PDA

View Full Version : Erardi on defense



757690
08-03-2008, 01:06 PM
Of course defense is important

Junior's exit first step toward upgrade
By John Erardi jerardi@enquirer.com August 3, 2008

A lot has been written and said about Ken Griffey Jr. since he was traded to the Chicago White Sox this week.

But not enough has been written or said about how lackluster his defense was, and how much it contributed to the overall decline of a terrific defense in 1999 to a chronically anemic one through the 2000s.

Granted, he was hurt a lot of that time and he was only a part of the problem, but he turned gaps into Grand Canyons.

If the Reds can't improve their defense - and unloading Griffey was a start - they will not make the postseason.

Introducing the Deficiency Efficiency Ratio (DER). It is one of the most accurate barometers of a team's success.

It measures a very simple thing: how well your team turns into outs the batted balls that stay in the park.

A great defensive team turns 72 percent of batted balls into outs (Tampa Bay and Oakland currently lead Major League Baseball with a .720 DER). On the other end of the spectrum, a bad defensive team will turn only 68 percent of batted balls into outs. Guess on which end of the spectrum your Reds rank?

Poor defense has been a huge problem for the Reds since Griffey's second year here (2001).

Here is the Reds' DER and the rank among MLB teams defensively for the last decade:

Year DER MLB rank
2008 .681 29th
2007 .682 26th
2006 .691 21st
2005 .683 28th
2004 .696 20th
2003 .698 21st
2002 .700 19th
2001 .695 23rd
2000 .710 3rd
1999 .731 1st



The 2000 Reds were the last Cincinnati team with an above-average defense (and the last with a winning record). The 1999 Reds were the second-best defensive team of the last decade, exceeded only by the 2001 Seattle Mariners, who won 116 games.

Based on several advanced defensive stats, the Reds have only two good defensive players: Brandon Phillips and Joey Votto.

If the Reds are going to contend in 2009, they are going to need several more.

Edwin Encarnacion is having a fine season at the plate but is the worst defensive third baseman in the majors.

Good hands and quickness with an erratic arm sounds like a potential first baseman or left fielder. (We favor left field for him; both because it's an easier position than first, and because of the history of third basemen making that transition.) But if the Reds re-sign Adam Dunn, where do they put EdE?

At shortstop, Jeff Keppinger doesn't have the range necessary to anchor a great defense, but he can play third if Encarnacion gets traded. Part-time shortstop Jerry Hairston Jr. is good in center field but can't stay healthy. Ditto Alex Gonzalez, whose reputation as a great shortstop isn't supported by the numbers.

Dunn has the opposite problem of Griffey - the Big Donkey looks worse than he is. This year he rates only slightly below average defensively among NL left fielders, a considerable improvement over his bottom-five ranking last year.

The priorities for the Reds are acquiring 1.) a go-get-'em center fielder, 2.) a better shortstop and 3.) a catcher.

The Reds can get creative. They have a very good shortstop playing second base. There's no reason why Brandon Phillips wouldn't be a very good shortstop. A good second baseman, Oakland's Mark Ellis, is available via free agency.

Can improving the defense work? Check out the Tampa Bay Rays this year, a team with an even more futile record this decade than the Reds. Last year, the Rays were 66-96 and had one of the worst DERs ever. What did they do?

They turned a terrible second baseman (B.J. Upton) into a better center fielder. They traded their good-hit, no-field shortstop (Brendan Harris) and replaced him with an excellent glove (Jason Bartlett).

They moved their third baseman to second base and made room for a rookie with an excellent glove (Evan Longoria).

They picked up a fourth outfielder from Milwaukee (Gabe Gross), who is posting excellent defensive stats.

And while it isn't Volquez-for-Hamilton, they traded a fine young hitter (the defensively challenged Delmon Young) for a fine young pitcher (Matt Garza).

Last year, the Rays had a DER of .662 and allowed 782 runs (one fewer than the Reds). This year, they have a DER of .720 and are on pace to allow 664 runs, a 118-run improvement. That's 12 wins.

And consider Milwaukee. Last year, it had a DER of .680. This year? .697. Not as awesome as the Rays, but still above the NL average this year (.693).

How'd the Brewers do it? They moved Ryan Braun from third base to left field, signed Mike Cameron and moved center fielder Bill Hall to an easier position (third base). With those moves alone, they already have improved their team by 32 runs this season.

The Reds have several promising arms. Seeing what they could do with a defense behind them would be a treat.

