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Thread: UZR Tidbits

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    High five! nate's Avatar
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    UZR Tidbits

    From Fangraphs:

    Almost a fourth of the way into the season, let’s take some position-by-position glances at the best and worst defenders.
    1B
    Best: Chris Davis (3.9), Ryan Howard (3.2), Lyle Overbay (2.9)
    Worst: Jason Giambi (-3.9), Nick Johnson (-3.4), Joey Votto (-3.3)

    2B
    Best: Ian Kinsler (5.4), Rickie Weeks (5.4), Brandon Phillips (5.3)
    Worst: Skip Schumaker (-7), Dan Uggla (-5.7), Chris Getz (-5)

    3B
    Best: Ryan Zimmerman (6.7), Joe Crede (6.4), Evan Longoria (5.6)
    Worst: Michael Young (-7), Josh Fields (-4.1), Chipper Jones (-3.8)

    SS
    Best: Marco Scutaro (4.9), Elvis Andrus (4.2), Ryan Theriot (3.6)
    Worst: Yuniesky Betancourt (-8.2), Khalil Greene (-4.4), Miguel Tejada (-4.3)

    COF
    Best: Nyjer Morgan (9.9), Jay Bruce (8), Brandon Moss (7.7)
    Worst: Jason Bay (-9), Andre Ethier (-8.4), Adam Dunn (-8.2)

    CF
    Best: Mike Cameron (7.8), Matt Kemp (7.3), Franklin Gutierrez (5.7)
    Worst: Shane Victorino (-7.5), Vernon Wells (-5.8), Elijah Dukes (-3.8)

    A few other tidbits:
    Proof that this amount of UZR data is pretty useless in predictive value, Carlos Beltran ranks as the fourth worst center fielder in the entire league at -3.5 runs. Over the last three years, Beltran’s UZR have been 8.8, 1.2, and 5.3. Even if you think his skills have declined, he’s unlikely to keep up this pace, which would have him at nearly -12 over 150 games.

    The Pirates are your new team UZR leaders at 17.5, ahead of the Rays (16.3), Reds (15.2), Rangers (15.2), and Brewers (14.5). Meanwhile, on the other side of the spectrum, the Nationals (-18.3), Mets (-14.4), White Sox (-14.4), Red Sox (-12), and Orioles (-9) rate as the worst set of gloves in the league.
    Interesting summary. Whether or not you think UZR is a good defensive metric, it should indicate that the Reds are improved with their gloves.
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    Redsmetz redsmetz's Avatar
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    Re: UZR Tidbits

    Quote Originally Posted by nate View Post
    From Fangraphs:



    Interesting summary. Whether or not you think UZR is a good defensive metric, it should indicate that the Reds are improved with their gloves.
    Can you explain it a little bit. I'm curious as to what gives Votto his number as I thought folks indicated they thought he has improved at 1st base.
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    Re: UZR Tidbits

    Quote Originally Posted by redsmetz View Post
    Can you explain it a little bit. I'm curious as to what gives Votto his number as I thought folks indicated they thought he has improved at 1st base.
    I'm not a real whiz at UZR (Ultimate Zone Ratings) but from what I understand, it cuts the field into little pie slices and measures how many balls in play are converted to outs in each slice. Here's part 1 and part 2 of an article explaining the system in eye-watering detail.
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    Re: UZR Tidbits

    Here's an attempt to put UZR into "layman's" terms:

    http://www.redszone.com/forums/showp...9640&postcount

    Quote Originally Posted by jojo View Post
    There is a treasure trove of information on the web about the nuts and bolts of play by play (PBP)-based defensive metrics just a google search away. I know some of it can be dry reading but if you have the time, it might change how you view defense so the effort would almost surely be rewarded.

    I'll specifically focus on UZR in an effort ot answer your question because it's currently considered the gold standard. Basically, UZR uses play by play (PBP) data to determine the probability a ball in play (BIP) will be converted into an out based upon batted ball type (grounder, flyball, line drive, fliner, etc), BIP velocity (i.e. how hard it was hit), and zone into which it was hit. The field is divided into 78 zones as recorded on baseball reference website. UZR uses 64 of them. Each position has specific zones of responsibility (though some zones will overlap between two positions in which case balls within a zone are divided up proportionally i.e. if 80% of balls in a zone overlapping first and second base were caught by the second baseman, the first baseman would only be expected to field 20% of such balls).

