Sitting on my deck yesterday afternoon, trying to relax while reading New York magazine, I see a piece on advanced defensive metrics which included this graphic:


Sheesh…I can’t escape.

54 Responses

  1. Chris Garber

    We – or at least I – mostly blew off that signing as treading water. I didn’t expect Cabrera to be anywhere near the clutch-hitting, gold glover the hypers promised. But I also figured he’d be a slight upgrade over Janish, just at too much money.

    I was wrong. Cabrera looks like the kind of guy who could join the ranks of my all-time least favorite Reds: Reggie Taylor, Willy Taveras, and Royce Clayton. (Patterson brought on a lot of frustration, but he always tried – he was a Dusty Problem as much as anything).

  2. Bill Lack

    You don’t think Cabrera is a Dusty problem also? And our local media continues to tout this guy…even our guy, Chris Welsh.

  3. Furniture City Red

    Wow! Not only is Cabrera on the ‘worse’ list – He’s the worstest 😉 by a huge margin.

  4. Brien Jackson

    For their sake’s, I hope someone in the Reds organization reads The Baseball Analysts. Take note Dusty’s bosses:

    http://baseballanalysts.com/archives/2010/04/how_to_score_mo.php

    It’s even about how smart and ahead of his time Joe Morgan was. It’s almost weird to be reminded of that now, given how downright dumb his commentary can be. I really wish he’d get a new job so I could go back to unabashedly liking him.

  5. Jason1972

    He’s had some pretty big hits for us this season, He’s also leading the team in RBIs and has one of the better contact rates of all of our starters. I think you are just projecting if you put him in the same category as some of those others.

    He only has one error too, if I recall, so what the runs saved sabervoodooery is noting is mostly a lack of range. Combined with Rolen’s old man legs at 3b, it does make the left side of our infield vulnerable in a pretty big way.

    With the way this team hits, I don’t know that I would start Janish over him despite all of that. Janish is a luxury batting 8th for a team that has an otherwise very good offense adn that ain’t this team.

  6. Sultan of Swaff

    I guess being kind, you could say he has an unorthodox hitting method. In a weird way I trust OC in clutch situations. Are there any stats to back this up?
    Further, I’m not yet a convert to this particular metric. I still trust my eyes more than the eyes of whoever is scoring these plays.

  7. Jason1972

    Well it’s an indexed metric, which has it’s advantages and disadvantages just like a hard stat would. I think it is valuable in its own way. I just don’t think we should make OC the team scapegoat, which seems to be a tendency at RLN from year to year. (When Corey Patterson wasn’t hitting for squat weren’t there people who said at least he is ok defensively? I might not recall right because I have tried to repress those memories).

    We haven’t had a complete player at SS here in a long time, but I think OC is a pretty good offensive player. On this team I am having a hard time envisioning us winning more games with Janish at SS and taking a productive player out of an anemic offense. Cabrera has 1/2 of the career RBIs as a Red that Janish does in 1/7 the ABs.

  8. TC

    @Brien Jackson: Where have you been and why did you just now start posting here? Dude, your comments are awesome! 😉

  9. TC

    Unlike many here, I have no problem with his bat, or even him hitting in the 2 hole. But he definitely the weak link on the defensive side of the ball. Those are 2009 numbers, but I bet when the season is over, his defensive metrics are worse than 2009.

    Speaking of OC, does anyone else miss Hairston Jr? Boy is he a good guy, and it sure was good to see him here over the weekend.

  10. Matt WI

    Honestly, no.. We all have our favorite guys though. Nothing against Hairston specifically, he’s just not a lot different than any Joe Bench Player to me. Now ask me if I miss Keppinger. Yup.


    TC:

    Unlike many here, I have no problem with his bat, or even him hitting in the 2 hole. But he definitely the weak link on the defensive side of the ball. Those are 2009 numbers, but I bet when the season is over, his defensive metrics are worse than 2009.
    Speaking of OC, does anyone else miss Hairston Jr? Boy is he a good guy, and it sure was good to see him here over the weekend.
    Reply

  11. mike

    surprised by the people defending Cabrera
    He’s been awful and absolutely horrible on defense

    RBI? give me a break

  12. UCReds

    On Baseball-Reference (showing the same fielding stat in this article) it shows that per year on average, OCab has been worth 3 more runs than Brandon Phillips. Brandon even had a slight negative during his GG year.

    This may prove that the Statistic itself isn’t worth much but, if you’re going to destroy one player for it, do so to the other as well.

