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View Full Version : Cabrera's Range Discussion - The Facts Only Please.



Brisco
08-03-2010, 03:56 PM
Ok... I would like this thread to be a factual discussion of the defensive capabilities of Orlando Cabrera. Please provide statistical evidence or specific witness evidence (i.e. the specific game and inning) that justifies whatever opinion you might have.

Here are some relevant statistics on OCab:

1. OCab is tied for fifth for fielding percentage among all major league shortstops with 85 or more games started/total innings at shortstop this year. (This limits the field to 15 players total... basically the full time shortstops, and eliminates the part time players/platoons.)

Ok... so the argument is that he does well with the balls hit right at him, but the real problem is his range, right? How do you determine his range? By fielding chances per inning played. So that leads us to stat number two:

2. OCab is seventh among those same 15 starting SS for range factor (6th in total chances).

By comparison, among the 15 players with the most starts at the position, BPhil is ninth in range factor at 2B, Votto is tenth at 1B, and Rolen would finish fifth at 3B (although he is not in the top 15 for games started, but actually 19 due to his missed time due to injury)

Ok... so an objective look at the statistics seems to say that he is one of the better defending shortstops in the major leagues. Top half of the full time starters. And yet, I constantly hear that he is a weak defender on this board.

What are you seeing that I am missing? I have been going back through box scores and I am simply not seeing a lot of hits through the left side of our infield.

If you have something objective to point to that shows Cabrera as a weak defender, please provide it.

DocRed
08-03-2010, 04:12 PM
I would say that Ocab is an average to slightly above average SS at this point in his career. He doesn't possess a great arm and thus you see how he gets rid of the ball as soon as he gets it on fast runners.

That being said his UZR150 is actually +8.5 this year, which is quite good. Although it was -12.1 last year. What does this tell me? That either of these numbers is probably not entirely correct and his real defensive worth is probably somewhere in the middle.

brm7675
08-03-2010, 04:17 PM
No question Orlando does well for balls he gets to, the problem is to many balls get through that he physically just can't get to that costs this team and are balls that Janish can get to.

texasdave
08-03-2010, 04:23 PM
NAME SBIZ SPM SRZR
O. Cabrera 245 204 0.833
Paul Janish 22 20 0.909
CBIZ CPM CRZR
O. Cabrera 2755 2242 0.814
Paul Janish 289 249 0.862 The columns are:
1) BIZ-Balls in zone
2) PM-Plays made
3) RZR-Revised Zone Rating.

They are being shown here for the season as well as the career. Janish makes more plays on the balls in his zone than Cabrera. To put Janish' .862 career RZR into context consider this; Jimmy Rollins leads the league for qualified shortstops this year at .861. Rafael Furcal is next at .848. So even though Janish's numbers for the season may be skewed by small sample size, if he plays to his career RZR he will make as many plays on balls in the zone as any shortstop in the league. It seems fairly clear that Janish will make more plays at SS than Cabrera, whether, or how much, that closes the offensive gap is what you have to decide.

I got these numbers from Fangraphs.com.

I just posted these on another Cabrera thread but they seem to fit in here.
Objectively, Orlando Cabrera is playing a better SS than he was earlier in the year. No questions asked. He still does not field as well as Paul Janish.

Brisco
08-03-2010, 04:29 PM
I would say that Ocab is an average to slightly above average SS at this point in his career. He doesn't possess a great arm and thus you see how he gets rid of the ball as soon as he gets it on fast runners.

That being said his UZR150 is actually +8.5 this year, which is quite good. Although it was -12.1 last year. What does this tell me? That either of these numbers is probably not entirely correct and his real defensive worth is probably somewhere in the middle.

Why only look at last year if you are trying to avoid a small sample size? The two years prior his UZR was 13.7 (2007) and 13.3 (2008). Rather than cherry pick stats, I will also point out that the year prior to that (2006) he had a -2.6, but gone one more year back and he had a stellar 24.1 in 2005. (Side note, he had negative UZR in 2002 (-1.7), 2003 (-1.0) and 2004 (-5.5)) He does not appear to be an above average defender until after he was traded to the Angels in 2004.

