FanPost

What's the run value of good first base defense?

Just the other day, MrNegative1 had this to say:

The Rays pride themselves on defense and run prevention. Matt Joyce may be able to handle the balls hit to him at first base but the nuances of the position will not be met. The ability to start a 3-6-3 double play, the 3-6 force out, knowing when to give up on a ball to his right and get back to cover first base, giving the infielders the confidence to just throw the ball without hesitation, the ability for pitchers to really fire the ball over to first on pick off plays, how to handle all bunt plays, and knowing when to cut the ball and when not to.

Generally, you can predict how good a player will be at a given defensive position by seeing how he did in one position, and then either adding or subtracting runs, based on the spectrum of defensive difficulty. These are based on some WOWY calculations by Tango, which are really cool. Basically, every player who moved between positions is graded, to see how he does at each of them. There is however, an obvious bias at work here. Players are usually only put into positions where there manager thinks they can succeed. I don't mean to put words in his mouth, but I assume MrNegative1 would contend that because of the selection bias, the first base specific skills he lists are out of the scope of WOWY calculations.

My question, then, is how many runs are they worth a season? Give your answers for each skill as the difference between the best first baseman (say, Albert Pujols) and a complete novice (say, Albert Pujols before he moved to first base).

  1. The ability to start a 3-6-3 double play
  2. The 3-6 force out
  3. Knowing when to give up on a ball to his right and get back to cover first base
  4. Giving the infielders the confidence to just throw the ball without hesitation
  5. How to handle all bunt plays
  6. Knowing when to cut the ball and when not to

This post was written by a member of the DRaysBay community and does not necessarily express the views or opinions of DRaysBay staff.

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