FanGraphs Baseball

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  1. “9th-best defense in baseball.” That’s a shocker!

    Comment by Andy Brandt — May 19, 2011 @ 4:36 pm

  2. Garcia has really been a pleasure to watch this season. He’s got a great mind for pitching and mixes all of his weapons very well, and he has a lot of weapons.

    Comment by Samuel — May 19, 2011 @ 4:41 pm

  3. is this supposed to be a comparison to wainwright? this was a just an article praising (justly) garcia, not comparing/contrasting the two and their developments. I figured there would be more detail in to that.

    Comment by Joseph — May 19, 2011 @ 4:47 pm

  4. Didn’t the loss of Wainwright only cut their projected margin of victory in the NL Central in half by PECOTA?

    Comment by cpebbles — May 19, 2011 @ 5:04 pm

  5. I was going to comment about this too. If you ever needed an argument that UZR data is worthless in small samples, this is it.

    If the Cardinals are the 9th best defense in baseball, then the Padres have the best offense. No way.

    Comment by GT in NYC — May 19, 2011 @ 5:16 pm

  6. UZR data over 45 games means anything??

    It’s no wonder that defensive data is met with much skepticism when almost everyone who applies it, applies it incorrectly. I don’t buy WAR for this reason either. UZR data for a given year is also useless.

    Comment by Nat Haniel — May 19, 2011 @ 6:26 pm

  7. UZR data for 45 games for an entire team should be roughly as telling as 2 seasons’ worth for a single player, right?

    Comment by cpebbles — May 19, 2011 @ 6:29 pm

  8. No, because the total team UZR is just a sum of the individual players’ UZR, which at this point in the season is completely useless. It’s not like DER, which measures total team defense.

    Comment by GT in NYC — May 19, 2011 @ 6:43 pm

  9. It’s a small UZR sample, sure. It’s always all we have to go on. Grain of salt, but it’s certainly plausible that the Cardinals field an above-average defense.

    Comment by Jonah Keri — May 19, 2011 @ 7:00 pm

  10. Ya’ll are blasting Jonah, for a small tidbit (UZR) of the post, that really doesn’t have much to do with main point of the post, which is that Garcia is looking like he has taken the next step and the writing may be on the wall that he is an elite pitcher.

    I found it interesting that Lester and Halladay’s cutter ranked higher than Rivera’s. Mike Adams, had the 4th best cutter in the league when you include relievers.

    Solid article Jonah. This is me being greedy: with all of this platoon split talk in terms of pitch type, it would’ve been nice if you could’ve incorporated Garcia’s newfound cutter in terms of helping him with either LHB or RHB if it applies (and I’m assuming it does).

    Comment by Young Gung — May 19, 2011 @ 7:20 pm

  11. They have been playing Lance Berkman in the OF

    Comment by JohnnyComeLately — May 19, 2011 @ 7:57 pm

  12. interesting platoon splits so far, 1.5/2.4 L/R FIP, 2.4/2.9 xFIP but massive BABIP difference .333L .245R… how legit it is with the advent of his cutter to have such a large difference?

    Comment by fredsbank — May 19, 2011 @ 8:18 pm

  13. There’s nothing strange about Halladay and Lester’s cutters being better than Rivera’s those two are known for their outstanding cutters

    Comment by bender — May 19, 2011 @ 8:24 pm

  14. You’re dealing with an awfully small sample size when you’re talking about BABIP against lefty hitters.

    Comment by Sean — May 19, 2011 @ 10:23 pm

  15. true, only 45 batters this season and completely neutral L/R (.291/.292) BABIP last year (136/559 BF)

    Comment by fredsbank — May 19, 2011 @ 10:45 pm

  16. Let’s see.

    C – Yadier Molina. Having a down year (to my eyes) but still regarded as one of the best defensive catchers around.

    1B – Pujols. Very good defender.

    2B – It’s been a mix-and-match, but mainly Nick Punto (who is EXCELLENT at 2B), with some innings from Tyler Greene (average-to-good), Skip Schumaker (bad) and Daniel Descalso (good).

    SS – Theriot, mostly. And he’s been AWFUL this year.

    3B – David Freese started the year. He’s good. Daniel Descalso has taken most of the starts recently, and he looks truly excellent at the position (so far, like, Rolen/Beltre good, in a SSS, both to my eyes and to UZR).

    LF – Matt Holliday. Plus defender in LF, by UZR and to my eye.

    CF – Colby Rasmus. To my eye he’s average, UZR has him as a slight plus.

    RF – Berkman. OK, he’s going to be very bad going forward.