    Or quit stretching…

    • Chad Dotson

      Sure, if you average out their careers…the point is that OC is on the down side of what has been a good defensive career, and he appears to be a pretty poor defensive player at this point. He isn’t the same player he was five years ago (none of us mid-30 guys are!).

  13. mike

    @Chad Dotson: OC is still fundamentally sound with his defense. It’s just that he’s lost a ton of range and quickness. And even as recently as 2008 he was still a good defender. His .267 OBP is also a serious problem. His OBP can’t remain that low all season can it? That’s worse than Taveras

  14. The Mad Hatter

    I haven’t watched every game this season but of the one’s I have you would be able to add at least 5 runs to the opposition that a more mobile SS would have been able to prevent. Whether it was yesterday and not fielding the ball up the middle and followed by a HR or not making a play with 2 outs. OC does not have any range to his left at this point in his career. And perhaps this is just my critical observation but it seems that this team hasn’t been turning DP’s this year. No numbers to back it up and if it is true it could be the result of pitchers not getting a ground ball in crucial situations and it’s still early. I just don’t recall that many DP’s this season.

  15. mike


    The Mad Hatter:

    And perhaps this is just my critical observation but it seems that this team hasn’t been turning DP’s this year. No numbers to back it up and if it is true it could be the result of pitchers not getting a ground ball in crucial situations and it’s still early. I just don’t recall that many DP’s this season.

    Reply

    you aren’t wrong
    The Reds have turned the fewest # of DPs in the NL
    The Reds have turned 9 DPs. League average is 17 and Houston leads the league with 23

    but as you already stated this has more to do with the Reds starters being flyball pitchers. I think you could add 1 or 2 DPs if Janish played but that’s it.
    Even if the Reds GB/FB ratio is not bad at .88 that’s still 12% more flyballs than GB.

    Leake is the only starter who gets more GB than FB. In other words, I’d start Janish every time Leake pitches. Well i’d start Janish over Cabrera all the time, but you get the point.

  16. mike

    by the way, as I said before I really like the new site design but there is one thing I don’t like. The new “Quote” is not as good as the old “Quote”. The old quote you could highlight 1 sentence, hit Quote and it would just quote that sentence. The new Quote ALWAYS quotes the whole post. I try to edit down to the part I want but it’s tough. I always end up quoting the “Reply” part….ugh

  17. Chad Dotson

    I agree that OCs hands are good and he is fundamentally sound. So was Gonzo last year. If you are a SS who can’t move though, your value is limited.

  18. mike

    @mike: you know my (our) theory might be wrong with the DPs

    the Reds have the 4th best GB/FB ratio in the NL. Yeah….isn’t that odd? In other words only 4 teams in the NL get more GB from their pitchers. So how is it that we are LAST in DPs?
    Sure…they allow more FB than GB, hence the .88 GB/FB ratio but most other teams in the NL have a worse ratio. I guess we could get into some of those teams that have a worse GB/FB ratio SO more batters that that will only be a couple teams.

  19. Brad

    @UCReds: The stat it’s quoting is not available on baseball-reference. It is available on fangraphs (DRS under Advanced Fielding). Brandon Phillips was a +10 in his GG year, though not nearly as good as Utley that year.

  20. Brad

    Whether or not Cabrera is clutch doesn’t really matter. He may be, and his high contact rates could reasonably imply he might be. It just plain doesn’t matter though, because he is so bad a creating clutch situations for other hitters which is overwhelmingly more important. This is basically what a more OBP heavy offense is doing. It’s changing the philosophy from “doing well in clutch situations” to “creating more clutch situations”. Cabrera is really bad at doing that (and always has been).

    It’s even doubly worse because Dusty is using him to create clutch situations for our best hitters.

    As for the fielding, MLB infielders are so good at not making errors that it doesn’t matter much when compared to range. A SS will average about 350 balls hit to his zone per year. That means every percentage point of range is worth ~3.5 times as much as an error. And what is a 1% drop in range? Assume a SS has a 50 ft range, or 25 ft to his left and 25 to his right. A 1% drop in range is him not getting to balls hit in the last 3 inches on either side of his range.

    Think about that. Starting to miss balls within half a glove length that you used to get to is worth ~3.5 errors. How is anyone going to tell a fielder has lost that much range? How much is “losing a step” worth at that point?

    Now by all metrics, Cabrera had an abnormally large drop off in range last year. Some of that is likely variance and uncertainty in the models. But it’s also almost certain he isn’t getting to nearly as many balls as he used to.

