By Christopher Reina
By Nick Obergan
Thanks to the enormous advancements in Sabermetrics, and people like Bill James and websites like Fangraphs.com, baseball statistics have come a long, long way. There is now a stat for virtually every aspect of the game that takes fans beyond the numbers seen in a box score.
The problem with some of these stats, is that they are too advanced and sometimes too complicated for basic fans who don?t have the desire or time needed to wrap their minds around the endless formulas and calculations.
That is not meant to downplay the effectiveness of these new stats. It allows fans, and even players and the minds in the front office, to better understand the effect that even the smallest of stats can have on a game. The biggest advancements have come in defensive statistics, such as Ultimate Zone Rating.
But just because we have new ways of understanding the game, doesn?t mean there aren?t still smaller statistics out there that can help us get a clearer picture of a team or a player. That is exactly what Unearned Run Cost (URC) aims for, and it?s goal is to show how many extra runs a team gives up due to their errors or how successful the team is in not allowing those errors to cost them on the scoreboard.
In relation to the team stat, it can show which players? errors end up being more costly than others. Just because a player leads the league in errors, doesn?t mean he is costing his team the most runs. In essence, the final number indicates the number of runs it costs per error, the lower the better.
Team URC formula = (Total Runs - Earned Runs = Unearned Runs)/Total Team Errors
Player URC formula = Individual Errors*Team URC
Team URC Rankings for 2009
(Unearned Runs / Team Errors / URC)
1. Texas Rangers: 42 / 106 / 0.396
2. San Francisco Giants: 88 / 40 / 0.455
3. Colorado Rockies: 87 / 40 / 0.460
4. Philadelphia Phillies: 76 / 36 / 0.474
5. Milwaukee Brewers: 98 / 48 / 0.490
6. Boston Red Sox: 82 / 41 / 0.500
7. Minnesota Twins: 76 / 39 / 0.513
8. Cincinnati Reds: 89 / 46 / 0.517
9. Chicago Cubs: 105 / 56 / 0.533
10. Los Angeles Dodgers: 83 / 46 / 0.554
11. St. Louis Cardinals: 96 / 54 / 0.563
12. Arizona Diamondbacks: 124 / 71 / 0.573
13. Washington Nationals: 143 / 83 / 0.580
14. New York Yankees: 86 / 52 / 0.605
15. Cleveland Indians: 97 / 59 / 0.608
16. Chicago White Sox: 113 / 69 / 0.611
17. Houston Astros: 78 / 48 / 0.615
18. Pittsburgh Pirates: 73 / 45 / 0.616
19. Los Angeles Angels: 85 / 53 / 0.624
20. Atlanta Braves: 96 / 60 / 0.625
21. Detroit Tigers: 88 / 55 / 0.625
22. Seattle Mariners: 105 / 67 / 0.638
23. Baltimore Orioles: 90 / 59 / 0.656
24. Kansas City Royals: 116 / 77 / 0.664
25. Toronto Blue Jays: 76 / 51 / 0.671
26. New York Mets: 97 / 66 / 0.680
27. San Diego Padres: 94 / 65 / 0.691
28. Tampa Bay Rays: 98 / 68 / 0.694
29. Florida Marlins: 106 / 76 / 0.717
30. Oakland Athletics: 105 / 76 / 0.724
So as you can see, Texas was the best at not letting their errors cost them runs (under 40% of the time), while Florida and Oakland allowed those unearned runs to score over 70% of the time. The Nationals had the most errors in the league last year while Pittsburgh had the fewest, but both were ranked near the middle as far as letting those errors cost them runs.
