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Probabilistic Model of Range II: Season of the Witch

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Before the Winter Meetings, before Brandon Backe and Russ Springer and Andy Pettitte and Jon Garland and Taylor Buchholz, I had written a post looking at the Probabilistic Model of Range for Houston infielders.

And we saw that both Adam Everett and Morgan Ensberg scored very high in this defensive metric, while Lance and Chris Burke was somewhere around average. Only Craig Biggio and Mike Lamb--as we might have expected--scored very low. Certainly, infield defense was a strength of Houston's in 2006, and the PMR system very roughly confirmed that.

Actually, the way it turns out, Pinto's PMR system fingers Houston as having the best ground ball defense in the majors.

Flyball defense, however, was a different story. Pinto found that Houston's "air" defense was third-worst in the majors. While flyballs the way Pinto looked at them included infield pops and pop bunts, for the most part, this reflects poorly on our outfield.

Which, sadly, makes some sense. Taveras is good to very good and Lane is average to a bit better than that, but after that it falls off. Think Luke Scott and Chris Burke in left, think Chris Burke in center, think Preston Wilson, and even Orlando Palmeiro.

Probabilistic Model of Range, Leftfielders
Model is Based on 2006 Data Only, Min. 1000 Balls in Play
Uses Distance for Fly Balls
Rk Player In
Play
Actual
Outs
Predicted
Outs
Outs/
Inplay
Predicted
Outs/Inplay
Difference
1. Brandon Fahey 1164 101 91.44 0.087 0.079 0.00821
2. Matt Diaz 1798 163 150.04 0.091 0.083 0.00721
3. Reed Johnson 1915 129 116.43 0.067 0.061 0.00656
23. Luke Scott 1188 81 81.19 0.068 0.068 -0.00016
31. Preston Wilson 2639 156 160.40 0.059 0.061 -0.00269
37. Carlos Lee 3883 227 243.70 0.058 0.063 -0.00430
38. Chris Duncan 1015 66 71.63 0.065 0.071 -0.00554
39. Bobby Kielty 1030 80 88.63 0.078 0.086 -0.00838
40. Manny Ramirez 3151 175 201.96 0.056 0.064 -0.00856

What had gotten me pointed in the direction of this PMR stuff in the first place was my insistence that statistical data connect in some meaningful fashion with the real world. And certainly, Manny Ramirez at the bottom of the list in left-field makes all kinds of sense given what we know about baseball, both here on Planet Earth, and on Planet Manny.

Interesting to look at Luke Scott at slightly better than expected, and at Carlos Lee, barely ahead of Ramirez. I think that us Astrofans can agree that Luke--as wonderful as he showed himself to be with the bat in '06--looked a little less than comfortable in left field last year. So we've got something of a discrepancy, with the PMR placing Luke a little higher than what we might have thought based on more empirical evidence. I might suggest that this is Minute Maid's tiny left field skewing things. Luke is overrated in the system, because it's so very easy to patrol the territory.More balls that go into Minute Maid's left field are playable; therefore Luke makes more plays, percentagewise

Which is why Carlos Lee occupying the nether regions of this list shouldn't bother us all that much. It's much easier to play left in Houston than it is in Arlington.

Kind of surprised at Preston. I knew he was slow 'cause of the ruined knees, but I would have figured him league average.

Probabilistic Model of Range, Center Fielders
Model is Based on 2006 Data Only, Min. 1000 Balls in Play
Uses Distance for Fly Balls
Rk Player In
Play
Actual
Outs
Predicted
Outs
Outs/
Inplay
Predicted
Outs/Inplay
Difference
1. Ichiro Suzuki* 1017 114 106.04 0.112 0.104 0.00782
2. Ryan Freel 1211 127 119.69 0.105 0.099 0.00603
3. Shane Victorino 1691 161 151.18 0.095 0.089 0.00581
4. Carlo$ Beltran* 3517 357 338.76 0.102 0.096 0.00519
13. Jim Edmonds* 2471 223 215.35 0.090 0.087 0.00309
14. Willy Taveras 3304 335 325.37 0.101 0.098 0.00292
30. Mike Cameron* 3723 367 360.50 0.099 0.097 0.00174
35. Vernon Wells* 3918 332 330.00 0.085 0.084 0.00051
37. Andruw Jones* 4109 377 375.19 0.092 0.091 0.00044
44. Torii Hunter* 3715 343 347.24 0.092 0.093 -0.00114
54. Jay Payton 1196 104 111.90 0.087 0.094 -0.000661
55. Ken Griffey, Jr. 2753 229 256.68 0.083 0.093 -0.01006
56. Jeremy Reed 1535 129 146.35 0.084 0.095 -0.00130
*Gold Glove Winner

The inside-the-park homerun he allowed in the ALDS notwithstanding, I had always understood Torii Hunter to be a very good defensive centerfielder. But then again, I don't watch AL ball, so maybe there's a reason for Hunter's negative rating.

Remembering how Freel had robbed us often during the year, I'm not at all surprised to see him so high on the list.

I think I can agree that Edmonds and Jones ain't what they were.

Ever since he threw three Cubs out at the plate in three days in early 2005, the word has been out that Willy T had an arm that was both strong and accurate. But the poor decisions and the bad routes kind of bit hm in the ass. We saw less of that stuff in 2006, to the point where (if you can believe this PMR junk), he now plays a better center than most Gold Glove winners. Willy's style is so flashy that I am sure if his bat allows him to stay in the league (and the 'Stros don't trade him), he will become Houston's first Gold Glove from the outfield since Cesar Cedeño.

Probabilistic Model of Range, Rightfielders
Model is Based on 2006 Data Only, Min. 1000 Balls in Play
Uses Distance for Fly Balls
Rk Player In
Play
Actual
Outs
Predicted
Outs
Outs/
Inplay
Predicted
Outs/Inplay
Difference
1. Reggie Sanders 1942 170 150.73 0.088 0.078 0.00992
2. Carlos Quentin* 1156 96 85.83 0.083 0.074 0.00879
3. Casey Blake 2586 210 191.62 0.081 0.074 0.00711
28. Jason Lane 2049 155 156.74 0.076 0.076 0.00085
38. Xavier Nady 2560 187 202.29 0.073 0.079 0.00597
39. Magglio Ordo&ntildeez 3893 258 281.26 0.0066 0.072 -0.00598
40. Brian Giles 4169 298 332.48 0.071 0.080 -0.00827

I will again call myself surprised at Jason Lane's ranking. Having watched him play, I will characterize him as an above average rightfielder, with good if not great range, a plus arm, and good athleticism. Lane's best attribute is probably his arm, and PMR isn't taking that into account, but still . . . .