Friday, 18 July 2014

2014 Tigers' Batted Balls in Review #1

This review uses a method involving batted balls to examine whether hitters might be regarded as 'unlucky'. Another way to think about it is to see who might be hitting over their heads, or who might be suffering from an excess of 'at 'em' balls and may be likely to improve.

As anyone familiar with sabermetrics knows, one can evaluate batting events by means of linear weights. What this means is that a single is worth about two-fifths of a run while a home run, because it can drive in the men on base, is worth over three times a single. Research has revealed that types of batted balls can assign similar values. Line drives are worth a lot, while infield flies are almost as good as strike outs. There is a problem in deciding what category to place a batted ball sometimes, especially the difference between a fly ball and a liner, as symbolised by the neologism 'fliner'. So one needs to treat these numbers with a degree of circumspection.

What this chart shows is the difference between a batted-ball linear weight and Fangraphs' wRC. wRC gives a supposed aggregate number of runs that should have been scored based on hitting events. Some people have flares falling in, while others hit the ball hard, but see it caught. The batted ball number also includes Ultimate Base Running, to make it more compatible with wRC. Note that the chart excludes pitchers' hitting. The first column is wRC, the second the batted ball expected runs.

wRC    BBXR
J. D. Martinez       43     18    +25
Victor  Martinez      64     58    + 6
Alex  Avila           32     26    + 6
Miguel  Cabrera       63     58    + 5
Rajai  Davis          36     36      0
Eugenio Salazar      15     15      0
Bryan  Holaday         8      9    - 1
Tyler  Collins         0      1    - 1
Alex  Gonzalez         1      4    - 3
Danny  Worth           1      5    - 4
Torii  Hunter         37     42    - 5
Ian  Kinsler          57     64    - 7
Don  Kelly            10     17    - 7 
Andrew  Romine         9     16    - 7
Nick  Castellanos     35     45    -10
Austin  Jackson       37     50    -13
JD-Mart has been massively fortunate on the outcomes of his batted balls, making up for the bad luck of Castellanos and A-Jax. The optimist will say all this will even out in the end. The pessimist, however, would say that the more extreme result is more likely to regress to the mean, possibly creating a run-production problem during the second half of the season. They could be the keys to the hitting during the second-half.

Wednesday, 16 July 2014

2014 Tigers' Fielding Review #3

Here is an update to my regular survey of the Tigers' fielding. My source for this is Fangraphs, which includes all the main metrics that interest me except for Michael Humphreys' Defensive Regression Analysis.* From Fangraphs, I've used Mitchel Lichtman's Ultimate Zone Rating, my personal first choice of the 'converted-to-runs-play-by-play' metrics, and my preferred measure of RZR. The last is Revised Zone Rating, which is like a fielding average but counts balls hit into a zone, rather than those the fielder actually reached. I have included the league positional averages for RZR, to help give the players' numbers some context. DRA is added to these two, while I have dropped Dewan's Defensive Runs Saved. Note that catchers do not have a Zone Rating. Instead, I have used the runs saved by framing, supplied by StatCorner.com

Player              UZR    Change    RZR   Change    ALAverage     DRA    Change   PFr
Avila   (C)         n/a      --      n/a     ---         n/a      - 3.5   -2.2     -8.1
Holaday (C)         n/a      --      n/a     ---         n/a      - 1.1    0       -4.2
Kinsler (2B)        5.2     -1.2    .826   +.004        .799      - 7.4   -4.3      n/a
Jackson (CF)       -4.6     -0.7    .920   +.004        .909      - 2.2   +1.9      n/a
Cabrera (1B)        6.3     +0.1    .825   +.013        .800       18.1   +4.3      n/a
JD Martinez (LF)   -2.4     +0.3    .875   +.014        .881      - 3.2   +0.9      n/a
Rajai  (LF)        -3.6     +3.3    .856   +.008        .881      - 0.1   -2.2      n/a
Romine (SS)        -2.1     +0.6    .722   +.011        .752      - 4.2   +1.0      n/a
Hunter (RF)       -12.0     +1.9    .863   +.022        .888      - 9.0   +2.0      n/a
Castellanos (3B)   -9.1     -2.7    .616   +.005        .705      - 2.7   +2.1      n/a
Suarez (SS)         0.3     +0.1    .808   +.119        .752        2.8   +1.8      n/a
minimum 170 innings

RZR continues its positive views on the Tigers' fielding, seeing improvement across the board. Corner outfield and third base still are below the league average, but everywhere else the Tigers are getting to more balls in the zone than the average player at the position.

