John Dewan’s Stat of the Week™

How many scoops?

The most recent edition of ESPN‘s Wednesday Night Baseball pitted the New York Yankees against the Tampa Bay Rays. Rick Sutcliffe, former major leaguer and current ESPN color commentator, was talking about the Yankee defense in 2009 and made note of the change at first base this year, from Jason Giambi to Mark Teixeira. Sutcliffe then dreamed out loud and wished there was a statistic to count the times a first baseman handles a bad throw by an infielder and scoops the ball in the dirt. He would use such data to evaluate the difference between Giambi and Teixeira.

Luckily for Sutcliffe, we can make his dream come true today. In The Fielding Bible—Volume II, we introduced Defensive Misplays and Good Fielding Plays as an additional way to evaluate fielders in certain plays. One of those Good Fielding Plays counts the times a first baseman scoops the ball, saving his infielder a throwing error. Let’s see if we can help Sutcliffe evaluate the Yankee defense at first base (GS=”Games Started”).

 

2009

     

2008

   

Player

GS

Scoops

 

Player

GS

Scoops

Albert Pujols

101

32

 

Justin Morneau

155

44

Paul Konerko

91

30

 

Todd Helton

91

42

Todd Helton

93

26

 

Carlos Pena

131

37

James Loney

96

26

 

Kevin Millar

128

37

Lance Berkman

85

24

 

Mark Teixeira

153

36

Derrek Lee

85

24

 

Carlos Delgado

154

35

Chris Davis

70

24

 

Casey Kotchman

135

33

Ryan Howard

94

23

 

Ryan Howard

156

33

Mark Teixeira

95

22

 

Ross Gload

95

31

Kendry Morales

87

22

 

Daric Barton

124

30

Joey Votto

68

20

 

Lance Berkman

151

30

Justin Morneau

91

19

 

Jason Giambi

112

29

In 2008, Jason Giambi recorded 29 scoops for the Yankees in 112 games started, and Mark Teixeira recorded 36 for the Braves and Angels in 153 games started. In 2009, Teixeira has scooped 22 balls in the dirt through 95 starts and Giambi has scooped 14 in 58 games at first. While this looks like a victory for Teixeira, fans of Giambi will note that he plays a large number of games serving as his team’s Designated Hitter and doesn’t play as many games as Teixeira at first base. In fact, in 2008, Giambi’s 29 scoops for the Yankees were good for 0.26 scoops per game started, while Teixeira’s 2009 scoops for the Yankees are only 0.23 per game. This isn’t a significant difference, but there is nothing here to suggest that Teixeira is better at scooping errant throws than Giambi.

The true difference between Gold Glover Mark Teixeira and Jason Giambi is in handling grounders. In the last two years Teixeira has saved his teams 18 runs fielding grounders, while Giambi has cost his team 18, a 36-run difference in Defensive Runs Saved. (Defensive Runs Saved is a statistic developed in The Fielding Bible—Volume II.)

Baseball’s best “scooper” in the last two years is Colorado’s Todd Helton. He was limited to 81 games started at first base in 2008 due to injury, and in those 81 games, he was able to scoop an astonishing .52 balls per game. This year, while his scoops per game don’t approach his rate in 2008, Helton is still among the scoop leaders.

Used with permission from John Dewan’s Stat of the Week™, http://www.statoftheweek.com/.

 

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    August 3, 2009  Tags: , , , , , , ,   Posted in: John Dewan, Stat of the Week, stats

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    1. Baseballbriefs.com - August 3, 2009

      Baseballbriefs.com tracking back John Dewan’s Stat of the Week™…

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