In his yearly tradition, Dave Pinto has posted his Probabilistic Model of Range for the 2007 season. Over the next week or so he’ll post the results for each player by position. Today, though, he goes over teams as a whole. I’ll point to Pinto’s brief explanation of PMR:
Basically, for each fieldable (non inside the park home runs) ball put in play, six parameters are used to determine how difficult it was to field the ball. A probability of turning the ball into an out is calculated, and those probabilities are summed. That gives us expected batted balls turned into outs. We turn that into a predicted DER (defensive efficiency record), compare that to the actual DER and calculate a ranking.
The model is based primarily on visiting player data, smoothed, distance on fly balls. Only 2007 data was used to construct the model.
Now, the Yankees were far from the top spot in DER. However, the difficulty of balls put in play against them moved them to the top spot. What does this tell us about the team?
Well, for one, they don’t strike out a ton of guys, ranking 12th in the American League in 2007. Hopefully this changes with Joba and Hughes in the rotation next year.
The question this poses to me: Did the Yankees pitching get lucky last year? PMR would suggest yes. A lot of the “difficult” plays the Yankees made over the course of the year could just as easily have gone for hits. Such is the nature of baseball. Sometimes the ball has eyes, sometimes it goes right to a fielder. All you can do is hit the ball hard, and it appears that’s what happened against Yankee pitching last year.
Thankfully we’re heading into 2008 with an altered rotation.