The Tigers according to PMR

The Tigers defense was the cause of much consternation this season, and rightly so. Now that David Pinto has released his PMR defensive metrics, we can take a detailed look at each position.

If you’re not familiar with PMR, it is a system that looks at each ball hit into play and the probability that the ball should be converted into an out. That probability is based on a number of characteristics including the handedness of the batter and pitcher, the type of hit, the direction of hit, and how hard the ball was hit. It is based on data from BIS which also provides the data behind the +/- system and revised zone rating.

The table below shows how the Tigers fared at each position, as well as the primary players at each position. It shows the number of balls in play (this is constant at the team level), the actual outs and predicted outs, the plays made above or below expected and then a conversion to runs. The last 2 columns scale the plays and runs to 4000 balls in play which is approximately 150 games or the normal workload of a full time player.

2008 Tigers PMR
2008 Tigers PMR

The Tigers took significant steps back at several positions and the results was being 27.8 runs below expected – which is nearly 3 wins. Compared to last year when the Tigers were 15.8 runs better than expected, it’s a swing of 4.5 wins to the negative.

The Tigers saw declines at every position except for left field, where Matt Joyce fared very well in his part time play. He more than compensated for Marcus Thames who in the past had been an averag-ish fielder. The declines at first, second, and short weren’t terribly significant. Polanco was nearly as good as last year, and Cabrera wasn’t appreciably worse than the Casey/Thames/Guillen combination at first.

One of the biggest losses occurred at third base where there aren’t many who can adequately replace Brandon Inge’s glove, despite the fact the system rated Carlos Guillen very well. Magglio Ordonez was near average in 07 but poor in 08 in right field.

The biggest hit defensively though, and it accounted for two-thirds of the decline in team defense by this measure, was in centerfield. The Tigers were +23 runs in 07 and -9.3 in 2008. I really have no idea what happened to Curtis Granderson but he was 3 wins worse defensively. And I don’t think it was a problem with the metric because throughout the season he seemed to be getting to fewer balls. He has several years of data where he was excellent and one where he was poor. I’m inclined to think that he’s still a good fielder who had a bad year.

So about this Inge/Guillen thing

Now the Tigers have already announced they are going to try and upgrade their defense by installing Inge at third base and shifting Guillen to left field. What’s misguided is that they are attacking two positions where they were actually decent last year. While Inge will still provide the upgrade at third with the glove, the benefit may be negated as Guillen learns a new position and replaces a pretty competent fielding Joyce. Plus you weaken third base offensively and I don’t understand how this move helps.

Below are links to the PMR data from Baseball Musings and the run conversion info from Beyond the Boxscore.

61 thoughts on “The Tigers according to PMR”

  1. Thank you for presenting the data and the excellent analysis, billfer.

    One way to address the Guillen/Inge/Joyce thing: Just put Guillen back at SS. If you/we/anybody thinks he can still play 3B, then he can surely still play SS (isn’t he less of a Renteria downgrade than he is an Inge downgrade?). Pull him for Ramon in the 7th with a lead every time, maybe. One less guy to go after by trade or signing.

    Inge at 3B is a good thing. Guillen in LF is a bad thing. Total waste of a developing player in Joyce and a pretty good combo in joyce/Thames. All for the sake of keeping/waiting on/being stuck with Gary #%@&#!# Sheffield, in itself a waste of Thames as DH and better defense in LF full-time (Joyce/Raburn).

  2. I think the real purpose of putting Guillen in LF is to try and keep this guy healthy as we endure the last three seasons of his contract. Sure, he was a better 3B and SS than he gets credit for, but with his knees and back I’d rather not have him doing all that lateral movement and have guys sliding into his shins. On the bright side he should be a very good LF. He played two of the hardest positions in baseball well so one would hope he can handle one of the easiest in stride. Yes he’ll have to learn a new position, but at least this time he’ll have the benefit of Spring Training to do so.

    Thames/Joyce would have been a decent way to go in LF but if we as Tiger fans are really serious about developing Joyce than Maggs must be traded and Joyce should be given RF where his defensive talents will do us the most good.

