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Podcast episode 1702: A new tool for outfield defense

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NLCS - Chicago Cubs v Los Angeles Dodgers - Game Four Photo by Josh Lefkowitz/Getty Images

Our second podcast of the new year we talk about the Kenley Jansen deal finally getting finalized, and talk about other recent new minor additions in catcher Bobby Wilson and Cuban infielder Jose Miguel Fernandez.

With second base still a hole and Dodgers talks with the Twins reportedly at an impasse, we also discuss some options at that position as well.

We also talked about something new at Statcast, thanks to the work of Daren Willman, Tom Tango and Mike Petriello. We can now view an outfielder’s catches and hits allowed, displayed graphically and broken down compared to all MLB plays by degree of difficulty.

For example, here is a look at the outs made by Joc Pederson:

MLB.com Statcast

We can contrast that with the hits allowed by Pederson:

MLB.com Statcast

By quick count, Pederson made 15 catches described as “tough” and four more in the “highlight” category. At the same time, he allowed just one hit on a ball deemed “easy” to catch, and only two hits on “routine” catches.

Pederson rated above average defensively by Total Zone Rating (+6 runs), Defensive Runs Saved (+1) and Ultimate Zone Rating (+1.5). By contrast we can look at Trayce Thompson, who was below average in two of those three measures — -5 in Total Zone Rating, +1 in DRS, and -7.2 in UZR, in a little more than half the innings (556) of Pederson (1,032).

Here are Thompson’s charts:

MLB.com Statcast
MLB.com Statcast

He made five tough catches but none in the highlight range, and allowed four routine hits and two easy hits, the latter two double that of Pederson in roughly half the innings.

A quick look at Yasiel Puig’s charts show that he made six highlight catches in his 744 defensive innings, including one play beyond even that classification.

There is a ton of Statcast data, and it is interesting to see how it can be used to provide a better understanding of the game.

If you have any questions for future podcasts, please send them to tblapodcast@gmail.com, or tweet us at @truebluela or @jacobburch.

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