# Thread: So when is Bruce going to start hitting?

1. ## Re: So when is Bruce going to start hitting?

Originally Posted by BuckeyeRedleg
I have no problem with that. It just seems UZR is too big of a component of WAR.
Why is UZR too big of a component? Defense counts doesn't it?

3. ## Re: So when is Bruce going to start hitting?

Originally Posted by dougdirt
Why is UZR too big of a component? Defense counts doesn't it?
Of course. Did I say that defense shouldn't count?

4. ## Re: So when is Bruce going to start hitting?

Originally Posted by dougdirt
Why is UZR too big of a component? Defense counts doesn't it?
The minor leagues is littered with guys who can play plus defense but can't hit a lick. Even Berkman can get to a routine fly ball to right field. If a pitcher grooves a fastball to Janish he may fly out to the SS.

Its much easier to find guys who can play good defense than it is to find guys who are good hitters. Hitting a baseball may be on of the most difficult things to do in all of sport. IMO that is why defense is out of whack in the WAR calculation.

5. ## Re: So when is Bruce going to start hitting?

Originally Posted by BuckeyeRedleg
I have no problem with that. It just seems UZR is too big of a component of WAR.
I really don't understand how you arrive this perception. On what basis do you make such an assessment? Heck, how are you even calculating the % that UZR comprises? You can't just look at a guy's UZR and divided it by his WAR. Since UZR is adjusted positionally and has an expected distribution centered around replacement level, whereas offense has an expected distribution that is always positive (but which is centered at a difference place for each position), the math just isn't that simple. You can't go from 20 UZR and 4.0 WAR = 50% of WAR is UZR -- or any similar such calculation. You have to look at the range of potential values.

It's not like anybody just made up some rule that defense had to be worth X% of overall performance. It just is, based on observation and knowledge about how much certain kinds of plays affect how many runs are scored.

In terms of the calculation, I think it's helpful to think of it in terms of opportunity to produce -- all positive values. I think of it like this:
- The game is 50% producing runs and 50% preventing them.
- So, on the "how many runs is X player responsible for" scale, a team's position player gets up to 5 opportunity points. At the player level, that 5 point opportunity may be a bit more or less depending on where they hit in the lineup, but it's all pretty close.
- On the prevention side, the credit gets split between the pitchers and defenders. For the sake of argument, let's say run prevention is 80% pitching. That means position players get up to 1 opportunity point for defense, on average.
- Now, since defensive positions vary in their amount and value of opportunities, they range reliably from position to position. A DH caps out at 0. A 1B may be at 0.5, while a SS or CF is at 2. At the team level, they average out to 1.

So the way WAR works is it sets a baseline of performance. It treats all hitters the same, giving them a standard baseline of 0.5 points of performance. A few guys will manage to come in below the baseline, most will be above, some will be way above. Same goes on defense, except the baseline varies.

In practice, that means you have everything from a DH who earns 3.5 of the 5 possible offensive points but 0 defensive points. Compare that to a CF who earns just 1.5 offensive points but also earns 1.5 defensive points. If you tried to the math on that, you'd say that UZR accounted for 50% of the CF's value and it would look much too influential. But you have to separate out the realized performance from the range of possible ways a guy can contribute when assessing whether or not the scale of UZR is appropriate.

I realize that was pretty abstract and probably makes no sense to anybody but me. But I think people have a lot of trouble placing defense and offense in the same context since the talent distributions are so different and offense is all reported from a standard baseline whereas defense is reported positionally.

6. ## Re: So when is Bruce going to start hitting?

Originally Posted by bucksfan2
The minor leagues is littered with guys who can play plus defense but can't hit a lick. Even Berkman can get to a routine fly ball to right field. If a pitcher grooves a fastball to Janish he may fly out to the SS.

Its much easier to find guys who can play good defense than it is to find guys who are good hitters. Hitting a baseball may be on of the most difficult things to do in all of sport. IMO that is why defense is out of whack in the WAR calculation.
Here's a post that addresses this issue using Dunn as an example because he has been graded as an extreme using defensive metrics so the impact of his defense on his value represents the largest that is likely to be seen with a system like WAR:

http://www.redszone.com/forums/showp...0&postcount=35

Originally Posted by jojo
Using WAR, Dunn's bat was worth 56 marginal runs above replacement (36 above average and the difference between average and replacement is roughly 20) last season. A replacement level bat was worth 0 marginal runs but hidden in the value was the difference between the marginal run bar and zero which is about 57 additional runs given Dunn's playing time (i.e. those are the runs Dunn produced that one would expect any freely available bat to produce on average).

