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Thursday, February 14, 2008

Defending in the Wide Open Spaces

Today in my column on Baseball Prospectus I officially roll out version 1.0 of Simple Fielding Runs (a defensive system based only on Retrosheet-style play by play codes) for the outfield after doing the same for infielders back in January.

For those who read the column a couple weeks ago where I re-did the methodology to follow a more WOWY (with-or-without-you-approach), nothing has really changed with the algorithm but this time around I break outfield SFR into its underlying components by hit type, develop a rate statistic, take a look at how SFR compares to the Plus/Minus system at the level of teams, incorporate the throwing metric that is discussed in an essay in Baseball Prospectus 2008, and finally create some plots for 2007 outfielders that juxtaposes their general defense as rated by SFR and their throwing ability both using rate statistics.

As a preview of this latter point consider the following plot for 2007 center fielders where SFR rate (per 650 balls fielded) is shown on the y-axis and throwing rate (per 550 opportunities) is shown on the x-axis. Each outfielder is then placed in one of four quadrants. Those in the upper right quadrant are both good fielders and throwers (Alfredo Amezaga), moving clockwise we see good throwers but poor fielders (Bill Hall, Elijah Dukes), poor throwers and poor fielders (Juan Pierre), and finally ending with good fielders but poor throwers in the upper left (Johnny Damon, Nook Logan).



The full article contains the plots for all positions.

Oh, and all the major league data from 2003 through 2007 is available in spreadsheet form (and that includes the throwing data).

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