SS-Notes, Fielding                                    


There is considerable debate about the importance of range factors (let alone the debate over the numbers for individual players). 

Here's what is supposed to happen:

High team range factor = fewer hits given up by your pitchers. Low team range factor = more hits given up.

1) Range stats are derived from the previous two years. Based upon a variety of factors -- chances per 9 innings, percentage of balls hit to his zone that he gets to, double plays, amount of playing time, and subjective judgements. Errors do not figure into range factor.

Fielding range in Scoresheet is based on a player's major league numbers from the past two seasons. The numbers we use include a combination of zone rating (the percentage of balls hit into a player's zone that he gets to) plus his range number (number of balls gotten to per inning played), and then we modify those numbers by park effects, number of strikeouts his major league team's pitching staff had, and the groundball/flyball tendencies of his major league team's pitching staff.  Jeff Barton, January 23, 2012

2) Errors -- timing is 80% luck. Small luck factor to help teams whose pitchers won or saved games that week. Generally -- each .10 difference in range is worth .025 in batting average Penalties for playing a player out of position (increase in number of errors and higher batting average by opponents). (The penalties remain the same as in '98).

Here's the information from the 2007 draft package :

" ... A difference of .10 in fielding range is a difference of .1 (a tenth) of a hit per nine innings that your pitchers will give up. We have come up with a fairly simple rule of thumb when comparing 2 players at the same position. For a full time player, each .10 in range is worth about .025 in batting average - or another way to look at it is that each .10 in range is worth about a difference of 5 home runs if the two players have the same batting average. To go into hundredths, a difference of .04 is worth about 10 points in batting average, or about 2 home runs. What fielding range really does is take away hits from the other team. But for comparing 2 players, it is easier to think of a bad fielding range as taking away from that player's offensive contributions to your team. Please note that a player's season-to-date errors do not factor into these range calculations; a player with a lot of errors will hurt you even if he has good range.

Any player listed at a position in our draft packet automatically qualifies at that position. If a player qualifies at an additional position because he played at least 20 games there in the majors last year then a range for that secondary position is also listed. If a player is not shown in this draft packet as qualifying at a position then he does NOT qualify there even if he did play some at that position in the past.

In this context, to "qualify" simply means that the player can play this position without penalty once the season starts. For roster balancing during the draft, a player only counts at the primary position he is listed at in this draft packet. But once the season starts, a player CAN play at positions other than where he's listed on our enclosed player lists (except only pitchers can pitch, and only qualified catchers can be used at catcher in Scoresheet. Also, only players who are qualified at any one of 2B, SS or 3B can play those positions in a Scoresheet game). Unless a player is shown in these draft lists as qualifying at a position, or has played in at least 10 games there so far in the majors in the upcoming season, we'll consider him out of position. If a player becomes qualified at a new position during the season we will indicate his eligibility and new range in the weekly results. *NOTE: Players who start the season at a new position will qualify there for the very first week's games. Rookies that are called up have league average range at their position. Finally, if an OFer switches from LF or RF to CF during the year (or vice versa), we will not change his OF range - the ranges for outfielders stay the same for all of the season, just as for all players.

We do have penalty formulas for a player playing out of position. These penalties increase his number of errors, and also raise opponent's batting averages due to the range limitations. Though you may not notice it directly on the game report, it is this range penalty that will hurt you the most when you play a player out of position. The severity of the penalties depend on how badly the player is out of position. Here are some examples of out of position penalties if you move a player to a position at which he does NOT qualify. Remember, if a player qualifies at a second position then his range at that position is listed in this packet or published in the weekly results. These examples assume the player is an average fielder at his listed position, and combine both the range and error penalty. A good fielder at his real position will do a little better than the numbers shown below, a poor fielder a little worse. (For players who are above or below average, if playing a 'harder' position, you take the difference from average a player has at his main position and add or subtract that difference from the numbers shown below. If moving to an 'easier' position, such as 2B to OF, the difference added or subtracted to the numbers shown below is about half their real difference.)

an average 1B has an: OF range of 1.94
an average 2B has a: 3B range of 2.53; SS range of 4.40; OF range of 2.04
an average 3B has a: 2B range of 3.97; SS range of 4.33; OF range of 2.01
an average SS has a: 2B range of 4.14; 3B range of 2.61; OF range of 2.07
an average C has a: 1B range of 1.73; OF range of 1.93
finally, a DH has a: 1B range of 1.70; OF range of 1.90 (in addition to making the average number of errors for that position when playing there in Scoresheet.)

