Thursday, 24 July 2014

Joakim Soria a Tiger?

I just saw a tweet from @RobertMurrayMLB about a rumour that Joakim Soria was to become a Tiger. Let's do a quick-n-dirty comparison of what he might offer the Tigers in one particular area. The comparison is with closer Joe Nathan.

Four Seamer, Soria 140%, Nathan 40%
Slider Soria 161%, Nathan 56%
Curve Soria 112%, Nathan 32%
change Soria 89%, Nathan 0%
Sinker Nathan 48%

BrooksBaseball.net can show you how many times a pitch is 'whiffed' (swung on and missed), which becomes the whiff percentage. A league-average rate for a four-seam fastball is 16% whiffed. Soria's four-seamer is 40 per cent better than that, while batters only whiff on 6 or so of every hundred of Nathan's four-seamers. Soria's four-seamer, slider and curve are all better than league average, while all of Nathan's offerings are worse than average. Soria has the potential to improve greatly the Tigers' closer capability.

Now, having said that, a warning — Soria's performance has declined sharply this month, compared to the rest of the season. Tigers fans should hope that he reverts to his performances earlier in the season.

Wednesday, 23 July 2014

2014 Marlins' Hitters' Batted Balls in Review #1

For reasons I hope to explain at some point later on, I am returning some comment on the Miami Marlins to this blog. I am quite enthusiastic about the information in my batted balls' surveys, so I'll resume coverage with a look at these.

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
Giancarlo  Stanton        76    57    19
Marcell  Ozuna            50    37    13
Christian  Yelich         50    41    13
Jarrod  Saltalamacchia    31    28     3
Henderson  Alvarez         2     3   - 1
Rafael  Furcal             1     3   - 2
Greg  Dobbs              - 1     1   - 2
Casey  McGehee            58    61   - 3
Derek  Dietrich           21    24   - 3
Jeff  Baker               14    18   - 4
Jeff  Mathis               8    12   - 4
Jake  Marisnick            0     4   - 4
Reed  Johnson             12    17   - 5
Donovan  Solano           11    16   - 5
Garrett  Jones            41    47   - 6
Ed  Lucas                 10    16   - 6
Adeiny  Hechavarria       27    39   -12

Stanton's offensive contribution to the team has been splendid this season, but he's been hitting a bit over his head. Ozuna and Yelich have also been exceeding reasonable expectations. By contrast Hechavarria has struggled to get his maximum hitting value. But what really interests me in comparing the Marlins to the other two teams I have been looking at, is how the sort of range which falls within what I would consider random variation is largely negative for the marlins. Only Saltalamacchia has been doing a little bit better. This could be a harbinger of a slight improvement in the Marlins' offensive fortunes, provided those first three hitters keep having such good fortune.

2014 Nationals' Fielding Review #6

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        7.0     +0.6   -1.7
Ramos (C)           n/a      --      n/a     ---         n/a        5.7     +1.3   -2.0
Span (CF)          -0.4     +1.5    .934    +.016       .923        2.6     +2.9    n/a
Espinosa (2B)       0.1     -1.1    .788    +.004       .788        5.7     +2.1    n/a
LaRoche (1B)       -1.9     +2.4    .800    +.004       .807      - 8.0      ---    n/a
Harper (LF)        -1.3     +0.1    .872    +.023       .871      - 5.5     -2.1    n/a
Desmond (SS)       -2.3     +0.3    .803    +.005       .793      -10.8     -0.4    n/a
Werth (RF)         -4.5     -2.9    .933    +.004       .895      - 8.6     -3.5    n/a
Rendon (3B)         0.4     +0.7    .699    -.006       .708        2.4     +1.4    n/a
Zimmerman (LF)      0.4     ---     .905    +.003       .871        0.6     -1.6    n/a
Rendon (2B)         2.0     ---     .857     ---        .788      - 8.0     ---     n/a 
minimum 180 innings

By UZR Denard Span continues to improve, by exactly the same amount as last time. Danny Espinosa gave back all of his UZR improvement from the last review. Span and Anthony Rendon at third are the two players seen as improving both by the traditional statistics of DRA and by the play-by-play analysis of UZR. The only player losing ground under both systems was Jayson Werth. Rendon is now in the list as a secondbaseman as well as a thirdbaseman. Ryan Zimmerman at third just missed the cut.

Overall, both systems see the Nationals as seemingly having to found their level for the season. UZR adds up to a 0.7 increase, which is probably indicative of random variaton. DRA, including catchers, sees an identical improvement. UZR adds up the Nationals' regular fielders to -7.8, or costing the team about three-quarters of a win. DRA sees matters almost twice as bad, with -16.9 runs, or almost two wins. However, one probably ought to double the UZR total to get a better idea of the team's fielding over an entire season.

Wilson Ramos' pitch framing went down las time by 2.5 runs and this time by 1.4 runs. Jose Lobaton also slipped a bit, losing 0.4 runs, giving back some of his improvement last time. 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.

Friday, 18 July 2014

2014 Tigers' HItters' 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.
____
* 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.