Tuesday, 17 June 2014

2014 Tigers Fielding Review #1

I am adding the Tigers to my survey of fielding numbers, which I have been meaning to do since the start of providing these. So I will alternate the Tigers and the Nationals, with updates every other week. 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
Avila   (C)         n/a      --      n/a     ---         n/a        1.0     --     -8.8
Holaday (C)         n/a      --      n/a     ---         n/a        0.4     --     -2.0
Kinsler (2B)        5.2      --     .822     ---        .789      - 1.2     --      n/a
Jackson (CF)       -3.9      --     .917     ---        .924      - 2.2     --      n/a
Cabrera (1B)        3.8      --     .823     ---        .812        9.3     --      n/a
JD Martinez (LF)   -1.6      --     .900     ---        .872        0.4     --      n/a
Davis  (LF)        -4.5      --     .838     ---        .872        0.3     --      n/a
Romine (SS)        -2.7      --     .709     ---        .775      - 4.4     --      n/a
Hunter (RF)       -14.0      --     .825     ---        .895      - 9.4     --      n/a
Castellanos (3B)   -1.2      --     .615     ---        .709      - 3.4     --      n/a
minimum 130 innings

Without the same amount of information monitored as this blog has for the Nationals, it is impossible to ascertain whether the Tigers' fall-off in performance is associated with bad fielding. However, there are several obvious pieces of information to draw from these numbers. One is that the Tigers' outfielders aren't doing very well. On all measures we see negative numbers except for J.D. Martinez' RZR and DRA, and Rajai Davis' DRA. But the DRA numbers aren't much above average.

The infield pffers a slightly better picture, with Ian Kinsler and Miguel Cabrera doing well under UZR and DRA is really enthusiastic about Cabrera. However, RZR sees the left side of the infield as quite a problem, with both Andrew Romine and Nick Castellanos well under the league average.

I do have data for overall team fielding going back some weeks. The Tigers' team UZR has fallen quite sharply over the last ten days to two weeks, from average-ish to moderately bad. (UZR thinks the worse teams are the Indians and Astros). The Tigers are probably at the fringe of what is tolerable. Defensive Runs Saved sees the picture a bit worse, with the Tigers being the fourth-worst team in MLB. RZR shares UZR's ranking.

On pitch framing, Alex Avila is one of the worst in baseball, with only three catchers with lower scores.
* 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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