Monday, June 12, 2006

Bartlett vs Castro part 2

It is my contention that Bartlett’s defense is not really all that bad, and even if he plays sub-par defense, his bat will more than make up for it, at least compared to Juan Castro.

Castro plays because of his “leadership” abilities. I have no idea what that means and because of his stellar defense. As I have already said in an earlier post, I don’t think his defense is all that spectacular any more. I don’t feel that there is any way that his defense makes up for his incredibly bad offense. So I will look at some numbers and try to figure out exactly how much Bartlett could really help this team.

First I will look at last years stats and figure out what would have happened if they both would have played full-time. Then I will look at what could have possibly happened this year.

The Fielding Bible by John Dewan. It takes a real critical look at defense and admittedly it is not perfect but I believe it is very good tool for looking at defense.

The good thing about looking at last years stats is that both Castro and Bartlett played about the same amount of time. Bartlett played 585.2 innings and Castro played 568.2 innings.

My first step is to look at last season and see what each player added offensively and defensively. I want to look at it in real world terms to see how many runs each player may have saved and added to the team. The simplest way to figure out their offensive contributions is too look at Runs Created per 27 outs (RC/G). Castro created 3.28 and Bartlett created 3.68 runs per game. If the both played full-time and played 140 games they would have created 51 and 57 runs respectively, difference of 6 runs. Not much. Not even enough to add 1 win.

But I think we have to consider that Castro was playing above his head and had close to career highs in average, slugging and on base percentage. We also have to consider that Bartlett was a rookie and probably would have improved in all offensive categories.

Obviously Bartlett is a better offensive SS but with a lot of room to improve over last year. So how do they stack up defensively? According to The Fielding Bible Bartlett is a slightly better SS!!!

Bartlett made 7 errors and had a .979 Fielding percentage. He was expected to make 243 outs and made 257 outs for a +/- rating of 14 outs. Castro was close to this with 5 errors and had a .985 Fielding percentage. He was expected to make 237 outs and made 246 outs for a +/- rating of 9 outs. These are stats I found in The Fielding Bible.

Bartlett had a lower fielding percentage but actually had better range. Castro was only slightly better at turning the double play. The important number is the last one, +/-. It is the amount of plays each player made + or - what an average SS made. Bartlett made 14 more plays and Castro made 9 more plays than an average SS.

If I pro-rate these stats out to 140 games we see this. Bartlett would make 15 errors and have a .979 Fielding percentage. He would also have a +/- rating of 30 outs. Castro would have 11 errors .985 Fielding percentage. He would have +/- rating of 19 outs.

Bartlett makes 4 more errors but makes up for it by making 11 more plays for a total 7 extra hits, all singles, allowed by Castro!!! An almost negligible amount for a total amount of 3.3 extra runs allowed by Castro on the season.

Let me be the devil’s advocate for a moment. What if Castro was not playing his best defense in the first half of the season and Bartlett was playing the best defense of his life and would have played worse in the second half. I will pick an arbitrary number like 25%. I will say that Castro will improve 25% and Bartlett will decline 25%. Even after doing those calculations Castro only made 4 more plays than Castro. That would only have saved less than 2 runs on the season.

Now I’ll look at this season and try to figure out what Castro & Bartlett might have done. I will use Castro’s 2006 stats and Barlett’s projected stats. I am using The Bill James Handbook 2006

I will use those projects basically because that is all we have to determine Bartlett’s value offensively, plus he was very close in predicting Castro’s offensive value.

If Castro kept up his current pace and played 141 games he would create about 30 runs. Bartlett is projected to create 61 runs in 141 games. That is quite the production differential, about 2 to 1. Can Castro possibly be that much better defensively? That is nearly impossible. In fact this year his fielding percentage has dropped to .968 and his zone rating is a paltry .796, one of the worst in the league just behind the overrated Jeter. I don’t see how, even if his defense is the worst in the league, anyone can justify Castro adding enough defense to make up for his paltry offense.

What if the defensive stats are wrong? They aren’t. If you have seen the Twins defense, you know the whole infield has been playing below average. I’ll pretend that Castro is a great defensive SS and Bartlett is one of the worst. According to The Fielding Bible over the last 3 years the best SS has averaged +25 extra outs while the worst has averaged -25 extra outs per season. For arguments sake I’ll say Castro is the best and Bartlett is the worst that equals 50 extra singles that the pitching staff has given up.

Also, the worst defender has averaged 30 errors over the last 3 years and the best defender has averaged 7 errors for a difference of 23. That is now a grand total of 73 extra outs that the best SS would have made over the worst SS. This works out to a total of 35 extra runs allowed.

In this case, Barlett’s offense of 61 RC versus Castro’s 30 would not be enough to overcome his bad defense. If you subtract 35 from 61 we would get a total of 26 Runs Created, including defense. Still only a total of 4 runs difference between the two shortstops. This is assuming that Castro is the best defensive SS and Bartlett is the worst. I think we all know this is not true.

Even if Bartlett is not as good defensively as Castro it is not enough to justify an older less qualified player playing over a young up and coming and even cheaper player. The Fielding Bible ranks them about equal, with Bartlett slightly better defensively. We know what we are getting with Castro. We are getting a solid defensive player who is one of the worst everyday offensive players in the league. But at least he has great leadership qualities. Bartlett is an X factor but we can make an educated guess that he will be better offensively than Castro and may not be the defensive liability that the Twins make him out to be. This team is going nowhere this year lets find out what Bartlett can do.


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