  3. Inge is not a ML hitter, no matter how good his glove is. Sorry.
    While they’ve made their “decision,” these things sometimes don’t last very long and Guillen needs to be in the lineup and is obviously their best all ’round option at third. Calros was outstanding with the glove at third after his first month or so (which was shakey at best).
    In addition, as Bill points out, CG in LF retards the development of our young outfielders (even though Leyland plays his backup regularly), who we need to develop as our team continues to get older.

    As for the rest, the Granderson rating in CF is a suprise. I can’t think of any anecdotal instances of ball that should’ve been made that were not, but one has to wonder about such a dramatic swing in the stats for Curtis. A lack of desire and hustle hardly seems to be a possiblility, as far as converting balls into outs. Abberation? Bad luck?

  4. I don’t understand how playing the outfield is going to be all that much easier on Guillen’s health. There are walls, tarps, players to run into, balls to dive for, and, when not expierenced – awkward stops, starts and gaits that can not be good for the back. Then add in the running around on artificial turf. I like Guillen at SS – he has had a year off. Leyland should be careful to not play him there everyday. Hopefully, now that the Tigers know the back is an issue, both they and Guillen are seeing the proper medical professionals to strengthen the back and keep it healthy.
    Am a big Joyce fan and think he has the potential to become an above average ML OF.

  5. Loon: I second the idea of getting CG back to SS. If he can handle 3rd, he seems like an upgrade to what we have as options.
    The Padres are having a fire sale, so the time is right to get a hold of Trevor Hoffman’s agent and get him on board for 09. He isn’t great, but he would be an upgrade, wouldn’t hold anyone back, and isn’t a long term commitment. Hopefully he wouldn’t be a repeat of the Percival signing.
    The Padres picked up the option on Giles, cheap at $9mill, is there any way he might come here? If we were packaging up Maggs, we could make it a 3way deal, sending $ and Maggs, getting prospects and sending them to the Padres? Crazy and unlikely, but hey, I had hope for the season even in August.
    If we can’t get Giles, how about moving Maggs anyway and shifting Curtis to right and freeing up CF for Inge??
    If that was the biggest defensive concern, then let Inge go there, can he cover the ground? That would leave Guillen to be either the SS or 3B, whatever is harder to fill.

    BTW, Pinto notes that a Win is worth about $5mill, can’t we find a 1B fielding coach to make Miggy into an adequate 1B, that would be worth about $6mill alone over 4000 balls in play. I think we could get a coach for $6mill.

  6. Inge’s career line is .237/.304/.392. That’s certainly not pretty, at .060 points below league-average OPS. But it’s not Tony Pena territory. Let’s say he’s ten runs better than average at third. Since ten runs is worth about .050 points of OPS, that pulls him to exactly average, with a small bonus for playing third base. He’s a league-average player. Deal.

  7. Trade Carlos Guillen. He’s somewhat marketable, and you’d have to send him to an AL team so he can DH, but he doesn’t belong in left field.

    Inge is untradeable, so you might as well get his plus-plus defense at his best position, even if he can’t hit.

  8. On the horizon: Inge could have a much better year at the plate. I see that as the one thing that could make him very tradeable even before 2009 is out. At that point, you might think, well, why not keep him? No! Deal him the minute that window opens.

    Inge is a below-average hitter, not a worthless one. If there is a team out there in a bind at 3B like the Tigers are in at SS, Inge may be tradeable right now. No? Weren’t the Tigers interested in Khalil Greene? I rest my case. Well, OK, it’s not an airtight case. But you get my point.

    Guillen is another guy I can see the Tigers sending to Seattle. Every time I think trade, I’m thinking Mariners. I’m to the point now where I’m sending Raburn, Thames, Rodney, Zumaya, Robertson, and Guillen to Seattle, far beyond what they could possibly send me back in exchange. I need help. All I want is Putz and Beltre, maybe Triunfel, too. Hey – maybe the Mariners want Inge, too! That’s the ticket.

    Putting Carlos Guillen back at 3B creates a whole ‘nother set of problems. Do you put the Untradeable One at SS, then? It’s too speculative to make much of a case for. Having a 3B at 3B and a SS at SS suits me better. And please – maybe a C at C, and a LF in LF, too! Novel.

