Friday, April 2, 2010

How Important Is Defense?

Watching Bowling Green play baseball this past weekend versus Northern Illinois I started to wonder, how big of an issue is defense in the MAC? Both teams committed quite a few errors during the series, espicially Bowling Green who committed nine errors in three games. The Falcons could have probably swept the series if it wasn't for crucial errors at key times which allowed NIU to score nine unearned runs over three games and win two of the three games.

So for the past week in between classes I calculated how many errors per nine innings each MAC team had, compared that with the team ERA, and also threw in the fielding % of each team. I then lined them up in a chart. I also got the data of a few major division one programs and compared them to the MAC teams.

In my "Other Teams" category I threw in Michigan and Ohio State in this area and then a team ranked in the top 30, 20, 10, 3, and the number 1 team in the nation. As you can see the best teams in the nation are all at 1.00 E/9 or below, and the only team in the MAC even close to that number is Miami University, who average 1.27 E/9.

If I were to look at the teams and their E/9 combined with the team ERA, I would have to give the defensive advantage to either Toledo or Central Michigan so far. Of course the strength of schedule has been different for a lot of teams so far so the numbers might not completely accurately represent every team in the MAC but it at least gives us an idea of who plays the best team defense (pitching is included) in the conference.

Miami's 1.27 E/9 is hard to ignore though and it shows that if they can get a strong outing from their pitching they have the baility to play with any team in the conference. Teams like Bowling Green and Ohio though will almost always have to sore more than six runs if they have a chance at winning a ballgame.
I will be doing a post soon on offensive statistics which will probably be more detailed and have a lot more categories in it and then after that I'll be taking a look at both the team offense and the team defense of each squad in the MAC and try to take a stab at who has the best team statistically speaking this year.

Not surprisingly, Bowling Green is towards the bottom of the conference in this category with only Ohio, who is 3-18, beneath them. If Bowling Green wants to make a run at another MAC title this year, the team has to play better defense overall, whether it's a position change for some players or giving the bench more opportunities out in the field something needs to be done. No team can expect to be consistently competitive while averaging 2.28 errors per nine innings unless they have a nasty pitching staff and consistantly hot bats. While the Falcons can hit the ball better than practically every other team, their .316 batting average is good enough for second in the MAC, you can't expect an offense to score 8+ runs a game.

If Bowling Green can pull the defense together and average less than 1.6 E/9 than I believe they can finish the season above .500 overall. That being said however, the turnaround must happen this weekend against Eastern Michigan.

I will try to update the E/9 for every weekend series from now on and track Bowling Green's progress.