UZR sees an overall improvement, up by 1.7 runs. The extreme results see Rajai Davis playing better, while Nick Castellanos plays worse. DRA sees even more improvement, with the team overall up by 5.3 runs, or half a win. However, we ought to bear in mind that the last review showed a sharp fall in Tigers' fielding, and they have only made up part of that ground. A good part of the gains come from an improved showing by Torii Hunter, who is up by sizeable amounts across the board. I can't help but look at DRA and think that some kind of accounting trick has transferred some of Ian Kinsler's fielding to Miguel Cabrera. We might want to keep an eye on that.

The sharpest divergence comes at left field and third base, with Rajai Davis' UZR way up, while his DRA rating is down. Castellanos and, to a lesser extent, Austin Jackson reverse that.

On pitch framing, Alex Avila's previous improvement was largely undone, losing -1.1 runs. Brian Holaday also fell by 0.8.
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* These are available at the Baseball Gauge of Seamheads.com. Humphreys wrote the excellent Wizardry, which is a way of looking at fielding using only the traditional statistics, and not the newfangled play-by-play metrics.

Sunday, 13 July 2014

Tigers 2014 Games 76, 77, 78: non satis cursus

The Tigers deserved to lose the Sunday game, as Drew Smyly had terrible outing, but the previous games featured pitching performances that, while not dominant, were theoretically good enough to win when given average run support. Now, in the 2014 American League, that means four or five runs. Rather logically enough, the Tigers split the games. In Max Scherzer's start, the Tigers, just, scored four and won. For Justin Verlander, however, the Tigers could only score three, and lost. What's more is that there were few chances for the Tigers to add a run or two more. Their bats were shut down pretty completely by throughout the game by the Astros' Brad Peacock. The best chance came in the third inning, when both Torii Hunter and Miguel Cabrera failed with runners on first and second. Both are among the worst performers with the bat as far as LI Win Values tell us. All of this is a roundabout way of saying that the defeat was not entirely Blaine Hardy's fault.
QMAX ratings:   (4,3) for Verlander (Success Square)
                (4,2) for scherzer (Succcess Square)
                (7,5) for Smyly (Hit Hard)

Bullpen Awards: Goat's Head for Hardy

Batters' Aggregate LI Win Values: 
Suarez        0.637
Kinsler       0.506
Castellanos   0.276
Holaday       0.102
Romine        0.080
Avila        -0.004
JD Mart      -0.031
V-Mart       -0.259
Cabrera      -0.340
Jackson      -0.419
Hunter       -0.447
Rajai        -0.685

Friday, 11 July 2014

2014 Nationals Hitters' Batted Balls in Review #1

I have been spending more time on the World Cup than on baseball this past month, but during that I decided to start another regular review of batters' hitting, similar to my fielding reviews. Where the fielding reviews try to compare different systems to gain some sort of sense of just how much fielding is contributing to wins and losses, this review is going to examine whether hitters might be regarded as 'unlucky'. Another way to think about it is to see who might be hitting over their heads, or who might be suffering from an excess of 'at 'em' balls and may be likely to improve.

As anyone familiar with sabermetrics knows, one can evaluate batting events by means of linear weights. What this means is that a single is worth about two-fifths of a run while a home run, because it can drive in the men on base, is worth over three times a single. Research has revealed that types of batted balls can assign similar values. Line drives are worth a lot, while infield flies are almost as good as strike outs. There is a problem in deciding what category to place a batted ball sometimes, especially the difference between a fly ball and a liner, as symbolised by the neologism 'fliner'. So one needs to treat these numbers with a degree of circumspection.

What this chart shows is the difference between a batted-ball linear weight and Fangraphs' wRC. wRC gives a supposed aggregate number of runs that should have been scored based on hitting events. Some people have flares falling in, while others hit the ball hard, but see it caught. The batted ball number also includes Ultimate Base Running, to make it more compatible with wRC. Note that the chart excludes pitchers' hitting. The first column is wRC, the second the batted ball expected runs.