    In a nutshell a player’s UZR rating will be calculated as follows:

    Player A’s “caught ball value” is determined for his specific position by using PBP data to tabulate how many put outs (PO) and hits were recorded in each zone of responsibility associated with his position while he was on the field. This value is then compared to the total number of PO and hits recorded in those zones by all players over the course of the season. It should be noted that a player could have a negative caught ball value for some zones of responsibility but a positive one for others depending upon his unique abilities (i.e. Felipe Lopez is weak to his right but actually very good to his left). If player A was below average in a zone, he’ll have a negative caught ball value for that zone compared to the league (average is zero or “neutral”). In contrast, if player A was above average in a zone his caught ball value will be a positive number.

    Now to specifically address your question, Player A’s caught ball value for a zone can be fairly easily converted to a run value by multiplying it by the average run value of a hit in that zone (which has been determined by traditional linear weights hit values). Run values are totaled for each zone of responsibility for player A’s position to yield his final UZR value while playing his position.

    UZR attempts to account for everything that could impact a fielder’s chances of recording an out in a zone by adjusting for a plethora of factors including environment, situation (number and position of runners and number of outs), batter’s handedness, and the pitcher’s BIP tendencies (i.e. GO/FO).

    UZR is the best way I’ve seen defensive value tackled. Importantly, a majority of major league clubs are now using either this system or similar permutations of it.

    Here’s some links that explain the system in much greater detail:

    http://www.baseballthinkfactory.org/..._2003-03-14_0/

    http://www.baseballthinkfactory.org/..._2003-03-21_0/
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    Re: UZR Tidbits

    The galloping problem with fielding stats is that they're all over the place. CF seems to be a particular problem with UZR. Beltran and Victorino were among the best CF's in baseball last season. According to UZR, Aaron Rowand and Torii Hunter fell off of a cliff prior to 2008 and Vernon Wells is now as bad as the late model Ken Griffey Jr. in CF. It's got players instantly losing it out there, and then in many case rediscovering it (Willy Taveras leaps to mind).

    Fielding skills ought to be consistent. You've got the range, arm, hands, reaction time you've got. That doesn't come and go.

    Either we've discovered defense is a vastly more chaotic landscape than we ever suspected or the defensive measurements we're using are employing false norms and/or they are measuring the wrong things. There's way too much noise in these numbers.
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    Re: UZR Tidbits

    Quote Originally Posted by M2 View Post
    The galloping problem with fielding stats is that they're all over the place. CF seems to be a particular problem with UZR. Beltran and Victorino were among the best CF's in baseball last season. According to UZR, Aaron Rowand and Torii Hunter fell off of a cliff prior to 2008 and Vernon Wells is now as bad as the late model Ken Griffey Jr. in CF. It's got players instantly losing it out there, and then in many case rediscovering it (Willy Taveras leaps to mind).

    Fielding skills ought to be consistent. You've got the range, arm, hands, reaction time you've got. That doesn't come and go.

    Either we've discovered defense is a vastly more chaotic landscape than we ever suspected or the defensive measurements we're using are employing false norms and/or they are measuring the wrong things. There's way too much noise in these numbers.
    It's mostly sample size issues. In the case of the CFers, UZR is looking at less than 350 defensive innings. That's not nearly enough to make meaningful conclusions.
    "This isn’t stats vs scouts - this is stats and scouts working together, building an organization that blends the best of both worlds. This is the blueprint for how a baseball organization should be run. And, whether the baseball men of the 20th century like it or not, this is where baseball is going."---Dave Cameron, U.S.S. Mariner

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    Re: UZR Tidbits

    Quote Originally Posted by jojo View Post
    It's mostly sample size issues. In the case of the CFers, UZR is looking at less than 350 defensive innings. That's not nearly enough to make meaningful conclusions.
    First off, we see these variances occur in full season measurements. Players are constantly up and down. Second, I don't buy into small sample size on defensive numbers. We're not talking about a precise skill like hitting or pitching. Fielders aren't dealing with the constraints of the strikezone. Either you can reach a line drive 30 feet to your left or you can't. If there's one skill in baseball that shouldn't run hot and cold, it's fielding. The fielder can't control the number of balls that come his way, but that's not what we're supposed to be measuring.

