A fan of the Yankees, Red Sox, and large sample sizes.
THE HARDBALL TIMES STATISTICS
I love these graphs. Not only do they contain information slightly different from what you can get anywhere else, it's real easy to visually see how the teams compare to each other.
Today I was looking at the DER (defensive efficiency ratio - the percentage of balls in play that the defense turns into outs) of the Anaheim Angels. The Angels have been a pretty good fielding team since their championship year, thanks in large part to Darin Erstad in centerfield. John Lackey pitched a shutout last night, yielding only three hits in 9 innings. He also only struck out 3 batters, thus relying on his fielders for a whole lot of help. Are the Angels still a good fielding team even with Erstad at firstbase?
Nope. Their DER this year is basically in a three-way tie for last in the American League with Detroit and Minnesota. Their all turning balls-in-play into outs a 66.4% clip. The top team in the AL, Tampa Bay, is at 72.0%. Boston, following the "screw the fundamentals/Moneyball" approach, is second in the league in fielding.
How were the Angels at fielding over the past few years? Looking at the historical graphs over at Baseball Graphs, I estimated the Angels DERs the years Erstad has played CF (since Edmonds left). Also, after each year is the number of games Erstad played in CF.
2004: 66.4% (13th in AL) - none
2003: 71.5% (4th in AL) - 66 (all when healthy)
2002: 73.5% (1st in AL) - 143
2001: 71.8% (4th in AL) - 146
2000: 71.5% (1st in AL) - 30 (112 in left, GAnderson in CF)
Hmm, looks like some great fielding most of those years, and then a crash this year. Garret Anderson played CF in 14 games, actually posting lower range factors and zone ratings than Chone Figgins and Jeff DaVanon in the same number of games.
Yup, if Erstad's going to be taking up a spot in that lineup, he should be in CF.
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