So his total offense was worth about 110 to 115 runs.

UZR suggests his defense was last year was worth -36 runs (clearly UZR graded him as giving up more than 25 total bases last season-Dewan's agrees with UZR).

So his defense in this scenario would reduce his overall marginal value by 64% and his overall production by 30%.

Assuming his career UZR as a corner outfielder is more reflective of his true skill (-15), given an offensive year like he had last season, his glove would decrease his marginal value by roughly 30% and his overall value by roughly 15%.
So even if one believes Dunn's hugely negative 2009 defensive values, it only reduced his overall value by 30%.

As for WAR overvaluing defense, I'm pretty comfortable with the notion that a player's defense could be worth 30% of his marginal value (i.e. value above what any player could provide) and 15% of his overall value (i.e. back of the baseball, real runs value). The 2009 estimate where Dunn's marginal value was reduced by 60% seems like a stretch but there are reasons to question the estimates of his defense and it must be remembered too that such a season would have to be considered a historically poor defensive performance that certainly would be an outlier for WAR (i.e. such seasons are pretty rare).

7. ## Re: So when is Bruce going to start hitting?

Originally Posted by PuffyPig
That's the point.

He was always going to start hitting.

The thread was mindless when it started, and it's just been proven to be more mindless as time has proven what it always does in baseball. That players will invariably find their level over a larger sample size.

Consider he's less than a week older than Yonder Alonso.

He hit .230 in April. He was not going to continue that pace.
It looks to me like it was about April 27th or May 5th. The thread was not implying he could not hit or would not hit. Simply when was he going to get rolling and start hitting.

If this thread was started about Jonny Gomes, Edgar Renteria, or Fred Lewis after 7 games your response would likely be of a different tone.

8. ## Re: So when is Bruce going to start hitting?

Originally Posted by Griffey012
It looks to me like it was about April 27th or May 5th. The thread was not implying he could not hit or would not hit. Simply when was he going to get rolling and start hitting.

If this thread was started about Jonny Gomes, Edgar Renteria, or Fred Lewis after 7 games your response would likely be of a different tone.
The thread starter called him Ben Greive II, among other statements.

9. ## Re: So when is Bruce going to start hitting?

Originally Posted by kaldaniels
The thread starter called him Ben Greive II, among other statements.
I do not recall reading the Ben Greive quote, but it's a very long thread and I don't have the time. But there was bickering about how bad the thread was before Ben Grieve was even mention (I looked at the first few pages).

Basically the point I was trying to make is that sometimes on here I feel as if we are forbidden from saying anything that could be remotely taken as negative against the beloved boys when they struggle (Votto, Rolen, Bruce), but other guys get ripped to shreds on a constant basis when they struggle.

The original discussion of the thread was fear due to Bruce's slow start and when/if he would get going and turn the corner. No reason some people cannot have that fear until he does turn the corner.

10. ## Re: So when is Bruce going to start hitting?

Originally Posted by RedsManRick
I really don't understand how you arrive this perception. On what basis do you make such an assessment?
I said "seems", Rick. Seems.

Just browsing fangraphs, I notice guys with good offensive numbers with low WAR's and guys with average offensive numbers with ridiculously high WAR's.

I already mentioned the difference between Choo and Bruce.

Looking up Alfonso Soriano's stats last week I noticed his WAR fluctuated drastically, depending on his UZR.

His WAR's go like this:

2007: 7.0 (UZR +33.2)
2008: 4.1 (UZR +16.1)
2009: -.01 (UZR -2.9)
2010: 3.0 (UZR 5.1)

Granted his offensive numbers were pretty bad in 2009, but I was bothered by the drastic drop in UZR and then of course it seemed to have a huge impact on his WAR.

As for the ratio in WAR of O and D, I'm not even sure what it is. Is it 50/50? I honestly don't know. If so, I don't agree with 50/50. Is that okay?

Look, I'm trying to learn this better here. I'm not attacking anything. Just giving my kind of initial opinion. We can discontinue discussion if it bothers people.