  9. I understand trying to salvage something from Inge. If there were any possibility of getting him back to nearly adequate at the plate, it would be comendable. That doesn’t look like a possibility. Trading Guillen sounds like a good idea, but we’ve depressed his value. We’ve stated that he can’t play SS, that even though the stats say he is a top tier 3B, we don’t think so, or we think his health is so questionable that we are just trying to find any position to play him at.

    We’ve got Rent-a-Rear-A off the books, Rogers off the books, Jones off the books. If the Tigers are serious about trading Maggs, then more $ off the books (probably long-term, in the short we are most likely giving $ to someone to take the contract).
    1. Leave Inge on the bench as a supersub. Just keep telling him he’s the starting 3B so he keeps his mouth shut.
    2. Sign Hoffman (Replaces Jones, blocks no one coming up)
    3. Sign Furcal to play SS, 3 year contract, probably takes at least $12 mill a year, more like $15per year. We were looking at paying close to that for Rent-a-Rear-A.
    4. Look at Burnett, maybe even Lowe if you sign Furcal.
    5. Leave Guillen at 3B. Just keep telling Inge he’s the starting 3B so he keeps his mouth shut.
    6. Now we have an opening in RF if Maggs has been traded, if we can’t get Giles to fill the spot, then sign an old productive hitter to play LF and DH to a minimum contract, provided that he can get his trial delayed or charges dismissed. Then Joyce could play RF.

  10. 1. Joyce to LF in a platoon with whoever vs LHP, Guillen to DH, Sheffield bye bye.
    2. Joyce to LF in a platoon with whoever vs LHP, Guillen to 3B, Inge bye bye.

  11. Don’t we wish, Vince.

    “I think the real purpose of putting Guillen in LF is to try and keep this guy healthy as we endure the last three seasons of his contract.”

    Andrew, nothing wrong with the move per se. It’s the surrounding circumstances. Here’s what’s so ugly. You got Guillen, Inge, and Sheffield. Guillen’s the best ballplayer of the 3. The best guy gets jerked around because the other 2 are untradeable. The guy who can hit and field is potentially on the block, because the guy who can’t hit and the guy who can’t even play in the field have to stay. Yummy.

  12. Guillen is one of those players on which the range metrics do not agree. The Fielding Bible has him at -8 plays below average. My feeling is that he is probably about average. I do think the Tigers need to improve the left side of the infield but I’d favor the improvement coming at shortstop with a defensive specialist like Izturis. I think Guillen should be left at third with Joyce/Thames at left. Inge should be utility.

    Granderson’s drop in range was puzzling but I agree it’s real. There was a noticeable difference between this year and last year. I think he’ll probably bounce back next year.

  13. Loon,

    Baseball is so much simpler when you don’t have to be responsible for out-sized salaries, gargantuan egos and doofus managers. By the way, who’s big idea was it to make Guillen the regular LF for the coming season?

  14. Smoking Loon: I don’t think that Guillen is being “jerked around” with the left field thing; I think it’s actually a bit of a favor. I think this is something that makes Carlos happy. And besides, left field’s magic restorative powers will heal guillen’s back (and also his, um, lower back) the way it healed Sheffield’s shoulder* [* ok so he didn’t really hit any better, but that was the oblique. I think playing 1st helps that]

  15. re: the Lugo rumors… As a Boston friend says of Lugo, well, he doesn’t suck like Renteria… See, so if you’re framing things that way it would naturally occur to you that, wait, maybe the Tigers would want to “upgrade” to Lugo…

  16. He sucks worse than Rentaria
    Except in raw speed

    just a base stats since both guys have played during the same eras


    career BA .271 (has never hit above .300)

    career OBP .335

    career Slugging .391

    Ba – .290, OBP – .347, Slug – .405

    Plus Lugo has never scored 100 runs, and only above 90 in 2001, 7 years ago

    unlike Rentaria whos scored 100 2x and over 90 4 more (the one year he was in Boston he scored 100 runs)

    They BB at ~ the same rate, and Lugo K’s a lot more frequently, but grounds into fewer DP

