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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Monday, June 20, 2005

D-fens, Part III 

Sorry for the delay in this post: I ended up getting busy doing painting last week and fell behind in blogging.

I don't have much to say about the Oakland / Seattle road trip than to note that I should have realized that the Phillies would have struggled more against the Mariners and A's because they'd be playing in pitchers parks against teams due for a break-out. The A's in particular looked dangerous going into the series. As badly as it went, I'm cheered by the fact we are still in second place.

So, defense. First, here are definitions for the stats I use:

Zone Rating (ZR): Is a stat which measures a player’s defensive ability by measuring plays they should have made. Admittedly, this is a stat left open to subjective opinions.
Range Factor (RF): (Putouts + Assists) * 9 / IP. Essentially measures how much a player is involved in defensive plays.

How does the Phillies outfield stack up?

Pat Burrell; Leftfield

I'm a big fan of Pat Burrell. I think he's done great things at the plate this season. But I won't argue anything aside from the fact that he's an average defensive outfielder. Right now his .879 ZR for left is fifth amongst 12 LF's. Burrell doesn't seem to have much of an arm: he's dead-last amongst LF's in Range Factor.

Mike Humphries Defense Regression Analysis (DRA) rated Burrell at -12, .i.e., Pat Burrell's glove-work cost the Phillies 12 runs. That is the worst amongst the seven LF's Mike looked at.

Bobby Abreu; Rightfield

Again, just as with Pat Burrell, I like Abreu, I like what he's doing at the plate, but Abreu is below-average defensively. Ninth amongst 12 NL RF's in Zone Rating. Abreu's arm is much better than Burrell's: he's 8th of 12 in Range Factor. Abreu was rated -4 in DRA, worst of the six RF's.

Kenny Lofton; Centerfield

It is a little difficult to rate Kenny Lofton because he's missed so much time at centerfield. Jason Michaels, the Phillies 4th outfielder, has actually logged more total innings than Lofton (310 to 272), though Lofton has played in center more (272 to 248).

If Kenny Lofton qualified with enough innings he'd be one of the best NL CF's: his 3.10 Range Factor would be first (current leader Bradley Clark: 2.78), and Lofton would rank 4th of 12 in Zone Rating. Not too shabby.

Bench: Endy Chavez and Jason Michaels. I find it difficult to rate Chavez because he's had so little playing time, but Michaels is playing fairly well. Michael is really the perfect 4th outfielder: tough bat off the bench, good glove. Can't ask for much more than that. Check out Fielding Win Shares per 1,000 innings:

Lofton: 5.88
Burrell: 1.71
Abreu: 2.43
Michaels: 5.16

Pretty good stuff.

Conclusions: The Phillies outfield defense is pretty weak. Burrell and Abreu are hitters and aren't particularly skilled at the art of defense. (Abreu in particular looks like he's thinking about his next at-bat more than playing right.) Lofton and Michaels are good outfielders, but the Phillies aren't blessed with strong outfield play. Good but not great.

Tomorrow, I have a few logs on the fire. I want to take a look at David Bell and take a look at some Phillies alums in the coming day, starting with my favorite (hah) pitcher, Eric Milton.

Why are you using Range Factor as a proxy for arm strength? For outfielders, RF primarily measures how many catches they make, not how many people they throw out.

Burrell's tied for fourth among NL leftfielders with 4 assists. Abreu's tied for second with 4. The two of them might not be the best defensive outfielders in baseball, but their arms aren't their weakness.
Burrell probably has a low range factor because the Phillies only have one lefty starter, and have (at least in theory) a ground-ball staff, so relatively few balls are hit his way. He catches 88% of the balls that he is supposed to catch; compare Miguel Cabrera, who gets to less than 81%. Burrell is more better than the worst guy (Cabrera) than he is worse than the best guy (Hollandsworth, 92.9%). Anyway, the sample size is small, so this really doesn't mean that much.
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