Actually is you look at the last five and a half years, +8.5 looks to be right where we should expect him to be. 2009 appears to be the statistical anomaly, not 2010.

thorn
08-03-2010, 04:31 PM
Yes Doc, but that is all guess work. Unfortunately UZR is all we have, while it's not entirely accurate, it is equally applied to all fielders. In other words it's not in-accurate for some and accurate for others, it's applied evenly and is all we have to go on.

As far as total number of chances, It would seem like the pitching staff would have something to say about that, but I could be wrong. Getting accurate defensive information may not be possible at this time. For me, knowing defensive stats are "Lacking" somewhat, I have a tendency to account for that with my "Eye Test", right or wrong. In other words, there is not dispute to OPS calculation so their is no room for interpretation, where as defensive stats do leave room for the "Eye Test". Because it is subjective, you will get several answers on if he is or is not a good fielder. I think he's fine, not great but not a drag on the team either, I think it's a non-issue.

The question becomes is his offense + defense and intangibles better for the team than his backup? Since they both can't play full time to get an accurate determination I'll defer to the professionals, the coaches and our GM. I'm sure others will disagree, which is fine as my conclusion is subjective because my "Eye Test" may differ than someone else's.

Brisco
08-03-2010, 04:34 PM
No question Orlando does well for balls he gets to, the problem is to many balls get through that he physically just can't get to that costs this team and are balls that Janish can get to.

I think you may have misunderstood the discussion of range factor. The statistics show that OCab gets to more balls than all but a small handful of full time SS in the major leagues.

Please, this is exactly the type of post that I wanted to avoid oin this discussion... intuitively it seems to make sense that an older player will get to less balls and so then we seem to accept this as a given fact and then we add on the conclusion that therefore he must be a weak defender, when the actual statistics show otherwise.

An equivalent argument would be that Carpenter does good as a starting pitcher for a few innings, but because he is over thirty five he just does not have the endurance to go seven or more. Sounds great in theory, but the facts say otherwise.

Rockermann
08-03-2010, 04:36 PM
...Please, this is exactly the type of post that I wanted to avoid oin this discussion... intuitively it seems to make sense that an older player will get to less balls and so then we seem to accept this as a given fact and then we add on the conclusion that therefore he must be a weak defender, when the actual statistics show otherwise.

Amen.

Brisco
08-03-2010, 04:43 PM
The columns are:
1) BIZ-Balls in zone
2) PM-Plays made
3) RZR-Revised Zone Rating.

They are being shown here for the season as well as the career. Janish makes more plays on the balls in his zone than Cabrera. To put Janish' .862 career RZR into context consider this; Jimmy Rollins leads the league for qualified shortstops this year at .861. Rafael Furcal is next at .848. So even though Janish's numbers for the season may be skewed by small sample size, if he plays to his career RZR he will make as many plays on balls in the zone as any shortstop in the league. It seems fairly clear that Janish will make more plays at SS than Cabrera, whether, or how much, that closes the offensive gap is what you have to decide.

I got these numbers from Fangraphs.com.

I just posted these on another Cabrera thread but they seem to fit in here.
Objectively, Orlando Cabrera is playing a better SS than he was earlier in the year. No questions asked. He still does not field as well as Paul Janish.

I went out of my way to not make this a Cabrera versus Janish discussion... it is not. Both are Reds and thus I want both to do well.

OCab's defensive perfomance does not get worse just because Janish is a very good defender. Janish could be the best fielding SS in the history of baseball, but that alone would not prevent Cabrera from being above average as a defending SS; it would only move him one slot down on the list, and he is safely in the top half.

texasdave
08-03-2010, 04:51 PM
I went out of my way to not make this a Cabrera versus Janish discussion... it is not. Both are Reds and thus I want both to do well.

OCab's defensive perfomance does not get worse just because Janish is a very good defender. Janish could be the best fielding SS in the history of baseball, but that alone would not prevent Cabrera from being above average as a defending SS; it would only move him one slot down on the list, and he is safely in the top half.