    Now to the fielding

    I trust that site more than most any defensive metric, although I will say it isn’t perfect and could be improved upon

    Basically if you aren’t familiar with it, it allows people (you and I) the fans to rate guys fielding during the season, computes the averages and pumps out a number

    unlike OPS+ where 100 is league average, here it is 50
    and here you don’t consider the position the player plays, so if a guy has a good arm for a second baseman, but it would pale in contrast to most RF, 3B, SS and catchers then you might give him a 60 or so


    SS usually are given higher ratings (no surprise) because USUALLY they are along with the catcher and CF the most important defensive positions on the field

    2008’s #s haven’t been available to the public yet, so you have to look at 07 or 06 or 05 etc.

    In 2007 Lugo was given (using 269 opinions) a total score of 54, where Rentaria was given a 61 (with 27 votes)

    both had the same relatively high agreement level of .71

    for comparison here are how some Tigers ranked(overall) in 2007 (if you don’t feel like spending time on the site

    Inge 78
    Granderson 74
    Polanco 74
    Pudge 69
    Maggs 46
    Monroe 45
    Casey 40
    Guillen 40
    Thames 36

    So in sum
    Lugo is semi fast

    As bad as Rentaria is usually Lugo is worse offensively in most aspects

    Lugo is probably a slightly worse defender than Rentaria

    Therefore Lugo is pretty useless has no strengths except some speed

    I say try Everett out (1 or 2 year deal) and if he can’t hold down the fort pick up someone at the ASB

    My thinking is, he is another Inge, which IMO will help them, that left side of the IF (if they don’t start playing around) would be the strongest in MLB by far, really help out this pitching staff

    I still can’t believe he trained on a tennis court with a paddle fielding balls hit to him

    I’m gunna try it! sounds awesome

  17. re: Lugo –

    No more Lugo talk here please – unless it relates to his defense and the upgrade/downgrade he’d be over other options.

    I’ll get a post up if the trade happens.

    BTW- good stuff @David

  18. Coleman, you’re probably right that Carlos Guillen doesn’t feel jerked around by being put in LF. I didn’t mean to suggest that there was any attitude/team chemistry component to it.

    I’d like to comment on the rumored Robertson or Willis for Lugo deal – straightforwardly, no goofing around – but I’m not sure how to interpret billfer’s comment above. So I guess I won’t.

    Acceptable options for the middle infield as I currently see them: Santiago and Polanco (with Guillen and Inge as the emergency backups at SS, Santiago and Raburn – if he’s still around – as the backups at 2B). Guillen and Polanco (with Santiago as the 2B-SS reserve). J.J. Hardy via trade and Polanco (with Santiago as the 2B-SS reserve). Santiago/Defensive Guy* and Polanco (with Santiago to back up 2B). Defensive Guy* and Polanco (with Santiago as the 2B-SS reserve). Santiago and Polanco (with Defensive Guy** who can play a mean 2B-SS, maybe even 3B, as the reserve). This last is probably my favorite, because it’s inexpensive and part of solving the main problem – upgrading the infield defense.

    * Adam Everett or any not-too-old, no-hit-good-glove guy with experience as a starter. LHB or switch hitter would be nice.
    ** Any good (defensively) and versatile middle infielder, young or old. LHB or switch hitter would be nice.

  19. I think Brandon Inge does most for the team as a starting 3B. He is, on balance, the best 3B on the team. I think Carlos Guillen would do the most for the team as DH. However, he is, on balance, also the best SS on the team. That’s the argument against putting Guillen back at 3B.

    Putting Guillen at 3B and Inge at SS would actually make more sense to me than Guillen in LF.

    Just as an aside, Renteria might have looked a whole lot better in 2008 with Inge at 3B.

  20. I don’t know where Granderson picked up that hop thing for throwing after catching the ball, but I don’t believe Al Kaline ever did that. Seems like a lot of his throws were offline and his arm isn’t the strongest anyway.

    Someone should teach him how to catch and throw with a proper technique–that would help improve his defense.

