Baseball Player Won-Loss Records
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Fielding

Fielding, including pitcher fielding, accounted for 18.7% of all Player decisions across all seasons for which I calculate Player won-lost records. An increase in the numbers of strikeouts and home runs in recent seasons has made fielding slightly less important; since 2000, fielding has accounted for only 17.6% of all Player decisions.

Fielding decisions are accumulated in seven Components:

Component 1: Stolen Bases

Component 2: Wild Pitches and Passed Balls

Component 5: Hits vs. Outs

Component 6: Singles v. Doubles v. Triples

Component 7: Double Plays

Component 8: Baserunner Outs

Component 9: Baserunner Advancement

The table below shows how fielding decisions break down by Component and by Position over the full Retrosheet Era.

Breakdown of Fielding Decisions by Component by Position

Position Component 1 Component 2 Component 5 Component 6 Component 7 Component 8 Component 9 Total All Position (excl. P, C)
Pitcher 3.5%0.1%0.1%0.1%1.1%4.9%
Catcher 2.9%0.9%0.7%0.0%0.1%0.1%0.2%4.8%
First Base 4.3%0.0%0.3%0.3%0.9%5.8%6.5%
Second Base 9.7%0.0%2.3%0.4%1.2%13.6%15.1%
Third Base 9.6%0.1%0.1%0.2%1.3%11.3%12.6%
Shortstop 11.3%0.0%2.1%0.3%1.5%15.2%16.9%
Left Field 7.8%2.8%1.6%3.2%15.3%17.0%
Center Field 7.7%1.6%1.4%3.4%14.1%15.6%
Right Field 7.7%2.2%1.7%3.3%14.8%16.4%
Total by Component 2.9%0.9%62.3%6.8%4.9%6.1%16.0%


The numbers in the bottom row show the percentage of total fielding decisions accumulated by Component. The numbers in the two right-most columns show the distribution of total fielding decisions accumulated by position (the latter column excluding Pitchers and Catchers).

Component 5, which measures whether a ball is a hit or an out, given where and how it is hit, accounts for just over 60% of all Fielding decisions. Most defensive metrics based on play-by-play data e.g., UZR, PMR, +/-, TotalZone match up with this measure, that is, they only look at whether balls-in-play become hits or outs. Of course, by my estimate, this means that such measures miss nearly 40% of all defensive value.

The allocation of fielding decisions across the defensive positions is discussed a bit more by me in my discussion of the general allocation by component of Player decisions. Relative fielding across positions is also explored in a separate article. Finally, the relative fielding of center fielders vs. corner outfielders also gets its own article.

For most of the Components for which Fielding Player decisions are awarded, fielders share these decisions with their pitchers. The exact extent to which fielders and pitchers share these decisions varies by fielding position, by component, and by season. The average percentage of defensive Player decisions assigned to fielders by position and component over the Retrosheet Era are shown in the next table.

Percentage of Total Defensive Decisions assigned to Fielders

Position Component 1 Component 2 Component 5 Component 6 Component 7 Component 8 Component 9
Catcher 49.2%26.7%100.0%0.0%9.9% 100.0% 100.0%
First Base 60.5%11.7%33.4% 100.0% 100.0%
Second Base 68.0%44.0%93.1% 100.0% 100.0%
Third Base 71.1%46.4%62.7% 100.0% 100.0%
Shortstop 75.1%25.8%91.2% 100.0% 100.0%
Left Field 62.1%87.2% 100.0% 100.0%
Center Field 68.3%73.6% 100.0% 100.0%
Right Field 63.6%68.5% 100.0% 100.0%


Combining the results from the above two tables, fielders' overall share of responsibility on Components 1-2 and 5-9 is as follows.

Pitcher 100%*
Catcher 44.2%
First Base 62.5%
Second Base 74.0%
Third Base 73.5%
Shortstop 79.1%
Left Field 74.8%
Center Field 77.3%
Right Field 73.3%
*Obviously, pitchers as pitchers can't really "share" decisions with pitchers as fielders. Defensive player decisions associated with plays in which the pitcher is the fielder of record are all counted as "fielding" decisions. This distinction is purely semantic.

All articles are written so that they pull data directly from the most recent version of the Player won-lost database. Hence, any numbers cited within these articles should automatically incorporate the most recent update to Player won-lost records. In some cases, however, the accompanying text may have been written based on previous versions of Player won-lost records. I apologize if this results in non-sensical text in any cases.

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