Turn Off Ads?
Page 1 of 2 12 LastLast
Results 1 to 15 of 25

Thread: The Defense: Good, Bad, Ugly

  1. #1
    Member
    Join Date
    May 2002
    Posts
    796

    The Defense: Good, Bad, Ugly

    "The Twins are the model for me."
    -Wayne Krivsky, on how he plans to rebuild the Reds, 2/7/06

    http://cincinnati.reds.mlb.com/news/...=.jsp&c_id=cin


    When Krivsky referred to the Twins “model,” he meant one of six things:

    1. Young and cheap
    2. Building through the draft
    3. An offense based on speed and bat control
    4. Ace pitchers
    5. Good defense
    6. All of the above

    This thread focuses on Door #5.

    The Minnesota clubs that Krivsky helped construct were teams based, in large part, on good defense. The Twins had built a consistent winner by placing outstanding defenders on the field—guys like Torii Hunter, Christian Guzman, Doug Mientkiewicz, Luis Rivas, and Jacque Jones, among others.

    Reds Defense, 2004-2006

    The Reds club that Krivsky inherited was, quite bluntly, a beer-league softball team. You couldn’t find a team more diametrically opposed to what the early-2000s Twins brought to the table.

    For the historically challenged, the Reds sported two of the worst fielding regulars in the majors, c. February 2006—Griffey and Dunn. Krivsky inherited a poor-fielding shortstop who, at best, was an average fielder in his career year. He had a poor-fielding utility guy slated at 2B. He had a rangy 3B, although that 3B had annually made dozens of throwing errors in the minors. Oh, and he had four OFers and no 1B to speak of. . . What a mess.

    So Krivsky’s plan to transform a beer-league softball team into a pitching-and-defense club was built on great aspirations, to say the least.

    Defensive win shares (DWS) is one tool to help identify the holistic quality of a defense. In general, a great defense will give you 50+ DWS, an average one will give you ~36-44 DWS, and a bad one will give you ~30-32 DWS. Take a look at what the Reds defense did in 2004-05:

    Code:
     	2004	2005
    DWS	26.6	26.6
    For a point of reference, the 1999 Reds had a great defense and had 52.8 DWS. The 2001 Reds ushered in the beer-league era in Cincinnati, and the club only had 28.1 DWS. And the 2004-2005 editions were both worse than the 2001 edition. The empirical evidence above supports the notion that the 2004-2005 Reds defenses were historically inept.

    Consequently, Krivsky immediately got to work on the defense by trading away one of the four outfielders, signing a “true” 1B (converted from catcher, but okay), and trading for a slick-fielding project 2B.

    The results in 2006 were quite impressive. True to Krivsky’s plan, the 2006 Reds made the leap from horrific to mediocre:

    Code:
     	2004	2005	2006
    DWS	26.6	26.6	42.2
    And this leap is no small feat. To provide a little historical context, only five teams from 1988 through 2001 had made the leap from pathetically awful to mediocre in a three-year time span:

    Code:
     	        BY1	BY2	GY
    PHI (1991-1993)	42.9	26.5	39.9
    SD (1994-1996)	24.2	30.8	41.4
    DET (1995-1997)	28.8	24.5	40.2
    FLA (1998-2000)	22.9	32.5	38.2
    ATL (1989-1991)	34.9	27.0	47.4
    Avg	        30.7	28.2	41.4
    BY1 = bad year 1 DWS
    BY2 = bad year 2 DWS
    GY = good year DWS
    Avg = average DWS for all five clubs

    So the Reds’ defensive improvement (and defensive awfulness, generally speaking) put them in rare company indeed.

    Reds Defense, 2007

    Fast forwarding to 2007, the Reds signed Alex Gonzalez at short, moved Griffey from center to right, and retained Brandon Phillips at second for a full season. I thought these moves, collectively, would help this defense progress into a fine unit. Here is what I said on 1/7/07:

    “For the first time since Pokey left, the Reds defense had two plus infield defenders. And while the offseason pickup of Gonzalez has considerable risk, it probably adds a third plus defender to the infield--Gonzalez is an average defender, at worst. In fact, I wouldn't be surprised if the Reds end up with the best defensive infield in the NL in 2007.”

    http://www.redszone.com/forums/showt...01#post1223101

    I really thought these moves put them on the Braves' road to improvement, c. 1991. I couldn’t have been more wrong. . .