How do those numbers affect the players with the most errors last year? Here are the top-20 error-prone players from last season, followed by their error total and number of runs it cost their team
1. Orlando Cabrera, MIN / 25 / 12.829
2. Everth Cabrera, SD / 23 / 15.094
3. Chipper Jones, ATL / 22 / 13.750
4. Elvis Andrus, TEX / 22 / 8.717
5. Miguel Tejada, HOU / 21 / 12.923
6. Jason Bartlett, TB / 20 / 13.878
7. Brandon Inge, DET / 20 / 12.500
8. Rafael Furcal, LAD / 20 / 12.471
9. Alexei Ramirez, CWS / 20 / 12.212
10. Christian Guzman, WSH / 20 / 11.608
11. Mark Reynolds, ARI / 19 / 10.879
12. Yuniesky Betancourt, KC / 18 / 11.948
13. David Wright, NYM / 18 / 10.884
14. Alberto Callaspo, KC / 17 / 11.284
15. Ryan Zimmerman, WSH / 17 / 9.867
16. Felipe Lopez, MIL / 17 / 8.327
17. Dan Uggla, FLA / 16 / 11.427
18. Adam Dunn, WSH / 16 / 9.287
19. Pedro Feliz, PHI / 15 / 7.105
20. Jose Lopez, SEA / 15 / 9.571
So as you can see with Elvis Andrus, the number of errors often doesn?t mean you are costing your team more runs than a player with fewer errors than you ? out of these 20 guys, his URC was third best after Feliz and Felipe Lopez.
Don?t think that URC is meant to replace or exceed any other stat you may find; view it simply as another means to look at errors ? which can be a very misleading statistic.
Nick Obergan is RealGM's hockey writer. Send him an an e-mail at email@example.com or follow him on twitter at @nickobergan
By Christopher Reina
By Randolph Charlotin
Great players stand out from the rest. Usually it?s because of amazing statistics or the high level of consistency that separates them from their peers.
But ask a Red Sox fan what they recall about shortstop Nomar Garciaparra, and the first characteristic they mention is Nomar?s at-bat routine.
Before stepping into the batter?s box, Nomar adjusted his batting gloves: he tugged the elastic cuffs towards the elbow, he?d push down on the webbing between the fingers, pull on the cuffs again, but from the palm side, and Garciaparra repeated it what seemed like several times in the span of about 20-30 seconds. And in the batter?s box, Nomar danced, tapping his toes as he rocked back and forth.
The routine was bad enough as-is. But between every pitch, Garciaparra stepped out of the box and repeated his obsessive-compulsive adjustments, whether he swung or left the bat on his shoulder, to ensure a snug fit. And it was the same two-step as he starred down the pitcher.
Call it annoying, call it ridiculous, but it worked. For nine years, Garciaparra established himself as one of the best hitters in baseball, changing how shortstops were viewed offensively.
Nomar batted like a fidgety four-year-old boy, impatient for every pitch, rarely waiting for the right ball to swing at. It wasn?t a Moneyball approach that?s so popular today that stresses quality at-bats and taking walks to get on base. No one swung at more first pitches than Garciaparra, and no one got more first pitch hits than Nomar. It was a backwards approach to hitting like the name Ramon. But to Nomar, he was in the batter?s box to hit, not walk.
This aggressive style resulted in seven of nine seasons in Boston with better than a .300 average and two batting titles. Consistency was half of Garciaparra?s greatness, as he hit for power as well, stroking more than 20 homeruns six times for the Red Sox.
What ties Nomar to Boston so strongly is he came up through the Sox?s farm system. Fans knew who he was and were anxious for Garciaparra?a promotion to full-time starter. He didn?t let the fans down in 1997, as he wowed the majors with a .303 average, 30 homers, and voted AL Rookie of the Year.
As great as he was, Nomar was overshadowed by the New York Yankees? Derek Jeter and Seattle/Texas? Alex Rodriguez. Jeter won championships as a precocious leader for the Yanks. And no matter the power numbers Garciaparra put up, it was nowhere close to A-Rod?s bombs in either frequency or distance.
But Nomar made his mark in Boston. I still remember Nomar?s confidence in the 1999 ALDS after the Sox fell behind 0-2 to Cleveland and game three in Fenway Park on the horizon. When asked by a reporter if the team was nervous, he replied, ?Nervous? No?we got them right where we want them.?
True to his word, the Red Sox rallied and won the next three games by outscoring the Indians 44-18 in the final three games.
But a World Series remained out of reach for Nomar and the Sox. Or maybe it was within reach, but Boston?s defense held the team back. Hobbled by Achilles tendinitis that Garciaparra needed to rest for it to heal, Boston sent their child to Chicago for healthy shortstop Orlando Cabrera and first baseman Doug Meintkiewicz as part of a four team trade.
Even though Nomar was bothered that the team tried to replace him with A-Rod before the season, he said goodbye with, ??hopefully we [the Cubs] see them in the World Series.?
