Sunday, October 9, 2011

Fielding percentage and its relationship to wins

There is a certain amount of debate in baseball about how important fielding is. Old school baseball people usually consider fielding to be the utmost importance, while many sabermatricians dismiss it all together (or at least dismiss stats like errors and fielding percentage). So I wanted to look at the past several years in the American League and see if there is any kind of correlation between fielding percentage and wins. In 2011 the rankings were:

1Tampa Bay 91 wins
2Chicago Sox 79 wins
3LA Angels 86 wins
4Boston  90 wins
5Kansas City 71 wins
6NY Yankees   97 wins
7Detroit 95 wins
8Toronto 81 wins
9Cleveland 80 wins
10Seattle 67 wins
11Baltimore 69 wins
12Texas 96 wins
13Minnesota 63 wins
14Oakland 74 wins


1NY Yankees 95 wins

2Minnesota 94 wins

3Tampa Bay 96 wins

4Toronto 85 wins

5Oakland 81 wins

6Chicago Sox 88 wins

7Baltimore 66 wins

8Texas 90 wins

9Detroit 81 wins

10Cleveland 69 wins

11Seattle 61 wins

12Boston 89 wins

13LA Angels 80 wins

14Kansas City 67 wins


1Toronto 75 wins

2Minnesota 87 wins

3Boston 95 wins

4LA Angels 97 wins

5NY Yankees 103 wins

6Detroit 86 wins

7Baltimore 64 wins

8Cleveland 65 wins

9Tampa Bay 84 wins

10Oakland 75 wins

11Seattle 85 wins

12Texas 87 wins

13Chicago Sox 79 wins

14Kansas City 65 wins

1Toronto 86 wins
2NY Yankees 89 wins
3Boston 95 wins
4LA Angels 100 wins
5Tampa Bay 97 wins
6Cleveland 81 wins
7Kansas City 75 wins
8Seattle 61 wins
9Oakland 75 wins
10Baltimore 68 wins
11Chicago Sox 89 wins

12Minnesota 88 wins

13Detroit 74 wins

14Texas 79 wins

1Baltimore 69 wins

2Boston 96 wins

3NY Yankees 94 wins

4Oakland 76 wins

5Seattle 88 wins

6Cleveland 97 wins

7Minnesota  79 wins

8Toronto 83 wins

9Detroit 88 wins

10LA Angels 94 wins

11Kansas City 69 wins

12Chicago Sox 72 wins

13Tampa Bay 66 wins

14Texas 75 wins


1Boston 86 wins

2Minnesota 96 wins

3Oakland 93 wins

4Seattle 78 wins

5Chicago Sox 90 wins

6Kansas City 62 wins

7Texas 80 wins

8Toronto 87 wins

9Baltimore 70 wins

10NY Yankees 97 wins

11Detroit 95 wins

12Tampa Bay 61 wins

13Cleveland 78 wins

14LA Angels 89 wins


1Seattle 69 wins

2LA Angels 95 wins

3Oakland 88 wins

4Chicago Sox 99 wins

5NY Yankees95 wins

6Toronto 85 wins

7Minnesota 83 wins

8Cleveland 93 wins

9Baltimore 74 wins

10Texas 79 wins

11Boston 95 wins

12Detroit 71 wins

13Tampa Bay 67 wins

14Kansas City 56 wins

So is there any correlation? No team that had the worst fielding percentage in the American League had 90 wins in this time (although the Angels had 89 in 06). The '06 Angels were the only team in this period who had the worst fielding percentage and a winning record. However, 3 times the team with the best fielding percentage had a losing record. The team with the worst record in the league averaged being about 11th in fielding percentage and was never better than 7th. The team with the best record in the American League averaged being about 4th in fielding percentage, with no team leading in both fielding percentage and wins. If one looks at one case study, Tampa Bay, one notices that when they were a bad team 05-07, they were near the bottom of the league in fielding percentage. When they have been been good 08, '10-11, they have been around the top in the league (being the best in 2011). When they were mediocre in 2009, they were in the bottom half. A relatively similar story can be told about the Minnesota Twins, while the Yankees and Rangers seem to be exceptions. There does seem to be a correlation between fielding percentage and wins, but there are exceptions and it is not absolute. It does seem to be a general rule, at least recently in the American League, that the better fielding percentage usually leads to better win percentage.

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