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Miami Marlins' Martin Prado and the Percentage Player Index

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Building off of fantastic research by Beyond the Box Score's Scott Lindholm, I attempt to demonstrate that Martin Prado's value can be found in a revamped metric that attempts to gauge "Baseball Savvy".

Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

My goal in writing for Fish Stripes is to introduce new and novel ways to analyze performance. I plan on utilizing new and interesting forays into the field and applying them specifically to the Miami Marlins. The work produced will often build off of the research of others and when the creative juices flow I’ll try to include original work as well. My goal each week will be to explore new metrics as a way of sparking lively discussion and debate. The standing policy will be: if you disagree (or agree) with what I’ve written each week, let me know in the comments or feel free to tweet me @hanlont3. I also encourage all of you to let me know if you’d like me to cover specific interests. Thanks for reading!

I love metrics. More specifically, I love "new" metrics. Any metric that can yield a novel way to evaluate performance is interesting to me. I know I’m not alone. In fact, much of my knowledge and interest in new metrics stems from the work produced within the sabermetric community. I don’t always understand all of it or always see the utility, but I’m always thankful that there are intelligent people in our community crunching numbers to advance our understanding of the game we love. Sometimes these new metrics are polished and sometimes they’re unrefined but they always tend to yield new insight and promote inspiration for sabermetricians to build upon.

In continuing upon this quest for knowledge, this week I would like to explore "The Percentage Player Index" as it relates to new Marlins acquisition Martin Prado. For those of you who are unaware of what "The Percentage Player Index" is, don’t fret. I didn’t know what it was either until I stumbled upon a recent article written by Beyond the Box Score’s Scott Lindholm. Scott took the time to revamp an old formula created by Bill James and applied it to current players. It’s a terrific read in and of itself; I’ll try my best to summarize.

Essentially the formula attempts to take into account the intelligence of a ball player; we can refer to this as "baseball savvy". The original formula created by Bill James used four factors: fielding percentage related to league average, stolen base percentage, strikeout to walk ratio and walk frequency. Scott adjusted a few things to the formula by changing fielding percentage to Defensive Runs Saved (DRS), and adding measures that he deemed to indicate hustle like advancing on an out and taking an extra base on a hit. He then converted all the positive and negative metrics into runs for an easily digestible counting statistic. The following is a chart showing you his calculations:

Positive Outcome

Runs

Negative Outcome

Runs

Reach on error

.89

Caught Stealing

-.39

Stolen base

.20

Pickoff

-.39

Extra base taken

.20

Out on base

-.39

Infield hit

.89

Strikeout

-.39

Walk

.69

Extra base on hit

.20


He then applied these statistics to current players and published the data. You can access it here.

I must admit that I was very intrigued by this concept. My educational background lies in psychology, so any metric that attempts to measure the intelligence or psychological process of players is fascinating to me. Scott’s work is phenomenal and while he admits that there are some challenges in this particular metric (e.g. changing a rate statistic into a counting statistic thereby making it susceptible to sample size concerns, favoring speedy middle infielders etc.) I think he has improved upon Bill James’ concept greatly.

How does this relate to the Marlins? I decided to explore this list to see which players lay at the top and which lay at the bottom. I didn’t make it more than 15 seconds before seeing new acquisition Martin Prado ranked 12th out of 500. Incorporating the values from the table above with total DRS, Martin Prado, over the span of 3,168 PA rates at 206 Total Runs. Over a four-year span that accounts for an average of 51.5 runs per season based off of his "baseball savvy" alone. This puts him in the company of of Andrew McCutchen, Dustin Pedroia, Albert Pujols, Adrian Beltre, and Joey Votto; the list goes on and on. The next closest Marlin comes in the form of Dee Gordon at 130th.

Now, I'm glossing over an important detail, that being that Prado isn’t the highest on this list from the Marlins—Ichiro Suzuki comes in at 6th overall. But I think Prado's position speaks volumes for his worth. I recognize that production (offensive and defensive) is the overall determinant of worth, but new explorations into how to value a player are also helpful. Martin Prado has the potential to be a wonderful fit for the Marlins. He is relatively young and still on a team-friendly contract for another season. Additionally, he wants to be a Marlin. All of these things point to him contributing positively to team production on the field and team chemistry in the dugout .

In conclusion, Scott’s revamping of "The Percentage Player Index" has sparked many questions for me. I read his article last week and have been mulling over ways to improve the formula ever since. These insights have also lead me to think about where to go from here. I’m not a betting man, but if I were, I imagine that there would be a strong positive correlation between teams with "baseball savvy" players and winning.  In fact, Scott alludes to more work being done in this same vein. If the correlation proves to be true, it bodes well for Miami to have picked up two of the savviest players currently playing the game. The hope being of course that their "baseball savvy" rubs off on the younger stars of the team. If it does, good things are to come for the Fish in 2015 and beyond.