Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Dmitri The Butcher

In the last post on defense, Scott asked about how the team would look if we had better defense at first and short. Obviously, we can't answer with any sort of mathematical precision, but we can estimate.

First, he wondered about Dmitri Young.

Young has had 75 balls hit into his zone. He's made plays on 50 of them. If we have a healthy Nick Johnson, we've got a pretty good defensive 1B. Let's put him in the second tier of NL 1B defensively and assume he has a .760 zone rating.

Assuming those same 75 balls are hit in the zone Nick would be expected to field 57 them of them, 7 more than Dmitri. But what's that worth?

Let's for the sake of argument assume that we can break those missing hits down into doubles and singles. For the hell of it, let's say it's 5 singles and two doubles. I won't bore you with all the details (check here!), but linear weights can be used as a rough proxy to determine how much certain batting results are, on average.

Singles typically "create" .47 runs. Doubles "create" 1.09. So 5 * .47 + 2 * 1.09 = ~4.5 runs. So Dmitri's cost the team 4.5 runs, which is probably much less than you'd assume.

We also noted that the team was pretty high on the total of fielding errors its made, and there's likely a few more plays that would've been saved with a better fielding first baseman. Go ahead and tack on a few runs in your mind then. I ain't figuring it out!

One more factor: I also pointed out that Dmitri was way below par on plays made out of the zone, so it's likely that Nick Johnson would 'save' a few more runs there, too. Every double Nick saves over Dmitri, on average, saves a full run. Dmitri made about 7 fewer out-of-zone plays than the average 1B. If NJ was just average here, that's at least another 4 runs saved.

Add it up, and Dmitri has been probably 10 runs or so worse, if not more, than NJ would've been.

What do they say about ifs and buts though? (Ask Colome about the buts)

  • He also asked about shortstop, and how the team would do with a better fielder there. Lopez and Guzman have combined to make 134 plays in 171 balls in their zone. A great shortstop makes plays in the .880 range. .880 * the Nats 171 chances gives us 150 total plays. This good shotstop would've made 16 more plays than Flop and Guuuuz.

    We can assume that those are singles, since a double past the shortstop ain't something you see every day! 16 singles * .47 run value = ~7.5 runs. And that doesn't really count double playes turned or not turned.

  • So bad defense at this two positions has cost the Nats something like 15-20 runs. Every 10 runs or so usually yields another win (on average), so those two positions have cost the Nats about 2 games.

    That ain't good. But that ain't much in the scheme of things.

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