Sabermetrician Greg Gajus provided most of the information. Also contributing were sabermetricians Justin Inaz and Joel Luckhaupt.

757690
08-03-2008, 01:25 PM
This is an excellent article on the importance of defense, despite two big problems.

I disagree on the value of DER, Deficiency Efficiency Ratio, since it's numbers are just as representative of a club's pitching staff as its defense. A bad pitching staff that gives up a lot of line drives will give its club a low DER, while a good pitching staff will have the hitters hitting weak groundballs and flyouts, and thus a high DER.

I also completely disagree with Erardi's completely unsubstantiated accusation that Jr. "contributed to the overall decline of a terrific defense in 1999 to a chronically anemic one through the 2000s." The Reds had a lot of bad fielders during that time (Dunn, who is better know, but was a butcher for most of his career, Lopez, Aurilia, Casey, Wily Mo, Jimenez...) He calls Griffey's defense "lackluster". That is just bull. These last two years, that is true, but that is only because of injuries and age. from 2000-2006, nobody played defense with more heart than Griffey. To blame Griffey for that and not provide any proof is the ultimate in yellow journalism. I really like Erardi but this was inexcusable.

However, his points about the Rays and Brewers are right on the money. A team can not compete with a poor defense. The first step to building a championship team is building a rock solid defense. Until the Reds do that, they will stay in the bottom half of the division.

Griffey012
08-03-2008, 01:53 PM
The one thing I agree with most is the SS position. We either need to move Phillips over is he is capable or find a stud shortstop defensively. And also, I wouldnt consider EE the worst 3b in the league just cause he has the most errors.

Carolina Red
08-04-2008, 01:53 PM
To say that Votto is one of the best fielders on the team is a joke. His play at first base is atrocious. There have been so many games this season where he either failed to field a ground ball or to Pick a throw in the dirt I've lost count. I think he will improve some but I don't think he will ever be a great fielder. His bat is what is making him valuable. I've said all along I would have moved Dunn to first and use Votto as trade bait.

Ahhhorsepoo
08-04-2008, 01:58 PM
Dunn at first is even worse than Votto.. and to be honest.. When GOnzalez comes back we will have that GG caliber ss 2b combo.. both of whom can hit 25 homers..

757690
08-04-2008, 02:05 PM
To say that Votto is one of the best fielders on the team is a joke. His play at first base is atrocious. There have been so many games this season where he either failed to field a ground ball or to Pick a throw in the dirt I've lost count. I think he will improve some but I don't think he will ever be a great fielder. His bat is what is making him valuable. I've said all along I would have moved Dunn to first and use Votto as trade bait.

I think the fact that the defensive stats say that Votto is an above average fielder tells all I need to know about how accurate they are. And these are the some ones that say that Dunn is average. I think the best metric for evaluating defense is watching the games with your eyes.

Ahhhorsepoo
08-04-2008, 02:11 PM
757 don't do that.. people say you wont know a baseball if it hit you in the head..

people also fail to realize range factor and zone ratings and such are often inflated for reds outfielders, because their pitchers give up soo many fly balls, and total PO's is a direct correlation to those numbers...

redsbuckeye
08-04-2008, 02:15 PM
Dunn at first is even worse than Votto.. and to be honest.. When GOnzalez comes back we will have that GG caliber ss 2b combo.. both of whom can hit 25 homers..

Gonzalez's career 162 game average for homers is 15, what makes you think he's suddenly going to hit 25? He hit 23 one year but that seems to be a fluke.

I think you'd rather find someone else to play short.

Ahhhorsepoo
08-04-2008, 02:23 PM
Gonzo, had 16 homers in 110 games at GABP.. GABP adds more than 1 homer to guys totals... so you would expect him to have 20-25 homers in a full season where he is not worried about his son all year.. At GABP..

redsbuckeye
08-04-2008, 02:38 PM
Gonzo, had 16 homers in 110 games at GABP.. GABP adds more than 1 homer to guys totals... so you would expect him to have 20-25 homers in a full season where he is not worried about his son all year.. At GABP..

Again, for his career, he averages 15 homers per season if he plays 162 games. If GABP adds one homer, then that's 16. Where do you get this 25 number (I noticed you backed that down to 20).

Of course this doesn't addres the fact his other career numbers are abysmal.

757690
08-04-2008, 02:57 PM
Again, for his career, he averages 15 homers per season if he plays 162 games. If GABP adds one homer, then that's 16. Where do you get this 25 number (I noticed you backed that down to 20).

