Wednesday, November 16, 2016

From the Handbook: Team defense

Only two player on the  2016 Minnesota Twins started as many as 100 games at a given position: Brian Dozier, 151 at second base, and Max Kepler, an even 100 in right field. One hundred is less than two-thirds of the games, so it's stretching things to assert that Kepler was the everyday right fielder. He had a majority of the playing time, certainly, but hardly an everyday guy.

So in evaluating and measuring the defensive skills (or lack of same) on this team, individual metrics are a bit lacking. There's hardly enough playing time for Eduardo Nunez, Eduardo Escobar and Jorge Polanco to be accurately assessed as shortstops.

But the Bill James Handbook does contain an intriguing table -- new to the book -- that assesses the defensive runs saved by each position for each team. And that is rather illuminating with the Twins.

The Twins had some ugly positions. No team's catchers cost more runs than the Twins (-18), No team's left fielders cost more runs than the Twins (-22). Shortstop cost the Twins 16 runs, third worst in the majors. Right field was -9, third base -8; oh, hello there, Miguel Sano.

Only three positions were in the positive zone for the Twins. First base was +8, the pitchers were +6 and centerfield was barely positive at +1. Second base was -1.

All told, BIS estimates that the Twins defense gave away 50 runs compared to the league average. That's not the worst in baseball -- Oakland was -71, and the Detroit Tigers were also -50 -- but it is certainly a problem.

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