Monday, June 26, 2006

Bremer and Fielding Percentage

Dick Bremer said something this weekend that I am tired of hearing, especially by a baseball announcer who should know better.

He was talking about Cleveland and how they are doing so poorly because of their bad defense. “The only defense worse is the Angels.” Dick said, meaning that only the Angels have a worse fielding percentage than the Indians.

He watches more baseball than I do. He must understand by now that defense is much more than errors but also includes range and the ability to get to balls that other players can’t get to.

After watching Fatista play all season he should really understand this fact.

So I looked at the fielding stats of these 2 teams and the Twins to see who does have the worst defense.

If you look at Defensive Efficiency Rating we see that the Twins are still last in the league with a DER of .667. Cleveland’s is and slightly above average .688 and the Angels have a respectable .698. This means the Twins are turning 66.7% of all batted balls, not including homeruns, into outs. This means that the Twins have the worst range in the league, by DER.

DER is not a perfect stat for defense (I don’t think there is one). So will also look at the +/- used by the Hardball Times. Looking at this the Twins again are last allowing 40 more hits than an average team. They are -40, Cleveland is -14 as are the Angels. So by using this stat we see that the Twins still have the worse defense in the league. But the Angels and Cleveland both have an above average outfield defense, it is their infield defense that has limited range.

The Twins fail in both categories so they are not just giving up hits but are giving up extra base hits.

Errors are still important so I will add in non-throwing errors into the mix. I will do this because I want to see exactly how many balls in play were not turned into outs. I don’t need to see, at this time, whether a throw gave a runner an extra base.

The Twins have only 16 non-throwing errors. Cleveland has 29 and the Angels are indeed worst in the league with 39. This must be tempered with the fact that errors are subjective. Official scorers have been known to make mistakes. I think Castro had naked pictures of the Twin’s scorer. He was very generous to Castro.

So add these numbers together and the Twins have allowed 56 extra outs than an average team, Cleveland has allowed 53 and the Angels have allowed 63. Some of this is obviously subjective but I think we can lump the Twins in with the Indians and Angels as some of the worst defensive teams in the League.

Range is probably a better way to look at a team’s defense than fielding percentage. Though it is difficult to determine it should be talked about announcers if they are going to talk about a team’s defense.


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