Of course this doesn't addres the fact his other career numbers are abysmal.

The only thing I care about if Gonzo gets back is if he can get back to the defense he provided in Florida. Any offense from him is a bonus.

redsbuckeye
08-04-2008, 03:03 PM
The only thing I care about if Gonzo gets back is if he can get back to the defense he provided in Florida. Any offense from him is a bonus.

He's great defensively, I'll give you that. I would just hope for $4 mil and change that we could get defense and respectable offense. Offense provides a lot more wins than defense does, even considering the importance of D at short.

levydl
08-04-2008, 03:27 PM
I don't think Votto is a very good defender, but it mainly has to do with his problems picking throws in the dirt at 1st. I don't think those defensive metrics test that. As far as fielding ground balls and making throws, I don't think he's been that bad.

Ahhhorsepoo
08-04-2008, 04:28 PM
the other thing is.. at least half of the "Errors" votto has gotten this year.. were really catchable by the covering pitcher.. they just simply dropped the ball..

i said can hit 25 homers.. not will hit 25 homers.. and i also said add more than 1 homer.. please read thoroughly..

redsbuckeye
08-04-2008, 06:11 PM
the other thing is.. at least half of the "Errors" votto has gotten this year.. were really catchable by the covering pitcher.. they just simply dropped the ball..

i said can hit 25 homers.. not will hit 25 homers.. and i also said add more than 1 homer.. please read thoroughly..

And A-Rod can hit 90 homers, doesn't mean he will but he can.

And for adding homers, where are you even getting this? Provide some backup statistics that Gonzalez is the type of guy who can increase his home run production by 67% by playing half his games at GABP.

GABP's HR park factor is 1.159, in other words about 16% more likely, but that's only for the 81 games played there. If Gonzalez's 15 number is true, then he hits 7.5 at home (more or less). That means he'll get the benefit to 8.7 homers at GABP due to park factors. So you were right, it's more than 1, 1.2 in fact.

Of course 16.2 homeruns sure is a big increase from 15.

Ahhhorsepoo
08-04-2008, 07:29 PM
its actually 1.351, we are going to go with a whole year number, and lets use the latest year..because in the hot days of summer(august) the ball flies.. according to ESPN.. soo that puts us at 20.3.. but when you also see that from florida a park factor right at 1.. and boston.. a park factor at .876 you can clearly see that math puts him at 20 or more.. if you want number "proof" from "stats" there ya go.............

Boston 15 homeruns.. is equivalent to 17.10 in "average parks".. and then 17.10 times the 1.351 park factor for the reds..... gives you over 23...
Florida 15 homeruns.. is equivalent to 15 in "average" parks.. and then 15 times 1.351 for the reds put you over 20.. there ya go...

redsbuckeye
08-04-2008, 08:10 PM
its actually 1.351, we are going to go with a whole year number, and lets use the latest year..because in the hot days of summer(august) the ball flies.. according to ESPN.. soo that puts us at 20.3.. but when you also see that from florida a park factor right at 1.. and boston.. a park factor at .876 you can clearly see that math puts him at 20 or more.. if you want number "proof" from "stats" there ya go.............

Boston 15 homeruns.. is equivalent to 17.10 in "average parks".. and then 17.10 times the 1.351 park factor for the reds..... gives you over 23...
Florida 15 homeruns.. is equivalent to 15 in "average" parks.. and then 15 times 1.351 for the reds put you over 20.. there ya go...


The 1.15 was this year's number. I should've used the total since the park was opened in 2003, which is 1.21 (your number was just from last year). And remember, only half his games come at home. The other half will more or less be averaged out by playing at all different parks, so the 7.5 for 81 away games doesn't change. The 7.5 from home games goes to 9.075 for a total of 17.25. 2.25 homers change because of the ballpark. Not 25 (your original number, which you keep slinking away from). I'm sure someone could do a more in depth analisys, but I doubt it'd reveal too much more.

Of course, this is ignoring all the rest of his numbers, which have shown to be pretty poor. And I'd bet good money he wouldn't play 162 games, cutting down on that number anyway.

kpresidente
08-04-2008, 09:21 PM
Again, for his career, he averages 15 homers per season if he plays 162 games. If GABP adds one homer, then that's 16. Where do you get this 25 number

16 home runs in 110 games translated to 24 over a full season. Maybe that's where he got it from.

