Monday, January 14, 2008

Ranking the third basemen - 2007

This is the eleventh part of my series on fielding in 2007. The table of contents for the entire series is listed below:

Basic fielding stats
Converting Zone Rating to something useful
Revised Zone Rating
Probabilistic Model of Range
Fielding Bible
Ultimate Zone Rating
Fan Fielding Survey versus range measures
Outfield arms
Ranking the second basemen
Ranking the shortstops
Ranking the third basemen
Ranking the first baseman
Ranking the center fielders
Ranking the right fielders
Ranking the left fielders
What about catchers?

The table below shows the runs saved above average per 150 games for all the major league third basemen with 600 or more innings in 2007. Brandon Inge did consistently well on each system and his Average Range Score (ARS) of +14 led all third baseman in the majors. On the other hand, new Tigers third baseman Miguel Cabrera (-21) was one of the worst third basemen in baseball in 2007. That's a 35 run difference between the two of them which is a lot. Cabrera, of course, more than makes up the difference with his hitting. However, with a very left-handed staff and some ground ball pitchers , Cabrera could hurt them defensively if he doesn't improve. The hope is that his intense off-season conditioning program will improve his range to the point that he will be an average defender.

Inge is not the only good defensive third baseman hoping to find a full-time job some place. Major league ARS leader Pedro Feliz (+27) is currently a free agent. Ryan Zimmerman of the Nationals finished second at +21. The trailers were Brewers third sacker Ryan Braun (+36 ) and Garrett Atkins of the Rockies (+25).

Table 1: Runs Saved Above Average (per 150 games) for third basemen in 2007

player

team

inn

ZR

RZR

PMR

+/-

UZR

FFS

ARS

Feliz

SF

1,220

28

30

28

24

28

22

27

Zimmerman

Was

1,432

15

21

33

16

N/A

10

21

Rolen

StL

935

26

17

10

17

24

27

19

Wright

NYM

1,418

2

31

18

10

N/A

2

15

Inge

Det

1,310

12

13

16

18

12

17

14

Jones

Atl

1,081

10

17

1

N/A

N/A

-1

9

Ramirez

ChC

1,091

5

0

20

15

6

7

9

Mora

Bal

1,051

4

4

17

N/A

N/A

-6

8

Beltre

Sea

1,279

0

7

14

6

5

24

7

Glaus

Tor

928

-9

23

7

10

-5

-3

6

Lowell

Bos

1,324

4

-5

16

6

N/A

8

5

Chavez

Oak

775

3

0

-0

14

N/A

18

4

Punto

Min

828

-1

5

-8

13

N/A

10

2

Rodriguez

NYY

1,330

0

-5

9

N/A

N/A

10

1

Gordon

KC

1,135

-4

2

-4

N/A

4

6

-1

Figgins

LAA

837

-10

1

7

N/A

-11

-7

-3

Wigginton

Hou/TB

647

-1

4

-16

N/A

N/A

-24

-4

Iwamura

TB

1,042

-1

-13

-1

N/A

N/A

14

-5

Kouzmanoff

SD

1,135

-0

-3

-13

N/A

N/A

-18

-5

Reynolds

Ari

842

-4

-2

-16

N/A

N/A

-4

-7

Encarnacion

Cin

1,168

4

-25

-6

N/A

N/A

-10

-9

Blake

Cle

1,209

-9

-13

-23

N/A

N/A

-8

-15

Bautista

Pit

1,065

-8

-38

-22

-23

-12

-2

-21

Cabrera

Fla

1,311

-16

-13

-26

-20

-28

-12

-21

Fields

CWS

690

-16

-32

-27

-29

-17

-19

-24

Atkins

Col

1,319

-14

-27

-38

-23

-23

-35

-25

Braun

Mil

945

-22

-47

-32

-46

N/A

-24

-36

18 comments:

  1. Currently living in milwaukee and can say that Braun surely does deserve his place as worst 3rd baseman. The word however is that he will be moved to the outfield next season.

    ReplyDelete
  2. While I wasn't optimistic, I was hoping the upgrade from Guillen to Renteria would cover more of the gap between Cabrera and Inge than it did.