    NOTE: The number of balls in a SS zone varies a lot from season to season. It’s really only useful and practical to define a position’s zone by the plays fielders at that position make. Thus, say everything remains the same from one year to the next, except one average fielder is replaced by a really good one. The number of balls in the zone will go up. Thus the factor of ~3.5 I’m using varies, but it’s not likely ever lower than about 2.5 (and can be larger as well).

  21. Brad

    Disregard that crap I wrote about the size of the range. No way the 350 balls in zone encompasses 50 feet.

  22. UCReds

    @Brad: I was looking at “the number of runs above or below average the fielder was worth per 1,200 innings (approx 135 games). Brandon was -3 in 2008.

    Guess it’s not the exact same stat, but still takes on the challenge of rating how good of a fielder one is. Utley’s was +7 for this stat in 08.

  23. Python Curtus

    I saw that article too. I always thought it was a bad signing. I thought signing Cabrera was the kind of move Jim the boy idiot Bowden always made.
    I don’t know how often I’ll have to say it. Look at your recent baseball history. Belanger, Patek, Mendoza, LeMaster, Metzger, Stanley. All shortstops with almost no stick who still managed to play evryday because their fielding was above average. And they played a long time, at least 10 years.
    Even before that. Ever take a good look at Rizzuto’s stats? Or Pee Wee Reese? They really could not hit that much.
    Granted, it’s more likely Janish will end up in the first group, rather than the second (Hall of Famers). But I would gladly sacrifice the hitting in favor of fielding. The easier part of winning the game is preventing runs from scoring. So what if Cabrera can hit the odd homer more often. What good is his homerun if his lousy fielding lets 3 more runs score?

  24. Bill Lack

    I continue to be impressed by the logical and through discussions that you guys bring to this blog…kudos.

  25. mike

    @Python Curtus: a lot of good examples there but I want to add one more example that I’ve thought about for years. Concepcion. Sure he hit OK for a SS from 73-79 but the years around it his bat was pretty weak. But he could pick it at SS and that is what made his 19 year career.

  26. Brad

    @UCReds: I’m pretty sure the fielding stats on baseball-reference are Total Zone. It’ is very hard to quantify defense, but I more inclined to believe UZR and +/- (what fangraphs calls DRS) when given the option. Total Zone basically uses the same methodology as those stats (and they themselves are very similar), except in the place of actual batted ball data it uses pitcher/hitter tendencies.

    For example, UZR and +/- have the data. They know where each ball was hit, how far, and how hard, within the human observer’s error. Total Zone doesn’t know any of that. It will take how often the pitcher’s and hitter’s batted balls are hit where and how hard. They all use this to calculate how often a ball hit like that was converted into an out by a certain position. They take that and compare how good/bad individual fielders were. But Total Zone is doing it with less/worse data.

  27. UCReds

    @Brad: Interesting. I will look into that stat. I still believe most are being unfair to OCab. I know Paul Jesus er Janish has been batting very well whenever he gets the chance, but I think he’s fine where he’s at, the perfect utility fielder. He’ll be productive whenever he gets the chance (OCab or Rolen need a day off or get injured or end of the game defense).

    If Janish plays everyday I just think he’ll end up like the back of his baseball card, a below .250 hitter. People say he deserves a chance but I think 90 games and .211 last season is a good enough chance. I could be wrong, maybe we’ll find out next year since OCab will most likely be gone and then Janish Christ, our savior will prove everyone on this blog correct, and me wrong. I absolutely will be rooting for him.

  28. The Mad Hatter

    Granted it’s a weak metric but if you look at total chances over the last 6 seasons Orlando Cabrera over 162 games would average approx. 727 chances. If you take Janish’s numbers over 162 games he would average approx. 786 chances. Janish’s numbers for the last two years are effected by small sample sizes but if you look at his whole career he would average at around 770 for his complete seasons. I think the extra 50 chances a year that Janish would get to would be worth the “slight” downgrade from OC to PJ.

  29. UCReds

    The Mendoza line is great for a solid offense, because you can sacrifice offensive production. The Reds? Eh

  30. The Mad Hatter

    And just to give add this little tidbit and show how good OC was between 1999 and 2003 he averaged over 800 chances/162.

  31. The Mad Hatter

    @UCReds: The problem with the Reds offense isn’t the SS position it’s the lack of production from all three OF spots, which I hope gets better as Bruce and Stubbs get better.

