Happy Thanksgiving! Regularly Scheduled Articles Will Resume Monday, December 1
October 27, 2003
A TAD Here or There
A Closer Look at Team Defense
Over the last two articles, I've looked at various methods for removing some of the complicating factors when looking at team defense. Based on the idea that team defensive metrics were really a measure of three separate factors (park, pitching, and actual defense), we determined one way to remove park factors (PADE: Park Adjusted Defensive Efficiency) and another to remove pitching factors (PIDE: Pitching Independent Defensive Efficiency). By removing these outside influences in our defensive metrics, we've leveled the playing field, allowing us to better judge which teams have the best team defense, based simply on the percentage of balls in play that they convert into outs.
With both PADE and PIDE, we removed one factor, but not both. We were able to see either how a pitching staff and defense together looked compared to the league or how a defense and park looked against the league. What we did not have was one metric that simply measured defense versus defense, our ultimate goal.
To produce that metric, we have to move back a step. Rather than looking at the final result of PADE and PIDE, we need to look at their baselines--the expected performance of the defense based on either the pitching or park. These baselines were included in the PIDE column as Team Expected In Play Average (tExIPAvg), but were not included in the PADE article. Here are both baselines, side by side:
Team BasePIDE BasePADE Anaheim Angels 1.0026 0.9992 Arizona Diamondbacks 1.0087 0.9893 Atlanta Braves 0.9917 1.0042 Baltimore Orioles 1.0113 1.0093 Boston Red Sox 1.0085 0.9905 Chicago Cubs 0.9924 1.0062 Chicago White Sox 1.0045 1.0049 Cincinnati Reds 0.9939 1.0051 Cleveland Indians 1.0007 0.9990 Colorado Rockies 1.0110 0.9794 Detroit Tigers 0.9883 1.0028 Florida Marlins 0.9989 1.0025 Houston Astros 0.9786 0.9951 Kansas City Royals 1.0009 0.9886 Los Angeles Dodgers 0.9958 1.0127 Milwaukee Brewers 0.9953 1.0072 Minnesota Twins 1.0055 0.9942 Montreal Expos 0.9886 0.9999 New York Mets 0.9988 1.0064 New York Yankees 0.9952 1.0082 Oakland Athletics 1.0111 1.0074 Philadelphia Phillies 0.9781 1.0117 Pittsburgh Pirates 0.9905 0.9988 San Diego Padres 1.0004 1.0076 San Francisco Giants 1.0097 0.9987 Seattle Mariners 1.0310 1.0104 St Louis Cardinals 0.9971 1.0020 Tampa Bay Devil Rays 1.0209 0.9961 Texas Rangers 0.9927 0.9910 Toronto Blue Jays 0.9972 0.9963
As before, the higher the number, the easier things are on the defense. Typically, when applying park factors or other adjustments to statistics, we simply multiply the park factor to get the adjusted statistic. However, our park and pitching factors are reversed, with higher numbers representing a higher standard for the defense. In order to make our measurements accurate, we'll multiply by the inverse of the baseline. This calculation makes our formula for determining Team Adjusted Defense (TAD):
TAD = Def_Eff * 1/(BasePIDE) * 1/(BasePADE)
It should also be noted that when generating adjusted statistics, the park factor is halved before multiplying. This adjustment is made because we're using the player or team's home park factor, yet teams only play half of their games at home (excepté les Expos). That adjustment doesn't need to be made to either PIDE or PADE. PIDE involves pitching; teams play all 162 games behind the same pitching staff. PADE was already park adjusted for each team's entire schedule, weighted by the number of games they played in each park, so again, there's no reason to halve the park factor.
Before we get to the final numbers, one more note should be made. As mentioned last time, the BasePIDE range is significantly larger than the BasePADE range. The likely explanation for this is that teams play behind a unique pitching staff (save for trades) all season long while they play in many of the same parks. Sharing the same venues tends to keep the range tighter because extreme parks have only half the effect of extreme pitching staffs. Therefore, our final metric will usually be altered more by pitching staffs than by park factors. In the battle of the lame acronyms, PIDE wins.
Finally, here is the end result, in a scale that should look similar to the regular Defensive Efficiency charts:
Team TAD Houston Astros .7390 Philadelphia Phillies .7235 Atlanta Braves .7199 Montreal Expos .7185 Cleveland Indians .7168 Pittsburgh Pirates .7162 San Francisco Giants .7158 Anaheim Angels .7158 Los Angeles Dodgers .7140 Oakland Athletics .7131 Kansas City Royals .7130 St Louis Cardinals .7125 Chicago White Sox .7122 Detroit Tigers .7108 Tampa Bay Devil Rays .7107 Chicago Cubs .7106 Minnesota Twins .7101 Arizona Diamondbacks .7092 Cincinnati Reds .7061 San Diego Padres .7060 Toronto Blue Jays .7035 Florida Marlins .7029 New York Mets .7022 Seattle Mariners .7019 Boston Red Sox .7013 Colorado Rockies .7011 Texas Rangers .6989 Milwaukee Brewers .6984 New York Yankees .6961 Baltimore Orioles .6837
The distance by which Houston outplayed the rest of the league in the field is a little unsettling, especially considering Craig Biggio was roaming center field, but that's what the numbers say. The team that moved the most from Bill James' original Defensive Efficiency ratings was Seattle, falling from tops in the league to the bottom third, the result of playing in so many defense friendly parks and behind a very defense-friendly staff. The secret to Seattle's defensive success this season appears to be due to their pitching and park more so than with other teams around the league.
Again, what exactly is TAD good for? TAD is a highly independent measure of team defense, telling us how good the defense is rather than depending on the pitching staff or the park to do the work for them. If you're looking for how a pitcher would do on a different team, it's best to use PIDE, removing only the pitching numbers from a defense, but leaving park factors in place. Likewise, when determining how a defense would do in a new stadium, PADE is a better measure because the pitching staff would remain the same. However, if what your chasing is simply how good the team in the field is compared to everyone else, then TAD is your metric of choice.