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

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 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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