A Proposed Methodology to Express the Value of Defense: Right Fielders

Note: this post is not by “guesto”, but rather by Carl Aridas.

***

If you have a net worth of USD $10 million, assuming nothing else, you are doing well.  As most readers of this site are either Americans or at least have a ready comprehension of the value of the American dollars, the American dollar is a readily understood value of money.  However, if the net worth of person B is Yen 10 million and person C has a net worth of HKD 10 million, what does that mean in comparison to you with a financial net worth of USD 10 million, and how can the three net worth values be compared via one more widely accepted value?

The quick answer, used by foreign exchange markets every trading day, is to use an exchange rate.  This allows Americans to equate HKD and Yen into their more familiar USD, people in Hong Kong to translate the Yen and USD amounts to HKD, and Japanese citizens to equate USD and HKD into Yen equivalents.

In baseball — yes, I recognize this is a baseball site — WAR is our exchange rate, and oWar and dWAR help translate different parts of the game into a common currency for us.  However, what if we want to equate dWAR by position into more a more traditional yardstick for some baseball fans who might prefer to see a triple-slash line rather than a dWAR value?  In researching the relative value of defense and the contract equivalent for Jason Heyward, I did just that and in so doing developed a simple methodology described below for users who prefer to use a triple-slash line.

In 2014 and 2015, Justin Heyward was worth a combined 4.8 dWAR.  With access to only games in the NY marketplace, this seemed high, and Heyward hadn’t passed my eye test for being a great defensive right fielder.  Starting with very traditional defensive metrics, I composed the following table of NL right fielders, using only their time in right field and ignoring all other positions, with the exception of dWAR:

1

Using just these defensive statistics avoids errors due to opinions of how hard a ball was hit, and also combined both range and positioning, either or both of which can be used to record putouts.  Once done, I repeated the exercise for the prior season:

2

And combining the two resulted in the following chart:

3

A quick comparison shows that Heyward is certainly the most durable right fielder in the senior circuit, and had the most putouts, and had near the most assists and led in dWAR over the two years in our study.  However, one must make an adjustment for the differences in innings played, which the next table attempts to do:

4

A quick review of the per-inning defensive metrics reveals that Heyward does indeed catch more fly balls than any other NL right fielder.  In addition, as assists are so minuscule to be almost useless (Heyward would have one more assist in 1,000 innings than Curtis Granderson), and errors even less frequent, the only source of extra defensive value assigned to right fielders is their position/range resulting in actual outs.  The next chart determines the extra number of outs over 1,267 innings of defensive value, which is the average number of innings Heyward played between 2014-15:

5

The last column above is the key – the number of extra outs per season of the fielder’s defense.  As a side note, note that Giancarlo Stanton is also an extremely strong defender, and Jeff Francoeur still had defensive value in 2014-15.  Conversely, someone needs to teach Jorge Soler what a glove is for, and at this point in their careers both Yasiel Puig and Matt Kemp will be leading the charge to bring the DH to the National League.

Below are the rather pedestrian offensive values of Jayson Heyward in 2015:

6

Less than 15 homers, only 50 extra-base hits, and only 60 RBI to go along with 79 runs scored had me convinced that the Cubs had made a rather severe overpay.  Even his .359/.439/.797 slash line failed to convince me otherwise.

However, adding the extra 43 “extra outs” computed previously as an additional 43 singles (I know readers already think that some if not most of these extra outs had to be extra bases in the gaps, but I decided to be conservative in my estimates) to Heyward’s slash line results in the following:

7

A triple-slash line is familiar to all readers, and I assume all readers recognize that is a great triple-slash line, just as USD $10 million is a lot of money.  A .429 OBP in 2015 would be fifth in baseball, ahead of Trout, McCutchen and Rizzo and behind only Harper, Votto, Cabrera and Goldschmidt.  His OPS would be sixth in baseball, behind Harper, Goldschmidt, Votto, Trout, and Cabrera but still ahead of Donaldson, Cruz, Encarnacion, Davis and Ortiz.

This analysis, of converting defensive value to traditional statistics, can be leveraged and used elsewhere.  Certainly not limited to right fielders, this same methodology can be followed to other positions, although in the infield, both assists and putouts would need to be quantified compared to just putouts as done here.  Also, since these basic defensive statistics have been kept for decades, the same analysis could be repeated using historical players.



Print This Post

newest oldest most voted
Doorknob11
Member
Doorknob11

Damn, look at Inciarte!

Baseball4ever
Member
Baseball4ever

You know I did this for offense, converting everything to outs, +/- above the average outs by position or across the board and it was NEVER well received by the commenters on here. It maximized my lineup. I called it HEWCO, CCR, and BSM.
I had Jose Altuve as the best hitter in baseball for 2015 and Alcides Escobar was 18th overall. These three stats completely replaced BA/OBP/SLG/OPS. Far superior, factored in the value of of errors and contact outs too, which are missing from the traditional stat line.

tz's new account
Member
tz's new account

You know, I need to stop, open more than +/- continue to work, and even the board of directors and behavior. Support your portfolio. My name HEWCO, CCR and BSM.

2015, including Jose Altuve baseball, top scorer and Alcides Escobar 18. A · general statistical data, we can replace the old Penal Code BA / HA // define adults. This increases the cost of the recession and, what is missing, but the patient.

Ryan13636
Member
Ryan13636

Safe to say that outfield defensive metrics have yet to figure out Coors Field.

HarryLives
Member
HarryLives

Ender Inciarte wound up with by far the most dWAR on a 1,267 inning basis, but was 15 POs below average on that same basis. That makes me wonder whether using POs above or below average is a good way to capture a fielder’s value. It seems like it relies heavily on opportunity, So, a bad defender who had, for instance, twice as many balls hit at him as a good defender could come out looking better in terms of his put outs.