  32. UCReds

    @The Mad Hatter: I agree. If Bruce goes .260 with his slugging % and fielding, I’ll take it. Stubbs? Um….I’m praying for him…

  33. Jason1972

    @mike: Ok, give me some similar hitters of the caliber surrounding Concepcion and I’ll take Janish as the starting SS.

  34. TC

    @Python Curtus: I’d only agree at the SS position. But so far this year I’m not seeing Janish as an offensive liability.

    If I was a betting man, I bet Janish erases (on average) at least a one opponet hit per game over Cabrera. Even if Janish hit .220, it is still a net plus gain. If Janish were to return to his hitting ways from last year, put him in the 8 hole.

  35. mike


    The Mad Hatter:

    @UCReds: The problem with the Reds offense isn’t the SS position it’s the lack of production from all three OF spots, which I hope gets better as Bruce and Stubbs get better.

    I read this and I thought at 1st….you know, he might be right. So of course, I always am drawn to look it up.

    Reds offensive production by position and their rank in baseball.
    5th Pitchers
    7th Catcher
    10th 1B
    11th Entire IF
    12th SS
    17th 3B and LF
    18th PH
    20th 2B
    23rd RF
    27th Entire OF
    30th CF (!!)

    I keep forgetting just how bad Stubbs has been

  36. mike

    @mike:

    ah hell, since i posted the offense rankings by position might as well post the defensive rankings by position. At this point I hope I don’t need to remind anyone of the small sample size.

    2nd 1B (!?!?)
    3rd RF (!!)
    14th 2B
    22nd OF as a whole
    27th 3B
    28th LF
    29th SS
    29th CF (!?!?)

    Interesting to think that CF has been our worst position so far this year when it comes to offense AND defense. And what makes things worse is that they both lead off

    honestly I think are big problem is the following
    OBP
    .262 Dickerson
    .267 Cabrera
    .273 Stubbs
    .296 Phillips

    they are our leadoff hitters, our #2 hitter and our #4 hitter.
    those aren’t batting average…….those are OBP??!! Those #s are so bad they make Taveras look good

  37. mike

    since I’d slightly related to what we are talking about I thought I’d remind everyone that Bruce’s slump is over and he’s still only 23 years old

    His last 7 games he’s hitting .333/.407/.875 (!!!!!!)
    first 12 games? .146/.217/.171

  38. Brad

    @UCReds: I don’t think Janish is a viable option for starting SS at all. I certainly don’t think he’s the key to turning this team around. I don’t even think he’s a better hitter than Cabrera.

    Cabrera IS a better hitter. He projects out to beat Janish by about 0.010 points in wOBA, a significant amount. But if we are to trust their defensive stats that gap in offensive production is far more than offset on the other side of the ball. Defensive stats are notoriously unreliable in small sample sizes. But every one of them has Janish contending for the best SS and Cabrera declining horribly last year to the point that he’s a huge liability. Even regressing those stats to the mean a whole lot, I’m still comfortable enough that the gap in offensive production is more than compensated for.

    I agree that Janish is a great utility infielder to have on your bench. But you don’t want to build your bench before taking care of your starting lineup.

    Truthfully, I don’t think it really matters much at all whether Janish or Cabrera play. Neither one is productive enough to make much of an impact. I just think we wasted money on Cabrera and that we should play the best 8 players we have.

  39. Brad

    @mike: I’m sure you know, but looking at 19 games worth of defensive stats is completely worthless. Maybe even worse than worthless if it’s someone (*cough* Dusty *cough*) who doesn’t know what they’re looking at and draw erroneous conclusions. Not that he’d ever look at that anyway.

  40. Travis G.


    mike:

    @mike: honestly I think are big problem is the following
    OBP
    .262 Dickerson
    .267 Cabrera
    .273 Stubbs
    .296 Phillips
    they are our leadoff hitters, our #2 hitter and our #4 hitter.
    those aren’t batting average…….those are OBP??!! Those #s are so bad they make Taveras look good

    The good news is, those numbers will improve.

    Well, Dickerson’s will, as long as he stays healthy, and Phillips should at least match his career .312 OBP and Cabrera should get to the .315 range he’s hit the last few years, but you never know with a young player like Stubbs, and … aw, hell, I just used statistics to argue against the point I was making.

  41. pinson343


    Brien Jackson:

    http://baseballanalysts.com/archives/2010/04/how_to_score_mo.php
    It’s even about how smart and ahead of his time Joe Morgan was. It’s almost weird to be reminded of that now, given how downright dumb his commentary can be. I really wish he’d get a new job so I could go back to unabashedly liking him.

