The Futility Infielder

A Baseball Journal by Jay Jaffe I'm a baseball fan living in New York City. In between long tirades about the New York Yankees and the national pastime in general, I'm a graphic designer.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

 

PADE in Full

Today's Prospectus Hit and Run is on Park-Adjusted Team Defense, a topic I've broached before:
For those in need of a refresher course, PADE is Baseball Prospectus alum James Click's method for bringing park effects to bear upon Bill James' Defensive Efficiency (DE) rate, which tells us how often a team turns a batted ball into an out. PADE compares each club's Defensive Efficiency at home to that on the road, incorporating a three-year park factor specific to DE (as opposed to runs, home runs, or another component stat) and the unique composition of each team's schedule. The end product tells us the percentage of balls in play above or below the major league average that each team converts into outs. A one percent difference may not sound like much, but extrapolating from Click's calculations, it's worth about 13 runs—more than one win in the standings.

...the 2008 PADE figures:
Team    DE   MLB DE  PkFactor  PADE
CHN .7085 .692 0.9957 2.60
BOS .6994 .692 0.9794 2.13
ATL .7011 .692 0.9921 1.73
OAK .7113 .692 1.0313 1.21
ANA .6995 .692 1.0010 1.03
PHI .6985 .692 1.0009 0.90
TBA .7111 .692 1.0382 0.84
FLO .6917 .692 0.9860 0.67
ARI .6943 .692 0.9950 0.59
NYN .7039 .692 1.0285 0.29

CLE .6880 .692 0.9862 0.12
TOR .7026 .692 1.0302 0.02
DET .6923 .692 1.0008 0.01
BAL .6960 .692 1.0133 -0.08
HOU .6917 .692 1.0049 -0.28
MIL .6976 .692 1.0245 -0.40
SLN .6965 .692 1.0232 -0.50
SFN .6832 .692 0.9933 -0.94
KCA .6852 .692 0.9996 -0.96
CHA .6897 .692 1.0134 -1.00

LAN .6916 .692 1.0199 -1.03
COL .6796 .692 0.9889 -1.23
SDN .6940 .692 1.0307 -1.23
WAS .6901 .692 1.0207 -1.30
NYA .6843 .692 1.0240 -2.28
SEA .6805 .692 1.0180 -2.54
MIN .6844 .692 1.0436 -3.20
PIT .6769 .692 1.0255 -3.41
TEX .6708 .692 1.0157 -3.82
CIN .6712 .692 1.0272 -4.30
...Given the 2007 year-end results, it's not terribly shocking to find the most recent Hit List's top two teams, the Red Sox and Cubs, occupying the top spots even if they're flip-flopped here. The Cubs have produced the league's top raw DE in Wrigley Field, a park whose ivy-covered walls and small foul territory place it as slightly harder than average to defend. It's worth noting that their pitching staff has the majors' second-best strikeout rate, since high strikeout rates tend to have some impact as far as lowering BABIP figures. On the other hand, the team has overcome the slight disadvantage of playing more day games than any other, as the splits show BABIPs as about four points higher in the sunshine. In any event, the Fielding Runs Above Average numbers show the Cubs playing above-average defense at every position, particularly at second base (Mark DeRosa and Mike Fontenot) and the outfield corners (Alfonso Soriano and Kosuke Fukudome). Given that strikeout rate and FRAA themselves factor into the Secret Sauce recipe, it's no wonder that Nate Silver is ready to crown them champions.

The Red Sox, of course, have to defend the Green Monster and Fenway's other assorted quirks, and while they're seventh in the majors in raw DE, they look much better after accounting for those idiosyncrasies. The Coco Crisp/Jacoby Ellsbury center-field tandem is a combined 13 runs above average, even with Crisp failing to live up to last year's astounding/fluky +41 showing. FRAA is extremely—overly—sensitive to the distribution of discretionary plays divided up between fielding neighbors, and Crisp's 2007 showing is almost certainly an artifact of his covering for Manny Ramirez, who improved to -5 last year after four seasons of being in double-digit negatives. The long-gone slugger rates at about average this year thanks to the help of Crisp and Ellsbury, and while there's not a lot to love about the sight of Manny playing defense, its impact on the team's performance has been dramatically overstated by the jury—as has virtually every other aspect surrounding his acrimonious departure from Boston. Elsewhere for the Sox, Mike Lowell and friends (particularly Kevin Youkilis, who's held down the hot corner admirably while Lowell's been sidelined) are 18 runs above average at third base, and the only spot on the diamond where the team is below average is at shortstop, where Jed Lowrie (-1) has replaced an injured Julio Lugo (-14).
Speaking of the Red Sox, this morning I began what's now becoming my second regular radio gig of the week. Every Wednesday at 8:05 AM Eastern, I'll be appearing on the Young Guns Show on Boston's WWZN 1510. If you're not asleep, in your car, or inside the station's blasting radius, you can catch my 15-minute segment via the station's website.

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