  21. Loon,

    i’m not sure if the observations i’m going to make have been covered here already. i’m basing this from a radio (or podcast, can’t remember) interview i heard a while back.

    the impression i got from listening to the Leyland interview, and coverage of the same, was that he felt like the pitching staff began to use the infield defense as an excuse last year. there seemed to be a clear implication that 3B was singled out and that, this year, Leyland wanted to appease the staff/take away any excuses by putting Inge back @ 3B.

    leaving aside how good/bad Guillen was @ 3B, it seemed fairly clear from Leyland that 9 out of 10 Tigers pitchers preferred Inge at the hot corner. there was also a sense that pitchers felt like they couldn’t throw strikes for fear of the defense not making outs on balls in play. i know this is mostly outside the realm of stats and provability, but i think its worth noting the dynamic between the pitchers and their faith in the infield defense. with Knapp’s approach to strike throwing, the importance of this only increases (IMO).

    i can’t say how much better or worse Guillen is defensively at 3B vs SS, but he’s had significant playing time at both now and its unlikely to affect his offense, from a preparation/learning position point of view. i know its fun for us to guess at Inge’s possible aptitude at SS (i tend to agree he would be good), but if he’s in the offensive category that might as well be called “every little bit helps”, i think its better to put him at the position where he’s the most comfortable. this way we stand a better chance of squeezing that little extra bit of offense from him.

    also, i realized that the offseason is a marathon, not a sprint. early on i was making too many roster/position moves in my head and i need a break. assuming Inge @ 3B, Guillen @ LF limits the Tigers fielding needs to SS and back up/platoon C…which makes my head hurt less. this is a good thing because there’s still the pitching staff to sort out.

  22. Thanks, Andre. As far as the rationale for Guillen in LF, I had not as yet heard a whisper of it from the horse’s mouth, so to speak.

    Yes, good observation in paragraph 3.

    Regarding your last paragraph, I know what you mean, but I just can’t stop making those moves in my head. Even assuming Guillen in LF is carved in stone, the possibilities abound.

  23. Loon,

    you don’t do it often, but i love trade-that-involves-all-players-not-named-Granderson/Cabrera/Verlander. somebody needs to create a MLB version of the NBA trade calculator. at least that way the money-side of these 12 player deals could be established 😉

  24. Pardon me, Dre, but I’m totally freaked out by this new DTW look. It looks, um, kinda like 8 billion other blogs now. I was infatuated with the old, very distinctive look. This is going to take some getting used to.

    I’m furklempt. Talk amongst yourselves.

  25. Loon,

    i’m lost without the ability to quickly see the last post…is that something i can add…or only bilfer. where am i? who am i?

  26. Andre, it appears (or appeared – billfer is messing with us – we’re lost in his Matrix!) that you could set up that “last posted” thing (more accurately, “recent comments”) with that Widgets thing. I’m guessing.

    “where am i? who am i?”

    I know, I know! Threw me for a loop, too. La Villa Strangiato!

  27. Andre, that trade calculator idea, not limited to contracts, was what I was getting at with that list of Tradeable Tigers. I haven’t had time to follow up on it, and I was a bit disappointed that almost no one offered any feedback on the list to help me improve it.

  28. All of the data confirms what I’ve observed over the course of the season EXCEPT for the Grandy numbers, which I’ll simply reject. IMHO they don’t reflect reality. Without knowing much about it, my guess is the PMR system makes assumptions that are usually, but not always the case.

  29. “Umm what new look for DTW? It still looks the same on my PC”

    Billfer must’ve been road testing some newer version of WordPress this morning, because for a few minutes everything did look different. I have a witness!

  30. Tigercub,

    you must have taken the blue pill, cause it was definitely weird for a couple minutes. congrats on having a life though and not refreshing every 1-2 min like i tend to. and Loon, i just assume you’re a DTW ai program…

  31. greg

    If you reject some of the data as not reflecting reality without knowing too much about it (I’m assuming “it” means PMR, not reality), then how can any of it “confirm” anything for you? You have essentially said that what you don’t believe isn’t true because you don’t believe it.

  32. Loon,

    “you have essentially said that what you don’t believe isn’t true because you don’t believe it.”

    is this kind of like a voltaire thing? if it is, i now plan on winning every argument i have from now on with this devastating strategy. argue with me, i dare you!

