• The Fielding Bible II: Tex Huge Upgrade In Field For Yanks

    Posted by on February 24th, 2009 · Comments (13)

    I just had a chance to take a sneak peek at “The Fielding Bible — Volume II” from Acta Sports.

    It looks great.

    As I’ve mentioned in the past, the good folks behind “The Fielding Bible” use a “Plus/Minus System” of analyzing baseball position players fielding prowess (or lack thereof).

    Using a videotape library of every baseball game played in the last three years, data on every play made in baseball was entered into a computer – recording the direction, distance, speed, and type of batted ball. The computer then looks at every type of a certain play – for example, where a soft ground ball was hit in a particular vector of a player’s position purview – and ascertains how many times said ball on a such a play was turned into an out (in terms of a percentage). This then serves as a baseline to determine how many times an individual player is “plus” or “minus” on the same play (versus the average out-made percentage) when presented with the opportunity.

    And, now, with “The Fielding Bible — Volume II,” they’ve taken it a step further. As they explain it:

    Baseball is all about runs. Runs determine the score. Runs are all over the statistics. How many runs did he drive in? What’s his earned run average? In the first volume of The Fielding Bible we developed metrics that help us better understand defense in baseball. We speculated that we would try to translate the new defensive metrics into runs. That’s what we’ve done here in Volume II. We’ve taken all the metrics we had and converted them to runs.

    Using a run expectancy chart, is the charm here. Again, as they explain it:

    The key way that we use this chart is to look at it before and after a play. Let’s say there’s a man on first with one out. The expected runs at that point are .528. The next play is a groundball to the shortstop. He boots it for an error and we now have men on first and second with one out. The expected runs went from .528 to .919. That’s an increase of .391 (.919 minus .528) runs. The play itself, the error, cost the team .391 runs. We don’t have to follow it through and count the rest of the inning. We know what the value of the ending state is and can use it. The term that we are using in this book for this is Defensive Runs (or Defensive Runs Saved or simply Runs Saved). Since the error cost the team runs, it becomes a negative when stated as Defensive Runs. The value of the error is -.391 defensive runs.

    Fun stuff, huh? Well, here’s something even more interesting for Yankees fans.

    Last season, Mark Teixeira led all first baseman in baseball with 17 Runs Saved. And, Jason Giambi was next to last with -13 Runs Saved. And, since the Yankees have replaced “The Big G” with “Tex,” that’s a swing of +30 runs, no? Sweet…

    And, thanks to “The Fielding Bible — Volume II,” we can learn things like this great news for the Yankees. Ah, the power of “D”!

    Comments on The Fielding Bible II: Tex Huge Upgrade In Field For Yanks

    1. clintfsu813
      February 24th, 2009 | 10:52 pm

      Everyday that passes I get more and more excited about this guy!

    2. Tresh Fan
      February 24th, 2009 | 10:53 pm

      Just out of curiosity, what was the difference in the +/- numbers for Robinson Cano between 2007 and 2008? I’m guessing it’s about 30 runs as well.

    3. February 24th, 2009 | 11:19 pm

      ~~Just out of curiosity, what was the difference in the +/- numbers for Robinson Cano between 2007 and 2008? I’m guessing it’s about 30 runs as well.~~

      Cano 2006: -3 Runs Saved
      Cano 2007: +22 Runs Saved
      Cano 2008: -13 Runs Saved

      That’s a swing of 35 runs – good call!

    4. YankCrank
      February 25th, 2009 | 8:55 am

      Wow, those numbers on Cano are staggering!

      That’s also a huge improvement at 1b. A 30 run swing is about 3 wins worth of defense Tex will be giving us. That’s huge! Then, I think we can safely say that average production from whomever is in right field is a giant upgrade over Bobby and that should add to the extra wins on defense as well. Very exciting!

    5. Raf
      February 25th, 2009 | 10:26 am

      Ah, the power of “D”!
      ———-
      I think it can be reasonably argued that the Yankees defense has hurt more than helped in recent years.

    6. YankCrank
      February 25th, 2009 | 10:32 am

      Ah, the power of “D”!
      ———-
      I think it can be reasonably argued that the Yankees defense has hurt more than helped in recent years.
      ——

      Yes, it clearly can. FanGraphs did a study that said the 2005 Yankees were the worst defensive team to make the playoffs in recent baseball history. Go search for it there, the numbers from our defense that year were just absurd, and we still had a good number of those players who stunk it up for the following years (Matsui, Sheff, Giambi).

