Monday, July 09, 2007

How the Top AL Contenders Rank

The all-star break is a good time for another team statistical summary. In this edition, I'll look at how the top 5 contenders in the American League compare in several statistical categories - overall run production and prevention, batting, pitching and fielding. There are just 3 1/2 games separating these teams but you will see that the 5 teams have very different strengths and weaknesses.

Table 1 below shows how teams rank in overall run production and run prevention:
  • The Tigers are first among 14 American League teams in run production but 9th in run prevention. Similarly the Indians and Mariners rank much better offensively than defensively.
  • The only team which is above average in both categories (4th in production, 1st in prevention) is the Red Sox.
  • The Angels have been better at preventing runs than scoring runs.
Table 1: Overall Ranks


DET

BOS

LAA

CLE

SEA

Record

52-34

53-34

53-35

52-36

49-36

R/G

1

4

7

3

6

RA/G

9

1

3

8

10



In Table 2, we can see how teams rank in various offensive categories:
  • The Tigers rank first in batting average and first in isolated power (ISO). The only area where they are below average is walks (9th).
  • Although they have not been as dominantly offensively as the Tigers, both the Indians and Red Sox rank in top half of the league in batting average, isolated power and walks.
  • The Angels and Mariners are both hitting for average but do not draw walks or hit for power.
Table 2: Batting Ranks


DET

BOS

LAA

CLE

SEA

BA

1

5

2

6

3

BB

9

1

13

3

14

K

5

7

3

12

1

ISO

1

6

14

2

10

OBP

3

1

5

4

6

SLG

1

3

9

2

8

OPS

1

2

7

4

5



The pitching ranks are listed in Table 3.
  • The Tigers rank only 11th in Fielding Independent Pitching (FIP) but 5th in ERA. This is an indication that their fielding is helping out their pitching again this year. Not surprisingly, their starting pitcher ERA (2nd) is much better than their relief pitcher ERA (11th).
  • The Red Sox rank very high in both FIP (1st) and ERA (2nd).
  • The Indians rank better in FIP than ERA which indicates that their pitching is getting hurt by their fielding.
  • While not as good as the Red Sox, the Angels rank well in both FIP and ERA.
The Mariners don't rank well in either FIP or ERA and that is the fault of the starting staff. Their bullpen has been very good.

Table 3: Pitching Ranks


DET

BOS

LAA

CLE

SEA

FIP

11

1

5

4

9

ERA

5

2

3

9

10

SP ERA

2

6

5

8

12

RP ERA

11

1

8

9

2



Table 4 Looks at how teams rank in fielding. Defensive Efficiency Ratio (DER) is the percentage of balls in play converted into outs. One of the problems with DER is that it penalizes fielders for not converting very difficult batted balls into outs. Another problem is that it does not consider where balls were hit.

Revised Zone Rating (RZR) improves upon DER. Each position on the field has a zone around it and a player's RZR is the proportion of balls hit into his zone which he converts into outs. Team RZR is the proportion of balls hit into all fielding zones which are converted into outs. Balls not hit into any zone are not considered in the calculation. The chart below also breaks RZR into infield RZR and outfield IZR. For a further discussion of DER, RZR and other fielding statistics, check out Fielding Stats at The Hardball Times by Dave Studeman.

Here are the highlights for team fielding so far this year:
  • The Tigers rank 4th in RZR. Their outfield is first in the league while their infield is in the middle (7th).
  • The Red Sox are in the middle of the pack overall but their infield has been much better at converting batted balls into outs than their outfield.
  • Neither the Angels, Indians or Mariners rank well in fielding.
Table 4: Fielding Ranks


DET

BOS

LAA

CLE

SEA

DER

7

5

6

10

13

RZR

4

7

10

13

12

IF RZR

7

2

9

13

12

OF RZR

1

14

12

8

9

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