The Actual First Basemen in this Study

July 29, 2020
                                     The Actual First Basemen in this Study

OK, let’s run through the data now for the first basemen in this study.  The first thing we do is to find the team’s Runs Saved by turning Double Plays, and credit 10% of that to the team’s first basemen.   These are all the first basemen in our test group who played 500 innings at first:

Year

Player

Team DP

T-1B-1

1960

Dick Stuart

84.91

8.491

1964

Ed Kranepool

72.85

7.285

1968

Norm Cash

83.87

8.387

1976

Tony Perez

88.4

8.84

1980

Bruce Bochte

79.84

7.984

1984

Dave Bergman

90.17

9.017

1988

Eddie Murray

79.14

7.914

1992

John Olerud

63.88

6.388

1996

Tony Clark

53.77

5.377

1996

Cecil Fielder

53.77

5.377

2000

Tino Martinez

73.76

7.376

2004

Shea Hillenbrand

68.86

6.886

2008

Ryan Howard

76.22

7.622

2012

Carlos Lee

62.32

6.232

2016

Anthony Rizzo

74.11

7.411

 

            The 1996 Tigers had two first basemen who played 500 innings each, while the 1972 Rangers had none. 

            The only Gold Glove first baseman in this study was Anthony Rizzo, 2016, although Eddie Murray and John (I Don’t Mean to be) Olerud also won Gold Gloves, but not in the year they are included in the study.   On the other side, we happened to pick up the most notorious bad-fielding first baseman of the last sixty years, Dick Stuart, and two other notoriously bad first basemen, Cecil Fielder and Carlos Lee.  Just focusing on Rizzo and Stuart, Stuart as you can see is drawing from a field of 8.5 Runs, and Rizzo from a field of only 7.4, so Stuart starts out with a small advantage.  

            We put this number aside, and move on.   The next four things we look at are (1) the team’s Runs Saved by Range, (2) the First Basemen on that’s team’s Enhanced Range Number,  (3) the Team Range Outs, which is the sum of the Range Numbers for all fielding positions except catcher, and (4) the first basemen’s share of the team’s Runs Saved by Range.    The First Basemen’s Share of the Runs Saved by Range is the first basemen’s Enhanced Range number, divided by the Team Range Outs; I’ve said that several times, but it’s a confusing God Damned system, and I’m trying to be sure everybody can keep up if they want to. 

Year

Player

T-Range

1BEn R

Team Outs

Share

1960

Dick Stuart

133.95

221

2917.9

10.15

1964

Ed Kranepool

133.06

324

3083.9

13.98

1968

Norm Cash

182.83

405

2878.3

25.73

1976

Tony Perez

144.74

336

3091.8

15.73

1980

Bruce Bochte

133.67

337

3298.3

13.66

1984

Dave Bergman

154.81

355

3089.4

17.79

1988

Eddie Murray

128.19

355

3171

14.35

1992

John Olerud

140.93

423

3021.3

19.73

1996

Tony Clark

80.70

330

3118.4

8.54

1996

Cecil Fielder

80.70

330

3118.4

8.54

2000

Tino Martinez

114.36

340

2915

13.34

2004

Shea Hillenbrand

102.20

358

2890.3

12.66

2008

Ryan Howard

111.63

369

2921.1

14.10

2012

Carlos Lee

85.98

344

2892.5

10.23

2016

Anthony Rizzo

147.54

414

2760.6

22.13

 

Here, you can see, Rizzo’s team, the 2016 Cubs, has more than twice as many runs to be attributed to the first basemen based on their range as Stuart’s team does.  

Next we look at the raw fielding numbers for all of the first basemen in the study, and sum up each player’s raw fielding numbers into one number, an individual claim number, and contrast that with the total for all of the team’s first basemen:

 

 

Player

G

GS

CG

CG

Innings

PO

Ast

Err

DP

Formula 56

Team T

Dick Stuart

1B

108

105

76

913.0

920

77

14

90

1066

1653

Ed Kranepool

1B

104

103

100

909.3

975

80

10

78

1143

1818

Norm Cash

1B

117

105

97

965.7

924

88

8

66

1110

1651

Tony Perez

1B

136

130

120

1174.0

1158

73

5

110

1379

1738

Bruce Bochte

1B

133

128

117

1134.0

1273

98

6

143

1570

1953

Dave Bergman

1B

114

68

56

679.0

657

75

8

63

814

1759

Eddie Murray

1B

103

103

102

888.0

867

106

11

101

1103

1768

John Olerud

1B

133

125

112

1096.3

1057

81

7

72

1242

1656

Tony Clark

1B

86

86

83

760.0

766

54

6

82

914

1693

Cecil Fielder

1B

71

71

62

609.7

589

59

7

51

709

1693

Tino Martinez

1B

154

149

133

1290.7

1154

88

7

110

1391

1530

Shea Hillenbrand

1B

131

129

113

1113.3

1127

72

13

105

1285

1674

Ryan Howard

1B

159

156

156

1402.7

1408

101

19

128

1605

1668

Carlos Lee

1B

65

65

56

555.0

576

44

3

46

689

1672

Anthony Rizzo

1B

154

151

140

1337.0

1268

125

6

98

1574

1692

 