In addition, any average infielder is assumed to be able to play 1B with average 1B range, and average OFers can play 1B with a range of about 1.79 (the average range for all positions this year is the same in the AL and NL). The switches above will also automatically be done for you by our computer before bringing in AAA players. Since the computer conducts this position switching automatically, a general rule of thumb is that you should only list players on your lineup card at positions for which they really qualify!

A numeric range difference has the same importance at all positions, (except for CF), so a .10 difference between 2 shortstops is the same as a .10 difference between 2 left fielders. A player's Scoresheet errors are based on what he does in the majors each week of the current season, while range is based largely on what he did the previous 2 seasons. The range of the player in center field for you is about 1.4 times as important as either the left or right fielder when figuring your overall team range. This means you should have at least one high range outfielder to play center field for you. The 'average' CFer has a range of about 2.15, while the 'average' LFer and RFer have ranges of about 2.07. Since the range of your CFer matters 1.4 times as much as at other positions, it is better to have a 2.16 range player in center, along with two 2.07 range players in left and right, than it is to have three 2.10 players filling your three OF spots. (Most Scoresheet teams have a player of at least 2.11 range playing CF for them.) (AAA) players play 3B with average range, are .09 below average at 2B, are .14 below average at SS, are average at 1B, have a 2.01 range in the OF, and have 0.83-0.18 numbers at catcher.

Also, these clarifications from Dave Barton of Scoresheet in notes to the Scoresheet-talk list :

" ...  starting in 2004, when moving a non-average player to a position he doesn't qualify at, his main position's range bonus or penalty (i.e., the amount he's above or below average at his main position) is no longer cut in half, it's just added to the normal out-of-position range that's printed in the out-of-position table in the draft packet. The only exception is that no player can end up with an above-average range at a position that he doesn't qualify at.  Actually, it's a little trickier than that. When moving to a harder position (larger average range), the above paragraph is true. But when moving to a position with a smaller average range, a fielder's amount above or below average is scaled down, i.e. multiplied by the ratio of the positions' average ranges (the new position's average range divided by the old position's average range), before adding it to the value in the table in the draft packet.  Hmm, I don't mean to make this so confusing. The important stuff about fielding ranges and out-of-position penalties is all in the draft packet, but if you want to be fully precise you need the above paragraphs as well. (Not to mention if you want to impress your girlfriend with how erudite your Scoresheet knowledge is. :-) )  Cheers, Dave "What's a Spouse?" Barton."

Let's try a couple of examples of the range calculation for an "out of position" player.  First, the player moving to a "harder" position. 

Missing a shortstop and third baseman, hoping Mark Loretta (+5 at 2B) can help fill in? His SS calculation would be based on an above average defensive player moving to a harder position :

Average 2B at SS = 4.40.  Loretta = 4.40 plus .05, thus 4.45 (still .30 below average).  Likely best here to go with Triple-A (as the ranking is far below the worst NL SS, Felipe Lopez at 4.64).

In going to 3B, it would be an example of an above average defensive player moving to an "easier" position.

Average 2B at 3B = 2.53.  Loretta = 2.53 plus [.05 x 2.65/4.25], thus 2.56 (nine points under average). 

Now, a thought to try and fit a lousy fielding 2B into your lineup.  Jose Vidro, a minus 15 at 2B, in the OF?  This represents a below average defensive player moving to an "easier" position.

Average 2B at OF = 2.04.  Vidro = 2.04 minus [.15 x 2.07/4.25]  = 1.97.   It's better than one AL OF (Manny Ramirez 1.95).

How about a premium defensive shortstop in the outfield?   Second?  Third?   These would be examples of a well above average player moving to an "easier" position.

Average SS at OF = 2.07.  Thus, for Adam Everett (plus .15 at SS) he would be capped at 2.07 at a corner outfield position.   However, for centre field :

Average SS at OF = 2.07.  Everett = 2.07 plus [.15 x 2.16/4.75] = 2.14 (minus a .01 "game error penalty" for CF) = 2.13.

