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Thread: Columbus Dispatch: Stats show fielding flaws

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    Will post for food BuckeyeRedleg's Avatar
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    Columbus Dispatch: Stats show fielding flaws

    The Columbus Dispatch has a new Reds beat writer, Scott Priestle, who seems to be a rarity today compared with most traditional (newspaper) baseball writers, in that he has embraced non-traditional stats in his articles. He does try to to keep it simple (probably to not confuse the casual fan), so the hardcore saber enthusiast isn't going to be blown away with anything earth shattering in these articles. However, they are a breath of fresh air from the typical print that we are accustomed too.

    This particular article focuses on the Reds defense (or lack thereof) and two things stick out with me.

    1. Jeff Keppinger is a perfect example of my beef with traditional defensive stats (errors committed/fielding percentage). He appears to be doing a good job at SS, but he has limited range and the advanced defensive stats show that he is below-average overall.

    2. Reds assistant GM, Bob Miller, somewhat dismisses these non-traditional defensive stats, since they are "more subjective than offensive statistics".

    My eyes tell me that Kepp has limited range. My eyes are subjective. I don't need zone ratings or revised zone ratings to tell me that, however they do back it up. I would hope our FO doesn't make the mistake of falling in love with Kepp's bat (which I feel is decent, but somewhat overrated), and stick him at SS or 3B permanently. Don't get me wrong, his bat is good enough to play SS full-time, I just don't think his glove is.

    If Gonzalez is let go somehow, I would hope the only way Jeff Keppinger becomes a regular is if he takes 2B and Brandon Phillips moves to SS. Otherwise, I like him as a super-utility player (see: Ryan Freel 3 years ago). I just hope they don't make the same mistake with Kepp and try to make him something he's probably not - an everyday player.



    Stats show fielding flaws
    Traditional figures look OK, but advanced metrics don't
    Friday, May 9, 2008 2:58 AM
    By Scott Priestle

    THE COLUMBUS DISPATCH

    CINCINNATI -- Bronson Arroyo carried his 8.63 ERA and a smile into the Reds clubhouse the past three days. He insists he feels as healthy and strong as ever, so he is going about his business the same as always.


    "I don't have one ache, not even a headache," he said. "There's nothing I can complain about."

    He could complain about defense, but it is not his nature. And it might not resonate, anyway.

    By some measures, the Reds are an average defensive team, steady at most positions. At the start of play yesterday, they were tied for 15th in the major leagues in fielding percentage, the middle of the pack.

    By more sophisticated measures, the Reds are decidedly below average. More than 32 percent of the balls put in play against them have become hits or errors, the highest percentage in the majors. By comparison, about 28 percent of balls in play against the Chicago Cubs become hits or errors.

    Reds pitchers lead the majors in strikeouts, so there aren't as many balls in play against them as against the Cubs. But Arroyo and Matt Belisle, who are scheduled to start the next two games, have needed help from teammates unable to provide it.

    According to a formula developed by Tom Tango and available through the Hardball Times, Arroyo's "fielding independent" ERA is 5.89 and Belisle's is 4.33, meaning the Cincinnati defense has cost Arroyo nearly three runs on his ERA and cost Belisle about 2 1/2 runs. It has cost Josh Fogg 3 1/2 runs.

    "I've had stretches like this before," Arroyo said, citing a skid last year in which he went 0-4 with a 10.62 ERA. "That's the way baseball is."

    Reds manager Dusty Baker said he believes the three most important ingredients for a successful team are "pitching, defense and timely hitting -- in that order." Asked for his impression of the team's defense to date, he pointed to the fielding percentage.

    "We're pretty good, but we can get better," he said.

    Shortstop Jeff Keppinger might be the embodiment of the Reds defense. He played mostly second base as a professional before joining the Reds last season. Keppinger lacks the typical shortstop's range but has made only one error in 33 games.

    "For playing a position nobody thought I could play, I think I've done well," he said.

    He ranked third among big-league shortstops in fielding percentage at the start of play yesterday. But according to Baseball Prospectus' various defensive statistics, he has been below average. He ranks in the bottom half of shortstops in zone rating (a STATS Inc. creation that measures the percentage of balls in a player's zone that he converts into outs) and is among the worst in "revised zone rating" (which takes into account double plays and plays made outside the shortstop's typical zone).
    Using the revised zone rating, the only Reds regulars who rank among the top half of players at their respective positions are center fielder Corey Patterson and second baseman Brandon Phillips.

    Assistant general manager Bob Miller was quick to point out that such defensive statistics are more subjective than offensive statistics, so they should be taken "with a huge grain of salt."

    "We've done a decent job," Miller said. "We've gotten better the last couple years, that's for sure, and we expect to keep getting better. They're certainly trying. Our guys work hard at it."



    http://www.thecolumbusdispatch.com/l...A.html?sid=101
    Last edited by BuckeyeRedleg; 05-09-2008 at 10:40 AM.

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    Re: Columbus Dispatch: Stats show fielding flaws

    I've got some problems when some of the newer sabermetric defensive stats attempt to use run conversions, because in many instances the run conversions are simply unrealistic, inaccurate, and not even remotely possible.