    Between the two, the Tigers are still giving up 25 runs on defense. Hopefully, Cabrera will be a little better than last year and having Jones in left and Guillen at first will make up some of that ground.

    ReplyDelete
  3. I'm curious. Have you done correlations between the different fielding measures? Are they well correlated with each other?

    ReplyDelete
  4. Otis, the correlations are moderately high. Most of them are between .5 and .6. The highest one was between the two STATS based systems: UZR and ZR (.8).

    The correlations between the fan survey and the measures was in the .40s for the most part which isn't too bad for a subjective survey.

    Lee

    ReplyDelete
  5. That's not bad. Perhaps defensive metrics have more reliability thant their reputations would you to believe.

    ReplyDelete
  6. giantsrainmanJanuary 14, 2008

    Thanks for the good work and for visiting my use of your work on McCovey Chronicles. I have modified it to replace pure VORP with VORP adjusted to 150 games as your defensive averages are. I wondered what you thought of this adjustment.

    ReplyDelete
  7. rainman, that one makes more sense. Does it change the results much?

    ReplyDelete
  8. hmm. to really have it make sense you would need to use an offensive stat that doesn't give a value over replacement, like say Bill James's Runs Created or David Smith's Base Runs. I'm not sure if these defensive metrics are adjusted for situation, but the second of those is.

    ReplyDelete
  9. Otis, you are correct and it came up before (on Rainman's blog). I think he's looking for something quick and dirty though and it's hard to find RCAA for all the players. Plus, he's only looking at one position so I think it's ok to do what he's doing. If he was comparing players at different positions, it would be more problematic.

    ReplyDelete
  10. giantsrainmanJanuary 14, 2008

    Lee,

    It made a small difference with a few of the players changing where they were on the list. Only Braun significantly improved his positon on the list and nobody really significantly lowered their position on the list. None the less I think the change did make a necessary correction and Braun's value was indeed understanted before this correction.

    ReplyDelete
  11. I did some quick Visual basic work and managed to get a quick and dirty measure of both defense and offense. I used Runs Created as listed at the hardball times.

    http://www.crumpled.com/brackish/3bsheet.xls

    ReplyDelete
  12. giantsrainmanJanuary 15, 2008

    Otis,

    Thanks! But why didn't you add RC per 150 games to ARS which is also per 150 games. Would this not make the list more accurate measurement of the comparitive value of the thirdbasemen. You are actually just repeating the mistake I made when I used VOPP instead of VORP adjusted to 150 games in my original list.

    ReplyDelete
  13. I didn't research it that closely, but 650 at bats should be close to 150 games, and I used 650 at bats as my "season."

    ReplyDelete
  14. giantsrainmanJanuary 15, 2008

    Otis,

    My mistake. I misunderstood your labels and thought you had not made this adjustment. Thanks again!

    ReplyDelete
  15. Wow, Cabrera is not looking so great on this list. This is another indication that he needs to improve his defense.

    ReplyDelete
  16. Otis -- using straight runs created is problematic because you're not using a replacement level.

    GiantsRainman -- can you give me a link to your use of these numbers at McCovey?

    BPro's VORP numbers don't use very good positional adjustments, but they're probably the best you'll find publicly. Their problem is that they adjust positions based on average offensive performance at each position. You really want to adjust based on difficulty of playing the position. For example, center fielders are actually pretty decent hitters AND defenders. Overall, there's more talent in CF than at 2B. But making it a zero sum game like BPro does removes the value of the center fielders.

    Great fielding series.

    ReplyDelete
  17. Yeah, that was the point. The McCoven have convinced me that it's okay to combine an "Above Average" analysis with an "Above Replacement" analysis if you are just adding them together, though.

    ReplyDelete
  18. Otis -- that's correct, but you're not using an "above replacement" figure. Straight runs created just divides up all of the runs scored by a team between its contributors. Even replacement-level hitters will accumulate 50 or so runs created over a full season. That is, a team full of replacement-level hitters will still score like 450 runs (numbers for example, only.) You need to subtract out replacement-level runs from runs created before using it in an analysis.

    ReplyDelete

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