Sunday, January 06, 2008

I *Hart* Corey

By Mark Lentz (Twin City Challengers)

I’m a Brewer fan. A BIG Brewer fan. Much to my wife’s chagrin I watch most every game each year. Corey Hart’s range rating of a 3 in RF in the upcoming SOM set has stuck in my craw. Before I proceed, let me preface my remarks that this is not some anti-HAL, SOM rant. I know the range ratings can cause some overly serious griping. This is just me pleading my case for a guy I like a lot, ala my hopes for Bert “Be Home” Blyleven and the Hall.

Corey Hart received a 3 in right field. By comparison, Sports Illustrated pretty boy Jeff “Frenchy” Francouer received a 1 in right. I will grant that Frenchy */may/* be a better RF than Corey…but I will not grant */two/* ratings better.

Here are the stats I bring to the argument:

For the just completed season, Jeff Francouer played 1440 innings in right field for the Atlanta Braves. Corey Hart, on the other hand, split his 1096 defensive innings between right (864) and center (232) for my Brewers.

According to Win Shares statistics supplied on The Hardball Times website, Frenchy was credited with 5.5 win shares for his defensive play and Hart 3.9 shares for his performance. Broken down on a per nine inning basis you get the following:

Jeff Francouer *0.34* defensive win shares per 9 innings

Corey Hart *0.32* defensive win shares per 9 innings

I’m no math major, but the difference of two hundreths of a point has to be fairly inconsequential, no?

I feel these numbers are further strengthened by the fact that win shares do take in the fact that Corey played center field a little over 20% of the time. I don’t need to preach to this choir that center field is harder to play than right.

Still not convinced? Consider the following statistics:

John Dewan introduced the Plus/Minus fielding analysis system in his book /The Fielding Bible/. Someone can correct me if I’m wrong, but I believe it is quite possibly the most rigorous attempt at objective fielding analysis ever attempted. I will allow Mr. Dewan to sum up the Plus/Minus system:

A/ “player gets credit (a "plus" number) if he makes a play that at least one other player at his position missed during the season, and he loses credit (a "minus" number) if he misses a play that at least one player made. The size of the credit is directly related to how often players make the play. Each play is looked at individually, and a score is given for each play. Sum up all the plays for each player at his position and you get his total plus/minus for the season.”/

For 2007, Jeff Francouer was credited with making 10 more plays in right field that other right fielders would not have made. This is an impressive number. Frenchy is no slouch in right, to be sure. His plus/minus number ranks him seventh amongst all right fielders. Pretty good, but Corey Hart is just plain better, objectively speaking. In almost 600 less innings in right field Hart made *THREE* more plays! Compared to the Win Share difference displayed above, this is a notable difference.

Once again, on a per nine inning basis:

Jeff Francouer *0.063* plays made per 9 innings
Corey Hart *0.135 *plays made per 9 innings

That math *IS* significant. Corey’s rate is *DOUBLE* that of Frenchy’s!You want to argue that Frenchy has a cannon for an arm? I grant you that. But when it comes to running down batted balls in right field in Major League parks, the very definition of range, very few are better at it than Corey Hart.

1 Swings of the bat:

Other Side said...

I *Hart* Corey, too ... especially since he is my right fielder for the coming year.