"The Formula" referred to here is PO + 2* Ast + DP – 7*Err, Formula 56.   For Dick Stuart, 1960, this totals up to 1,066, and his team’s first basemen total up to 1,653.   For Anthony Rizzo, this totals up to 1,574, and his team totals up to 1,692. 

Then we take the right-hand columns from all three of these charts, the 10% of Double Plays column from the first chart, the "Share" from the second chart, and the "Formula" and "Team Total" from the third chart.  The Individual First Baseman’s Runs Saved on the combination of these two elements is the first two numbers added together, multiplied by the third number, and divided by the fourth:

 

Year

Player

T-1B-1

Share

Formula

Team T

1B-1

1960

Dick Stuart

8.491

10.15

1066

1653

12.02

1964

Ed Kranepool

7.285

13.98

1143

1818

13.37

1968

Norm Cash

8.387

25.73

1110

1651

22.93

1976

Tony Perez

8.84

15.73

1379

1738

19.49

1980

Bruce Bochte

7.984

13.66

1570

1953

17.40

1984

Dave Bergman

9.017

17.79

814

1759

12.40

1988

Eddie Murray

7.914

14.35

1103

1768

13.89

1992

John Olerud

6.388

19.73

1242

1656

19.59

1996

Tony Clark

5.377

8.54

914

1693

7.51

1996

Cecil Fielder

5.377

8.54

709

1693

5.83

2000

Tino Martinez

7.376

13.34

1391

1530

18.83

2004

Shea Hillenbrand

6.886

12.66

1285

1674

15.00

2008

Ryan Howard

7.622

14.10

1605

1668

20.90

2012

Carlos Lee

6.232

10.23

689

1672

6.78

2016

Anthony Rizzo

7.411

22.13

1574

1692

27.48

 

As you can see, at this point Anthony Rizzo is credited with saving 27 Runs, four more than any other first baseman in the study.   Stuart is at 12.

There is one more value to be added to that total, which is First Base Runs Saved by Error.    Here’s the data related to that:

Player

PO

Ast

Err

SO

1B-BL

Poss Errors

Plays

Err Av

Team ERR Av

Team RS

1B-2

Dick Stuart

920

77

14

.986

.990

0.03

1011

16.33

307.70

89.06

4.73

Ed Kranepool

975

80

10

.991

.990

0.03

1065

21.95

329.71

83.77

5.58

Norm Cash

924

88

8

.992

.989

0.033

1020

25.66

295.42

97.50

8.47

Tony Perez

1158

73

5

.996

.991

0.027

1236

28.37

321.83

98.58

8.69

Bruce Bochte

1273

98

6

.996

.992

0.024

1377

27.05

274.24

90.17

8.89

Dave Bergman

657

75

8

.989

.991

0.027

740

11.98

263.67

91.11

4.14

Eddie Murray

867

106

11

.989

.992

0.024

984

12.62

243.42

91.53

4.74

John Olerud

1057

81

7

.994

.993

0.021

1145

17.05

243.94

97.34

6.80

Tony Clark

766

54

6

.993

.992

0.024

826

13.82

216.28

87.69

5.60

Cecil Fielder

589

59

7

.989

.992

0.024

655

8.72

216.28

87.69

3.54

Tino Martinez

1154

88

7

.994

.993

0.021

1249

19.23

220.45

89.81

7.83

Shea Hillenbrand

1127

72

13

.989

.993

0.021

1212

12.45

177.53

86.91

6.10

Ryan Howard

1408

101

19

.988

.992

0.024

1528

17.67

216.39

100.94

8.24

Carlos Lee

576

44

3

.995

.992

0.024

623

11.95

205.85

92.32

5.36

Anthony Rizzo

1268

125

6

.996

.994

0.018

1399

19.18

244.75

97.26

7.62

 

What that means is, Dick Stuart in 1960 had 920 putouts, 77 assists, and 14 errors, which is a .986 fielding percentage.   The league average was .990.  Since the league fielding percentage at the position was .990, the baseline error percentage was .030.  A player fielding .970 would have been making errors three times as often as the average fielder.   Stuart had 1,011 defensive plays.  Had he made errors or .030 of them, he would have made 30.33 errors.  In fact, he made only 14 errors, which means that he was 16.33 errors away from being a complete error machine.  

