Red Sox outfield defensive metrics: Outs Above Average (OAA)

NEW YORK, NY - AUGUST 12: Outfielders Andrew Benintendi
NEW YORK, NY - AUGUST 12: Outfielders Andrew Benintendi /

The Boston Red Sox have two outfielders who rank high on the latest new defensive metric – Outs Above Average (OAA).  As a team, Boston ranks second in MLB.

When does enough become, well – enough?  In the world of baseball statistics, there is always another stat that will certainly make me head to the garage for a tailpipe cure for the next bold mathematical adventure. Just who creates these?

The latest down the rabbit hole is a creation called “Outs Above Average (OAA)” that is explained here and is relegated to those who patrol the outfield. Read it at your leisure and if you have difficulty deciphering your checkbook then just move on to something a bit less mathematically esoteric. If you contemplate solving two prime conjecture then proceed – for the statistical aficionado, it will be like butter pecan ice cream is to me – irresistible.

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Statcast apparently is the latest landing pad for the statistical junkies with the last notable stat being the Statcast Sprint Leaderboard. I am beginning to place far too many statistics into the realm of astrology – fun to read, but don’t take it seriously.  Thankfully, there is a large group of translators available that dismantle the latest and greatest down to the baseball atomic level.

Baseball WAR is a statistic that has become go-to for some.  Arguments such as Boston Red Sox outfielder Mookie Betts not being MVP in 2016 is justified by WAR or is it fWAR or bWAR? Apparently, WAR is at war among the statistical elite. But what about the latest and that is the previously mentioned OAA. Since I am retired I have an extra time available to ignore community service and venture into arcane statistics.

The premier player on OAA is not Jackie Bradley of Betts, but Byron Buxton of the Minnesota Twins.  Buxton also ranked second on the Sprint Speed so to my absolute amazement there is a correlation between speed and being able to fetch a ball outside of a zone. Good thing I figured that one out!  Time to take that MENSA examine again. What about our two local fielding heroes?

If you have been watching Bradley and Betts, they appear to be rather skillful at tracking down balls. Does this little observational tidbit fit into OAA? Of course, it does.  Betts ranks third (15) on the board and Bradley (11) is seventh. Buxton has a nice 23 to lead all. Last season Betts corralled 15 to rank fifth in major league baseball and Bradley was 13th with 11.

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The Red Sox as a team are second in OAA with 19. Now that quickly caught my attention.  Arithmetic is a basic skill I mastered back on the very lowest grades thanks to the efforts of Mrs. Bruce and her very hard ruler. So 15 + 11 = 26, but the Sox have 19? Thank you, Andrew Benintendi, who has (gulp) a minus six. Apparently, Andrew lacks a certain level of competency that his dancing partners have mastered. Chris Young does his own contribution to negative with a minus three.

I may have been snarky on this statistic, but that is my nature with all new things.  I remain skeptical until the weight of evidence has me hopelessly confused or my negative argument is simply some utterance under my breath.

Looking at the board on OAA it is quite supportive of what we already have surmised about the ability of certain fielders to adroitly capture a ball outside of the normal expectations. I knew from my usual keen observation of games between the Blue Jays and Red Sox that Jose Bautista (-6) is not one to do leaps and bounds to fetch a ball. Leave that to Superman Kevin Pillar, but Pillar (-1) is one of those surprises on the list. As is former Gold Glove winner Andrew McCutchen (-1).  Maybe a tad of refinement is needed?

Next: Sam Travis, Blake Swihart to play winter ball

Let this be a warning that eventually you will see OAA seep into the discussion on outfield fielding metrics and probably be somehow integrated with UZR.