Saturday, March 21, 2015

Did the Orioles have seven of the best 33 defensive teams in the period from 1968-1975?

(That should actually say were 7 of those Oriole teams from 1968-75 in the top 33 covering the years from 1960-98?)

Here is something I posted to the SABR list back in 2013 (I got reminded of this from something mentioned on Twitter-this might not be earth shattering now or even then):

One way to look at the relative roles of pitching and fielding in run prevention would be to run a regression in which team runs allowed per inning is a function of the defense independent pitching stats (DIPS) HRs, Walks, Strikeouts per inning. Using all teams from 1960-1998, the regression equation was

R/IP = .192 - .121*SO/IP + .494*BB/IP + 1.98*HR/IP

the r-squared was .696. The standard error was .036

I then predicted each team's runs per inning and then subtracted the predicted total from the actual total. This residual or difference could be a measure of fielding quality since it shows what share of the runs was not at all affected by the DIPS. Of course, this residual is not completely a result of the fielding either. The more negative the residual, the lower the runs allowed as compared to the prediction of the model. So a big negative number means better defense (at least in theory). A negative .03 means that the team gave up .03 runs less an inning that the DIPS would predict, so that might mean good defense. But what was interesting to me is that when I ranked the teams from lowest (best fielding, starting in negative differentials) to highest (worst fielding, ending in positive differentials), seven of the best 33 defensive teams were Oriole teams in the period 1968-1975. The only Oriole team missing from that group was the 1974 team, but they were negative as was just about every Oriole team between 1960 and 1980. They always were considered a very good if not great fielding team.

The best 10 defensive teams and their differentials were

1972 Cle -0.111
1968 Det -0.104
1981 Hou -0.101
1965 Min -0.099
1970 Cle -0.094
1969 Bal -0.092
1960 LA -0.088
1968 Was -0.086
1985 Tor -0.083
1970 Cal -0.082 

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