

Lowell

Bos

153

1299

4

10

6.00

Ensberg

Hou

117

975

3

15

10.00

Chavez

Oak

134

1166

4

19

10.25

Koskie

Mil

70

603

1

18

10.25

Zimmerman

Was

157

1368

8

13

10.50

Bell

Mil/Phi

143

1216

10

13

11.75

Tracy

Ari

147

1278

3

18

12.75

Punto

Min

89

766

7

19

13.00

Wright

NYM

153

1365

10

22

16.00

Nunez

Phi

74

632

10

24

17.00

Cabrera

Fla

157

1334

15

24

18.00

Izturis

LAA

87

707

4

25

18.00

Glaus

Tor

145

1175

11

27

18.75

Ramirez

ChC

156

1353

16

22

19.25

Betemit

Atl/LA

79

602

15

26

20.00

Teahen

KC

109

924

10

30

20.00

Blalock

Tex

122

1063

17

28

20.25

Jones

Atl

105

888

18

26

21.75

Huff

Hou/TB

90

700

18

29

22.00

Atkins

Col

157

1381

17

27

22.25

Mora

Bal

154

1323

18

30

22.25

Boone

Cle

101

842

16

30

24.00

Encarnacion

Cin

111

931

18

28

24.25

Rodriguez

NYY

151

1288

17

29

25.00

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