Deciphering Defense

Most peoples opinion of defense have one fatal flaw… It’s their opinion. Most stats are inconclusive and can be spun to the arguers opinion. While most stats on defense are inconclusive, there are some key stats to look for to get a better understanding of ability.

The first such stat is RZR. The Fangraphs Sabermetric Library states: Revised Zone Rating (RZR) measures, “the proportion of balls hit into a fielder’s zone that he successfully converted into an out” (Hardball Times). Invented by John Dewan and displayed on the Hardball Times for a number of years, it has fallen out of fashion over the years as more advanced, accurate measures have become available (like UZR and DRS), but it still works as an introductory defensive statistic to show saber-newbies how advanced defensive statistics work.

There are a few words in there that give me hesitance. But the key is, “the proportion of balls hit into a fielder’s zone that he successfully converted into an out”. So, actually this is a combination of two numbers on the fangraphs leaderboard. BIZ and PLAYS. BIZ is simply “balls in play”. And PLAYS is the number of plays made out of the BIZ zone. RZR is the percentage of those plays made. Lets look at the Dodgers abilities according to RZR.

Name Pos Inn BIZ Plays RZR L AVG
Andre Ethier RF 1256.1 187 177 0.947 0.914
Matt Kemp CF 911 191 173 0.906 0.924
Mark Ellis 2B 910.1 230 206 0.896 0.807
James Loney 1B 752.2 88 70 0.796 0.794
Dee Gordon SS 651.1 180 143 0.794 0.803
Hanley Ramirez SS 503.1 143 113 0.79 0.803
Luis Cruz 3B 427.2 90 75 0.833 0.718
Shane Victorino LF 411 65 63 0.969 0.897
Tony Gwynn CF 403 87 80 0.92 0.924
Juan Uribe 3B 357 76 62 0.816 0.718
Juan Rivera 1B 327 57 40 0.702 0.794
Adrian Gonzalez 1B 321 50 43 0.86 0.794
Bobby Abreu LF 319.2 53 43 0.811 0.897
Juan Rivera LF 249.2 38 34 0.895 0.897
Jerry Hairston 2B 226.1 65 51 0.785 0.807
Adam Kennedy 3B 225 69 53 0.768 0.718
Jerry Hairston 3B 206.1 59 44 0.746 0.718
Luis Cruz SS 205.1 54 45 0.833 0.803
Tony Gwynn LF 163 32 31 0.969 0.897
Adam Kennedy 2B 118.2 35 28 0.8 0.807
Elian Herrera 3B 117.2 25 14 0.56 0.718
Jerry Hairston LF 109 23 23 1 0.897
Elian Herrera LF 104 20 19 0.95 0.897
Elian Herrera 2B 79.1 21 17 0.81 0.807
Justin Sellers SS 73.2 19 17 0.895 0.803
Elian Herrera CF 71 10 9 0.9 0.924
Hanley Ramirez 3B 70 14 13 0.929 0.718
Scott Van Slyke RF 65.2 14 13 0.929 0.914
Nick Punto 2B 59.1 23 21 0.913 0.807
Shane Victorino CF 55.2 12 11 0.917 0.924
Juan Rivera RF 51.1 7 7 1 0.914
Jerry Sands LF 34 2 2 1 0.897
Scott Van Slyke 1B 34 4 2 0.5 0.794
Elian Herrera RF 32.1 6 6 1 0.914
Alex Castellanos LF 32.1 8 6 0.75 0.897
Ivan De Jesus 2B 30.2 7 6 0.857 0.807
Justin Sellers 3B 27 7 5 0.714 0.718
Scott Van Slyke LF 26 4 4 1 0.897
Alex Castellanos RF 19 6 5 0.833 0.914
Luis Cruz 2B 17 9 8 0.889 0.807
Ivan De Jesus 3B 12.1 4 2 0.5 0.718
Andre Ethier CF 9 2 2 1 0.924
Juan Uribe SS 9 2 2 1 0.803
Justin Sellers 2B 8 1 1 1 0.807
Jerry Sands 1B 8 1 1 1 0.794
Nick Punto 3B 6.2 1 1 1 0.718
Bobby Abreu RF 5 3 3 1 0.914
Jerry Hairston SS 4 3 1 0.333 0.803

This isn’t yet a full study of defensive ability. But it is pretty straight forward. Did you catch the ball that was hit in your zone? Lets add one more variable to this.

