Friday, December 31, 2004

Double Plays: A Dodgers Resolution

Blogger ate the post I wrote this afternoon, so I threw this together and let's hope it shows up on the site eventually. I looked at all players with 5 or more "double play opportunities" using Baseball Prospectus' data and compiled each player's double play rate (double plays hit into divided by double play opportunities). I used the full season for all players who switched teams. League average is about .127.

Likely 2005 Dodgers:
Werth .026
Drew .068
Ross .070
Valentin .078
Izturis .098
Choi .118
Bradley .128
Ledee .146
Saenz .167
Grabowski .172
Kent .182

Drew's rate was outstanding, but it couldn't catch Werth, who was best among players with 50 or more double play opportunities. Every likely Dodger starter, if Shawn Green is indeed on his way out the door, is either average or better except Jeff Kent.

2004 Dodgers-no-more:
Hernandez .085
Cora .092
Roberts .100
Finley .118
Encarnacion .124
Green .164
Beltre .165
Mayne .200
Lo Duca .200

Green-Beltre-Lo Duca, which I suppose we could call the team's offensive nucleus from 2003-2004, was a relative double play machine.

Of course, avoiding double plays isn't a skill per se; it's dependent on a lot of other factors. A player's speed factors into how many double plays they hit into, obviously, but the rate at which the player makes contact as well as the type of contact the player makes is an even greater factor. The type of players who ground into the fewest double plays tend to be in that ever-heroic category, Three True Outcomes (if you're unfamiliar with the concept, check here, here, or here; take a moment to connect the mental dots if you don't get how TTO reduces double play rates). Thus, the accumulation of Three True Outcomes Disciples and the expulsion of contactophiles Beltre and Lo Duca, a trend that the coming of DePodesta should have foretold, should yield a decrease in twin-killings.

Jeff Kent is clearly the one Dodger who, in some sense, does not belong, as he's only an acolyte of one true outcome (home runs) and routinely leaves the runner on first out to dry. If it weren't for his undervalued defense and apparent distaste for Barry Bonds, he wouldn't fit in with this bunch at all.

Hi Tom. Odd use of the word acolyte to describe Jeff Kent. You wrote:

"Jeff Kent is clearly the one Dodger who, in some sense, does not belong, as he's only an acolyte of one true outcome (home runs)"

I thought acolyte meant "follower" and the dictionary backs me up. How can he be a follower of an outcome he produces? I suppose he could be an acolyte of the belief that there is nothing mightier than the homer ... is that what you meant?

As for his DP prowess, I thought he was just slow.

Anyway I love the blog but am curious about the use of this word. How does it makes sense?
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