  33. I refuse to believe you said that, Andre. Don’t argue with me, now, or I’ll deny your existence, and then where will you be?

  34. Loon wrote:

    You have essentially said that what you don’t believe isn’t true because you don’t believe it.

    Huh? How do you get that? What I’ve stated is I’m not going to deny something I know to be true simply because some metric tells me to. If the metric says the sky is not blue, should I accept that? I don’t think so. But if that’s your belief system, that’s fine have at it. Perhaps you prefer to follow metrics blindly, if the metric says Neifi Perez is a better hitter than Albert Pujols, just believe it. If that works for you, great, it doesn’t work for me. If PMR says Alex Sanchez is a great fielder, sorry, I’m not buying it. If it says Inge stinks as a fielder, sorry I’m not buying it. If it says Granderson stinks, sorry, I’m not buying it.

    Stats are useful when I can’t watch a large enough sample size of games for the players concerned. By seeing that the PMR accurately reflects the performance of almost all Tigers, I can derive that’s it’s a useful, but not perfect metric when analyzing players that I can’t see a large sample size.

  35. greg,

    without putting words in Loon’s mouth, i think he was taking exception with your comments, as much on the phrasing level as on the substance. saying “without knowing much about it” tends not to enhance one’s case, although i reserve the right to employ it frequently.

    for example:

    without knowing much about it, ESPN’s fielding metrics also show that Granderson declined last year.

    i’m not sure if you checked out the entire post, billfer had this to say on the same topic:

    “I really have no idea what happened to Curtis Granderson but he was 3 wins worse defensively. And I don’t think it was a problem with the metric because throughout the season he seemed to be getting to fewer balls. He has several years of data where he was excellent and one where he was poor. I’m inclined to think that he’s still a good fielder who had a bad year.”

  36. “if the metric says Neifi Perez is a better hitter than Albert Pujols, just believe it.”

    that’s it, i’m going to make it my life’s work to come up with such a metric. stay tuned….

  37. Dr. Dre – you wrote:

    “without knowing much about it” tends not to enhance one’s case

    I’m more interested in truth and transparency than making someone think the way I do.

    I found this on you tube:

    David Pinto’s discusses PMR.

    Even with that explanation, I still don’t know much about it, but it sounds as though, like many of the defensive metrics I’ve encountered, that they make certain assumptions that aren’t necessarily true. Ideally for a such a stat to be truly reliable, every play would have to be viewed to see whether or not a fielder should have fielded it. I don’t know if PMR does this or not, but I’m guessing it does not.


    And I don’t think it was a problem with the metric because throughout the season he seemed to be getting to fewer balls.


    Well, I would argue that you can’t get to balls that nobody can get to. If you’re playing a deep CF and someone hits a shallow fly I don’t think it’s the fielder’s fault. Could it be that hitters simply hit a higher % of unfieldable fly balls this year than in previous years? Is there anything in the PMR methodology that would preclude this possibility?

  38. @greg

    I haven’t seen the UZR data for this year, but Dewan’s +/- system corroborates the PMR data for Granderson. And really, I don’t think he looked nearly as good this year. There were a number of plays – that were tough plays admittedly – that he didn’t seem to make this year that he had in past years. I was a little surprised by the magnitude of the results, but he didn’t strike me as a plus defender this year.

    I am working on a new theme for DTW. What you saw briefly was just the back bone sans any customizations. It will look largely like the current version, with some things to make it a little fresher. It’s the same thing I do every year as I get bored with the layout or I’m not completely satisfied with something. The new theme will also be more sound from a code perspective and allow for some increased functionality. The current theme is heavily hacked together over many years. This’ll be better for me.

  39. @greg

    There is enough noise in fielding metrics that I’m not saying you’re wrong. There are metrics that just don’t agree. But when you have several metrics all reporting the same thing there’s a pretty good chance it’s true.

    PMR doesn’t account for depth of the hit, it accounts for vector, how hard it was hit, and type of hit (as well as handedness and park). So it is possible that Granderson playing a deep centerfield saw more balls drop in. But then I’d question why he was playing so deep.

