The Nationals & Defensive Efficiency Rating

The Washington Nationals currently have the best record in baseball. They also currently have the best defensive efficiency rating in baseball, meaning that they’re turning the highest percentage of all balls-in-play into outs. The Cincinnati Reds have the second best record in baseball. But they have the 17th best defensive efficiency rating. What does this mean? I probably won’t be able to tell you, but I’m going to give you some other facts which will further confuse, so enjoy!

So, here are the top five teams in defensive efficiency rating this year, along with their win percentage, and their rank among the 30 teams in both categories:

TEAM 2012 DER Rank 2012 W% 2012 W% Rank
WAS 0.724 1 0.617 1
LAA 0.723 2 0.522 15
PIT 0.723 3 0.561 6
SDN 0.723 4 0.440 25
SEA 0.722 5 0.457 22

Kind of all over the map there. Past Washington, the Angels have the second best DER, (Well really, they’re tied with the Pirates and Padres, but whatever), but they only have the 15th best win percentage. The Pirates are 3rd in DER and 6th in win percentage, so that’s a pretty close match. Then you have the Padres and Mariners, who are both in the bottom 10 teams in the league in winning percentage.

Here are the bottom 5 teams in defensive efficiency rating:

HOU 0.694 26 0.328 30
KCA 0.690 27 0.430 26
DET 0.688 28 0.530 14
MIL 0.686 29 0.460 21
COL 0.672 30 0.366 29

These bottom 5 teams are a bit more closely correlated with their winning percentage, outside of the Tigers, and that was expected. They basically took an all-offense approach to the season, and it looks like it might not pay off.

Now let’s look at the biggest increases and decreases from 2011. These are the 5 top improved defensive teams in 2012:

TEAM 2012 DER Var 2012 Rank Increase
PIT +0.023 +22
CHA +0.020 +20
CHN +0.015 +15
BAL +0.013 +13
WAS +0.011 +11

Four of the five most improved teams are currently in line to make the playoffs, and then you’ve got the Cubs, and who knows what happened there. They were ranked 26th in 2011, and this year they’re ranked 11th, so they’re in the middle of the pack. The White Sox and Orioles have both surprised in the standings this year, and both had big jumps in their defensive efficiency rating from last year.

Now here are the five biggest drops in defensive efficiency from last season:

TEAM 2012 DER Var 2012 Rank Decrease
PHI -0.015 -13
TBA -0.016 -7
DET -0.020 -10
MIL -0.026 -16
COL -0.030 -8

Outside of the Rays, all of these drops aren’t a huge surprise, as all of the teams’ winning percentages have taken a hit as well. And even with a drop of 7 positions, the Rays are still ranked 8th overall. I suppose, now that we’re getting into it, Milwaukee’s drop is somewhat surprising. You’d think that getting rid of Casey McGehee and Yuniesky Betancourt on the left side of the infield and replacing them with any live bodies at all would be enough to cancel out any other negative factors, but apparently not.

Sometimes having a really good defensive efficiency rating will transfer over to the standings. Other times, when your offense is good enough, you don’t need a great defense to still be successful. And other times, if your offense is too awful, it can’t make up for your team’s great defense. That’s probably not anything new, but I thought I’d throw it out there anyway. So hopefully we’ve all learned something here. I’m not sure what, but hopefully something.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s