    7. YankCrank
      February 25th, 2009 | 10:51 am

      Just look at the UZR/150 for some of the Yankees in 2005:

      Bernie Williams: -45.3
      Hideki Matsui: -4.2
      Gary Sheffield: -29.6
      Derek Jeter: -13.7
      Robinson Cano: -21.7
      Jason Giambi: -11.4

      How did that team come back and overtake the Red Sox? On top of that, who was the best of the team? A-Rod, at -.03. Trade him, he’s terrible! A-Roid! A-Fraud! Nothing but a distraction!!

    8. Raf
      February 25th, 2009 | 10:57 am

      FanGraphs did a study that said the 2005 Yankees were the worst defensive team to make the playoffs in recent baseball history. Go search for it there, the numbers from our defense that year were just absurd…
      ——————
      Yes, I believe I referenced it here. Also noted that Kevin Brown’s season in 2005 wasn’t nearly as bad as it appeared. He posted a 6.50 ERA, but looking at his FIP (Fielding Independent Pitching) stat, which was 3.61, he did a lot better than what he gets credit for.

      On the flip side, I think we should keep an eye on Alfredo Aceves (2.40 ERA, 4.80 FIP).

      If there’s anything that Cashman could/should be hammered for, it’s allowing the defense to go to pot.

    9. Evan3457
      February 25th, 2009 | 8:37 pm

      OK…I don’t recall Cashman signing Bernie Williams after 1998. He then detoriates into Bernie Williams, 2005. Not Cashman’s fault. Shoula signed Beltran? I agree. Too bad George wanted to put that money into Randy Johnson.

      Cashman didn’t want to sign Sheffield. He wanted Guerrero. The Boss did Sheffield.

      Cashman didn’t put Jeter at short full time.

      They could’ve kept Girardi as the starting catcher, and never started Jorge, I suppose.

      He did sign Matsui, but I thought you like Matsui.

      He did, on the other hand, trade for A-Rod. He signed Giambi, who was supposed to compensate with an overwhelming bat. They could’ve stayed with Tino’s superior glove, I suppose, and watch the offense slide instead. Actually, Nick Johnson was supposed to take over at first, but the Yanks needed starters for 2004, so he was traded for Javier Vazquez. And kept getting hurt every year thereafter.

      So, we’re left with Cano, whose defensive numbers have bounced from horrible to great and back to horrible again. I guess they coulda stayed with Tony Womack. Hmm…looking at Womack’s UZR data at Fangraphs, I see he was a plus defender at 2B in 2003 for the Rockies and Cubs, a plus defender for the NL Champ Cards in 2004, and a plus defender for the Reds and Cubs in 2006. The only minus mark on his record? Yep, the Yankees in 2005.

      So, we’re blaming Cashman for the allowing the defense to go to pot because…he allowed Jeter, Bernie and Posada to get old?

    10. Evan3457
      February 25th, 2009 | 8:38 pm

      My mistake; they re-signed Bernie after 1999, not 1998.

    11. Evan3457
      February 25th, 2009 | 8:47 pm

      Oh…and moving Damon to left over Matsui and putting Melky/Gardner in center, that’s a DEFENSIVE move. Everyone is screaming for an “established” CF instead. Cameron’s defense Is just a little better than Melky’s right now, and Gardner is about equal to Cameron at this point.

      Letting Abreu go, and bringing in Swisher/Nady…that’s a DEFENSIVE move, but it will cost runs on offense.

      Signing Jose Molina to be the backup, instead of Greg Zaun is a DEFENSIVE move, but it cost quite a few runs on offense last year.

      And now, they’ve signed Teixiera when they could; when Giambi’s contract was finally done.

      RIGHT NOW, the Yanks are above average in left, center when Gardner plays, in right when Swisher plays, and at first. They are deficient at short, and at catcher. A-Rod is about average at 3rd. Cano is “who knows?”

      So, when do we trade Jeter and Jorge to improve the defense? ;)

    12. Raf
      February 26th, 2009 | 7:05 pm

      So, we’re blaming Cashman for the allowing the defense to go to pot because…he allowed Jeter, Bernie and Posada to get old?
      ———
      Players can be moved or traded. The team can be structured or restructured to be better balanced offensively & defensively. Cashman can get creative with roster construction.

      Having said that, some of the critiquing of Cashman is borderline ridiculous. My point is that if there’s anything legit to blame Cashman about it’s the defense. And from the looks of it, he’s taking steps to rectify the defense.

    13. February 27th, 2009 | 11:08 pm

      [...] Mr. October: “Disappointed” with A-Rod / Tex Huge Upgrade In Field For Yanks [...]

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