2011 Team Defense

Updated for all games through April 5th.

Rk TEAM DER Err BIP Out xOut Delta
1 IND 0.662 31 775 513 489 24
2 MSU 0.660 32 670 442 422 20
3 PSU 0.657 38 647 425 408 17
4 ILL 0.653 26 597 390 376 14
5 MINN 0.636 19 538 342 339 3
6 OSU 0.624 37 593 370 374 -4
7 IOWA 0.621 33 742 461 468 -7
8 MICH 0.611 37 736 450 464 -14
9 PUR 0.598 37 774 463 488 -25
10 NW 0.589 36 676 398 426 -28
AVG 0.630

DER – Defensive Efficiency Ratio. Formula taken from Baseball Prospectus; Measures number of balls in play turned into outs by the team
ERR – Errors
BIP – Number of Balls In Play
Out – Number of Outs Converted
xOut – Expected number of outs converted if said team had a league average DER and had the exact same number of BIP as the team in question
Delta – Difference between expected outs and actual outs
List is sorted by team DER

Exploring Team Defense

One of the big banes of Sabermetrics is attempting to quantify team defense. There are nifty tools out there like Ultimate Zone Rating, Defensive Runs Saved, Total Zone (all three of which can be found at Fangraphs) that are the most “advanced” defensive metrics available for Major League Baseball.

However, Colin Wyers of Baseball Prospectus fame has questioned defense with a lot of logical fore-thought. The long and short of it is that the processes of the advanced metrics like UZR or John Dewan’s DRS systems aren’t necessarily the problem; it’s the data being put into it. There’s numerous biases that can enter the mix and that compounds things. Crap in, crap out, so-to-speak. If your data isn’t good, it’s almost going to ensure that there’s nothing of value that will come out of the formula.

One thing we do have, though, are outs and balls in play. I asked Colin, and he confirmed, that using Defensive Efficiency Ratio is the best metric for team-level fielding.

Now, since I don’t have any database skills at all, I can’t do a plays made/not made (which is essentially Sean Smith’s Total Zone metric that you find on Baseball Reference)  on an individual level like Jeff Sackmann does, but I can use B-Pro’s Def Eff formula and apply it to the Big Ten teams from 2007-2010.

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