Thursday, October 16, 2014

Adding Shifts to Defensive Runs Saved

In a recent post, I presented some statistics on defensive shifts which had been provided via a tweet by Mark Simon of ESPN.  Here, I'm going to add the runs saved by shifts to the Defensive Runs Saved (DRS), a measure which tries to captures team defense.    

Table 1 below shows that the Tigers infield cost the team 27 runs on plays not involving shifts.  They saved 8 runs on shifts which is one above the MLB average of seven.  Adding 1 to -27 gives the Tigers -26 for Infield DRS Plus Shifts, that is, they cost themselves an estimated 26 runs with infield defense.  They ranked 26th in the majors on that measure.

Detroit's total DRS for all positions was -65 without the shift and -64 including shifts.  So, theoretically, they cost themselves 6 to 7 wins on defense compared to the average team.  That was 28th in baseball ahead of just Minnesota (-73) and Cleveland (-75).  That's another illustration of how important it is that the Tigers upgrade defensively this off-season.

Table 1: Defensive Runs Saved Plus Shift Runs Shaved
Team
Infield DRS
Shift Runs Saved
Infield DRS + Shift
Total DRS
Total DRS
 + Shift
St. Louis
32
5
37
64
69
Cincinnati
37
-3
34
67
64
Baltimore
34
0
34
49
49
San Diego
18
-1
17
37
36
Oakland
16
3
19
32
35
Pittsburgh
9
-2
7
36
34
Kansas City
-13
-7
-20
40
33
Boston
-6
6
0
27
33
LA Dodgers
37
-5
32
26
21
Arizona
9
-3
6
21
18
Atlanta
1
-4
-3
19
15
NY Mets
8
-2
6
17
15
Colorado
29
-6
23
16
10
Houston
-13
20
7
-16
4
Washington
10
-6
4
10
4
San Francisco
18
5
23
-5
0
Milwaukee
-20
-3
-23
-5
-8
Seattle
5
2
7
-11
-9
NY Yankees
6
-7
-1
-3
-10
Florida
-24
-14
-38
-5
-19
LA Angels
-16
-5
-21
-16
-21
Toronto
-17
9
-8
-31
-22
Chi Cubs
-8
-4
-12
-22
-26
Philadelphia
-16
3
-13
-39
-36
Texas
-11
5
-6
-43
-38
Tampa Bay
-27
-5
-32
-34
-39
Chi Sox
-32
4
-28
-57
-53
Detroit
-27
1
-26
-65
-64
Minnesota
0
0
0
-73
-73
Cleveland
-41
0
-41
-75
-75
Data sources: ESPN and Baseball Information Solutions

Looking at all teams, we can see there was not a very wide range of runs saved by shifts.  The highest was +20 for Houston and the lowest was -14 for Florida.  So, shifting didn't have a dramatic effect on winning and losing.   A team needs to gain every little advantage they can though and this data gives us a more complete picture of team defense.

3 comments:

  1. Does having a poor defense exaggerate the importance of shifts? A shift to the first base side makes pretty much every ground ball (and some of the line drives) in that direction a routine play. If a team is bad in general, but good at predicting the direction of a ball in play, it seems like they would stand to gain more than an infield that's fleet enough to grab a lot of the grounders even without the shift.

    Does inefficient shifting impact the non-shift DRS? A moderately paced ground ball to the third baseman is a routine play. Making those routine plays boosts your DRS; they're the low-hanging fruit. If the manager is bad at choosing when to shift, the third baseman is deprived of those easy opportunities, which seems like it would leave him with a disproportionate number of difficult opportunities, inevitably reducing his non-shift DRS.

    ReplyDelete
  2. I agree very much that every single advantage counts and as an aggregate a team that finds a way to teach and instill proper fundamentals can pick up a nice bonus value, but there is no stat that exists that precisely quantifies how many runs a team loses due to fundamental mistakes, which then could be broken down to specific areas such as hitting/fielding/base-running/pitching/coaching decisions.

    There also could be a lot of disagreement from one person to the next on what constitutes a fundamental mistake, so to keep track of all of those stats would be a different score depending on who is doing the scoring. I would hope that every team has somebody that calculates that score so that they know which people are making the most non-recorded-statistical fundamental mistakes as a way to rank them as well as evaluate the coaches. Of course if you wanted to get technically accurate with your analysis to have comparative reference points across MLB, then it would be advisable for the person doing the scoring to then score all of the other teams the same way or to rely on directing a scoring team to attempt to be consistent in recording the data the way the scorer designing that system would see things. That would have to be a full-time job for somebody to do if they weren't employing a scoring team, but it would then give an opportunity to rank each team on a scale of who is making the most fundamental mistakes of each type. Any individual team might feel it's not worth the perceive complexity to create such an analysis unless they felt value in that to determine which team they might want to look at to hire a coach away from, or to look for players that are prone to not making fundamental mistakes. All a team really needs to identify is whether or not they are making more fundamental mistakes than is acceptable and to figure out how they can keep working to minimize that number. I am surprised though that with all of the money involved in the sport that somebody hasn't gone about creating some kind of public Fundamental-Mistakes-Statistics-System, so I see that as a potential area for new statistics to one day emerge when somebody takes the initiative to create such a system.

    ReplyDelete
  3. Jeff, I don't think we have the answers yet, but those are both good points. I've been thinking about the second point for a while. There definitely could be some bias in the DRS with shifts being excluded especially since some teams shift a lot more than others.

    ReplyDelete

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