OOZ. The magical world of … outs. Specifically, outs made outside of BIZ. Sometimes, there are plays you should get to and that is RZR. But, sometimes there are plays that are outside of your zone that you have no business making. These plays are considered outside of your zone (OOZ).

Name Pos Inn OOZ OOZ/inn
Andre Ethier CF 9 2 22.22%
Elian Herrera RF 32.1 4 12.46%
Jerry Sands LF 34 4 11.76%
Jerry Hairston LF 109 12 11.01%
Tony Gwynn LF 163 13 7.98%
Shane Victorino LF 411 32 7.79%
Shane Victorino CF 55.2 4 7.25%
Ivan De Jesus 2B 30.2 2 6.62%
Scott Van Slyke RF 65.2 4 6.13%
Elian Herrera LF 104 6 5.77%
Tony Gwynn CF 403 23 5.71%
Elian Herrera CF 71 4 5.63%
Jerry Hairston 3B 206.1 11 5.34%
Andre Ethier RF 1256.1 57 4.54%
Bobby Abreu LF 319.2 13 4.07%
Juan Uribe 3B 357 14 3.92%
Juan Rivera RF 51.1 2 3.91%
Scott Van Slyke LF 26 1 3.85%
Matt Kemp CF 911 35 3.84%
Juan Rivera LF 249.2 9 3.61%
Adam Kennedy 3B 225 8 3.56%
Luis Cruz 3B 427.2 15 3.51%
Hanley Ramirez SS 503.1 17 3.38%
Dee Gordon SS 651.1 21 3.23%
Mark Ellis 2B 910.1 25 2.75%
Justin Sellers SS 73.2 2 2.73%
Jerry Hairston 2B 226.1 6 2.65%
Adam Kennedy 2B 118.2 3 2.54%
Elian Herrera 2B 79.1 2 2.53%
Juan Rivera 1B 327 8 2.45%
Adrian Gonzalez 1B 321 7 2.18%
James Loney 1B 752.2 16 2.13%
Luis Cruz SS 205.1 4 1.95%
Elian Herrera 3B 117.2 2 1.71%
Hanley Ramirez 3B 70 1 1.43%
Nick Punto 2B 59.1 0 0.00%
Scott Van Slyke 1B 34 0 0.00%
Alex Castellanos LF 32.1 0 0.00%
Justin Sellers 3B 27 0 0.00%
Alex Castellanos RF 19 0 0.00%
Luis Cruz 2B 17 0 0.00%
Ivan De Jesus 3B 12.1 0 0.00%
Juan Uribe SS 9 0 0.00%
Justin Sellers 2B 8 0 0.00%
Jerry Sands 1B 8 0 0.00%
Nick Punto 3B 6.2 0 0.00%
Bobby Abreu RF 5 0 0.00%
Jerry Hairston SS 4 0 0.00%

I figure this is a comprehensive equivalent for range. These are generally the first two stats I look at when trying to figure out what kind of defensive player we have on our hands. Lastly, lets take a look at UZR…

It’s a bit of a doozy. UZR stands for Ultimate Zone Rating. It combines 4 different numbers into a “runs saved” equation. The problem with UZR is, it requires a large sample size to get a good understanding of true ability. Lets pretend that the field is divided into multiple zones (more than the 9 that we have already divided it into). In fact, lets divide the field into 64 separate zones.

Example: A ball normally hit into zone 47 usually adds .224 runs. Therefore, if the fielder made an out of that specific ball hit to zone 47 he saved .224 runs. The numbers can be taken from 4 (previously mentioned) stats: outfield arm ability, double play ability, range ability, and errors saved. Simply put, what is the difference in plays that Player “A” makes versus the league average. Fangraphs then takes it a step further by adding UZR/150. It projects what your UZR would be over 150 games played supposing that you made the same plays that had made if you played 150 games.