You wanted to know why Cabrera's fielding gets downplayed and I think that is a major reason. People see another SS on the same team that fields better. Therefore they think Cabrera does not field as well as he does. So, athough objectively you are right; perceptionally it makes a difference. In many cases in this world perception is reality. I thought it fit the discussion. You asked why. I am simply pointing out one reason. I don't think I knocked Cabrera. I even stated that he is playing better lately. And I used facts. :)

Kingspoint
08-03-2010, 05:28 PM
Brisco, the only fact is that there are no "facts" when discussing Defense.

A person's personal opinion (who sees them in person....television doesn't count) has 100 times more relevance than any fact when discussing the Defense of a player.

Kingspoint
08-03-2010, 05:33 PM
Here's a fact for you.

Fielding percentage regarding a Shortstop doesn't mean Jack!

A Shortstop is a Shortstop because he should be the speediest, quickest, most agile defender on the team. He should be able to get to more balls than any other player on the team trying to play that position. This definition is the antithesis of Orlando Cabrera. Cabrera should be playing 2nd Base or 3rd Base at his age. It's a young man's position.

That said, Cabrera turns a great double-play, has had decent range lately (I think he's adjusting to the hitters in the NL, and our pitchers, which is what you get by having a Veteran out there...something that Janish won't be able to have even if he's out there 30 days as Cabrera has been out there for 120 days) with Phillips and he catches a lot of what he gets to, but so did Ron Cey, who had the range of a firing plug. I hope that Cabrera is on the DL for 30 days, so people can start seeing what a real Shortstop looks like on a daily basis. I know Mike Leake will appreciate it and any other pitcher, too.

Brisco
08-03-2010, 06:24 PM
Here's a fact for you.

Fielding percentage regarding a Shortstop doesn't mean Jack!

A Shortstop is a Shortstop because he should be the speediest, quickest, most agile defender on the team. He should be able to get to more balls than any other player on the team trying to play that position. This definition is the antithesis of Orlando Cabrera. Cabrera should be playing 2nd Base or 3rd Base at his age. It's a young man's position.

That said, Cabrera turns a great double-play, has had decent range lately (I think he's adjusting to the hitters in the NL, and our pitchers, which is what you get by having a Veteran out there...something that Janish won't be able to have even if he's out there 30 days as Cabrera has been out there for 120 days) with Phillips and he catches a lot of what he gets to, but so did Ron Cey, who had the range of a firing plug. I hope that Cabrera is on the DL for 30 days, so people can start seeing what a real Shortstop looks like on a daily basis. I know Mike Leake will appreciate it and any other pitcher, too.

First... you youth argument is another example of those intuitive conclusions that are not necessarily supported in reality.

Second... you picked Mike Leake so I decided to look at his starts play by play... in his last seven starts (That took me back to mid-June so I figured that was far enough for some relevance and this was a slow process going play by play to see where each hit was) there has been only one hit through the left side of the infield while Leake has been pitching and ya know what? That was on July 9th in the ninth inning when Janish was in as a defensive replacement.

I am not knocking Janish here, he is great with the glove...but merely pointing out that for over a month and a half, not one single hit made it through the left side of the infield while Mike Leake was pitching and OCab was playing SS. Jim Coombs could not have prevented more hits through the left side (though he probably would have made quite a few plays to the right of 2B)

If he has such poor range... where are the hits?

Kingspoint
08-04-2010, 02:41 AM
Second... you picked Mike Leake so I decided to look at his starts play by play... in his last seven starts (That took me back to mid-June so I figured that was far enough for some relevance and this was a slow process going play by play to see where each hit was) there has been only one hit through the left side of the infield while Leake has been pitching.

You know Leake does that on purpose, don't you? He's usually getting a left-side infield of Cairo at 3rd and Cabrera at SS (and Gomes in Left). A pitcher with any amount of intelligence is going to throw pitches that cause the ball to be hit towards Phillips and Votto (and Bruce).

If Leake had Janish at SS (and Rolen at 3rd), he would pitch differently and use the entire field.

