Luck and Fieldability
David Pinto from Baseball Musings has begun to release the 2005 Probabilistic Model of Range (PMR) data. Today he posted a table of which pitchers had more outs than expected on balls in play (or the lucky/unlucky) as well as rankings of the expected percentage of outs on balls in play (how easy was it to field behind a pitcher).
First, here is a nutshell explanation of PMR. Pinto has taken data from the last 4 seasons (2002-2005), and has determined the likelihood that a ball in play will turn into an out. This is calculated across the following paramters:
- type of hit
- direction the ball is hit
- how hard the ball was hit
- handedness or batter and pitcher
- the park
Once he knows the likelihood of a hit, he can compare it to what actually happened to find out where teams/players are meeting, exceeding, or failing to meet defensive expectations.
The table below is a snippet from the overall table looking at only Tiger pitchers (and I added Kenny Rogers as well). The first table shows where Tiger pitchers rank in terms of luck. The second table ranks the starters in terms of who was the easiest to field (sorted by expected PMR).
What is a little disconcerting is that Kenny Rogers was one of the luckier pitchers last year, to the tune of 16 plays more than expected. At the same time, he ranked as one of the harder to field pitchers in baseball. It will be interesting to see how he fares this season in a bigger park.
I was a little surprised to see Mike Maroth as the most “fieldable” pitcher on the Tiger staff, which is probably why he manages to have success despite a low strikeout rate.