Thursday, October 4, 2007

Orioles Defense 2007

Listed below are the rankings for every Orioles defender in the IF and OF based on translations from Justin Inaz. It's based on Hardball Times' RZR (Revised Zone Rating) data. Learn more about Inaz' procedure for generating these numbers on his site.

The basic idea is that a zone rating (percentage of balls made into outs within a fielders' zone of responsibility) is converted into the number of runs a player saves or concedes relative to a league average defender. Plays made out of zone (OOZ) are also factored in as a positive for defenders. The rule of thumb is that ten runs is equal to about one win. Troy Tulowitzki of the Rockies (+27.6 runs) wins about three more games than the average SS with his glove. On the flip side, Derek Jeter (-37.1 runs) gives up four wins or thereabouts with his glove relative to an average player.

Standard disclaimers about sample size and the imperfect nature of defensive stats apply as always.

1B - Moore (-0.7), Gomez (-1.1), Huff (-3.1), Millar (-4.2)

Millar has something of a reputation as an underrated defender - sure handed but lacking in range. That was the case this season, but Millar's range was worse than some had imagined. Huff, on the other hand, was as bad as advertised. With regular work at 1B, he would have rated among the very worst in the majors.

2B - Roberts (+4.1), Fahey (+3.3), Gomez (-0.1), Bynum (-0.4), Luis Hernandez (-0.7)

The Orioles had solid middle infield defense on the season. Roberts rates as a solidly above average defender, ranking between Robinson Cano and Mark Grudzielanek. Brandon Fahey is either a Gold Glover at second or a small sample size fluke. He's 15th in the majors among keystone fielders despite playing a mere 31 innings at the position. That pace is certainly not sustainable going forward, but there is little doubt that Fahey has the skills to rank among the best in the league if he played the position regularly.

SS - Tejada (+4.8), Luis Hernandez (+4.1), Gomez (+2.2), Fahey (+1.4), Bynum (+0.4).

Imagine that. The much maligned (defensively, at least) Miguel Tejada rates as a comfortably above average defender. The numbers confirm that Luis Hernandez is better; he contributed nearly as much defensively in fraction of the innings. It's entirely possible that the system is overrating Tejada. As I posted last week, the BP fielding stats (which aren't PBP based) show a gigantic gap between the below-average Tejada and the well above-average Hernandez. Still, these numbers should be very interesting to those in the Front Office wanting to move Tejada to another position.

3B - Mora (+2.8), Moore (-1.8), Gomez (-2.6), Huff (-3.9)

Mora rates as above average. That generally jibes with perception, at least this year. On the left side of the infield, Mora was the one catching heat for his defense in 2006. Now Tejada has assumed that role. Scott Moore shows why he was regarded as a weak defender during his time in the minors. Huff continues to be terrible regardless of the position.

LF - Bynum (+1.9), Fahey (+0.7), Millar (0.0), Knott (-0.1), Redman (-0.4), Gibbons (-1.0), Payton (-9.0)

When your two main LF are below replacement level with the bat and below average with the glove, that isn't a good situation. Gibbons was surprisingly good, though still below average. Payton was atrocious and didn't live up to his reputation as a plus glove.

CF - Payton (+1.0), Patterson (-1.3), Bynum (-3.0), Redman (-7.9)

Corey Patterson got no love this year, going from an Gold Glove defender to one that was slightly below average. Patterson has all the physical tools in addition to being more than competent in terms of taking routes to the ball. The lack of out of zone (OOZ) plays made by Patterson stands out as one reason for his low rating.

RF - Gibbons (-0.2), Payton (-1.0), Markakis (-12.6)

It's believable that Miguel Tejada was an above average SS this season. It's believable that Corey Patterson might have had a down year and rated as a below average fielder in center. But Nick Markakis as one of the worst RF in the game? No way, right?

Markakis was ahead of only a select few - Guillen, Cuddyer, Guerrero, Griffey, Abreu, and Dye. It's possible that the high scoreboard in RF at Camden Yards suppressed his numbers beneath what they should have been. Balls of off the scoreboard count as plays in the zone that weren't made, despite the fact that there was no chance they could be turned into outs. It's similar to the Green Monster taking Manny Ramirez from a run of the mill atrocious fielder to ten runs worse than anyone else in the majors, albeit on a smaller scale.

It wasn't a great year for the defense, if you believe these numbers. Mora, Roberts, and Tejada were above average, but the other four positions ranked. It is good that MacPhail seems likely to emphasize defense though he needs to find the proper balance between defensive and offensive considerations.

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