DocRed
08-04-2010, 09:47 AM
Why only look at last year if you are trying to avoid a small sample size? The two years prior his UZR was 13.7 (2007) and 13.3 (2008). Rather than cherry pick stats, I will also point out that the year prior to that (2006) he had a -2.6, but gone one more year back and he had a stellar 24.1 in 2005. (Side note, he had negative UZR in 2002 (-1.7), 2003 (-1.0) and 2004 (-5.5)) He does not appear to be an above average defender until after he was traded to the Angels in 2004.

Actually is you look at the last five and a half years, +8.5 looks to be right where we should expect him to be. 2009 appears to be the statistical anomaly, not 2010.

Because for an aging player, as far as defensive ability, the last 2 years are by far the most relevant. He is or at least should be a completely different player defensively than he was 5 years ago. For instance you wouldn't look at Ken Griffey Jr.'s stats 5 years ago to determine if he could still play CF or not.

Brisco
08-04-2010, 12:28 PM
You know Leake does that on purpose, don't you? He's usually getting a left-side infield of Cairo at 3rd and Cabrera at SS (and Gomes in Left). A pitcher with any amount of intelligence is going to throw pitches that cause the ball to be hit towards Phillips and Votto (and Bruce).

If Leake had Janish at SS (and Rolen at 3rd), he would pitch differently and use the entire field.

Like last night? : )

C'mon, how far are you going to stretch this? Now you are arguing that even in games that Mike Leake has been ineffective, he somehow retains the ability to only allow contact to the right side?

Finally, OCab has the 6th most chances of any SS in MLB. That means that plenty of balls are being hit to the left.

Brisco
08-04-2010, 12:45 PM
Because for an aging player, as far as defensive ability, the last 2 years are by far the most relevant. He is or at least should be a completely different player defensively than he was 5 years ago. For instance you wouldn't look at Ken Griffey Jr.'s stats 5 years ago to determine if he could still play CF or not.

If you look, I did not argue that OCab's defensive skills were equal to those of five years ago... I said 8.5 is what we should expect, not 24.7.

Age will gradually steal your skills in defense rather than have you drop off a cliff like in offense. If you follow that pattern of 5 years ago, 24.7, 3 years ago 13.7 and now 8.9 UZR that seems to follow a consistent declining trend.

If you look at only the last two years, you run the risk of a statistical anomaly caused by injury or whatever. Since three of the last four years have been 8.9 or higher, and then last year was a hugely divergent -12.1, it seems to be the outlier.

Kingspoint
08-06-2010, 07:05 AM
Like last night? : )

C'mon, how far are you going to stretch this? Now you are arguing that even in games that Mike Leake has been ineffective, he somehow retains the ability to only allow contact to the right side?

Finally, OCab has the 6th most chances of any SS in MLB. That means that plenty of balls are being hit to the left.

If you don't know that Mike Leake intentionally controls a ball being hit to the left side or the right side, then you have a lot to learn....a whole lot to learn...about baseball and Defense. It's baseball Defense 101. If I was pitching to you and I don't want you hitting it to the left side of the field, you're not going to be hitting it to the left side of the field. And, there's nothing you can do about it.

Kingspoint
08-06-2010, 07:07 AM
Finally, OCab has the 6th most chances of any SS in MLB. That means that plenty of balls are being hit to the left.

That means that he gets fewer innings off than any SS in MLB (and that the REDS use more Right-handed starters than others, too.)

Reds
08-06-2010, 07:51 AM
So, what's his range how? How far do you stretch off a couch to reach the remote? :p

Griffey012
08-06-2010, 10:11 AM
If you don't know that Mike Leake intentionally controls a ball being hit to the left side or the right side, then you have a lot to learn....a whole lot to learn...about baseball and Defense. It's baseball Defense 101. If I was pitching to you and I don't want you hitting it to the left side of the field, you're not going to be hitting it to the left side of the field. And, there's nothing you can do about it.

But I am gonna smoke it to right center for a gapper. :thumbup:

Vottomatic
08-06-2010, 12:50 PM
The fact is, Cabrera's fielding range stinks.