The team total for all fielders was 307.7.  The 1960 Pirates are credited with saving 89.06 runs by error avoidance.   Stuart’s share of that is 16.33, divided by 307.7, times 89.06, or 4.73.  So Stuart is credited with 4.73 Runs Saved by Error Avoidance, and Anthony Rizzo is credited with 7.62 Runs Saved by Error Avoidance. 

We add this to the numbers we had earlier—27.48 runs for Rizzo, 12.02 for Stuart.   That makes this chart of the Runs Saved for all first basemen in this group with 500 or more defensive innings:

Year

Player

1B Tot

2016

Anthony Rizzo

35.10

1968

Norm Cash

31.40

2008

Ryan Howard

29.15

1976

Tony Perez

28.19

2000

Tino Martinez

26.67

1992

John Olerud

26.39

1980

Bruce Bochte

26.29

2004

Shea Hillenbrand

21.10

1964

Ed Kranepool

18.95

1988

Eddie Murray

18.63

1960

Dick Stuart

16.74

1984

Dave Bergman

16.54

1996

Tony Clark

13.12

2012

Carlos Lee

12.14

1996

Cecil Fielder

9.36

 

Rizzo is credited with saving four more runs than any other first baseman in the group.   Per inning, he actually ranks second in the group, behind Norm Cash, but per inning, Dick Stuart drops to 13th among the 15 players.  This is actually per 1,000 innings:

Year

Player

Inn

1B Tot

Per Inning

1968

Norm Cash

966

31.40

32.52

2016

Anthony Rizzo

1337

35.10

26.25

1984

Dave Bergman

679

16.54

24.37

1992

John Olerud

1096

26.39

24.07

1976

Tony Perez

1174

28.19

24.01

1980

Bruce Bochte

1134

26.29

23.18

2012

Carlos Lee

555

12.14

21.88

1988

Eddie Murray

888

18.63

20.98

1964

Ed Kranepool

909

18.95

20.84

2008

Ryan Howard

1403

29.15

20.78

2000

Tino Martinez

1291

26.67

20.66

2004

Shea Hillenbrand

1113

21.10

18.95

1960

Dick Stuart

913

16.74

18.34

1996

Tony Clark

760

13.12

17.26

1996

Cecil Fielder

610

9.36

15.36

 

Ryan Howard, 3rd on the list of Runs Saved, drops to 10th on the list in Runs Saved per inning.  He wasn’t really a good defensive first baseman, either. 

For what it is worth, Rizzo’s performance is actually more impressive than it looks, because it’s not an entirely level playing field.  Strikeouts prevent Runs Scored.  As strikeouts increase, Runs Saved by fielders decrease, because they are drawing from a smaller pool of chances.   Since the 2016 Cubs had far more strikeouts than any other team in the study, Rizzo is fishing Runs Saved from a significantly smaller pool than the other players listed. 

I should also note:  Tony Clark is being maltreated in this process because he had to share a position with Cecil Fielder.  Fielder was a terrible Fiedler, and the nature of first base statistics is that for most of them we have to add all of the numbers at the position together, treat all of the first basemen at the position the same.   Clark was actually better than he shows in these numbers.

 

These are the Runs Saved for the First Basemen of 1961; all players with 500 or more innings at first:

First

Last

Inn

1B Tot

Norm

Cash

1390.0

37

Jim

Gentile

1225.3

35

Vic

Power

1246.0

35

Joe

Adcock

1315.0

35

Gordy

Coleman

1244.0

30

Bill

White

1306.7

29

Bill

Skowron

1291.0

29

Harmon

Killebrew

997.3

25

Roy

Sievers

1097.3

24

Pancho

Herrera

964.7

21

Dick

Stuart

1139.7

20

Orlando

Cepeda

664.7

19

Pete

Runnels

735.0

18

Norm

Siebern

929.3

18

Dale

Long

817.0

17

Willie

McCovey

710.3

17

Vic

Wertz

656.3

16

Ed

Bouchee

829.0

15

Norm

Larker

633.0

14

Steve

Bilko

653.3

12

Gil

Hodges

527.0

11

 

 

 

 

 

The Gold Glove Winners, Vic Power in the American League and Bill White in the National, were both third in their leagues in Runs Saved.   And these are the +/- Leaderboards for the two leagues:

First

Last

+/-

Joe

Adcock

+5

Orlando

Cepeda

+4

Gordy

Coleman

+3

Andre

Rodgers

-1

Ed

Bouchee

-3

Dick

Stuart

-5

 

An interesting note about the National League is that the league average worked out to EXACTLY .022222222, meaning that it worked out to exactly two runs every 90 innings.  First of all, it is amazing that, with dozens of different inputs contributing to the ratio, it would work out to be the exact ratio of two simple numbers (2/90.)  That never happens. But also, that’s PERFECT for baseball, because that’s exactly 2 runs for every 10 games, or one run saved every five games.   The AL ratio is slightly higher at first base, significantly lower at catcher.  This is the AL Leaderboard:

First

Last

+/-

Jim

Gentile

+6

Vic

Power

+6

Norm

Cash

+5

Dale

Long

-2

Steve

Bilko

-3

Norm

Siebern

-4

 

            So Vic Power, the most famous good defensive first baseman of that era, shows here as the second-best first baseman in the majors on a +/- basis, and Dick Stuart shows as the worst.   Otherwise, I’ll leave you to evaluate this any way that you choose to.  It ain’t perfect.