Ian  Desmond             42      33    + 9
Adam  LaRoche            49      43    + 6
Danny  Espinosa          22      20    + 2
Zach  Walters             4       3    + 1 
Anthony  Rendon          56      56      0
Ryan  Zimmerman          24      24      0
Bryce  Harper            12      12      0
Wilson  Ramos            19      20    - 1
Tyler  Moore              8       9    - 1
Scott  Hairston           4       5    - 1
Steven  Souza             0       1    - 1
Jayson  Werth            53      55    - 2
Greg  Dobbs               1       3    - 2
Jose  Lobaton            11      14    - 3
Nate  McLouth            11      15    - 4
Sandy  Leon               2       6    - 4 
Kevin  Frandsen          12      20    - 8
Denard  Span             40      58    -18
Poor Denard Span. He has been poorly rewarded for his efforts at the plate. I don't think any other hitter is wildly out of line with his results, but I do note that Danny Espinosa, whose .214/.282/.343 slash line isn't all that impressive to begin with, has been hitting a little bit above expectations.

Nationals 2014 Games 78, 79, 80, 81: dimidium in Chicago

Dough Fister's rickety start was possibly a lost opportunity, but sometimes it is just not your day. Adam LaRoche could have hit better in that game, but he redeemed himself in Saturday night's affair, virtually winning that with his bat alone (although the pitching helped).
QMAX ratings:   (5,2) for Fister (Soldier of Fortune)
                (7,3) for Roark (Hit Hard)
                (1,3) for Gonzalez (Success Square)
                (3,3) for Treinen (Success Square)

Bullpen Awards: Goat's Head for Stammen

Batters' Aggregate LI Win Values: 
Rendon        0.552
Ramos         0.156
Span          0.117
McLouth       0.075
Frandsen      0.070
Zimmerman     0.052
Werth        -0.019
Gonzalez     -0.037
Hairston     -0.039
Treinen      -0.070
LaRoche      -0.103
Lobaton      -0.113
Roark        -0.122
Fister       -0.140
Espinosa     -0.160 
Desmond      -0.682

Tuesday, 8 July 2014

2014 Nationals Fielding Review #5

Here is an update to last time's fielding numbers. My source for this is Fangraphs, which includes all the main metrics that interest me except for Michael Humphreys' Defensive Regression Analysis.* From Fangraphs, I've used Mitchel Lichtman's Ultimate Zone Rating, my personal first choice of the 'converted-to-runs-play-by-play' metrics, and my preferred measure of RZR. RZR is Revised Zone Rating, which is like a fielding average but counts balls hit into a zone, rather than those the fielder actually reached. I have included the MLB positional averages for RZR, to help give the players' numbers some context. Note that catchers do not have a Zone Rating. Instead, I have used the runs saved by framing, supplied by StatCorner.com

Player              UZR    Change    RZR   Change    LgAverage      DRA    Change   PFr
Lobaton (C)         n/a      --      n/a     ---         n/a        6.4     -0.2   -1.3
Ramos (C)           n/a      --      n/a     ---         n/a        4.4     -0.6   -0.6
Span (CF)          -1.9     +1.5    .918    -.001       .923      - 0.3     +3.6    n/a
Espinosa (2B)       1.2     +1.1    .784    -.006       .788        3.6     +2.5    n/a
LaRoche (1B)       -4.3     -2.9    .796    -.008       .807      - 8.0     -2.2    n/a
McLouth (LF)       -0.6     +0.1    .880     ---        .871      - 1.2     +0.1    n/a
Harper (LF)        -1.4     +0.2    .849    -.029       .871      - 3.4     -0.5    n/a
Desmond (SS)       -2.6     +1.3    .798    -.001       .793      -10.4     -1.7    n/a
Werth (RF)         -1.6     +0.7    .929    -.004       .895      - 5.1     -1.1    n/a
Rendon (3B)        -0.3     -0.8    .705    -.008       .708        1.0     +0.6    n/a
Zimmerman (LF)      0.4     -0.3    .902    -.069       .871        2.2     -1.9    n/a
minimum 170 innings

RZR thinks the Nationals' fielding has decline across the board, although as usual one must also take note of the league averages when using RZR. Comparing individual players with their league peers suggests that overall the Nationals fielding stands comparison, although decline in RZR by Adam LaRoche continues.

UZR and DRA diverge in their opinions of Bryce Harper (UZR up, DRA down), Ian Desmond (ditto), Jaysotops the list of those rising n Werth (ditto again), and Anthony Rendon (UZR down, DRA up). LaRoche leads the declines in both of these systems, while Denard Span is tops on the list of improvers. UZR thinks that overall the Nationals' regulars have improved again, up by 0.9. DRA sees a slight improvement, up by 1.1, but that still leaves the bulk of the Nationals' sharp fall last time weighing them down.