    As for watching each play, the +/- system does have video scouts watching each play and based on where the ball is hit (and other characteristics similar to PMR) they calculate the percentage of time someone makes a play. A player gets lots of credit for making a low percentage play and little credit for making a routine one.

  40. Thanks Billfer (I assume you weren’t being sarcastic)

    I mean I really like that site a lot

    If anyone here knows the game MVP Baseball 2005 from EA Sports (Manny on the cover) – it is the most realistic baseball games and one of the most (if not the most) sweetest game ever created (however it isn’t perfect as well)

    I’ve played that over the last few years A LOT, and I mean A LOT, simming dynasties(of course usually drafting Tyrus Cobb and Hans Wagner), drafting, managing and just playing exhibition

    The reason I bring this up is to relate it to that site (tangotiger fan’s fielding ratings), this PMR by David Pinto that Billfer has shown us… and any other fielding metric (F%, Errors, Assists, PO etc.)

    What they do in MVP Baseball 05 is pretty simple

    You have only four (count ’em 4) metrics

    1) Range (ground a fielder can cover)
    2) Fielding (how often he fields any ball [hard hit or not] cleanly without double clutching or bobbeling)
    3) Arm Strength (gun)
    4) Arm Accuracy (how often the ball hits the target, usually gets worse the harder and faster he has to get rid of it, another way of saying that is the less time you have to make a play the more often this game believes that if you try to “gun it” you’re more likely to make an error

    Of course they don’t take into account positioning (they assume that is directed by the coaching staff/leaders on the field prior to each batter)
    They don’t also take into account dives (you can make anyone in this game do all kinds of dives – which is not exactly the same as real life)

    And I’m sure I’ve missed a few


    I think those 4 (Range, Fielding, Arm Strength and Accuracy) would tell you a lot(if not all you need to know) about the player

    Using Tangotiger’s site
    before I begin on a side note he should have pitchers rated as well as everyone else (they’ve got a glove don’t they?)

    he has (I am assuming he is a he) 7 metrics

    Instincts, First Step, Speed, Hands, Release, Strength and Accuracy

    Instincts – I understand it to be positioning (except for a catcher, what would it be there?) but again positioning (shifts) should happen to all the fielders by the coaching staff
    First Step – movement off a crack of a bat
    Speed – top speed, speed?
    Hands – fielding? how often you come up cleanly with a batted ball?
    Release – ?? not sure?? arm angle thrown from? how fast you can do a glove to hand transfer(if needed)
    Strength – like before
    Accuracy – like before (in MVP)

    I just say combine instincts and first step and speed into RANGE, hands is FIELDING, release kind of seems obsolete or minor at best if you’re rating the final two

    I duno

  41. Release is how quickly one loads and fires. It does no good to throw a ball 95 mph from CF if it takes you 8 seconds to release it from the time you’ve caught it (dramatic hypothetical exaggeration, I know).

    Instincts, I disagree with you on. The players have brains and have looked over scouting reports. They (especially defenders up the middle) should be able to position themselves accordingly. I think coaches should only be re-adjusting them on whether they want to play the no doubles defense or bringing them in shallow. Instincts, probably, also refers to things like knowing what base to throw to, when to over-throw the cutoff man, when to cut a throw going home to get the runner rounding first, etc etc. The things that seemingly “heads up players” do that others don’t. Think of the good being Jeter way out of position against the A’s to flip the ball home, and the bad being Manny cutting a throw from Damon in the OF while being 15 feet apart from each other.

  42. @billfer

    Thanks for the explanation of this morning’s brief change in site appearance. A Twilight Zone moment, for sure, but my comments were grain of truth surrounded by tongue-in-cheek. Grain of truth being that I’ve always found this blog to be easier on the eye than most.

  43. greg

    Sorry I sounded so confrontational. Maybe I was a little too blunt. As Andre suggested, it was more your stated reasoning than your point I was questioning. I wasn’t upholding the sacred truth of defensive metrics.

