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  • Park Factors and Handedness

    Based on what I can tell from this description, Baseball Reference does not take handedness into account when calculating park factors. If this is possible to do, wouldn't it make sense to do it? I think it would impact batters most, since if they more often play in fields with shorter or longer left- or right-field fences, they're more likely to be advantaged or disadvantaged depending upon which side of the plate they hit from. This in turn might affect pitchers, because if, for instance, right-handed batters have an advantage in a particular park, then left-handed pitchers will generally have a disadvantage there (since there are more right-handed batters than left) and right-handed pitchers an advantage. Also, and I know park factors aren't meant to account for defense, but I imagine the ability of outfielders to reach balls would be affected by the dimensions of the fence. Does anyone have insights into this matter?
    *** Submit your personal HOF as your ballot for the Single Ballot BBF Hall of Fame! *** Also: Buck the Fraves!

  • #2
    I'm presently working on a manuscript for a book I started on MLB defense back in 2003. I have covered all seasons between 1901 through 2012, inclusive of all defensive positions except pitchers [which I may work in this year].

    The subject you raise is equivalence, the mathematical adjustment for any input discrepancies that might effect player performance evaluations: park dimensions including playable foul territory; pitcher-batter handedness; ground ball fly ball pitcher patterns, etc.

    Speaking only for myself, I believe that one can easily get wrapped around the axle chasing data entry minutiae that ultimately get him nowhere. The single equivalence element I do work into my model is the disparity among pitchings staff K's recorded each season. The reason for this is the immediate and clear-cut impact that K levels have on fielder opportunity. A team whose staff fans 1,000 batters in a League in which the average is 850 K's has taken 150 batted ball opportunities from his gloved teammates. Conversely, a staff with only 550 K's has added 300 batted balls more.

    The K impact is shared among fielders with + K guys getting + adjustments to defense runs and - guys generating - adjustments for defense runs. The distribution of K differentials that I use is:

    C: .04; 1B .09; 2B: .14; 3B .12; SS .17; LF .13; CF .16; RF .14 [subject to minor change on edit] ... totalling .99, leaving .01 for P

    The value for an individual K starts at .167; but I factor in Defense Efficiency at .700 to arrive at a net value of .117. Thus, if I have a catcher with a pure rating
    that earns his +12 DR above average, and his team K factor is -55 below average, his share looks like this:

    12 DR - 55K * .04 [C share] * .117 [K value] = 55*.04*.117 = -.2574. His equivalent DR = 12 - .2574 = +11.7426 = + 11.4 DR.

    I make no other adjustments. Some published metrics that do go much further with adjustments conveniently ignore plays that are considered routine noise, like IF pop ups, or IF line drives, or both. There is, IMO, little to be gained from excriciating adjustments beyond batted balls in play.

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    • #3
      Originally posted by DJC View Post
      Based on what I can tell from this description, Baseball Reference does not take handedness into account when calculating park factors. If this is possible to do, wouldn't it make sense to do it?
      It depends on what you want to do. If you want to account for a team's runs, you would not make adjustments for ballpark tendancies. For example, Joe Dimaggio may have been 10% more productive in a normal park, but we may want to see what the team actually GOT from him relative to the runs that the park tended to produce.

      So park factors can be used to simply convert hypothetical run production into wins (a run is worth more wins in a lower run park) in which case Joe Dimaggio's loss would be a true loss which you would want to account for, or they can be a way of evaluating a player's neutralized potential.

      Also what if a good hitter left handed hitter for example has trouble with left handed pitchers, and so teams bring in lefties to face him. Do we want to neutralize the handedness of the pitchers he faced when it is a strategy that could be employed by any team in any park?

      I have seen though defensive rating systems that account for the handedness and fly to grounder tendancies of the pitching staff and specific park effects. In fact PCA neutralizes a batter to a flyball/grounder/line drive neutral park I think.
      Last edited by brett; 01-05-2013, 09:12 AM.

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      • #4
        Handedness with its interaction with other variables is a huge part of what a player brings to the field.

        If we compensate for DiMaggio's handedness in Yankee Stadium, what kind of park effects could we use to recompense the hundreds of lefties who might have had MLB careers as infielders or catchers?

        How will we compensate all the righty batters for the lefties' huge platoon edge?

        Of course more information is better (unless it gets into the wrong hands ), and it would certainly be interesting to see what DiMaggio would do in a neutral home park.

        But that seems peripheral to me, compared with knowing how much his production was actually worth where he did play.
        Indeed the first step toward finding out is to acknowledge you do not satisfactorily know already; so that no blight can so surely arrest all intellectual growth as the blight of cocksureness.--CS Peirce

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        • #5
          Originally posted by DJC View Post
          Based on what I can tell from this description, Baseball Reference does not take handedness into account when calculating park factors. If this is possible to do, wouldn't it make sense to do it? I think it would impact batters most, since if they more often play in fields with shorter or longer left- or right-field fences, they're more likely to be advantaged or disadvantaged depending upon which side of the plate they hit from. This in turn might affect pitchers, because if, for instance, right-handed batters have an advantage in a particular park, then left-handed pitchers will generally have a disadvantage there (since there are more right-handed batters than left) and right-handed pitchers an advantage. Also, and I know park factors aren't meant to account for defense, but I imagine the ability of outfielders to reach balls would be affected by the dimensions of the fence. Does anyone have insights into this matter?
          Case in point, Lefty Grove pitching in Fenway.

          Teddy Ballgame is glad we don't have defensive park splits LOL

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