Sacrificing Nomar brought the Sox their first World Series since 1918, ending an 86-year curse. It might be bittersweet for Garciaparra, but he got a ring for that championship and deserves it.
As the years passed, Nomar?s body betrayed him as he missed more and more time. He missed 385 of 810 games over the next five years. Moving from shortstop didn?t help keep him on the field either. With no team interested in signing him to play this year, Nomar went back home.
Time healed the wound caused by Boston?s A-Rod flirtation, and with no animosity, the man called ?Nomahhh? signed a one-day contract to retire as a Boston Red Sox.
It was a great nine years in Boston for Garciaparra. He was selected to five All-Star games (six total). He won two batting titles. He even met his wife, soccer legend Mia Hamm, while filming a commercial. Nomar won?t make the Hall of Fame. He might be forgotten as one of the shortstops that changed the game during his prime. But Boston will remember him as a professional on the field and a class act off it (he never got in a late night car accident returning from The Foxy Lady).
And, of course, Boston will remember Nomar?s at-bats. We?ll be looking to see if Nomahhh can sit still behind the ESPN desk.
Read more by Randolph Charlotin at his New England Patriots blog at . He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
By Christopher Reina
Baseball needs to get rid of the designated hitter like Derek Jeter needs to get rid of Minka Kelly.
When Commissioner Bud Selig created baseball?s version of the NFL?s competition committee earlier this month, he put in motion the wheels of change in a game that has so often been reactionary instead of progressive.
It?s highly unlikely that baseball will take the designated hitter out of the game, but let?s take a cue from Mr. Selig and nip this one in the bud. No matter what Tony La Russa says, the DH has been and will continue to be very good for the game.
The ?position? has been around for 37 years, longer than saves, the wild card, instant replay and even the aforementioned Derek Jeter. With the DH, baseball has reached heights that once didn?t seem attainable, in terms of economics, popularity and global reach.
OK, maybe the game hasn?t succeeded as a direct result of the DH, but the game wouldn?t be the same without it.
The DH, which has been resisted by the National League for decades, provides two different styles of play within in the same professional league. It gives fans a little something different to watch on a nightly basis. Imagine if the Lakers followed a slightly different rule book than the Celtics?
You can win games in the National League with a lineup that?s strong one through six, but you?d better have one capable of driving in runs at the bottom of the order if you?re going to contend in the American League.
It provides variety in a game that many consider boring. Why take away one of the few wrinkles it features?
It?s hard to say exactly how many careers have been extended by the position, but there are quite a few current players that would likely be retired or playing overseas without the ability to hit and not field the baseball.
If you were the MVP of the 2009 World Series or go by the nickname ?Papi,? I?m talking about you.
Come on, how else would Ron Bloomberg be famous?
The designated hitter has made it harder to pitch in the American League, but it?s also taken the bat out of the hands of men that often look about as comfortable as Donny Osmond at a Phish concert with one in their hands.
It?s fun to see guys like CC Sabathia, Justin Verlander, Felix Hernandez and Josh Beckett swing the pine a few times a season, but ultimately it?s a good thing that they focus on throwing rather than whiffing.
On the other hand, the absence of the DH in the NL extends the careers of pitchers. Remember the hell John Smoltz went through in Boston before he landed on his feet back in the NL with St. Louis?
We talked about how the designated hitter extends careers, but it has a similar effect on seasons as well. An American League manager can use the spot to give his position players a pseudo day-off, assuming he isn?t nailed down by a permanent DH.
Hideki Matsui almost single-handedly won the World Series for the Yankees, but New York allowed him to walk in free agency so they could rest guys like Jeter, Alex Rodriguez, Mark Teixeira and Jorge Posada in 2010 without losing their much-needed offense.
Philadelphia?s Charlie Manuel doesn?t have the same luxury. Chase Utley admitted to being fatigued near the end of last season, but the Phillies needed him in the lineup almost every night. So he soldiered on.
As much as we all like the variety that the DH gives baseball, I don?t think Utley would object to simply walking to the plate four times a night on occasion.
Andrew Perna is Deputy Editor of RealGM.com. Please feel free to contact him with comments or questions via e-mail: Andrew.Perna@RealGM.com. You can also follow him on Twitter: APerna7.
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