August 31, 2009 at 1:10 pm by Capitol Avenue Club under Defense
No, this post isn’t about the Braves’ season or last night’s game. Although that game was infuriating. Chipper needs a few days off. He’s hit .244/.371/.372 this month. Seriously, Chipper Jones with a sub-.400 SLG%? You know this is Chipper Jones, right? And a sub-.250 batting average? What?
As long as we’re still talking about the game, I want to suggets something. Brian McCann should’ve at least tried a bunt against the lefty in the 8th inning with runners on 1st and 2nd, nobody out, and down by 1. Why not? I mean, McCann sucks against LHP this season, hitting a Francoeur-like .216/.298/.316. And the Phillies aren’t going to expect McCann to bunt, so you may get a hit and load the bases with nobody out. And the Braves have shown that even their offense can’t manage to get out of that without scoring a run. Or say the hit doesn’t work and it goes as a sacrifice. Then, you’ve got runners at 2nd and 3rd for ACHE, who has hit .304/.328/.429 against LHP. Nothing to write home about, but it’s a .143 difference in OPS. I’d rather have the bat in ACHE’s hand with runners at 2nd and 3rd than the bat in McCann’s hand with runners at 1st and 2nd. Or say the sacrifice doesn’t work. At least you didn’t line into a double play and there’s still a RISP for Garret. Who will probably fail. So Escobar will get a chance to hit with 2-out and RISP. Not that I believe for one second that hitting with RISP is a repeatable skill, but Yunel has hit .358/.386/.582 in those situations. Or say the bunt is so bad they get a double play. As long as they don’t get the lead runner, you’re in better shape than you ended up. Because McCann lined into a 4-6-5 double play. In which we ended up with a runner on 1st and 2-out. That’s some difficult shit to accomplish. For the record, this isn’t after-the-fact management. I suggested it at the time. Here and Here.
Like I said, though. This isn’t about the game or the season.
What’s the point of even keeping track of errors anymore? By my count, Errors are counted for two purposes. 1) determining a player’s fielding percentage. 2) determining whether or not runs are earned or unearned.
Let’s just get fielding percentage out of the way right now. If you think fielding percentage is even a good way to determine how good of a fielder someone is, get off my website. Fielding percentage only considers the balls you get to. If you’re slow as shit and never get to anything but rarely make errors, or the errors are charged as hits because of your incompetence, that doesn’t mean you’re a better fielder than someone who zips across the field covering 3x the amount of ground but occasionally makes an error on a ball that would drop 10 feet away from the slow guy. Fielding Percentage is a useless statistic. On every level. Defensive efficiency is the perfect way to measure how good a team is as a whole, and a plethora of metrics like UZR, +/-, etc.. are much better for individual performances. Not to say these metrics are perfect. They’re not (well, defensive efficiency probably is). But they have value. Unlike fielding percentage. Which is completely–let me emphasize–COMPLETELY worthless.
So, if fielding percentage is worthless, the only thing we gain from keeping track of errors is the ability to determine whether or not runs are earned or not. For much the same reason as fielding percentage is a bad statistic, unearned runs are. I can’t tell you the countless number of examples of times I’ve seen a run charged “unearned” when it’s completely the pitchers’ fault or runs charged “earned” when it’s in no way the pitchers’ fault.
Like, say someone hits a fly ball to right field with 2 outs, races around the basepaths, the right fielder loses it in the sun, the ball drops 20 feet in front of him, and the batter is credited with an inside the park home run. How in the motherfuck is that the pitchers’ fault?
Or say there’s 2 outs, a pitcher walks 2 batters, someone reaches on an error, and the next batter hits a grand slam. I’m pretty sure the defense had nothing to do with the walks and the home run.
I don’t think we accomplish anything by distinguishing between earned and unearned runs. Therefore, I don’t think we should keep track of it. I mean, the difference between unearned runs and earned runs is usually the subjective, legalistic interpretation by the official scorer of a stupid rule and generally has nothing to do with whether or not the pitcher actually deserves to have the runs charged to him.
Yes, there are instances where unearned runs are actually unearned. If we accept this will generally happen to everyone at an equal rate, we can ignore it. Except it won’t, so we accept the fact that it’s a function of the DEFENSE, not the pitcher, and also report the team’s defensive efficiency behind the pitcher. We’re actually making progress here.
It occurred to me that errors also effect no-hitters. If you just accept the fact that pitchers with bad defenses behind them will throw fewer no-hitters (and you should, because it’s true), that pretty much takes care of that.
So what’s the point? Why do we still keep track of errors?