    Code:
     	2004	2005	2006	2007
    DWS	26.6	26.6	42.2	??
    DER	0.696	0.683	0.691	0.680
    Rank	20	28	21	29
    DER = defensive efficiency rating
    rank = DER rank out of 30 teams

    As of 25 May, the Reds are next-to-LAST in the majors in Defensive Efficiency Rating (DER). The club has the most fielding errors in the majors. The club is 2nd-worst in the NL in unearned runs. Collectively, this is one of the worst defenses in the majors, if not THE worst.

    http://www.hardballtimes.com/main/teams/

    The Cincinnati/Covington Twins

    So, on the road in transforming this club into the Cincinnati/Covington “Twins,” what happened??? I have four hypotheses:

    1.) Encarnacion has been awful. Hopefully he bounces back.

    2.) Gonzalez hasn’t been as good as predicted. I suspect his defense will bounce back, which it has after bad fielding years (like it did after 2003). Plus his skill set strikes me as one that will age gracefully—a strong accurate arm, with below-average lateral quickness. Even when he loses a step (and he will), he will make up for it with very good plays from the hole.

    3.) If he had enough innings to qualify, Hatteberg would be last in the NL in range factor and in the bottom quartile in zone rating. And this is not a one-year drop. Hatteberg has never been a good 1B, even though he was average in 2006. John Dewan’s Fielding Bible had Hatteberg ranked 23rd out of 32 first basemen, at –11 plays from 2003-2005. And he just isn’t good enough to make a nice target at first.

    In contrast, Pujols, Derrek Lee, and Doug Mientkiewicz serve as great targets for infielders and can dig throws out of the dirt to make outs. Especially Pujols. In 2005, he saved 42 bad throws from his defense. Wow.

    http://actasports.com/sow.php?id=85

    And in case you wanted to know how their defenses are performing this season, the Cards, Cubs, and Mets are at +12, +6, and +19 on grounders, respectively (as of 25 May). The Reds, on the other hand, are at -10 on fielding grounders. First base defense matters.

    4.) Look again at the list of those defenses that transformed from bad to mediocre:

    Code:
     	        BY1	BY2	GY	After	+/-
    SD (1994-1997)	24.2	30.8	41.4	26.2	-15.2
    PHI (1991-1994)	42.9	26.5	39.9	28.0	-11.9
    DET (1995-1998)	28.8	24.5	40.2	35.0	-5.2
    FLA (1998-2001)	22.9	32.5	38.2	36.2	-2.0
    ATL (1989-1992)	34.9	27.0	47.4	46.4	-1.0
    Average	        30.7	28.3	41.4	34.4	-7.1
    					
    CIN (2004-2007)	26.6	26.6	42.2	??
    After = year after good year (good year for reds is 2006)
    +/- = delta between good year and "After"

    All of them declined in the year following their spike. And only two of the five provided similar defensive outputs in the year after their good year. The 2001 Marlins were a young and improving team, while the 1992 Braves made sustainable tweaks to the defensive fabric of the team.

    I assumed the 2007 Reds would be more like the 1992 Braves than the 1994 Phillies. I thought the quality additions to the defense would make the leap sustainable, but it is hard to build a quality defense after a one-year spike in quality. There must be some structural issues here—like the plexiglass principle for defenses.

    Three concluding thoughts:

    1.) If Krivsky wanted to build the Cincinnati/Covington Twins, why didn’t he go route of the fire sale? If he truly wanted to transform a beer-league team to a defensive one, why hasn’t he made dramatic changes to the fabric of the team?
    2.) Did he consider the home park? Building a defense in a HR-hitters park with natural grass is much different than building one in a neutral dome with Astroturf. Warrants mentioning.
    3.) Can one build a *good* defense (slippery term, I know) while littering the diamond with below-average defenders? More of a philosophical query than anything else, although that is the route that this club appears to be heading.

