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An in-depth look at team defense throughout baseball history

Jun 3, 2011, 9:13 AM EDT

Jeff Francoeur

Evaluating defense in baseball continues to be a work in progress. We’re way better off than we were even a few short years ago, but it remains a tricky and often subjective undertaking, with most people not being able to say much more about the topic apart from “that guy plays good defense” and “that guy is a liability.”

Against that backdrop, Baseball Crank spent an enormous — and I mean a really, really enormous — amount of time analyzing team defense between 1871 and the present, focusing primarily on Defensive Efficiency Rating. It’s in two parts: here’s part 1 and here’s part 2.  There are stats, but it’s not too hard core, and Crank does a good job of explaining what he’s talking about as he goes along.

Great stuff if it’s a topic that jazzes you.

  1. StottsEra - Jun 3, 2011 at 9:17 AM

    nice frenchy pic

    • Jonny 5 - Jun 3, 2011 at 9:23 AM

      Looks like a tryout for “Flashdance” huh?

  2. yankeesfanlen - Jun 3, 2011 at 9:51 AM

    Excellent effort! Sound and Fury!
    Wait..what? When page after page is less than 5 percentage points on the scale of 100 different from high to low, what kind of conclusions are to be drawn?
    Did see NYY in there a few times.

  3. Jonny 5 - Jun 3, 2011 at 9:55 AM

    Defense related.

    Philly the second highest BABIP in MLB right now (cubs #1) = 2nd most unlucky team there is right now (which is crazy with the above avg defensive infield). So look out for a change in luck for the Phills, NL east. Yes there is room to improve for their pitching folks. Believe it or not.

    This is not my work. I totally ripped it from a man much smarter than myself when it comes to stats.

    • Ari Collins - Jun 3, 2011 at 11:09 AM

      I think team BABIP isn’t luck related, though. You’re basically saying that the entire team’s fielders aren’t making as many plays as the rest of the league. Not only is a it a much bigger sample size than a starter’s 10 starts this year, but starter’s BABIP is about the plays that were made behind them, not the pitcher, which is why we say it’s not the pitcher’s fault. Team BABIP is about team defense.

      Now, maybe you think the fielders will get better. But I don’t think you can call it luck.

      • Jonny 5 - Jun 3, 2011 at 11:35 AM

        What I’m saying is with the Phillies infield defense as we know it, the BABIP is out of kilter here, and will get nothing but better as the season wears on. Yes, it’s been unlucky for them with hits going to holes for some strange reason. And on top of that only Hamels has a BABIP on par for the course. Halladay, Lee, Oswalt, and Blanton have worse than average … Wait, this isn’t my work as i stated. Let me let the guy who did the actual work explain it to you much better ARI. I’m not ready to plagiarize and I would have to.

      • Jonny 5 - Jun 3, 2011 at 11:42 AM

        When the Defense is solid as the Phills is, and Hamels, Kendrick, and Worley have the best BABIP #’s on the team, yes it is bad luck. I posted a link but it’s in some internet tube somewhere, wait for it…..

      • Jonny 5 - Jun 3, 2011 at 11:42 AM

        And with Utley back, yes “d” will get better on top of it.

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