Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Delmon vs. Denard - or random bastardization of data

There's Delmon Young missing another catch.

This post doesn't have much of a point. I've had a couple of gin & tonics (WWWWWW, please note--no fruit juice) and I'm getting fired up that the Twins might have a defense that lives up to the hype this year. A good defense does not include Delmon...

After reading this post at USS Mariner about when, if ever, Ken Griffey Jr. should play in the outfield instead of the plus-defender Endy Chavez, I thought about the LF situation for the Twins--Delmon vs. Denard.

Instead of recreating the wheel, and owing to the fact that Dave and DMZ at USS Mariner are smarter than me, I'm just going to borrow their data. Follow the link if you want the details, but all MLB teams fell between 1,463 and 1,732 fly balls last year and 27% of those went to LF.

Since the Twins have three extreme fly ball pitchers, I'm going to estimate 1,700 for them this season. Twins pitchers gave up 183 HRs in 2008, so let's go with 180 this year--1,520 catchable fly balls for the outfielders. 27% of that total gives Twins left fielders 410 opportunities.

Again borrowing from USS Mariner, a really good defensive LF will get to 80-85% of chances and a bad one will be around or below 70%. Obviously Delmon isn't the good defensive outfielder of the two...

Over the course of the season, using a 70/80 split translates to Denard creating an additional 41 outs with his glove. USS Mariner says that each flyball out is 0.9 runs prevented.

Using that calculation, Denard's defense is worth about 37 runs compared to Delmonstrosity's rollerskating in LF.

I'm finally getting to my point--what kind of offense can Delmon provide to make up the 37 runs he gives up in the field?

That's about the difference between Delmon and Ryan Braun last year.

Granted, that's an extreme example since LF isn't going to be an either/or situation. Both players are going to see time in the field.

But despite a less-than-Spantastic spring for Denard, I don't see Delmon being that much better at the plate, even if he's platooned. I'm just hoping the Twins can minimize Delmon's damage in the field; keeping him off the field for Baker and Slowey starts is a good, easy way to do that.


Duckman said...

Delmon Young Range Factor (PO+A/G)= 1.94. Average for Position=1.66.

He may not win a Gold Glove, but he is an above average fielder. I think Span is going to take more of Cuddyer's time than Young's.

snacks said...

Wait...so you just completely made up the percentage of balls they would get to? How is this even a remotely valid exercise then? And each flyball out is 0.9 runs prevented? I'm curious to know where they came up with that number, because it sounds rather high to me.

Bottom line: Delmon = the man, get used to it.

The Sidler said...

Yes, I completely made it up but am comfortable with the methodology behind my half-assed guess.

Did you check out the USS Mariner link? They are smarter and better writers than me and explained their methodology that I'm borrowing.

Delmon might have had a good range factor, but his Dewan +/- rating was -25. That's the worst of any LF in 2008. His ultimate zone rate (UZR) was -18.4, which is significantly worse than Pat Burrell or Raul Ibanez. If you have any defensive stat worse than those two, you suck.

Based on that, I'm comfortable saying that Delmon is going to be on the low range of realistic probabilities.

Defensive stats are still very much a work in progress, but I'll take zone ratings and +/- over range factor.


And Snacks, the check's in the mail.

WWWWWW said...

The Twins give up an above average amount of fly balls though, and it follows that Range Factor would be inflated for an outfielder on a fly ball team.

Someone needs to invent a reliable fielding statistic.

Optimator said...

Some of this was as exciting as doing my taxes.

twinsfan said...

LOL @ using range factor as a meaningful analysis tool.

It's an obsolete metric, even its creator has poo-poo'd its use.

And LOLOLOLOL @ Delmon being either "an above-average fielder" or "the man."

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