For second base :

Average SS at 2B = 4.14.  Everett = 4.14 plus [.15 x 4.25/4.75] = 4.27.  But, with a cap of 4.25, 4.25 would be Everett's 2B ranking. 

For third base :

Average SS at 3B = 2.61.  Everett = 2.61 plus [.15 x 2.65/4.75] = 2.69.  Again, with a cap, he's 2.65 at third.

One more.  An example of a well above average player moving to a "harder" position.  Orlando Hudson (plus 11 at 2B) to SS.

Average 2B at SS = 4.40.  Hudson = 4.40 plus .11 = 4.51 (well below average at SS).

What about a sterling defensive OF at 1B?  Andruw Jones (2.19 in the OF).

Average OF at 1B = 1.79.  Jones = 1.79 plus [.09 x 1.85/2.07] = 1.87.  However, since a player cannot achieve an above-average range at a position for which he doesn't qualify (see the Dave Barton note above), Jones would be capped at 1.85 at first base.

Catchers -- diff of .10 in OSB worth about 12 to 15 points in batting average, and a diff of .10 in OCS worth about 20 to 25 points in batting average

Must appear at a position at least 20 times in the season, or at least 1/3 of the games to get qualified at the position

Outstanding Plays   

Average fielding teams do make quite a few outstanding plays (after all, in real life even the worst fielders occasionally make a great play.) But teams with higher ranges make more outstanding plays - those 'extra' outstanding plays represent hits that your pitchers were saved from giving up by your superior fielding range.

Errors - Positions 

If you have a player who is qualified at a position, and you are playing him there, but he is a DH in the majors, then we give him the average number of errors for that position. We do that because we feel it would not be fair at all to the other teams in your league if you could play David Ortiz at 1B all year and have him make zero errors for you just because he is playing DH for the Red Sox. In fact, anytime you play a guy in Scoresheet at a different position than he is playing in the majors (and he qualifies at that position) then we base his errors on the number he is making compared to the average number made at that position. For example, if you are playing Kelly Johnson in the OF, while is playing mostly 2B for the Braves, Johnson will make less errors for your Scoresheet team than he does for Atlanta since the average OFer makes far less errors than the average 2B. Vice-versa, if you play Bill Hall at SS he'll make more errors for your team than he does in real life (since he is playing OF for the Brewers.)

Taxi Squad : Players on your roster who are not listed on your lineup card are automatically included on your taxi squad. These taxi squad players will come in to play for you if needed, before we go to AAA players. Also, before using a taxi squad player the computer does check to see if any of your 30 players on the lineup card qualify at the position needed - if they qualify there they will be used before the taxi squad player, even if you do not list that position for them on the card. But, taxi squad players will be used before we move guys 'out of position'. Also, bullpen pitchers will be moved into your starting rotation if needed (as long as they either had a start that week in the majors, or pitched at least 3 innings that week in the majors and are not on our short reliever list), before we start a pitcher on your taxi squad. NOTE - just like any player, a guy on your taxi squad can only appear in a Scoresheet game if he has major league playing time that week. When players are brought up from the taxi squad they are called up in order of season to date playing time.   (May, 2007)

Defensive Substitutions :

May 7, 2008, on the SS-talk list, Brian DewBerry-Jones (after discussions with Dave Barton of SS) posted the following on defensive substitutions :

For a catcher :

1. Bench player listed at catcher (ordered by lineup card order)
2. Bench player qualified at catcher but not listed at catcher (ordered by lineup card order)
3. Taxi squad player that qualifies at catcher (ordered by playing time)
4. C AAA

For a 1B :

1. Bench player listed at 1B (ordered by lineup card order)
2. Bench player qualified at 1B but not listed at 1B (ordered by lineup card order)
3. Taxi squad player that qualifies at 1B (ordered by playing time)
4. Bench player (ordered by ph number)
5. Taxi squad player (ordered by playing time)
6. 1B/OF AAA

For a 2B :

1. Bench player listed at 2B (ordered by lineup card order)
2. Bench player qualified at 2B but not listed at 2B (ordered by lineup card order)
3. Taxi squad player that qualifies at 2B (ordered by playing time)
4. Bench player qualified at ss (ordered by lineup card order)
5. Taxi squad player qualified at ss (ordered by playing time)
6. Bench player qualified at 3b (ordered by lineup card order)
7. Taxi squad player qualified at 3B (ordered by playing time)

