Tuesday, November 13, 2007

The Consolation Prize

David Pinto's probabilistic model of range
(hell of a name, huh?) pegs Ryan Zimmerman as the best third baseman in the league. 'bout time!

Basically, his methodology looks at each ball and assesses a variety of factors -- location, height, speed, etc -- and assigns a probability of fielding each ball. Sum up all those individual probabilities and you've got a way of figuring out how many more balls a fielder made plays on than expected.

In the Nats' case, Nats 3B (Zimmerman played all but one game at third) made 448 outs but they were only expected to make 403 plays given the quality of the balls hit in their direction -- in other words, 45 plays more than expected, a giant total. Zimmerman made 11% more plays than expected, leading all of baseball. David Wright, the gold glove stealer, finished 4th.

I'm sure the Nats are busily preparing next year's on-field ceremony to award Zimmerman with this prestigious prize.

  • There are a few other rankings out there... might as well include 'em here.

    Nats 2B were basically dead-on average. Belliard was in the upper tier, with 4% more plays than expected, but Lopez dragged it down, below average but not near the worst, with about 4% fewer plays than expected.

    Nats CFers were middle of the pack, too. It loves Ryan Church (+3%) and thinks that Logan is pretty good (+1%). Something seems funky about both those numbers, especially with what I've seen from some of the other defensive stats.

    As you'd expect, Nats SS were at the bottom of the league. On a rate basis (and not really accounting for the small sample) Cristian Guzman was the worst in the league. Felipe Lopez was the worst regular SS in the NL. (Strangely, two former Nats also pollute the bottom of the rankings: Josh Wilson and Brendan Harris). By this measure, if the Nats had had a league average SS, they'd have made about 30 more plays, roughly 25 fewer runs over the course of the season.

    He also took a look at defense behind the pitchers. Mike Bacsik pops up as one of the pitchers most aided by the gloves behind him. Given all the scorching liners he gave up that found leather, that's not surprising.


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