            The per-inning Runs Saved of Catchers in this study works out to be almost exactly twice the per-inning Runs Saved of the first basemen.   I didn’t plan it that way or intend it; it just worked out that way.  Catchers are credited with saving just a little bit more than 2 runs for every 5 games. 

 

 

 
 

COMMENTS (3 Comments, most recent shown first)

CharlesSaeger
For posterity on this so I have the query somewhere, these are the same plays as below, with the Is Assist flag on:

All outs to first base, 2017-2019, assist: 7663
All outs to third base, 2017-2019, assist: 26182
All ground outs to first base, 2017-2019, assist: 7643
All ground outs to third base, 2017-2019, assist: 26152

This means there are 17741 FiBupe (the play that's hard to get), of which 9803 are ground balls, which is a bit over half.
1:32 PM Aug 1st
 
CharlesSaeger
3/p: popups, 3/fl: foul popup. I forgot 3/l, line drive, but that's in the FiBupe or 3U or 1b IPO (Indepenent Put Out) as well. Regardless, you're leaving out those plays for the other infielders since you're not including their putouts. And I agree on not including their putouts; popups are not skill plays.

Anyways, I'm not saying this "has to be true." I'm saying it IS true: third basemen make more outs than first basemen. I merely explained why.

Let me run Statcast queries to illustrate:

All outs to first base, 2017-2019: 25404
All outs to third base, 2017-2019: 34338
All ground outs to first base, 2017-2019: 17446
All ground outs to third base, 2017-2019: 26953

They both make similar numbers of air outs: 7958 for first basemen, 7385 for third basemen. That's a gap of 6 per year for each team, which is nothing, and it's because fly balls and popups tend to go the opposite way, so the extra right-handed batters add to the outs made by the first basemen.

Sticking to groundouts, third basemen make about 54% more of them than do first basemen. If I switch to all plays, first basemen get to 18957 ground balls, outs and hits and errors, while third basemen get to 31867, or 68% more. It's not quite as strong in favor of the third basemen as the 68% indicates since first basemen are involved in triple prevention, at least against lefty batters, and few triples go past third basemen, but including the ground balls that go to the right and left fielders that just brings it back to the 50% increase from before (52%, actually: 42009 vs. 27665).

Anyways, what your formulas are doing is using ALL outs, ground or air, to first base, while only using ground outs to the other positions. This creates an illusion that outs started by first basemen are as plentiful as outs started by third basemen, since all outs started by first basemen are about the same as ground outs only started by third basemen.
9:30 PM Jul 29th
 
bjames

1) Late publishing this today because I took the day off yesterday. My wife wanted to take a little one-day outing out of town, so we did.

2) The comment from yesterday that the double plays total up to 120% in the chart is accurate and helpful. I failed to make an adjustment in creating that chart.

3) Responding to this post, from yesterday:


It's clear from the data that first basemen do not start as many plays as third basemen since there are more right-handed batters than left, and don't get to many ground balls with a runner on first since the second baseman is in better position. Essentially, you're counting the 3/p and 3/fl plays in your first baseman numbers, while you (correctly) get rid of those for the other infield positions.


Well, first of all, I have no idea what you mean by 3/p and 3/fl plays, since that is a notation that I don't use and doesn't make any intuitive sense. On the larger point, I am not convinced. I haven't seen any "data" that shows this, at all, and it seems to me that you are confusing a "data" claim with a "this has to be true" claim. As to the "this has to be true" argument, No, it doesn't. There are more right-handed batters than left-handed batters, but there are also more right-handed pitchers than left-handed pitchers. Right-handed pitchers get more balls hit to first than they do to third. Getting past THAT problem, there are a significant number of balls hit toward third base which do not result in a defensive play which, if the same ball was hit toward first, clearly WOULD result in a defensive play. Balls hit to third base frequently become throwing errors, when the same ball hit to first would be an easy play. Balls hit toward third base not infrequently become infield hits, when the same ball hit toward first would be a pick-it-up-and-stab-the-bag-with-your-foot play.
1:15 PM Jul 29th
 
 
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