For a 3B :

1. Bench player listed at 3B (ordered by lineup card order)
2. Bench player qualified at 3B but not listed at 3B (ordered by lineup card order)
3. Taxi squad player that qualifies at 3B (ordered by playing time)
4. Bench player qualified at 2B or SS (ordered by lineup card order)
5. Taxi squad player qualified at 2B or SS (ordered by playing time)

For a SS :

1. Bench player listed at SS (ordered by lineup card order)
2. Bench player qualified at SS but not listed at SS (ordered by lineup card order)
3. Taxi squad player that qualifies at SS (ordered by playing time)
4. Bench player qualified at 2B or 3B (ordered by lineup card order)
5. Taxi squad player qualified at 2B or 3B (ordered by playing time)

For a OF :

1. Bench player listed at OF (ordered by lineup card order)
2. Bench player qualified at OF but not listed at OF (ordered by lineup card order)
3. Taxi squad player that qualifies at OF (ordered by playing time)
4. Bench player (ordered by lineup card order)
5. Taxi squad player (ordered by playing time)
4. 1B/OF AAA

For a DH :

1. Bench player (ordered by ph number)
2. Taxi squad player (ordered by playing time)
3. 1B/OF AAA

Importance of a true CFer    

It *is* important, but only up to a point. You have to pay attention to
defence, but it is just as big a mistake to overvalue it as to undervalue it.

Here's an example to illustrate the point, using actual 2009 stats and the 2010
fielding ranges.

Suppose I have the following three corner OFs on an NL-only team: Ethier (OPS .869, range 2.07), Holliday (.909, 2.10) and Werth (.879, 2.10).

If I play all three of them, with Holliday or Werth in CF, the total OF
defensive range is 2.07 + 2.10 + 1.4*2.10=7.11

Suppose now that I bench Ethier and play Holliday and Werth in the corners with a 2.15 CF in the middle. The total OF defence is now:
2.10 + 2.10 + 2.15*1.4=7.21

The difference is 7.21-7.11=0.10. This is "worth" about .055 points of OPS.

In other words, for the 2.15 CF configuration to be a net improvement, the CF
has to hit within .055 points of Ethier, or have an OPS higher than .814.

Last year there were only a handful of true NL CFs who hit this well --
basically it was Kemp, McCutchen and Beltran. Victorino hit a bit worse but has a 2.18 range, so he also makes the cut.

But you don't have one of these guys, you are better off playing the three
corner guys. If you play a guy like McLouth (.788, 2.15), his superior defence
won't make up for the offensive dropoff you get from losing Ethier.

To see this from the other way around, playing McLouth in CF and moving Holliday to the corner is like replacing Ethier with a .788+.055=.843 corner OF.

In a typical NL league with crossovers, there are quite a few corner OFs who hit better than .843: e.g., Manny, Braun, Bay, Drew, Hawpe, Ibanez, Werth, Matt Diaz, Willingham, and Coghlan. To be precise, you'd have to re-do the above calculations with these guys specific ratings -- e.g., the gap between Manny and McLouth is less than first appears because Manny has a 2.01 range rather than 2.07. But the point is that there are a fair number of better corner OF options. (Jon Dawe)

New postion qualification for Week One

The short answer is that a player will qualify at a new position either after he gets 10 games played at that position in the majors ...   or *if* he is the everyday regular starter week 1 at that position in the majors he will qualify during week 1 (will qualify *before* we play the week 1 games on our computer.)

So if a player is the regular at that new position the first week in the majors you can play him at that new position on your week 1 lineup with no fielding penalty.

(In general, by 'regular' we mean he starts at least 3 or 4 games there during week 1 for his major league team.)

Once we qualify a guy at a position we *never* unqualify him again that season, so we tend to be cautious - we don't qualify players before they reach 10 games played at that new position during the season unless it really appears clear that that is their new main position. But if you list a player on your week 1 lineup at a position he does not qualify at, and he does play at that position in the majors enough that it is 'clear' that is his new position, then we will qualify him there before we play the week 1 games on our computer, meaning he'd play there for you with no out of position penalty. Jeff  Barton, Feb 17, 2011