Name Pos Inn ARM DPR RngR ErrR UZR UZR/150
Mark Ellis 2B 910.1 0.3 6.4 3 9.7 16.1
Luis Cruz 3B 427.2 0.2 3.7 2.7 6.6 22.2
Shane Victorino LF 411 0.5 4.9 0.5 6 19.3
Jerry Hairston LF 109 1.9 3.7 -0.1 5.6 51.3
Juan Uribe 3B 357 -0.7 5.6 0.8 5.6 22.3
James Loney 1B 752.2 -0.3 6.3 -1.3 4.7 10.3
Adam Kennedy 3B 225 -0.5 4.3 0.3 4.2 21.2
Tony Gwynn LF 163 0.4 3.2 0.3 3.9 27.9
Adrian Gonzalez 1B 321 -0.1 2.5 0.9 3.2 13.5
Jerry Hairston 3B 206.1 -0.3 3.2 -0.2 2.6 14.3
Scott Van Slyke RF 65.2 0.2 1.1 0.1 1.3 24.7
Luis Cruz SS 205.1 0.5 0.4 0.3 1.2 9.1
Elian Herrera RF 32.1 0.1 0.8 0.1 1 23.3
Andre Ethier CF 9 0.3 0.5 0 0.8 86.7
Jerry Sands LF 34 0.2 0.6 0 0.8 38.4
Justin Sellers 3B 27 0.1 0.5 0.2 0.8 40.1
Scott Van Slyke LF 26 0.1 0.5 0 0.6 29.3
Ivan De Jesus 2B 30.2 0 0.4 0.2 0.5 26.8
Justin Sellers SS 73.2 -0.1 0.8 -0.1 0.5 12.3
Nick Punto 2B 59.1 -0.2 0 0.4 0.2 5.9
Luis Cruz 2B 17 0 0.1 0.2 0.2 12.2
Justin Sellers 2B 8 0.2 0 0.2 0
Nick Punto 3B 6.2 0.1 0 0.2 0
Jerry Sands 1B 8 0.1 0 0.1 14.3
Elian Herrera LF 104 -0.7 0.8 -0.1 0 -6.7
Bobby Abreu RF 5 -0.2 0.1 0 -0.1 0.3
Elian Herrera CF 71 0 -0.3 0.1 -0.2 -6
Juan Rivera RF 51.1 -0.3 0 0.1 -0.2 -12.8
Hanley Ramirez 3B 70 -1 0.7 -0.3 -5.6
Ivan De Jesus 3B 12.1 0.3 -0.6 -0.4 -55.4
Jerry Hairston SS 4 -0.4 -0.2 -0.6 -96.2
Scott Van Slyke 1B 34 0.1 -1 0.1 -0.7 -42.5
Juan Uribe SS 9 -0.1 -0.5 -0.2 -0.8 -109
Elian Herrera 2B 79.1 -0.6 -0.5 0.1 -1 -12.1
Alex Castellanos RF 19 -0.4 -0.4 -0.3 -1 -59.3
Alex Castellanos LF 32.1 -0.2 -0.9 0.1 -1.1 -37.3
Tony Gwynn CF 403 2.9 -4.7 0.2 -1.6 -5.3
Shane Victorino CF 55.2 -0.8 -1.1 -0.2 -2.1 -43.5
Juan Rivera LF 249.2 0.6 -3.1 0.3 -2.2 -13.5
Elian Herrera 3B 117.2 -0.2 -2.4 0.2 -2.4 -31.6
Andre Ethier RF 1256.1 -3.8 0.1 0.8 -3 -4.1
Bobby Abreu LF 319.2 1 -3.9 -0.4 -3.3 -13.2
Adam Kennedy 2B 118.2 -1 -0.7 -1.6 -3.3 -33.3
Hanley Ramirez SS 503.1 0.4 -5.9 1.7 -3.8 -10
Jerry Hairston 2B 226.1 -1.5 -2 -0.6 -4.1 -22.6
Juan Rivera 1B 327 -0.2 -3.3 -1.3 -4.8 -17.6
Matt Kemp CF 911 3.4 -13 0.8 -8.8 -12.3
Dee Gordon SS 651.1 -2.4 -4.6 -6.1 -13 -26.6

The numbers for the Dodgers players aren’t too different from what we might have gathered from RZR and OOZ. There isn’t any perfect way to figure out how good a player is with the glove. But hopefully, something like this will go a long way in determining how good the Dodgers as a team are with the glove, better than average.

Topics: Defense, Dodgers, Stats

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