11. ## Re: So when is Bruce going to start hitting?

Time to lock this bad boy.

12. ## Re: So when is Bruce going to start hitting?

Originally Posted by BuckeyeRedleg
I said "seems", Rick. Seems.

Just browsing fangraphs, I notice guys with good offensive numbers with low WAR's and guys with average offensive numbers with ridiculously high WAR's.

I already mentioned the difference between Choo and Bruce.

Looking up Alfonso Soriano's stats last week I noticed his WAR fluctuated drastically, depending on his UZR.

His WAR's go like this:

2007: 7.0 (UZR +33.2)
2008: 4.1 (UZR +16.1)
2009: -.01 (UZR -2.9)
2010: 3.0 (UZR 5.1)

Granted his offensive numbers were pretty bad in 2009, but I was bothered by the drastic drop in UZR and then of course it seemed to have a huge impact on his WAR.

As for the ratio in WAR of O and D, I'm not even sure what it is. Is it 50/50? I honestly don't know. If so, I don't agree with 50/50. Is that okay?

Look, I'm trying to learn this better here. I'm not attacking anything. Just giving my kind of initial opinion. We can discontinue discussion if it bothers people.
It's cool -- sorry if I came across as combative. I'm not saying it's 50/50. I'm saying that you can't figure out what ratio it is by looking at actual performance of a given player. I guess the easiest way to describe it is that the ratio that matters is between the amount of possible contributions a guy can make, not how much he actually does. The denominator, not the numerator.

I think that the ratio of possible offensive contributions to possible defensive contributions is something like 2:1. That ratio would say that the game is 50% hitting, 33% pitching and 17% defense. That strikes me as reasonable and I believe is in line with what TangoTiger and others have found (and is reflect in WAR). And practically speaking, because players are shifted from position to position to maximize their defensive value, it's functionally more like 3:1. That is to say, the distribution of offensive performance across the range of possible performances is fatter than it is with defense.

Because of they way WAR is calculated, using a set of replacement levels and adjustments, it's hard to see how the two pieces stack up. The denominators, the range of possible contributions, isn't really evident. It's not like you can see that a guy has 60 possible runs for offense and 30 possible runs for defense. But when you net out all the math, including replacement level that's basically how it shakes out. Also, consider that replacement level for offense is a really bad hitter. However, because there are so many good fielders who can't hit, replacement level for defense is average. So you can look at a guy who's a "poor" hitter and he'll still be above replacement. You look at a guy who's a "poor" defender and he'll be below replacement.

Regarding Soriano, a few things:
1.) It's important to remember that UZR isn't a single scale from a WAR perspective, it's a different scale for every player based on their position. If you want to compare one player's UZR to another's, you need to include the positional adjustment that is part of the WAR calculation. Doing that makes Sori's 2007 a 25.1 defender in 2007, still very high, but a bit closer to reasonable expectation.
2.) That 2007 figure is just a massive outlier, driven in large part by Soriano's arm -- 14.3 runs. That was Soriano's 2nd year in the OF and guys were running on him non-stop. He had a bunch of assists. Over time, guys stop running on guys like that and the assists come down. So in a sense, he had access to opportunities to save runs that most other LFs didn't get. There's really no comp on offense -- your opportunities to produce are limited by your PA and there's no way to create more -- it's like being allowed to PH with men on base in a game where you're already in the lineup.

And further, some guys just have years where they perform way above (or below) an established talent level. Trying to assess the reasonableness of UZR by looking at Soriano's 2007 compared to his other years is akin to assessing OPS by looking at Bret Boone's 2001.

Anyways, I'm rambling now. But I think as you dig in to it, you'll find that while UZR does vary a lot more from season to season than offense (imagine if you compared everybody's offensive performances after 200 PA -- you'd have a bunch more guys who are bad hitters putting up great "seasons" and vice versa than you do over 600 PA), the numbers are still entirely reasonable.

13. ## Re: So when is Bruce going to start hitting?

Bruce. He's lookin pretty good. *tries to get the thread on the right track*

14. ## Re: So when is Bruce going to start hitting?

Originally Posted by RedsManRick
It's cool -- sorry if I came across as combative. I'm not saying it's 50/50. I'm saying that you can't figure out what ratio it is by looking at actual performance of a given player. I guess the easiest way to describe it is that the ratio that matters is between the amount of possible contributions a guy can make, not how much he actually does. The denominator, not the numerator.

