At least I don't have any of the Angels' defense on my squad so I can hope those 10 unearned runs are hurting my competitors, too.
Did discussions with BIS ever materialize anything?
Now that the rant is done, maybe I have some possibly constructive thoughts. 1) If we were to do this, I assume pitchers who benefitted from great defense would perform worse, right? But what if the team asks you to pitch into a good defense? Should you suffer for having the skill to do so? 2) If TRS is compiled from play-by-play data, I'd think BIS would be able to produce a feed for pitchers that provide team TRS while the pitcher was on the mound to net against runs scored. I suppose there's a sub-debate on whether a pitcher's own TRS then applies.
If anybody knows, I'd love to hear how TRS accounts for fielding when there's a shift on. I assume it's based on where the player was positioned vs the ball was hit.
Robinson - Jobu's Lumber and Gas Mendoza - Slicing Fair
Unless BIS has easily accessible play-by-play data, this to me fall under the same category as the (frankly, larger) effect of parks on hitter and pitcher stats: you can take it into account when bidding on a player. It's pretty clear folks do this with the Rockies; don't see why it can't be true for teams expected to have good/bad defenses. It's not perfect, that's true, and as-is there's arguably a significant "double-counting" opportunity associated with owning a pitcher and a good defender he benefits from (classic example was MadBum and Posey when Posey's framing was elite), but the solution is complicated and further abstracts the game away from what you see on the field.
I also have to say the unearned runs complaint makes little sense to me. (1) scoring would be incorrect without unearned runs as you'd have less defensive than offensive runs overall, inflating team winning %, (2) official scorer judgement is a significant component (I'd argue the dominant one) of whether a run is earned/unearned, not fielder defense. For example, homers are the pitcher's fault, yes? Well, if they happen with 2 outs after an error, the scorer has discretion to count even the run scored by the guy who hit the homer as unearned. To me, at least, the specific example of Richards is pretty rough too. I dunno how he allowed the "unearned" runs, but the Angels have the league's 10th best defense by TRS and 4th by UZR, so overall you'd expect Richards to allow less runs on account of his fielders in the long run. If Andrelton Simmons makes an amazing play behind Richards, that doesn't show up in his RA/ERA count at all. If Cozart gets to a ball Sano would never have reached and then it glances off his glove so he gets an error, should Richards be "rewarded" for that (he wouldn't by TRS, but would be by RA vs. ERA)? Is there variance in this based on the specific pitcher and plays? Sure, and Charlie Blackmon also has a .967 OPS on the road and .688 OPS at Coors this year. Variance is part of baseball.
I don't know how BIS accounts for shifts, and haven't seen a good article on the differences in the fielding scoring between TRS (or DRS, as it's sometimes labeled), UZR, and FRAA, so if anyone has one or knows more I'd also be curious. I've also long been curious if/how they score what I'll call "mental errors," such as throwing the the wrong base and allowing runner advancement, throwing the ball away in a rundown, etc. It's not hard to calculate the run expectancy of the extra base(s) gained, but I dunno how they assign probability to the likelihood of those types of mistakes in the way you can to, say, catching a fly ball hit at a certain speed to an area of the field based on your starting position.
Not to taking away from your analysis, but the point of my hopefully constructive thoughts was to find a way to do this WITHOUT relying on the official scorers. To me, pitchers definitely get credit for amazing defensive played definitely show up in RA/ERA . . . the reduce the probability of runs scoring. Pitcher loads the bases with one outs. Simmons makes a great stop and flip up the middle to kick off an improbable double play. Zero R/ER.
BIS definitely has play-by-play data, they have pitch-by-pitch. I think that several of our stats (TRS, IP played by position) incorporate it already. It's more a question of what they would charge to prepare it.
Adjusting for parks with available metrics seems contrary to the spirit of our scoring for the same reason we don't use xFIP or similar . . . they are based on large scale generalizations and not necessarily representative of indivdual outcomes.
We are OK enough with TRS as a fair per player, per play adjustment. Seems if there's a way to apply it RA it fits in the spirit of scoring. I can't think of a way to do so for park and other factors. Fine grained adjustments seem much more complicated there. i.e., home run barely clears the RF wall at the pole in Fenway with two on.
Robinson - Jobu's Lumber and Gas Mendoza - Slicing Fair
Oh okay! I think I didn't quite read the request right first! The idea here seems to be we could/would penalize or reward pitchers for fielding that actually occurs when they're on the mound. So you'd eliminate (for example) the ability to get both Posey's framing TRS and Bumgarner's resulting RA/9, since Bumgarner would get readjusted to a RA/9 he would have allowed in the absence of above-average framing TRS. Presumably, given play-by-play data granularity, you could attribute TRS to a specific pitcher's bottom line RA, and then net against it.
This seems possible to me! I'd at least be curious. I think the one difficulty, even given play-by-play, is BIS seems to adjust how much TRS a play was worth over time as the league average adjusts. So, it's not like "oh this Simmons play was worth 0.57 TRS," the amount of TRS it was worth adjusts a bit over time based on how the average shortstop performs. But otherwise, I'm pro-this!
So, if you are going to reward/penalize pitchers for fielding that actually occurs when they are on the mound, wouldn't you then have to reward/penalize hitters for fielding that actually occurs when they are at the plate?
I don't think you have to. The way I kinda think about this is what's most important, defense-wise.
To first order, a player's defense affects that player's value. It's important to include.
To second order, a pitcher like Jon Lester or Kyle Hendricks benefits from the Cubs' elite defense in a way that could arguably be corrected for in their Mendoza stats. I don't feel strongly about this, but it may work out to a half-dozen runs a season for some pitchers.
To third order, I guess you could argue a player doesn't face a random assortment of defenses or defensive plays, but, frankly, seems like this would balance out to zero over any sizable sample (certainly would across a team of players over a season) over time. Therefore, including defense's effect on a hitter's stats seems like extra abstraction that wouldn't affect scoring. Like, Andrelton Simmons will face a pretty random assortment of defenses when he hits, but he's not a random defensive player himself.
We don't *have* to do any of these things, since individually they all balance to 0 across the league and don't upset the scoring balance (which doing ERA vs. RA would). My position is just that there's a descending order of importance in how they affect a given player's value, which also affects how important they are to include.