Thursday, December 27, 2012

Torii Hunter Substantially Improves Tigers Outfield Defense


In previous posts, I took the Revised Zone Rating (RZR) and Out-of-Zone Plays (OOZ) metrics listed at FanGraphs and converted them to runs based on an algorithm developed by Colin Wyers a few years ago.  Links to these posts are provided below:
Now, I'm going to to do the run conversion for right fielders.  Table 1 below contains the following information for 18 MLB right fiielders with 800 or more innings in 2012:
  • Inn = Innings
  • RZR = Revised Zone Rating
  • OOZ = Out-of-Zone Plays
  • PIZAA =  Plays in Zone Above Average
  • OOZAA = Out-of-Zone Plays Above Average
  • PMAA = Total Plays Above Average
  • RSAA = Runs Saved Above Average 
Alex Rios of the White Sox led the majors with +26 Runs Saved Above Average.  He was followed by Braves right fielder Jason Heyward at +26.  The worst right fielder by this metric was Jeff Francoeur of the Royals (-25). 

When the Tigers acquired Torii Hunter earlier this off-season, they saw him as an upgrade both offensively and defensively.  The Tigers' most frequent right fielder last season was Brennan Boesch who cost the Tigers an estimated -11 runs defensively according to RSAA.  In contrast, Hunter was an estimated +11 runs better that the average right fielder.  If his defense is the same in 2013, that would be a +22 run or two win improvement over Boesch.

What is interesting is how the two outfielders got to their final run saved/cost figures.  According to these zone rating statistics, Boesch was actually better than Hunter on in-zone plays last year (+5 versus -1).  However, Hunter was a stunning 32 plays better outside the zone (+13 versus -19).  So, we can expect Hunter to cover a lot more ground in the outfield in 2013 than Boesch did in 2012. 

Table 1: Runs Saved by MLB Right Fielders According to RZR, OOZ, 2012

Player
Team
Inn
RZR
OOZ
PIZ AA
OOZ AA
PMAA
RSAA
Alex Rios
CHW
1,369
.934
107
5
26
31
26
Jason Heyward
ATL
1,337
.943
98
7
19
26
22
Josh Reddick
OAK
1,179
.924
93
2
24
25
21
Giancarlo Stanton
MIA
1,034
.897
82
-3
21
18
15
Torii Hunter
LAA
1,112
.910
79
-1
13
13
11
Ichiro Suzuki
SEA/NYY
1,072
.967
63
10
-0
9
8
Justin Upton
ARI
1,280
.919
83
1
8
9
7
Nick Swisher
NYY
907
.905
63
-2
10
8
7
Norichika Aoki
MIL
896
.889
59
-4
6
2
2
Carlos Beltran
STL
1,126
.898
70
-3
4
1
1
Hunter Pence
PHI/SF
1,408
.918
80
1
-3
-2
-2
Jay Bruce
CIN
1,343
.908
70
-2
-9
-11
-9
Andre Ethier
LAD
1,256
.947
57
6
-17
-11
-9
Nick Markakis
BAL
926
.886
47
-4
-8
-12
-10
Brennan Boesch
DET
909
.950
35
5
-19
-14
-11
Nelson Cruz
TEX
1,286
.869
73
-11
-3
-14
-12
Shin-Soo Choo
CLE
1,331
.920
63
2
-15
-14
-12
Jeff Francoeur
KCR
1,283
.916
46
0
-30
-29
-25

Data source: FanGraphs.com 

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