Wednesday, October 08, 2008

Tigers team statistical summary for 2008

You already know the Tigers had an awful year and that they disappointed in almost every aspect of the game in 2008. My annual end of season statistical summary presented in tables 1-4 below confirm this but also suggest that fielding may have been the biggest contributor to their decline from 2007 to 2008.

The Tigers won 14 fewer games this year and it probably seemed like more than that. As shown in Table 1. the Bengals offensive output dropped from 5.5 runs per game in 2007 runs to 5.1 runs per game in 2008. Offense was down a little bit in the American League this year but with the additions of Miguel Cabrera and Edgar Renteria, the Tigers were expected to be one of the two best offenses in the league. Instead, they dropped from 2nd in the league last year to fourth this year.

On the other side of the ball, the Tigers allowed almost a half run more this year going from 4.9 runs allowed per game last year to 5.3 this year. Their rank dropped from 9th to 12th.

Table 1: Overall


2007

2008


#

Rank

#

Rank

Record

88-74

5

74-88

12

R/G

5.5

2

5.1

4

RA/G

4.9

9

5.3

12


Table 2 shows that the biggest difference offensively between 2007 and 2008 was batting average. They dropped from .287 (2nd in league) in 2007 to .271 (5th in league) in 2008. Their slugging went from 2nd best last year to 4th best this year. One area where they did improve was drawing walks going from 2.93 per game last year to 3.53 this year. This allowed them to remain 4th in on base percentage.


Not shown in the table but a big factor was their batting average with runners in scoring position dropping from .311 in 2007 to to .268 in 2008. The Twins, on the other hand, went from .276 to .305. This explains why they scored more runs than the Tigers this year despite having an OPS that that was 36 points lower. I think it was just one of those flukey things which should not be a problem for the Tigers next year.

Table 2: Offense



2007

2008


#

Rank

#

Rank

BA

.287

2

.271

5

BB

2.93

12

3.53

5

K

6.5

7

6.6

10

ISO

.171

2

.173

3

OBP

.345

4

.340

4

SLG

.458

2

.444

4

OPS

.802

3

.784

3


Table 3 shows that their ERA was already below average in 2007 and got worse this year. It jumped from 4.57 to 4.90 and both their starters (4.68 to 5.03) and relievers (4.37 to 4.65) contributed to the decline. Interestingly, their Fielding Independent Pitching ERA was almost the same as last year which suggests that fielding may have been the biggest contributor to this year's increase in runs allowed.

Table 3: Pitching


2007

2008


#

Rank

#

Rank

FIP

4.73

11

4.75

12

ERA

4.57

9

4.90

12

SP ERA

4.68

9

5.03

11

RP ERA

4.37

11

4.65

12


Fielding is harder to measure but Table 4 illustrates that the Tigers dropped off a lot defensively this year. After ranking third in the American League in Defensive Efficiency (% of balls in play converted into outs) in 2007, they dropped to 11th this year.


Using The Hardball Times plus/minus stat, they ranked 3rd in fielding last year and dropped to 12th this year. In this system, they break down fielding by looking at types of balls hit (ground ball, fly ball, pop up, line drive) . These stats are explained further in an article by Dave Studeman. This system is denoted +/- in the table.


Looking at Revised Zone Rating (RZR), they were 4th in 2007 and 12th this year. 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. For a further discussion of DER, RZR and other fielding statistics, check out Fielding Stats at The Hardball Times by Dave Studeman.

The chart below also breaks RZR into infield and outfield. The table shows that both their infield and outfield defenses slipped substantially this year. The infield ranked 6th in 2007 and 10th in 2008. Similarly, the outfield defense went from 1st to 12th. I should note that the Tigers outfield made more out of zone plays than most teams this year so that might bump their rank up a couple of notches. Still, their overall defense was down a lot this year.

Table 4: Fielding


2007

2008


#

Rank

#

Rank

DER

.705

3

.685

11

+/-

+45

3

-54

12

Overall

.829

4

.817

12

Infield

.781

6

.771

10

Outfield

.898

1

.885

12


In summary, the Tigers failed in most aspects of the game this year. Their offense disappointed, their pitching continued to be below average and their fielding declined substantially. They can improve their offense simply by hitting better with runners in scoring position. Since they did so well in that area in 2007 with many of the same players, there is no reason why they can't improve their BA with RISP in 2009.

Pitching will be more difficult. They need Jeremy Bonderman to be healthy and they need Justin Verlander to bounce back in 2009. They will also need to add some pitching especially relievers. I would expect a very different bullpen in 2009.

Improving their defense is one of their biggest tasks of the off-season. They have already made a move to improve their infield defense with the move of Brandon Inge to third base. There is also the possibilty that they will add a strong fielding shortstop to take over for Edgar Renteria. Their outfield defense could improve if Curtis Granderson (who struggled defensively this year) returns to form in 2009.

In the coming weeks, I'll be breaking the team stats down into individual stats so we can a better idea of specifically which players failed and where they need to improve for next year.

4 comments:

  1. Thanks for the link to THT. Those guys have a knack for making stats explainable.

    Now I know going through multiple estimations we might lose some correlation, but has anyone taken the difference in +/- and tried to correlate it with runs?

    Naively I suppose you might assume all unfielded balls were all singles and see how that might alter OBP and SLG against your pitchers and estimate a change in runs against. Has something like this been done? Does it work well?

    Ultimately I want to see how many wins it may have cost the Tigers by having worse fielding this year.

    ReplyDelete
  2. I probably should have done this before my first post to avoid too many comments, but the naive approach at least appears feasible.

    Using the simplest form of Pythagoread wins the Tigers lost 6 wins because they scored fewer runs this year. If you call the difference between the Pythagorean wins and actual wins luck then the Tigers lost 2 wins because they were more unlucky this year than last. So fielding should have cost them 6 more wins to make the 14 win difference.

    Then I recalculated total bases and OBP against with 99 fewer singles for the change in +/- ratio. (I know different denominators year to year . . .) and found using the simplest runs created formula (OBP *TB) that the Tigers opponents could be expected to score 73 less runs. Back to Pythagorean wins. The difference in wins is 6 with the new defensive stats.

    The naivie calculation may work as it worked once. So, has anyone done this? Have they thought of a more sophisticated way to think about the +/- change?

    ReplyDelete
  3. This is a great question and you were on the right track. A play made is considered to be .8 runs saved. The simplest explanation I could find is by Tom Tango:

    http://www.insidethebook.com/ee/index.php/site/article/why_saving_a_play_is_worth_08_runs/

    Last year, the Tigers were at +45 so their defense saved 36 runs more than the average team. This year they were -54 so that's 43 runs saved less than the average team. That's a 79 run difference which is huge. A ten run difference is worth roughly one win. So, using these rough estimates, the Tigers defense lost them 8 games this year compared to last year. That's a lot.

    ReplyDelete
  4. Interesting.

    In other words the Tigers could have won the division if they had fielded and hit as well as last year despite AWFUL PITCHING!

    That is not how I perceived the season and strangely it gives me optimism about next year because there are lots of ways to fix the team.

    ReplyDelete

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