A Cardinals-centric Introduction to Statcast's Directional Outs Above Average


Baseball Savant is a ridiculously cool baseball statistics site - if you're into that sort of thing. I am. If you hadn't noticed, and I hadn't until today so I literally don't know when this new development arrived on scene, their Statcast Leaderboards page has changed a bit. One thing that they added was "Directional Outs Above Average." Their website explains it better than I could, so here is that information:

Directional Outs Above Average information

The brief version of what the original "Outs Above Average" is as follows:

Outs Above Average (OAA) is the cumulative effect of all individual Catch Probability plays a fielder has been credited or debited with, making it a range-based metric of fielding skill that accounts for the number of plays made and the difficulty of them.

What's really awesome about this new bit of information being directional is that they give you fantastic graphics to go along with it (more on those later - you'll see Harrison Bader's and Tyler O'Neill's).


Here are the numbers for Cardinals outfielders with at least 5 outfield plays made in 2018. Notice that Tommy Pham is no longer listed as he is not currently a Cardinal. Matt Adams is listed despite not having played OF for the Cardinals in 2018 - so those are numbers with Washington.



General Assessment


As you can see from the graphic above, Harrison Bader is obviously our best defensive outfielder, with nearly 7 times as many outs above average as any other outfielder on the roster. Adolis Garcia does not yet have enough (5) catches to qualify to see where his numbers might be...but I wanted to get a low enough number to include Yairo Munoz in my assessment.


Also, as you can see, Dexter Fowler and Jose Martinez have the fewest "outs above average" (OAA)- in fact, being below average at the position. Notice that Fowler is listed as the worst, but Jose Martinez has about 1/3 of the opportunities as Fowler but already 80% of the plays not made. So I'd argue Martinez is very easily the worst of the bunch.


One other note before we get into the specifics, I believe this graph shows Tyler O'Neill as fairly clearly the second best outfielder on the team defensively. While he is tied with Ozuna at +3 OAA, he's had more than 4 times fewer chances to add to his totals.

Harrison Bader's 5* catch against Milwaukee at Busch.

(courtesy of @nchill17)

Just can't get enough? More angles!

The above is a 5-star catch by Bader coming in and to his right (left from the plate view). That's just one of many great plays he's made this year. In fact, below on the left is a closer look at Harrison Bader's overall season directional OAA. As you can see, while Bader goes back on the ball fairly well, with 7 outs above average on balls hit behind him, he is incredibly good at balls coming in, especially to his right as pictured above - balls that directional OAA calls "in left." It is labeled by the home plate view of plays. While Bader has 7 plays going back on the ball above league average, he has 7 plays in the one 60 degree increment alone entitled "in left" and is another 6 balls above average on plays coming "in" or "in right" for a total of 13 OAA on balls coming in.

Above on the right is a closer look at Tyler O'Neill's directional OAA. As you can see, he is not as good coming in, totaling just a +1 coming in on the ball, but going straight back on the ball he seems to be at his best. He has three outs above average going back on the ball and two of those are directly behind him - arguably the toughest play in baseball for outfielders.


Below is a .gif (also courtesy of Nick Childress) of O'Neill's 5-star robbing of Nolan Arenado of extra bases in St. Louis back in early August.

O'Neill's amazing catch.

For reference, here is the graphic of the worst defensive outfielder in the league by OAA. He is not a Cardinal, so I will not reference his name here. You can find it at Baseball Savant. That shows -24 on balls in play but hidden rounded numbers add up to a -26 overall for this outfielder. Wow.

Oof. Glad he doesn't play in STL - but would that be JMart if given time?

While that seems to be the only new goodie at Baseball Savant that I could find on the newly revamped Statcast Leaderboard page, you should definitely check it out. The numbers showing Bader's aptitude at coming in on the ball vs. the rest of the league is worth the page click all by itself.


Hit me up in the comments, or on Twitter, or on Facebook to keep this discussion going or to suggest topics for statistical research for my next post!


Thanks for reading.

Ben