Tuesday, March 20, 2007

The OutWatch Begins... April 2

A baseball team's most valuable commodity in a game are its 27 outs. The more outs you have left, the more chance you have to score runs -- and the better chance of winning the game.

That means that the most important skill a ballplayer can have is Not Making Out. No matter what one does -- hit singles, hit for power, get hit by the pitch, reach on error, mentally force the ball to be trapped in the catcher's equipment -- if you're not making out, you are helping your team greatly, and if you are making out, you're not helping your team. You can make up for it somewhat by hitting for extra bases -- but Not Making Out is most important.

So what? So this: this off-season, the Los Angeles Dodgers signed center fielder Juan Pierre to an astounding contract for way too much money, despite the fact that Juan is exceptionally good at only one thing: making out.

Not true! say the Pierre fans. He sprays singles! He had 204 hits last year (156 of them singles) -- he led the league!

And that's true. But unfortunately, when he wasn't spraying those singles, he wasn't doing anything else. Juan Pierre also led the league in outs -- making 532 of them. In fact, Pierre has managed to record more than 500 outs in each of the last four seasons.

A player who doesn't hit for power and makes as many outs as Pierre does is not helping his team. What's worse, he represents a large percentage of the Dodgers' payroll. My ire is focused.

That's why the blog. But what is the Juan Pierre OutWatch?

I wondered... with a talent so prodigious, can Juan manage to se the single-season record for outs in a season?

This record is currently held by Omar Moreno, who, as a Pirate in 1980, managed to make out an astounding 560 times.

To reach this feat, our Juan will have to stay healthy (he'll have to play every game), spray singles well enough to stay in the lineup, and make an average of over three outs per game. Every 2-for-5 day Juan logs will mean that he's a little further from making this highly dubious achievement.

Tracking Juan's progress will be the Juan Pierre OutWatch. We will be there every step of the way, barring unforseen events, like work.

1 comment:

jimbilly4 said...

Small question: What qualifies as an official out?

Obviously hit, walk, or HBP is not an out.

How about reaching on an error?
Caught stealing?
Being part of a double play or Fielder's choice?

Looking at the official stat it is:

So it looks as if officially, the out belongs to the hitter, not the runner unless they are trying to steal. What do you do about poor baserunning,
the guy trying to go from 1st to third and getting tagged, or 2nd to home? That is not registered as caught stealing, I would assume, which means there would be more outs than outs per player. While difficult to keep track of, you might want to consider these outs as well...

So let's see. Give Pierre 750 PAs next year. Let's say he is caught stealing 24 times (his worst year), GDP 10 times (ties his high), sacrifices 18 times (15 bunts, 3 flies; ties his high), HBP 8 times (last year's #), gets 32 walks (ties his worst full 162 game year).

This gives him 692 ABs.

Outs=692 - Hits + 24 + 10 + 18.
Hits=744 - Outs
Or Hits = 184 to tie the record, or a .266/.305
AVG/OBP line.

Seems unlikely he could keep his starting job if he is that bad. What if he is caught stealing 30 times?
190 hits, .275/.313 ... That might fly, especially if he goes through a July/August slump. How about the magical 200 hits? He could walk a pathetic 22 times (combined with 30 CS) and bat .285.

Numbers to keep in mind going forward.