Monday, August 04, 2003

Ichiro

Ichiro Suzuki. Quick, what do you think of?

Japanese
Right Fielder
Seattle Mariners
Uses only his first name
Really Fast
Followed by the Japanese media
Hits for a high average
Great Arm
Doesn't walk
Doesn't hit for power

It's the last two that have become the focus of the Stat World since his arrival. Because he doesn't draw walks and hit for power, his OPS totals are nice, but nothing special. Ichiro is currently tied for 70th in the Majors in OPS with Angel Berroa, and is 13th among all rightfielders. While everyone would agree that Ichiro is better than the 70th best position player in the majors, and better than the 13th best rightfielder, no one is really sure how much better. Most of the statheads would have a hard time putting him in the top 20 overall, I think.

Of course, there is a very big reason for that. We don't have any statistic to measure exactly what Ichiro does. Well, that's not really correct. BAP can. Maybe the better way to phrase it is there is no stat being used to measure what Ichiro does. There is no answer to the big question, just how many Extra Bases is Ichiro worth in a year?

I'm using Ichiro because he was the person I thought of while looking for an extreme. I asked myself this: Who puts the ball in play, doesn't hit homeruns, strikeout or walk, and is really fast? Then I took the opposite extreme. Who hits homers, walks, and strikes out? I thought of Jim Thome. I was looking for the extremes because I just wanted to focus on one tiny area of Extra Bases - bases from errors.

Bases from errors?! Who cares? The batter and runners shouldn't get credit for that! Having errors occur while you're at bat is not a skill!

That's what you thought, right? Well, think about it. Thome isn't putting the ball in play a heck of a lot. With all of the homers, walks, and strikeouts, he's not giving the fielders a lot to do. Ichiro is the opposite. He always has the ball in play. How many more times than Thome? Guess.

Last year, it was 286 times. Really. Ichiro had 647 at bats, with 62 strikeouts and 10 homers. Thome had 480 at bats, with 139 strikeouts and 52 homers. So what happens during those 286 extra times the ball is in play?

Well, if you're an average ballplayer, it wouldn't seem like much. The fielding percentages in baseball hover around 98 %, so that would mean 5.72 more errors being committed. Now, one error does not mean one Extra Base. In fact, it can mean many Extra Bases if there are players already on base that are advancing because of the error. So let's say that for an average player putting the ball in play 286 more times means about 12 Extra Bases.

But this does not count the Ichiro factor. Just how much more pressure on the defense is there when Ichiro is at bat, or on the bases? How many more wild throws to first are there with Ichiro running down the line? We don't know the answer to this - yet. But I think it's safe to say that it would add another handful of errors, so let's call Ichiro's edge over Thome on bases off of errors at 25 bases.

That's 25 Extra Bases just on errors. We also know there was a 22 base difference in Stolen Bases. But how many more times does Ichiro go from first to third on a single, or score from first on a double? How many more times does Ichiro advance on an out?

Is it possible that when OPS compares Jim Thome to Ichiro, that it misses Ichiro's value by 100 bases a year?

Maybe some day soon we'll have an answer to questions like these.

BAP scores

Kansas City 2 Tampa Bay 0
BAP - KC .379, TB .418
OPS - KC .577, TB .462
Two homers for KC with (-1) EB do in BAP.

Cubs 2 Arizona 1
BAP - Chi .543, Ari .303
OPS - Chi .746, Ari .445
Both get it right.

Oakland 2 NY 1
BAP - Oak .323, NY .219
OPS - Oak .310, NY .419
"In a game that can only be explained by BAP, the Yankees outhit and outslugged the A's, but still managed to lose a heartbreaker in the 9th. Is it just me, or does it seem like the Yankees have lost more games when leading after 7 in the last month than they had in the previous 5 or 6 years combined?" - Jeremy from NYU.

Boston 7 Baltimore 5 From Tim at Musings From RSN


BAP - Bos .789, Bal .605

Both BAP and OPS go 2-1 for the day, as the battle gets tougher. Also, OPS got both the 2-1 Baltimore win and the 3-2 Oakland win Friday night, which have already been posted for BAP. So the current standings are:

BAP 51-8-1
OPS 47-13

Comments or Questions For Dave

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