Dewan: Curtis Granderson’s defense-independent batting statistics

From SABR member John Dewan at ACTA Sports on July 24, 2015:

Curtis Granderson produced some exceptional seasons with the Tigers and Yankees, but a broken forearm and finger limited him to 61 games in 2013, his last with the Yankees. He was already 33 years old in 2014, the first year of his new four-year, $60 million contract with the Mets. With his power numbers down that ensuing season, one might wonder whether Granderson had entered the decline phase of his career. However, Granderson’s batted ball profile told a different story.

Baseball Info Solutions charts the location of and times every batted ball, and with that information, we can evaluate hitters based on their quality of contact rather than the actual results. For example, if a hitter hits a hard liner to shallow left field that just happens to be caught, its result is an out that seems no different than a lazy pop out. However, we can compare that line drive to balls with similar trajectories historically to discover how often those types of balls become outs and then award credit based on those ratios. In that example, the hitter might earn 0.8 hits because this type of batted ball tends to become hits (even though it did not in that specific instance).

The aggregation of those expected values, which we call Defense-Independent Batting Statistics (DIBS), have proven to be more effective than actual results at predicting future results.

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Originally published: July 24, 2015. Last Updated: July 24, 2015.