Tuesday, 10 June 2014

2014 Nationals Fielding Review #3

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. 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 MLB 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    MLBaverage     DRA    Change   PFr
Lobaton (C)         n/a      --      n/a     ---         n/a        6.3     +0.2   -1.2
Ramos (C)           n/a      --      n/a     ---         n/a        2.7     --     -0.3
Span (CF)          -1.4     +1.2    .929    -.003       .914      - 3.6     +0.4    n/a
Espinosa (2B)       0.0     +0.3    .779    +.013       .789        2.3     -2.2    n/a
LaRoche (1B)       -2.3     -2.1    .868    +.022       .812      - 1.1     +2.9    n/a
McLouth (LF)       -1.0      --     .880     ---        .872      - 0.8     --      n/a
Harper (LF)        -1.7     -0.2    .875     ---        .872      - 2.6     +0.8    n/a
Desmond (SS)       -4.6     -0.1    .795    +.033       .775      -10.7     +0.8    n/a
Werth (RF)         -1.3     -3.5    .932    -.023       .895      - 0.8     +2.0    n/a
Rendon (3B)        -1.2     +2.8    .707    +.009       .709        1.0     +1.5    n/a
minimum 130 innings

The abysmal Nationals' fielding of the early season now seems to have done a little bit of 'regression to the mean, no matter what particular statistic one looks at. We see some extreme results, with DRA, the method using traditional fielding statistics, seeing improvement from Adam LaRoche and Jayson Werth, while UZR takes a remarkably opposed view. RZR splits the difference, with one up and one down. Interestingly, RZR now sees Ian Desmond as an above-average shortstop, while DRA and RZR think he is improved but still the worst regular on the team. Anthony Rendon has improved quite dramatically with more time at third base.

If one sums the UZR changes, the Nationals' regulars have deteriorated by about -1.6 runs, and locates the problem on the right side of the field, with Werth and LaRoche dampening the improvement elsewhere. DRA sees a 6.1-run improvement, which is half a win. The Nationals are winning more, too. Once again, my own impression aligns more with DRA.

As a side note, the pitch-framing data for the catchers shows some improvement for Lobaton, who scored -2.1 last time.
* 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.

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