    Reply

    I commented the other day about how Joe Morgan was one of the smartest baseball players I’ve ever seen. He would study pitchers’ pickoff moves until he could steal on them.
    I quoted his BB and OBP figures his first 6 years with the Reds, the numbers are sick (132 BBs and OBP of .466 in 1975).

    When he was a rookie broadcaster, I liked his comments, since then they’ve just gotten dumber and dumber. Don’t know how or why.

  42. pinson343

    Mike: “I’d start Janish every time Leake pitches. ” I’m on the fence about Cabrera vs. Janish, but Janish should definitely be playing more (at SS) and this would be one intelligent way to go about it.

    It’s the kind of thinking our manager should be doing.

  43. Brien Jackson

    @pinson343:

    I stick up for him from time to time and point out that he actually does a pretty good job breaking down mechanics and pointing out subtleties to the way big leaguers play the game, but beyond that his commentary is just so inane it’s painful.

  44. mike

    @pinson343: I think it’s this sort of thinking that has been lost with most modern managers. It’s similar to something Steve always points out about how managers will almost never start off rookie or hurt starters with a half a year to a year in the bullpen. Something Stl has done with GREAT success recently.

    It’s also about putting the group of best players on the field to WIN. Like the lost art of platooning.

  45. mike

    @pinson343: 100% agree on Morgan getting worse and worse in the booth but I think I DO know why.

    his ignorance is on purpose and misdirected anger at modern baseball analysis (aka, OBP!). Which ironically Morgan was one of the best at. He drew a TON of BB….and I mean a TON and his OBP wasn’t just good as you pointed out it was one of the best in the history of baseball.

    In the end I think it’s him being afraid of change like a lot of people that are “anti-stathead”. A perfect example is a game I watched recently where some big hitter drew a BB and what he said was EXACTLY CORRECT! It was just in old-school language. He said
    1. That was a good AB
    2. One thing I always tell players today is “don’t give away AB, EVER” (he also repeated this when in the Reds TV booth last week)
    3. If you don’t get a pitch you can hit don’t swing (I don’t remember his exact words here but it was close to that)
    4. If you don’t get a pitch to hit, give you teammates a chance with runners on.

    This is all perfect thinking….absolutely 100% correct.
    but if I said to Morgan, “not making outs is important and that’s accomplished by drawing BB and having an OBP” he’d probably punch me. He’s angry and bitter like a lot of old-timers….but deep down he understands….He has to….he did it his whole major league career

    He walked 881 times in 8 years with the Reds, 1865 BB in his career, led the league in BB 3 times, BB 100+ times in a season 8 seasons, hold the Reds single season record with 132 BB and is 5th ALL-TIME in baseball in BB behind only, Bonds, Henderson, Ruth and Williams.
    He knows….he’s just stubborn

    and you’re right, his understanding of the mechanics of a batters swing is AMAZING. When asked recently about his little elbow twitch as he got in his stance his response was detailed and with purpose….it was a detailed explanation of why he did that and what it caused his swing to do. Only the absolute greatest of great hitters know stuff to this level. It was similar to when I heard Bonds explain his swing change and keeping his hip from opening up so much….he knew every detail of his swing and what the changed caused.

  46. pinson343

    @mike: I agree that, in short, it’s about anger. How dare people who never played pro ball come up with these analyses.

    I heard him talk long ago about his elbow twitch and why he developed it. When he talks hitting mechanics and things like the details of reading a pitcher’s move to first, he’s great.

  47. mike

    @pinson343: isn’t he amazing when it comes to things like hitting mechanics and pitchers moves and things like picking up subtle things a pitcher does to give away their pitches??? It’s like this one guy i’ve taken bowling lessons from. Best bowling coach in the world (not exaggerating he coaches all the best in the world, not that I’m one but still). He watches me roll 2 or 3 shots and sees all this stuff. Same with Morgan. A keen understanding of the physical movements of the game. I’d love to hear him talk about fielding, something I’ve never heard him talk about. It’s too bad he’s flat out rejected the modern understanding of run production and not making outs since it’s not a contradiction to his understanding of “never giving away AB”. The irony is that Runs Created was 1st figured out when he was still playing the game and almost every GREAT hitter in the history of the game has understood it while playing, including him. It’s a twisted version of you call it potato I call it Pototo.

  48. Jared

    Dusy seems to base his opinions on either outdated stats or a very casual fan’s sense of players’ reputations.