    The 4th OF is Jon Jay, who is an excellent fielder (and who has played quite a lot so far this year due mainly to injuries).

    So, we’re looking at one awful position (RF), one bad one (SS), two average-to-slightly above (CF & LF), two good (1B & 2B), two very good (C & 3B). It doesn’t seem beyond the realms of possibility that that defense is somewhere in the top half, even the top third, in baseball.

    And, if I interpret it correctly, I’d say the likelihood is that UZR should be a pretty good descriptor of what’s happened (i.e. the Cardinals defense has been good) over the first month+20days of the season, as that equates (over 8 positions) to a little over two full seasons’ worth of data for an individual player (and I’ve heard 3 seasons mooted as the possible point at which UZR is getting close to normalising, in terms of its sampling error). That doesn’t mean they’ll be any good going forwards, especially if Theriot and Berkman continue at SS and RF every day, but I’d say that, overall, that defense is at least average on paper.

    Comment by Felonius_Monk — May 20, 2011 @ 6:36 am

  17. “No, because the total team UZR is just a sum of the individual players’ UZR, which at this point in the season is completely useless.”

    Why? What is the reasoning behind this? I’m not saying I necessarily disagree, but I don’t see why 300+ games of data taken across n players should be prone to greater sampling error (or any sort of error, really) than 300+ games of data for one player.

    The “errors” should over-rate some defenders, under-rate some others, but I don’t see why they should skew in either direction for a team more so than for an individual over the same number of innings (indeed, I can even see an argument to suggest that they should perhaps be LESS skewed, due to the slight overlaps in defensive ranges in the IF and OF).

    Comment by Felonius_Monk — May 20, 2011 @ 6:52 am

  18. “9th best defense” is misleading. The Cards have played Freese, who is at least average, or Punto (above average) much of the year. Skip Schumaker (awful) hasn’t played all that much due to injury. 2 of the plus defenders are in the outfield and, as the article noted, Garcia’s a ground ball pitcher.

    Pujols has been adequate this year. Theriot’s awful but 3rd base and, to some degree, 2nd base have been a pleasant surprise. Garcia’s not hurt too badly by Berkman’s horrid defensive play.

    Comment by chuckb — May 20, 2011 @ 9:56 am

  19. According to UZR, the Cardinals have a range-y defense that can’t catch. THAT seems plausible (or even visible), but I’m still not sure I’d call it “above-average”.

    Comment by Pitchers Hit Eighth — May 20, 2011 @ 11:57 am

  20. error analysis. you’re not gaining greater precision summing together a bunch of small n values.

    Comment by joshcohen — May 20, 2011 @ 2:58 pm

  21. TV analyst often try to sell Rivy’s cutter as arguably the best pitch in game. That pitch is magnified considering how much he throws it, so because of that (and no disrespect to Halladay and Lester) the first person that comes to my mind when we’re talking cutters is Rivera.

    I wonder how much of Halladay and Lester’s cutter value is based on the fact that they don’t throw it more than 30% of the time and that keeps the hitters more off balance. Rivy throws his roughly 90% of the time, the hitter knows its coming and still has problems with it.

    I randomly went back 5 years and checked cutter ranks, min. 200 innings, Rivera ranks first, Halladay is a close second, Haren is a DISTANT 3rd, Lester is a close 4th to Haren.

    Comment by Young Gung — May 20, 2011 @ 4:04 pm

  22. Yes you are.

    Comment by cpebbles — May 21, 2011 @ 2:12 pm

  23. No, If you sum random variables that each have their own variance, the sum’s variance is the sum of the individual variances.

    In other words, at this point of the year team UZR is not better than individual UZR. It’s in fact much, much worse! This is an important point. Citing team UZR 50 games in is worthless.

    Think about it this way: Let’s say you have a team of 8 fielders all with a UZR of 0 +/- 10 (I’m picking 10 out of a hat here). You add them up to get a team UZR of 0 +/- >>>>>>10. You gained nothing in the way of precision summing them!

    Comment by joshcohen — May 23, 2011 @ 9:17 pm

  24. good analysis Felonius

    Comment by BVHeck — May 24, 2011 @ 1:49 am

  25. Garcia has been unbelievable. I think what he means in terms of “the new Wainwright” is that he’s the #2 that is arguably the team’s de facto ace and best Cy Young candidate.

    What makes this defensive sample size seem ludicrous is that last year the Cardinals were 22nd overall with a UZR of -16. NOBODY watching this team believes they’ve improved on defense that much.

    Going solely by 2011 UZR, Cardinals are just 6th in the NL–8.5 would be “average.” Meh, I can buy that.

    Comment by jcalton — May 24, 2011 @ 3:47 pm

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