Ramos' pitch framing went down quite a bit, by 2.5 runs. Lobaton improved slightly, by 1.4. So, overall, the Nationals' catchers haven't been able to get the calls during this past two weeks or so.
____
* These are available at the Baseball Gauge of Seamheads.com. Humphreys wrote the excellent Wizardry, which is a way of looking at fielding using only the traditional statistics, and not the newfangled play-by-play metrics.

Thursday, 3 July 2014

2014 Tigers' Fielding Review #2

Here, a couple of days late, is an update to my regular survey of the Tigers' fielding. My source for this is Fangraphs, which includes all the main metrics that interest me except for Michael Humphreys' Defensive Regression Analysis.* From Fangraphs, I've used Mitchel Lichtman's Ultimate Zone Rating, my personal first choice of the 'converted-to-runs-play-by-play' metrics, and my preferred measure of RZR. The last is Revised Zone Rating, which is like a fielding average but counts balls hit into a zone, rather than those the fielder actually reached. I have included the league positional averages for RZR, to help give the players' numbers some context. DRA is added to these two, while I have dropped Dewan's Defensive Runs Saved. Note that catchers do not have a Zone Rating. Instead, I have used the runs saved by framing, supplied by StatCorner.com

Player              UZR    Change    RZR   Change    ALAverage     DRA    Change   PFr
Avila   (C)         n/a      --      n/a     ---         n/a      - 1.3   -2.3     -7.0
Holaday (C)         n/a      --      n/a     ---         n/a      - 1.1   -1.5     -3.4
Kinsler (2B)        6.4     +2.2    .822   +.014        .799      - 3.1   -1.9      n/a
Jackson (CF)       -3.9     -4.7    .916   -.001        .909      - 4.1   -1.9      n/a
Cabrera (1B)        6.3     +2.5    .812   -.011        .800       13.8   +4.5      n/a
JD Martinez (LF)   -2.4     -0.8    .861   -.039        .881      - 4.1   -4.5      n/a
Davis  (LF)        -6.9     +0.6    .848   +.010        .881        2.1   +1.8      n/a
Romine (SS)        -2.7     -0.2    .711   +.002        .752      - 5.2   -0.8      n/a
Hunter (RF)       -13.9     +0.1    .841   +.016        .888      -11.0   -1.6      n/a
Castellanos (3B)   -6.4     -5.2    .611   -.004        .705      - 4.8   -1.4      n/a
Suarez (SS)         0.2      --     .769     ---        .752        1.0     --      n/a
minimum 160 innings

During the past two weeks, the metrics that convert fielding data to runs show the Tigers' fielding has mostly deteriorated quite sharply. UZR sees the Tigers' numbers decline by 5.5, or half a win. DRA paints an even worse picture, with a decline of 9.6 runs, or almost an entire win. The same broad outlines discussed last time still persist. The Tigers' outfielders are not very good defenders, UZR evaluating them at -27.1 and DRA at -17.1. The left side of the infield is also a point of weakness (UZR -8.9, DRA -9), while the right side is the Tigers' greatest strength in the field (UZR +8.5, DRA +10.7). Mostly the systems agree with each other with the exception of Ian Kinsler, whom UZR sees as a positive fielder, but DRA thinks is a negative one. The opposite applies to Rajai Davis.

However, RZR paints a more positive picture. Kinsler, Austin Jackson and Miguel Cabrera have been all above-average fielders at their position. The systems divide over Jackson, who is an asset under RZR, and a negative factor under the other two. Looking at the UZR for all AL centrefielders, it seems that while UZR thinks Jackson has good range, his arm is below-average and he makes too many errors.

A brief word about Eugenio Suarez: so far all the systems see him as above average. Suarez Runs Created are also higher than other shortstops the Tigers have tried out as regulars. Perhaps a lot of the credit for the Tigers' recovery from a late-spring swoon is down to him.

On pitch framing, Alex Avila has improved, but Bryan Holaday has got a lot worse.
____
* These are available at the Baseball Gauge of Seamheads.com. Humphreys wrote the excellent Wizardry, which is a way of looking at fielding using only the traditional statistics, and not the newfangled play-by-play metrics.