Saturday, April 16, 2011
Every (mis)play an adventure
By Mark Simon
Thursday evening, we wrote about the Mets defense, or lack thereof, citing their awful performance, and their rank in a significant sabermetric statistic.
Today, we take one more step in our examination and look at the Mets from another perspective.
Baseball Info Solutions (BIS) charts every play of every game. With regards to defense, its founder, John Dewan, along with sabermetrician Bill James, has created a series of categories to evaluate good plays and defensive misplays.
BIS employs trained "video scouts" (former amateur and pro players) to categorize plays as they happen in games.
A "Good Fielding Play" could involve anything from making a catch on a balls that had a better chance of being a hit than an out, scooping a throw out of the dirt, or cutting off a ball headed to the fence to prevent a baserunner from advancing.
A "Defensive Misplay" would include things such as a fielder slipping, breaking back on a ball that landed in front of him, or failing to turn a double play in a situation in which that was judged (by the video scouts) to at least be possible. A misplay must have a consequence. In other words, something bad must have happened to the defensive team (a baserunner advancing or a run scoring) as a result for it to be ruled a misplay.
This was done with the intent of allowing a fan to look beyond the basic defensive stats. These have nothing to do with UZR, Runs Saved, or any of the other new stats you may have heard about. But, they can reveal a lot.
For example, in Thursday's disastrous doubleheader, the Mets were charged with only one error by the official scorer, but they were credited with nine Defensive Misplays.
In Game 1, each of their outfielders made a Defensive Misplay.
In the fifth inning, Angel Pagan lost Dexter Fowler's catchable fly ball in the outfield, resulting in a double. The Rockies eventually scored in that inning because of Pagan's failed catch.
In the sixth inning, Scott Hairston received a "Wall Difficulties" Misplay for failing to gauge where the right field fence was in Citi Field, allowing a Jose Morales fly ball to fall for a double.
In the seventh inning, Willie Harris botched a play on Seth Smith's hit, allowing him to turn a single into a double (he went to third on Pagan's error).
In Game 2, the Mets made one error, but were charged with six Misplays. It was a particularly rough game for Brad Emaus, who was charged with three, two for failing to convert double plays (including the costly one on a potential inning-ending ground ball that the Rockies turned into five runs), and one for failing to tag Troy Tulowitzki on a steal attempt.
These Misplays may not show up in the box score, as errors do but they've proven to be quite costly to the Mets this season.
Combine the two stats and you'll see that the Mets enter Saturday ranked tied for fourth in the majors with 39 Defensive Misplays/Errors (trailing the Tigers, Mariners and Athletics ... the Tigers lead with 43). It should be noted that the National League's top team, the Phillies, have the fewest in the majors, just 17.