Monday, June 22, 2009

Outfield Ratings for pre-Retrosheet

A few weeks ago I asked people to rate, on a scale of 1-5, the defensive play fro some outfielders who played from 1900 to 1950. Only 3 people answered the call, but I'll take what I can get (thank you to those who helped), and compare them to my system, JAARF (Just Another Adjusted Range Factor).

I'll score my results as either hit if it reasonably matches the subjective rating, foul if it isn't horrible, and whiff if it's too far off. There were a few misses, but overall I'm happy with the results given the crude data I worked with. Even with today's advanced defensive stats, there are still a few whiffs where either the numbers or the impressions of observers are way off. Take Torii Hunter. His UZR is a bit below average though he regularly amazes Angel fans, including this blogger. I'm not going to go on an anti-UZR (or anti-TotalZone) diatribe, but I'm still quite content to have Torii in CF every day.

Anyway, the ratings. First is a number, 1 to 5, average reader response. 5 is better, 3 is average. Second is career JAARF runs at the position.

The hits:
Averill, cf, 2.3, -59
Carey, cf, 4, +103
Cobb, cf, 3.3, -15
Dom Dimaggio, cf, 5, 74
Goslin, lf, 3.7, 66
Heilmann, rf, 2, -70
Hooper, rf, 5, 150
Joe DiMaggio, cf, 5, 81
C Klein, rf, 2, -57
L Waner, cf, 4, 33
D Lewis, lf, 4.5, 48
Speaker, cf, 5, 182
P Waner, rf, 4, 55
Cy Williams, cf, 2.5, -16
T Williams, lf, 2, +3

I counted Williams as a hit since this stat only shows him through 1954, after that TotalZone takes over and rates him below average for his remaining years. It looks like a normal career progression, and Ted was an OK fielder when he was younger, and 20 years too early for the DH role after that. I'm proud of having Speaker with the big rating.

The fouls: Not good ratings, but not clearly wrong:

Crawford, rf, 3.7, -48
Bob Johnson, lf, 2.7, 46
Kiner, lf, 1, -16
Manush lf, 2, 28
S Rice, rf, 3.7, 91
Simmons, lf, 3, 105
Slaughter, lf, 3, 40
Z Wheat, lf, 3.3, 109
Cramer, cf, 2.7, -70

Perhaps these can be explained partially by position, most of these are corner outfielders who rate about average but have good numbers - They weren't especially good, thus they were stuck in corners, but might have been better than some oafs out there. Cramer is the opposite in center, he was a bit below average, but compared to much better outfielders his run rating is very low.

The ones who don't fit the pattern are Crawford, who probably should rate better, and Kiner, who should rate worse.

The whiffs:

Medwick, lf, 2.5, +97
Nicholson, rf, 1, +26
Mel Ott, rf, 2.5, +87
Roush, cf, 4, -8
Ruth, rf, 2.3, +103
Veach, lf, 2.7, 72

Mostly bad fielders who rate well by some flaw. I don't think Ott was a bad fielder, but I tried to keep my own opinion out of it. Roush was considered a great defensive centerfielder, perhaps the best in the NL of his day. Ruth? I've got some thoughts on this but with his high defensive ratings (justified or not) he and Bonds have very similar profiles on the WAR charts. Except for pitching, of course.

So overall, the ratings are probably right 50% of the time, wrong 20% of the time, and inconclusive 30%. I'm only doing themjavascript:void(0) because it has become an obsession, to rate every damn player who ever played the game.

18 Comments:

At 1:55 PM, Blogger KJOK said...

Hard to comment without knowing exactly how JAARF is calculated, but I would think park effects could play a big role in how the historical fielding rates, since there were a lot more 'unusual' parks back in history, while now there's basically just Fenway.

 
At 9:02 PM, Blogger Chone Smith said...

Very true. I'm not doing any park adjustments. It would be very difficult given the data available.

Pretty much it just takes plays made and errors, adds hits allowed (distributed among positions based on rates for RH and LH pitchers) and compares the rate to league average.

The hardest part is estimating the innings, especially in the outfield. I tried to minimize the impact of those estimates, since they will be off a lot of times.

 
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