I think that the ratio of possible offensive contributions to possible defensive contributions is something like 2:1. That ratio would say that the game is 50% hitting, 33% pitching and 17% defense. That strikes me as reasonable and I believe is in line with what TangoTiger and others have found (and is reflect in WAR). And practically speaking, because players are shifted from position to position to maximize their defensive value, it's functionally more like 3:1. That is to say, the distribution of offensive performance across the range of possible performances is fatter than it is with defense.

Because of they way WAR is calculated, using a set of replacement levels and adjustments, it's hard to see how the two pieces stack up. The denominators, the range of possible contributions, isn't really evident. It's not like you can see that a guy has 60 possible runs for offense and 30 possible runs for defense. But when you net out all the math, including replacement level that's basically how it shakes out. Also, consider that replacement level for offense is a really bad hitter. However, because there are so many good fielders who can't hit, replacement level for defense is average. So you can look at a guy who's a "poor" hitter and he'll still be above replacement. You look at a guy who's a "poor" defender and he'll be below replacement.

Regarding Soriano, a few things:
1.) It's important to remember that UZR isn't a single scale from a WAR perspective, it's a different scale for every player based on their position. If you want to compare one player's UZR to another's, you need to include the positional adjustment that is part of the WAR calculation. Doing that makes Sori's 2007 a 25.1 defender in 2007, still very high, but a bit closer to reasonable expectation.
2.) That 2007 figure is just a massive outlier, driven in large part by Soriano's arm -- 14.3 runs. That was Soriano's 2nd year in the OF and guys were running on him non-stop. He had a bunch of assists. Over time, guys stop running on guys like that and the assists come down. So in a sense, he had access to opportunities to save runs that most other LFs didn't get. There's really no comp on offense -- your opportunities to produce are limited by your PA and there's no way to create more -- it's like being allowed to PH with men on base in a game where you're already in the lineup.

And further, some guys just have years where they perform way above (or below) an established talent level. Trying to assess the reasonableness of UZR by looking at Soriano's 2007 compared to his other years is akin to assessing OPS by looking at Bret Boone's 2001.

Anyways, I'm rambling now. But I think as you dig in to it, you'll find that while UZR does vary a lot more from season to season than offense (imagine if you compared everybody's offensive performances after 200 PA -- you'd have a bunch more guys who are bad hitters putting up great "seasons" and vice versa than you do over 600 PA), the numbers are still entirely reasonable.
Thanks for the explanation. I find all of this very interesting and I will definitely have to dig into it more.

15. ## Re: So when is Bruce going to start hitting?

Originally Posted by Griffey012
I do not recall reading the Ben Greive quote, but it's a very long thread and I don't have the time. But there was bickering about how bad the thread was before Ben Grieve was even mention (I looked at the first few pages).Basically the point I was trying to make is that sometimes on here I feel as if we are forbidden from saying anything that could be remotely taken as negative against the beloved boys when they struggle (Votto, Rolen, Bruce), but other guys get ripped to shreds on a constant basis when they struggle.

The original discussion of the thread was fear due to Bruce's slow start and when/if he would get going and turn the corner. No reason some people cannot have that fear until he does turn the corner.
I wouldn't call it bickering. Most of us were just saying
"oh no, here we go again."

This is a sequel to a very similar thread started by the same member last season.

16. ## Re: So when is Bruce going to start hitting?

Originally Posted by Griffey012
I do not recall reading the Ben Greive quote, but it's a very long thread and I don't have the time. But there was bickering about how bad the thread was before Ben Grieve was even mention (I looked at the first few pages).

Basically the point I was trying to make is that sometimes on here I feel as if we are forbidden from saying anything that could be remotely taken as negative against the beloved boys when they struggle (Votto, Rolen, Bruce), but other guys get ripped to shreds on a constant basis when they struggle.
The original discussion of the thread was fear due to Bruce's slow start and when/if he would get going and turn the corner. No reason some people cannot have that fear until he does turn the corner.

1. Because not all players on this team are equal in terms of talent, and some would reasonably be expected to play to a true talent level that dwarfs others (Bruce > Gomes) and three weeks is a crazy timeframe to start agitating in the same way that was agitated last year regarding a guy with Bruce's talent level.

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