Monday, 10 November 2014

Washington Nationals 2014 Batted Ball Analysis

My batting reviews use types of batted balls to essay an assessment of how much a hitter's statistics might depart from their 'true talent level'. Another way to think about it is to see who might be hitting over their heads, getting that dying quail, 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       79    61   +18
Bryce  Harper      51    41   +10
Jayson  Werth     100    94   + 6
Danny  Espinosa    31    26   + 5
Adam  LaRoche      84    80   + 4
Zach  Walters       5     4   + 1
Michael  Taylor     4     3   + 1
Tyler  Moore       11    11     0
Nate  Schierholtz   4     4     0
Ryan  Zimmerman    32    33   - 1
Steven  Souza       2     3   - 1
Anthony  Rendon   100   102   - 2
Greg  Dobbs         1     3   - 2
Jeff  Kobernus      0     2   - 2
Scott  Hairston     5     8   - 3
Sandy  Leon         2     6   - 4
Wilson  Ramos      38    43   - 5
Jose  Lobaton      17    24   - 7
Nate  McLouth       9    17   - 8
Asdrubal  Cabrera  21    30   -11
Kevin  Frandsen    19    32   -13
Denard  Span       88   102   -14

I only did this analysis once for the Nationals in 2014 and, just like last time, Ian Desmond has been the luckiest batter, while poor Denard Span has been poorly rewarded for his efforts at the plate. Although I haven't don't a study of this, I use a rule of thumb that +/-5 is within reasonable expectations. So the main candidates to expect a decline from next year are Bryce Harper and possibly Jayson Werth (and Desmond), while we should expect more from Jose Lobaton, Nate McLouth, Asdrubal Cabrera and Kevin Frandsen (and Span). So it's just as well the Nationals picked up Span's 2015 option.

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