    The good: Ross has been huge, Phillips has been very good, double plays perhaps???
    The bad: Encarnacion, Hatteberg
    The ugly: ONLY one or two plus defenders this year (ugh)

    Next up: the pitching. I promise fewer stats.

    For the previous article on the hitting, see this link:
    http://www.redszone.com/forums/showthread.php?t=58038
    Last edited by D-Man; 05-29-2007 at 10:53 PM.

  2. Turn Off Ads?
  3. #2
    Member Crosley68's Avatar
    Join Date
    Nov 2000
    Location
    West Virginia
    Posts
    957

    Re: The Defense: Good, Bad, Ugly

    Terrific work! Lots to think about there....I will get back to ya.
    Let's play two!!!

  4. #3
    Please come again pedro's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2002
    Location
    portland, oregon
    Posts
    14,746

    Re: The Defense: Good, Bad, Ugly

    Nice work d-man. Honestly though, despite the rash of errors earlier this year, I think the defense this year is slightly improved and I think that over the course of the full year their stats will bounce back.
    Get your nunchucks and the keys to your dad's car. I know where we can get a gun

  5. #4
    Member
    Join Date
    May 2002
    Posts
    796

    Re: The Defense: Good, Bad, Ugly

    Quote Originally Posted by pedro View Post
    Nice work d-man. Honestly though, despite the rash of errors earlier this year, I think the defense this year is slightly improved and I think that over the course of the full year their stats will bounce back.
    Well the beauty of DER is that it is the percent of times a batted ball is turned into an out by the teamsí fielders, not including home runs. So errors matter little in this calculation; rather, the number of outs per opportunity matters far more. And by the DER measure, the Reds have been notably weak this year. I've tracked it. This metric started off poor, improved in early May, but it has headed south in the past two weeks (coinciding with the losing streaks).

    Let's hope you're right and that it does improve later in the year. I think it will largely depend on the infield--whether Gonzalez and Encarnacion improve and how the club manages the 1B problem.

    One ray of hope is the double plays. Gonzalez has been awesome on the deuce throughout his career, converting 65% of his DP opportunities from 2003-2005 (Felipe only converted 51% of his opps, for a point of reference). I wish some Web site captured this info.

  6. #5
    Member
    Join Date
    Jul 2000
    Location
    Richmond, Indiana
    Posts
    1,706

    Re: The Defense: Good, Bad, Ugly

    D-Man --way good stuff.

    Does DER take into account park factors?

    I'm wondering if A-Gon has been effected by an infield that plays differently than usual. We have had 4 SS play a decent amount of games at GABP since it opened. Their defensive stats all went south when playing here (Larkin, Lopez, Clayton, and now A-Gon). It may be just a timing thing, but it does make one wonder why Reds SS defensive play has gone south when they come here.

  7. #6
    Playoffs Cyclone792's Avatar
    Join Date
    May 2005
    Location
    Cincinnati, OH
    Posts
    6,271

    Re: The Defense: Good, Bad, Ugly

    Great stuff, D-Man.

    FYI, The Hardball Times has finally started updating their 2007 win shares. Through May 23rd, the Reds had 7.9 defensive win shares over their first 47 games. That comes out to 0.168 defensive win shares per game, and over 162 games that's a projection of 27.23 defensive win shares.

    So while the 2006 Reds had a serious spike in defensive win shares, the 2007 team seems to be heading back down to the 2004-05 levels, at least if the first 47 games through May 23rd are any indication.
    Barry Larkin - HOF, 2012

    Put an end to the Lost Decade.