    The only way you've got a small sample size problem with a defensive measurement, at least one to this extent, is if you're using a false norm and/or measuring the wrong thing.
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    Re: UZR Tidbits

    Quote Originally Posted by M2 View Post
    First off, we see these variances occur in full season measurements. Players are constantly up and down. Second, I don't buy into small sample size on defensive numbers. We're not talking about a precise skill like hitting or pitching. Fielders aren't dealing with the constraints of the strikezone. Either you can reach a line drive 30 feet to your left or you can't. If there's one skill in baseball that shouldn't run hot and cold, it's fielding. The fielder can't control the number of balls that come his way, but that's not what we're supposed to be measuring.

    The only way you've got a small sample size problem with a defensive measurement, at least one to this extent, is if you're using a false norm and/or measuring the wrong thing.
    Or if the data is just inherently noisy because it takes a lot of defensive innings to get enough similar balls to control for randomness.
    "This isn’t stats vs scouts - this is stats and scouts working together, building an organization that blends the best of both worlds. This is the blueprint for how a baseball organization should be run. And, whether the baseball men of the 20th century like it or not, this is where baseball is going."---Dave Cameron, U.S.S. Mariner

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    Re: UZR Tidbits

    Quote Originally Posted by jojo View Post
    Or if the data is just inherently noisy because it takes a lot of defensive innings to get enough similar balls to control for randomness.
    Given what we know about full season defensive numbers, randomness in small sample sizes isn't the problem here. Plus, it's a lazy excuse that doesn't deal with the reality that a player's ability to make a defensive play isn't random. A truly accurate defensive measurement would tell me who's got range in a fairly small sample size.
    Last edited by M2; 05-18-2009 at 11:57 AM.
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    Re: UZR Tidbits

    Quote Originally Posted by M2 View Post
    Given what we know about full season defensive numbers, randomness in small sample sizes isn't the problem here.
    Considering that several seasons of defensive data is the ideal, I'm not sure what you're arguing we know regarding a full season of data and sample size issues.

    Quote Originally Posted by M2 View Post
    Plus, it's a lazy excuse that doesn't deal with the reality that a player's ability to make a defensive play isn't random.
    It's not the player that's random. It's the opportunities.

    Quote Originally Posted by M2 View Post
    A truly accurate defensive measurement would tell me who's got range in a fairly small sample size.
    Sure at the extremes.
    "This isn’t stats vs scouts - this is stats and scouts working together, building an organization that blends the best of both worlds. This is the blueprint for how a baseball organization should be run. And, whether the baseball men of the 20th century like it or not, this is where baseball is going."---Dave Cameron, U.S.S. Mariner

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    Re: UZR Tidbits

    Quote Originally Posted by jojo View Post
    Considering that several seasons of defensive data is the ideal, I'm not sure what you're arguing we know regarding a full season of data and sample size issues.
    How many seasons of inconsistent numbers should it take before people recognize the inherent flaws in the system?

    Quote Originally Posted by jojo View Post
    It's not the player that's random. It's the opportunities.
    Then you're measuring the wrong thing.

    Quote Originally Posted by jojo View Post
    Sure at the extremes.
    No, we should be able to determine true range rather quickly. You can either cover x distance over y time or you can't.
    Baseball isn't a magic trick ... it doesn't get spoiled if you figure out how it works. - gonelong

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    Re: UZR Tidbits

    Quote Originally Posted by M2 View Post
    How.......................................can't.
    I guess the world awaits UZR/PMR/Plus-minus version 2.0. For now we'll have to settle for the systems that have allowed huge advances in evaluating and valuing defense.
    "This isn’t stats vs scouts - this is stats and scouts working together, building an organization that blends the best of both worlds. This is the blueprint for how a baseball organization should be run. And, whether the baseball men of the 20th century like it or not, this is where baseball is going."---Dave Cameron, U.S.S. Mariner