Now I don't think Gonzo would hit that many over a full season, but I think 20 is a reasonable figure. That's good power for a SS.

redsbuckeye
08-04-2008, 09:22 PM
16 home runs in 110 games translated to 24 over a full season. Maybe that's where he got it from.

Maybe, except I was getting the 15 number from a full 162 games played.

kpresidente
08-04-2008, 09:27 PM
Maybe, except I was getting the 15 number from a full 162 games played.

Right but that's not a GABP.

redsbuckeye
08-04-2008, 09:40 PM
Right but that's not a GABP.

Right, that's his career average across all parks played, which I've assumed more or less averages out. Since only 81 games take place a GABP, with a park factor of 1.21 since it opened, his 7.5 homers at home (another assumption that seems reasonable) goes to 9.075 due to GABP's band box status. It's not that big an increase and certainly doesn't get him from 15 to 25 for a regular season (which would almost certainly be less than 162 games anyway).

kpresidente
08-04-2008, 10:02 PM
Right, that's his career average across all parks played, which I've assumed more or less averages out. Since only 81 games take place a GABP, with a park factor of 1.21 since it opened, his 7.5 homers at home (another assumption that seems reasonable) goes to 9.075 due to GABP's band box status. It's not that big an increase and certainly doesn't get him from 15 to 25 for a regular season (which would almost certainly be less than 162 games anyway).
Yes, but the park factor doesn't tell the whole story.

Small parks help hitters with gap power (Gonzo, Phillips) more than they do big HR hitters (Dunn), meaning the averages are distorted. Guys with zero power won't feel the effects much either, yet their ABs are figured in as well. Again, my figure is 20 HRs in a full season, even though his 2007 numbers say 24.

Plus, since Gonzo spent most of his career in a pitchers park (Florida), it stands to reason that the 15 HR/162 figure is a low starting point. So start at 17 or 18 to account for that, then figure in GABPs park factor.

Slyder
08-05-2008, 01:00 AM
Can we split the difference and just say our middle infielders have 20 HR potential which is pretty good? Dont need to nit pick whos using what stats and take away from the article.

Ahhhorsepoo
08-05-2008, 10:35 AM
that would be coming my way.. it wont be "fair"..

there is also a difference between saying a guy can hit 25 homers, from his average of 15 homers in pitcher parks that moves to a hitters park..
to saying Arod can hit 90 from his average of 44 in a park he has played in for 5 years..

I never claimed Gonzo would hit 40 homers.. which is about what you are saying with arods 90..

redsbuckeye
08-05-2008, 11:18 AM
Yes, but the park factor doesn't tell the whole story.

Small parks help hitters with gap power (Gonzo, Phillips) more than they do big HR hitters (Dunn), meaning the averages are distorted. Guys with zero power won't feel the effects much either, yet their ABs are figured in as well. Again, my figure is 20 HRs in a full season, even though his 2007 numbers say 24.

Plus, since Gonzo spent most of his career in a pitchers park (Florida), it stands to reason that the 15 HR/162 figure is a low starting point. So start at 17 or 18 to account for that, then figure in GABPs park factor.

It's not 15, it's 7.5 to adjust for home park, assuming equal distribution for home/away games homer production.

Otherwise that's a fair point, one I didn't take into consideration. Florida's park factors are .855 for homers. If we account for both parks adjustments, assuming away games average out to a 1.00 park factor, then we're around 19-20 homers. Still, that's 20% lower from 25 homers (the original number from post #5 which has been backed away from), and we're still assuming he plays all 162 games to hit that.

And, of course, we're ingoring every other stat to just focus on homers and defense, which kind of makes the point moot.

CWRed
08-05-2008, 11:48 AM
He's great defensively, I'll give you that. I would just hope for $4 mil and change that we could get defense and respectable offense. Offense provides a lot more wins than defense does, even considering the importance of D at short.

He's great defensively? Um no I think we've already established that he's not.

redsbuckeye
08-05-2008, 11:57 AM
He's great defensively? Um no I think we've already established that he's not.

Hm, how about that, I'd neglected to even glance at his defensive numbers, you're right.

So why is he getting paid $4 mil one has to wonder.

Ahhhorsepoo
08-05-2008, 12:20 PM
hes had some errors.. but he also gets to far more balls than many SS's around the league..

levydl
08-05-2008, 01:39 PM
He had a bad year last year defensively. Worrying about his son probably had something to do with that.

Gonzales is perhaps the fastest I've ever seen at getting the ball off the dirt and into his throwing hand. It's like he's playing an instrument or something. Pretty to watch.