  8. #7
    Please come again pedro's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2002
    Location
    portland, oregon
    Posts
    14,746

    Re: The Defense: Good, Bad, Ugly

    Quote Originally Posted by D-Man View Post
    Well the beauty of DER is that it is the percent of times a batted ball is turned into an out by the teamsí fielders, not including home runs. So errors matter little in this calculation; rather, the number of outs per opportunity matters far more. And by the DER measure, the Reds have been notably weak this year. I've tracked it. This metric started off poor, improved in early May, but it has headed south in the past two weeks (coinciding with the losing streaks).

    Let's hope you're right and that it does improve later in the year. I think it will largely depend on the infield--whether Gonzalez and Encarnacion improve and how the club manages the 1B problem.

    One ray of hope is the double plays. Gonzalez has been awesome on the deuce throughout his career, converting 65% of his DP opportunities from 2003-2005 (Felipe only converted 51% of his opps, for a point of reference). I wish some Web site captured this info.
    Interesting, I suppose then that the errors only matter in that they didn't become outs?

    Do you think this has something to do with Griffey's play in RF early in the year?
    Get your nunchucks and the keys to your dad's car. I know where we can get a gun

  9. #8
    Pre-tty, pre-tty good!! MWM's Avatar
    Join Date
    Oct 2001
    Posts
    12,324

    Re: The Defense: Good, Bad, Ugly

    Great work, D-Man. Next time one of the writers paid to write about the Cincinnati Reds produces something half this good, let me know. I'll be sure to steer clear of the donkies flying through the air.
    Grape works as a soda. Sort of as a gum. I wonder why it doesn't work as a pie. Grape pie? There's no grape pie. - Larry David

  10. #9
    Member
    Join Date
    May 2002
    Posts
    796

    Re: The Defense: Good, Bad, Ugly

    Quote Originally Posted by Cooper View Post
    D-Man --way good stuff.

    Does DER take into account park factors?
    Nope, and that is certainly an issue here. Some teams, like Oakland, should have a substantial advantage because of its huge foul territory. And that certainly shows in OAK's sterling .717 DER.

    The GABP has a lot of real estate in the foul territory around home plate, but very little in the outfield near the lines. So yes, the contours of the park will certainly affect a team's ability to convert plays into outs.

    The exact formula used by Hardball Times is "(BFP-H-K-BB-HBP-Errors)/(BFP-HR-K-BB-HBP)."

    http://www.hardballtimes.com/main/statpages/glossary/

    Quote Originally Posted by Cooper View Post
    I'm wondering if A-Gon has been effected by an infield that plays differently than usual. We have had 4 SS play a decent amount of games at GABP since it opened. Their defensive stats all went south when playing here (Larkin, Lopez, Clayton, and now A-Gon). It may be just a timing thing, but it does make one wonder why Reds SS defensive play has gone south when they come here.
    I didn't look into this issue. You make a great point, so thanks for bringing it up. I would appreciate any data you might have (anecdotal or otherwise).

    In 2004, the Reds grew the infield grass extremely high, effectively turning GABP into a huge pitchers' park. I don't know if they have cut the grass substantially since then. I assume they cut it because the park numbers have shot through the roof since 2004.

    If anyone has seen any recent reports about the infield grass or condition of the field, I would appreciate it.

    Quote Originally Posted by pedro View Post
    Interesting, I suppose then that the errors only matter in that they didn't become outs? Do you think this has something to do with Griffey's play in RF early in the year?
    I wouldn't pin the woes of the defense on Griffey. Top to bottom, there hasn't been much to cheer about defensively--most everyone has been below average in terms of range factor and zone rating (Ross and Phillips excluded).

    Some of the low DER is randomness (i.e., bad luck). Some if teaching an old guy a new position (Griffey). Some of it is ballpark effects. And some of it is certainly bad defensive play in the field. If walks like a duck, quacks like a duck. . .

    Thanks to Cyclone on the note re: the defensive win share projections.

