FanPost

The Bill James 2012 Handbook and the Cubs

For Christmas this year, I got myself the Bill James 2012 Handbook. It is $16.47 at Amazon, contains 549 pages and weighs almost two pounds of numbers. Lots of numbers.

Some Cubs 2011 nuggets

The 2011 Cubs were middle of the pack for Offense (8th in Runs scored), but 14th in Pitching (Runs allowed). You could have success with the middle of the pack offense - the Cubs were between NL East Division winner Philadelphia and near Wild Card winner Atlanta. But the pitching gap was obviously too big - from the Cubs to the top NL team (Phillies) was 227 Runs allowed.

A component of the Cubs near last pitching was their Fielding; Dead Last. The Handbook ranks Team Fielding by Fielding Percentage, and while not the best measurement, in this case it is telling. The Cubs were the only NL team with a Fielding Percentage of less than .980 (.978). The Cubs were also the team with the most errors, 134. No other NL team even reached 120.

New for the 2012 Handbook is Team Defense - Defensive Runs Saved by Position and Team. Everyone knows that Third Base was a defensive problem for the Cubs. But it was not the only problem; just the most egregious. While Cubs Third Basemen posted a -17 Runs Saved, the Shortstops had a -15. Individually, Aramis Ramirez was -12 Run Saved and Starlin Castro was -16. I was surprised to see Castro at -16 and next to the biggest trailer, Derek Jeter (-18). If there is going to be an emphasis on defense, Castro's defense must improve or he will need to shift to second base.

Looking Forward to 2012

David DeJesus: How good is he defensively? DeJesus had 13 Defensive Runs Saved and a Plus/Minus of +21. For Right Fielders, DeJesus was near the top of both categories with Jason Heyward and Torii Hunter leading at 15 Runs Saved and a +30 Plus/Minus.

4th and 5th Outfielders:

Outfielder

2012 RC

RC/27 outs

2011 Runs Saved

Tony Campana

16

4.16

+9

Reed Johnson

30

3.92

-5

Dave Sappelt

18

5.44

+3

The 2012 projections are up for Sappelt but flat for Campana. Sappelt is projected to double his Run Created on the same at-bats as 2011, while Campana actually slips by one.

Starting Pitching Depth: There has been some discussion over Jeff Francis vs. Paul Maholm vs. Joe Saunders. Some of their 2012 projections are surprisingly similar.

Pitcher

2012 Age

Innings

ERA

Jeff Francis

31

162

4.22

Paul Maholm

30

161

4.22

Joe Saunders

31

212

4.20

Travis Wood projects for 72 innings and a 3.75 ERA. I think we can expect more innings after the trade to the Cubs.

The Tyler Colvin for Ian Stewart trade: Before the Hitter Projections there is a narrative review of the 2011 Projections - what they got right and what they got wrong. Colvin and Stewart were together in the category of "There are, finally, the players who do not get the playing time that we project for them because frankly, they suck." Here's hoping they both have bounce back seasons.

On Wrigley Field

I previously purchased the Bill James 2010 Handbook and I noticed that Wrigley Field was favorable to Left Handed Bat Home Runs (LHB HR).

Index year(s)

Runs

LHB HR

RHB HR

2007 - 2009

113 (3rd)

126

103

2009

115 (3rd)

139

86

I expected similar results in the 2012 Handbook, benefitting Prince Fielder if he signed with the Cubs. But both power indices are down.

Index year(s)

Runs

LHB HR

RHB HR

2009 - 2011

108 (3rd)

111

99

2011

93 (12th)

101

97

Basically Wrigley Field was park neutral for power in 2011. Did the early season cool weather impact home runs that much?

But what has remained consistent? The Wrigley Field ballpark index for Infield Errors (E-Inf).

Index year(s)

Runs

E

E-Inf

2007 - 2009

113 (3rd)

105

117

2009

115 (3rd)

100

119

2009 - 2011

108 (3rd)

110

123

2011

93 (12th)

112

121

Why do 20% more Infield Errors occur at Wrigley Field than the average ballpark? Does the scorer at Wrigley Field affect this? I would think to only a small degree. Or is it just a 5 year run of bad bounces?

I highly recommend the Bill James 2012 Handbook. The numbers (and narratives) are engrossing and enlightening.

This is a FanPost and does not necessarily reflect the views of SB Nation or Al Yellon, managing editor (unless it's a FanPost posted by Al). FanPost opinions are valued expressions of opinion by passionate and knowledgeable baseball fans.

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