    As for Granderson, I’m pretty sure that PMR, using the same methodology as in 2008, showed Granderson to be above average the two previous seasons. It could be that Granderson had some or a lot of bad luck in 2008. For all I know, there could be an undetected error in the calculations. A lot of people are scratching their heads over his low rating, but neither accepting it without question nor rejecting it out of hand.

    Even if I watched every Tigers game every year, I’d still give the analytical edge to guys who actually viewed and analyzed a defender’s every play in detail. There’s some hidden truth lurking in those defensive metrics, and probably still more lurking in the disagreement between various metrics.

  44. OO thanks for clearing that up

    I guess I think release and Fielding could be one category, it usually doesn’t seem to be that different among players who use 2 hands

    Among catchers maybe there is more of a slight variation (not sure) when throwing to a base

    Thanks for clearing instincts up

    I’d have to agree with you on it, it is important

    However I still am not sure it would qualify as a category because in that video game I rarely question it

    They automatically do all the shifting for the OF and IF

    Out, In, Left, Right, Spray, Pull, Corners in, Double Play depth etc.

    usually its effective due to the spray chart

    But what choices does the first baseman have usually? should I try and turn 2 or no?

    or the third baseman – the same thing

    even the SS and the 2B, usually the play is pretty obvious (what bag should I throw to/step on)

    I guess for the OF it is different, but since we’ve got a bunch of weak/average arm namby pambies in the OF usually they throw to the cutoff

    I mean we don’t have an Ichiro who has the Strength/Accuracy, and can get to nearly every ball

    The most recent outfielder with the best arm who played here any length of time, who had a good shot at ignoring the cutoff was Bobby Higginson

    He had a good 20 assists 1 year, 19 another and 17 another

    Ordonez last year had 8 and the year before 4
    Grandy last year 5 and 10 the year before

    and our late great OF Craig Monroe(Mr. Sloppy or as I liked to call him – Mr. 1 hand) had 6 in 200 7 and 12 in 2006

    my point is on our team its pretty rare option-usually the correct play is obvious to all considering all are major leaguers,

    AND when you do have multiple options, usually they are only realistic(probable to work) if you have the other 4 athletic tools

  45. I’m shocked (shocked!) that Renteria fared so poorly at SS. I mean, he’s a former Gold Glove winner.

    OK sarcasm aside, I have no flipping idea what was up with Granderson. After looking like one of the top 3 defensive CF in ’07, he was pretty mediocre. I’m confident that he’ll be better in ’09, though. As for Inge/Guillen – I don’t think that’s going to work out badly. We all know that Inge can play 3B like a crazy man. Considering that Sheffield is a lead pipe lock to spend significant time on the DL, Joyce can be shifted to RF with Ordonez at DH so you’ve got upgrades at 2 positions. If Guillen plays a passable LF (and I think he will if he’s healthy), it works.

  46. Billfer – that makes sense, at the same time, if the metrics all make the same/similar assumptions and don’t account for luck, then they could all err in the same way.

    Having said that…… we’ve seen Guillen do his Jeckyl/Hyde imitation, looking like the worst SS I’ve ever seen for weeks a time, then whipping out the web-gems left and right for a few weeks at 3B. Perhaps I just caught him on the good days, though there were dozens, maybe I just missed a lot of his bad days.

    Is the Bill James book out yet? It will be interesting to see the +/- data gleaned from visual evidence.

  47. @greg

    The Bill James handbook is out, but it just has leaders. On though they have +/- and Granderson was -12 this year.

  48. greg and others:

    Google “What about Nate McLouth’s Gold Glove?” for an interesting article tangential to but also highly relevant to the discussion of Granderson’s defensive rating in 2008.

  49. “Why isnt anyone talking about Inge at Catcher?”

    It’s been announced by JL that Inge is going back to 3B. That and the fact that nobody wants him at C after the way he ended the season there defensively. That and the fact that it makes absolutely no sense anymore. Inge can compensate for his “HORRIBLE” bat at 3B. but not at C.

  50. Why would you want to play Inge at catcher when he is the best defensive third sacker in the league? – right there with Rolen/Beltre

    Also he hits better usually when he doesn’t have to worry about catching… and out of any position on the field me thinks he doesn’t like catching too much, since he has said as much.

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