  11. #10
    Please come again pedro's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2002
    Location
    portland, oregon
    Posts
    14,746

    Re: The Defense: Good, Bad, Ugly

    I wouldn't pin the woes of the defense on Griffey. Top to bottom, there hasn't been much to cheer about defensively--most everyone has been below average in terms of range factor and zone rating (Ross and Phillips excluded).
    Oh, I recognize it's a collective problem. I just wonder how much the improvement gained in CF has been offset by Griffey's slow start in RF versus last years team which had Kearns/Freel in RF.
    Get your nunchucks and the keys to your dad's car. I know where we can get a gun

  12. #11
    Posting in Dynarama M2's Avatar
    Join Date
    Sep 2000
    Location
    Boston
    Posts
    28,163

    Re: The Defense: Good, Bad, Ugly

    Fantastic post D-Man.

    One general thought on defense - it tends to run in tandem with speed. The Reds played stellar defense in 1999 and they stole 164 bases. That number dropped to 77 in 2004 and 72 in 2005 (the franchise's lowest non-strike year totals since 1971, also known as the year before Joe Morgan showed up).

    Obviously you can have speed and no defense. We've seen Felipe Lopez. Lonnie Smith is probably the poster boy for this rare combination.

    Yet if Krivsky wants to radically remake the defense, then it's time to find more supremely athletic guys in the Brandon Phillips mold. The worry I have about Gonzalez is he's never been fast and when he loses that step (may have already happened, though I'd say it's too early to say for sure) he'll be playing SS with 3B range and a AAA bat.

    There were a lot of folks on this board over the winter whose criticism was that the Reds weren't taking pitching and defense seriously enough, that too many half measures were taken, that the goal seemed to be to do just enough rather than to excel. Go for it Wayne. We're aching for a GM who'll go all-in on a new direction.
    Baseball isn't a magic trick ... it doesn't get spoiled if you figure out how it works. - gonelong

    I'm witchcrafting everybody.

  13. #12
    Member Ron Madden's Avatar
    Join Date
    Nov 2003
    Posts
    5,815

    Re: The Defense: Good, Bad, Ugly

    Yet if Krivsky wants to radically remake the defense, then it's time to find more supremely athletic guys in the Brandon Phillips mold.

    There were a lot of folks on this board over the winter whose criticism was that the Reds weren't taking pitching and defense seriously enough, that too many half measures were taken, that the goal seemed to be to do just enough rather than to excel. Go for it Wayne. We're aching for a GM who'll go all-in on a new direction.[/QUOTE]

    This will make a lot of folks around here mad but I'll say it anyway....

    I'm not so sure Krivsky has the ability to identify good defense.

  14. #13
    Member SteelSD's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2002
    Posts
    9,365

    Re: The Defense: Good, Bad, Ugly

    What I'd like to know is how DWS (i.e. Fielding Win Shares) is calculated for Catchers. In 2006, David Ross and Jason Larue produced 24.88% of the Reds' DWS. 50 NL position players produced 4 or more DWS in 2006. A full 28% of those players were Catchers. David Ross was worth more DWS to the Reds in 2006 than all but 16 NL players were worth to their own club. In 90 Games no less.

    Other interesting notes...

    1. Felipe Lopez produced more DWS per Game for the Reds in 2006 than he had in 2005. Had Lopez matched his 148 Games in 2005 in 2006, he'd have produced 4.35 DWS. That would have ranked him 43rd in the NL in DWS. Fourty-third might not seem sexy and, to be fair, that 4.35 DWS number would have ranked him 11th among NL Shortstops. Yet, he wasn't necessarily the defensive team killer he was made out to be.

    2. Austin Kearns produced 2.8 DWS in a Reds uniform in 2006 in 87 Games. Project that out over Kearns' 150 Games in 2006, and it equals 4.83 DWS. No other full-time NL Right Fielder was worth that much to their team. Only Brian Giles comes close with 4.50 DWS for San Diego over 158 Games.

    Part of Krivsky's problem (and it's a big problem) is that he wants a defense/pitching base, but he doesn't seem to understand what that looks like. Not to endlessly rehash "The Trade", but if we're going to trust DWS, then we need to note that both Kearns and Lopez took significant strides forward in 2006.