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    Re: UZR Tidbits

    Quote Originally Posted by M2 View Post
    The galloping problem with fielding stats is that they're all over the place. CF seems to be a particular problem with UZR. Beltran and Victorino were among the best CF's in baseball last season. According to UZR, Aaron Rowand and Torii Hunter fell off of a cliff prior to 2008 and Vernon Wells is now as bad as the late model Ken Griffey Jr. in CF. It's got players instantly losing it out there, and then in many case rediscovering it (Willy Taveras leaps to mind).

    Fielding skills ought to be consistent. You've got the range, arm, hands, reaction time you've got. That doesn't come and go.

    Either we've discovered defense is a vastly more chaotic landscape than we ever suspected or the defensive measurements we're using are employing false norms and/or they are measuring the wrong things. There's way too much noise in these numbers.
    Wells' hitting stats have been up and down during that last several years. Like you said the physical tools stay the same, but the performance over certain sample sizes can vary. Wouldn't that apply to defense as well?

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    Re: UZR Tidbits

    Quote Originally Posted by M2 View Post
    First off, we see these variances occur in full season measurements. Players are constantly up and down. Second, I don't buy into small sample size on defensive numbers. We're not talking about a precise skill like hitting or pitching. Fielders aren't dealing with the constraints of the strikezone. Either you can reach a line drive 30 feet to your left or you can't. If there's one skill in baseball that shouldn't run hot and cold, it's fielding. The fielder can't control the number of balls that come his way, but that's not what we're supposed to be measuring.

    The only way you've got a small sample size problem with a defensive measurement, at least one to this extent, is if you're using a false norm and/or measuring the wrong thing.
    Why would you think players' fielding wouldn't run hot and cold? They're not robots, and they're not always in perfect health or at peak focus or playing with the same level of confidence.
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    Re: UZR Tidbits

    Quote Originally Posted by M2 View Post
    The galloping problem with fielding stats is that they're all over the place. CF seems to be a particular problem with UZR. Beltran and Victorino were among the best CF's in baseball last season. According to UZR, Aaron Rowand and Torii Hunter fell off of a cliff prior to 2008 and Vernon Wells is now as bad as the late model Ken Griffey Jr. in CF. It's got players instantly losing it out there, and then in many case rediscovering it (Willy Taveras leaps to mind).

    Fielding skills ought to be consistent. You've got the range, arm, hands, reaction time you've got. That doesn't come and go.

    Either we've discovered defense is a vastly more chaotic landscape than we ever suspected or the defensive measurements we're using are employing false norms and/or they are measuring the wrong things. There's way too much noise in these numbers.
    UZR doesn't measure skills; it measures performance. It's extremely important to adhere to this difference. Skills change gradually. Beltran's speed, reaction time, etc. likely haven't changed much since last year. But his performance, his utilization of those skills in a relatively small sample of opportunities, has been worse. We shouldn't confuse these two statements; just as we wouldn't suggest that Jimmy Rollins is suddenly Mario Mendoza or that Aaron Hill is suddenly ARod.

    People say that fielding doesn't slump; maybe they're wrong. Offensive performance can swing pretty wildly from year to year (just ask Paul Konerko) -- why would assume that fielding is different? I would feel comfortable saying that defense should vary less, because there are fewer variables involved, but I see nothing wrong with guys having good and bad years -- let alone good/bad 40 games.

    It's quite difficult to measure skills directly, so we use performance as a proxy. Because performance is affected by more than just the skill of the player, and because the application of skill is not completely consistent from one event to the next, performance varies. Even the best methods of offensive performance are completely unreliable in just 1/4 of a season. I don't see why fielding should be much different.
    Last edited by RedsManRick; 05-18-2009 at 01:45 PM.
    Games are won on run differential -- scoring more than your opponent. Runs are runs, scored or prevented they all count the same. Worry about scoring more and allowing fewer, not which positions contribute to which side of the equation or how "consistent" you are at your current level of performance.


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