    However, the newer sabermetric defensive stats do an exponentially better job in ranking and grouping players based on their defensive abilities than traditional junk stats such as fielding percentage. With the newer sabermetric defensive stats, you can paint a pretty accurate picture which players fall into the following categories, for example:

    1) Poor defender
    2) Below average defender
    3) Average defender
    4) Above average defender
    5) Very good or excellent defender

    If you can isolate players into one of those groups, you're making pretty good progress and the newer sabermetric defensive stats are able to do just that. Just because they have flaws in areas such as run conversions doesn't mean they shouldn't be used for what they do accomplish accurately.

    BTW, that is a refreshing article from the new Reds' beat. Hopefully he becomes a regular contributor for the Reds media, because we could certainly use it.
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    He has the Evil Eye! flyer85's Avatar
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    Re: Columbus Dispatch: Stats show fielding flaws

    of course the article don't address the fact the 2005 thru 2007 versions of Alex Gonzalex were well below average. I guess for Gonzo we are supposed to take the subjective evidence that he is good defensive SS when the objective says otherwise.

    Gonzo:
    2005 FRAA of -9 in 130 games
    2006 FRAA of -9 in 110 games
    2007 FRAA of -10 in 110 games

    Gonzo has a reputation built on smoke and mirrors and at best in only a marginal improvement defensively. Coming back from a serious knee injury and now in his early 30's IMHO the 2008 and beyond version of Gonzo will be worse than was in 2007 and likely no improvement over Keppinger at all.
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    Will post for food BuckeyeRedleg's Avatar
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    Re: Columbus Dispatch: Stats show fielding flaws

    Quote Originally Posted by flyer85 View Post
    of course the article don't address the fact the 2005 thru 2007 versions of Alex Gonzalex were well below average. I guess for Gonzo we are supposed to take the subjective evidence that he is good defensive SS when the objective says otherwise.
    I don't think the article was written as a Gonzo vs. Kepp debate, so that's probabaly why Gonzo's numbers weren't brought up.

    Alex Gonzalez is signed through 2009, with the team having committed 10 M to him between these next two years. Unless they can somehow trade him, he is not going anywhere.

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    Re: Columbus Dispatch: Stats show fielding flaws

    Quote Originally Posted by BuckeyeRedleg View Post
    I don't think the article was written as a Gonzo vs. Kepp debate, so that's probabaly why Gonzo's numbers weren't brought up.
    then why single out Keppinger(and no one else) when the Reds don't have a better in-house solution at SS.
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    Re: Columbus Dispatch: Stats show fielding flaws

    Quote Originally Posted by flyer85 View Post
    then why single out Keppinger(and no one else) when the Reds don't have a better in-house solution at SS.
    Because he's a guy whose "tradtional" numbers look pretty good but are deceiving.
    When all is said and done more is said than done.

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    Re: Columbus Dispatch: Stats show fielding flaws

    I think I like Gonzo's bat better than Kepp's. Even with a low OBP. Either one is okay, though. Nothing exciting. Probably bench dross on a good team.

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    Re: Columbus Dispatch: Stats show fielding flaws

    The Reds have serious holes at SS, CF, and C. Add in the fact that if Dunn leaves(figuring that JR leaving is a fait accompli) you also have a another huge hole in LF.

    So thats 4 holes for Jocketty to address for 2009 and not a single in-house solution available. Good luck Walt.
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    Re: Columbus Dispatch: Stats show fielding flaws

    Quote Originally Posted by flyer85 View Post
    The Reds have serious holes at SS, CF, and C. Add in the fact that if Dunn leaves(figuring that JR leaving is a fait accompli) you also have a another huge hole in LF.

    So thats 4 holes for Jocketty to address for 2009 and not a single in-house solution available. Good luck Walt.
    Maybe Wayne left Walt a sloop and not a destroyer after all?

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    Re: Columbus Dispatch: Stats show fielding flaws

    Quote Originally Posted by Falls City Beer View Post
    Maybe Wayne left Walt a sloop and not a destroyer after all?
    I wanted some of what Wayne was smoking when he left.
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    Tired of talk. Win! Joseph's Avatar
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    Re: Columbus Dispatch: Stats show fielding flaws

    How much would an improved defense help the pitching, and thus take a little pressure off the line up to produce though?

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    Re: Columbus Dispatch: Stats show fielding flaws

    The OF has at least 4 in-house solutions. Bruce at AAA, Strait, Cumberland and Henry at AA. I don't know what kind of defenders the AA guys are, but all three are raking at AA and it's likely that one of them at least will be in AAA by the end of the year, probably Cumberland.
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    The Boss dougdirt's Avatar
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    Re: Columbus Dispatch: Stats show fielding flaws

    TRF, that doesn't even include Danny Dorn who is out right now but its not a serious injury. While the outfield could be very young next year, its not as if there aren't choices... and even if there are, outfielders can be had on the market.

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    Will post for food BuckeyeRedleg's Avatar
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    Re: Columbus Dispatch: Stats show fielding flaws

    I still think if Stubbs can have success in Chattanooga this year that he is a candidate to take CF in 2009.

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    Re: Columbus Dispatch: Stats show fielding flaws

    I noticed Dorn, and am a fan of his, but his injury has likely delayed him just a bit. Guy can rake though.
    Suck it up cupcake.


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