    And then...poof...they were gone. (shameless "The Usual Suspects" reference)

    What's even more interesting to me is that D-Man (great post, BTW) provided us with a DER/DWS comparison. The 2004 team produced a DER of .696 but also produced only 26.6 DWS. The 2006 team produced a DER of .691 and ended up with 42.2 Defensive Win Shares. I'd suggest that something may be amiss with how Win Shares are assigned from a defensive perspective. What that is I'm not sure, but when a team produces a higher percentage of Outs on Balls in Play, I'd expect that team to produce higher DWS totals even if said team gave up more than 100 more Runs.

    I'd suggest there's a ghost in this particular machine and I'll be looking for it.
    "The problem with strikeouts isn't that they hurt your team, it's that they hurt your feelings..." --Rob Neyer

    "The single most important thing for a hitter is to get a good pitch to hit. A good hitter can hit a pitch thatís over the plate three times better than a great hitter with a ball in a tough spot.Ē
    --Ted Williams

  15. #14
    Please come again pedro's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2002
    Location
    portland, oregon
    Posts
    14,746

    Re: The Defense: Good, Bad, Ugly

    Quote Originally Posted by M2 View Post
    Fantastic post D-Man.

    One general thought on defense - it tends to run in tandem with speed. The Reds played stellar defense in 1999 and they stole 164 bases. That number dropped to 77 in 2004 and 72 in 2005 (the franchise's lowest non-strike year totals since 1971, also known as the year before Joe Morgan showed up).

    Obviously you can have speed and no defense. We've seen Felipe Lopez. Lonnie Smith is probably the poster boy for this rare combination.

    Yet if Krivsky wants to radically remake the defense, then it's time to find more supremely athletic guys in the Brandon Phillips mold. The worry I have about Gonzalez is he's never been fast and when he loses that step (may have already happened, though I'd say it's too early to say for sure) he'll be playing SS with 3B range and a AAA bat.

    There were a lot of folks on this board over the winter whose criticism was that the Reds weren't taking pitching and defense seriously enough, that too many half measures were taken, that the goal seemed to be to do just enough rather than to excel. Go for it Wayne. We're aching for a GM who'll go all-in on a new direction.
    Good post. I get the impression that Krivsky & Narron equate good defense (at least in the infield) with not making errors and making the "routine" plays rather than considering a players range in the equation. I find it kind of annoying.

    The Reds really could use an infusion of speed though, especially on the bench as I assume the arrival of Votto at first doesn't promise to add much speed and unless someone is traded my guess is the Reds lineup next year will look pretty much like it does now.
    Get your nunchucks and the keys to your dad's car. I know where we can get a gun

  16. #15
    Haunted by walks
    Join Date
    Apr 2000
    Location
    Syracuse
    Posts
    6,682

    Re: The Defense: Good, Bad, Ugly

    I wonder if improving defense up the middle has a bigger impact than improving defense on the corners. In other words, if you're going to improve defense, start with the middle, and let the corners muddle along.

    I also wonder how you'd compare improved defense with downgraded offense, in cases like Gonzalez. How good does the defense have to be to overcame a lack of offense?


Turn Off Ads?

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •  

Board Moderators may, at their discretion and judgment, delete and/or edit any messages that violate any of the following guidelines: 1. Explicit references to alleged illegal or unlawful acts. 2. Graphic sexual descriptions. 3. Racial or ethnic slurs. 4. Use of edgy language (including masked profanity). 5. Direct personal attacks, flames, fights, trolling, baiting, name-calling, general nuisance, excessive player criticism or anything along those lines. 6. Posting spam. 7. Each person may have only one user account. It is fine to be critical here - that's what this board is for. But let's not beat a subject or a player to death, please.

Thank you, and most importantly, enjoy yourselves!


RedsZone.com is a privately owned website and is not affiliated with the Cincinnati Reds or Major League Baseball


Contact us: Boss | GIK | BCubb2003 | dabvu2498 | Gallen5862 | LexRedsFan | Plus Plus | RedlegJake | redsfan1995 | The Operator | Tommyjohn25