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Michael/Male/26-30. Lives in United States/Pennsylvania/Wexford/Christopher Wren, speaks English. Spends 20% of daytime online. Uses a Fast (128k-512k) connection. And likes baseball /politics.
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United States, Pennsylvania, Wexford, Christopher Wren, English, Michael, Male, 26-30, baseball , politics.

Sunday, June 20, 2004

Reflections on ZR: 

I was giving ZR a little more thought this week. This notion of being able to quantify something as vague and subjective really has my interest. Also, one of the many clichés people have about baseball is that good pitching and good defense trump hitting. Well, we can quantify good pitching. We can see what it looks like on paper. Fielding?

Hitting is easy to figure out. We have fairly uniform data to assess hitters: they all get about the same number of at-bats and they all pretty much have the same opportunities as the next guy. Pitchers too: they all have data, once you strip away stats like “win-loss” record to figure out how they’ve done, although their analysis is much more difficult than for hitters. (I’ve stayed away from pitching analysis because I don’t understand the concepts enough: it is my next project.)

Fielding is the most difficult of all because it is possible to play a game and have nothing at all to do. Remember when Ben Sheets K’d 18 guys earlier this year? His eight teammates had to make just nine outs on their own. I could play third base and not see the ball for one or two or even three games. It is too subjective and too much left to variables utterly unable to be tested. If you are a lousy hitter you go 0-for-4 and people know you’ve failed. If you are a lousy pitcher, you’ll get tagged for hits and runs and your ERA or WHIP will detail your futility. Fielding? I could be the world’s worse fielder and you wouldn’t know it if I play on a team full of strikeout pitchers.

Here are the Phils 2004 ZR stats:
1b Thome: .790
2b Utley: .871
2b Polanco: .824
3b Bell: .781
ss Rollins: .848
lf Burrell: .864
cf Byrd: .836
cf Glanville: .824
rf Abreu: .854

So how do the Phils stack up? Comparing the Phils regulars stats to opposing players revealed that the Phils were typically average-to-below average on defense: Thome was, according to ESPN, tenth of ten NL first basemen, while Jimmy Rollins was seventh of thirteen regular NL shortstops. Nowhere were the Phils better than the middle of the pack.

Team ZR:
1. Chicago .866
2. Florida: .860
3. St. Louis: .858
4. Milwaukee: .858
5. San Diego: .858
6. Los Angeles: .858
7. Montreal: .857
8. Philadelphia: .849
9. Cincinnati: .844
10. Houston: .843
11. San Francisco: .839
12. New York Mets: .829
13. Arizona: .838
14. Atlanta: .835
15. Colorado: .832
16. Pittsburgh: .822

Broken down by infield and outfields, the Phils infield ZR is seventh (.828), and their outfield is eleventh (.852).

Either way, it is enormously disappointing to see how mediocre-to-bad the Phils actually are. Will this come back to haunt us?

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