Do the Astros miss Adam Everett?

One June 14, Adam Everett, the best defensive shortstop in the majors, broke his leg and hasn’t played since.† The Astros have replaced him primarily with Mark Loretta, who is a better hitter (pretty much anybody is) but an absolute joke as a defensive shortstop.
According to the latest updated Ultimate Zone Rating numbers, courtesy of Mitchel Lichtman, Everett was 11 runs better than an average shortstop, and did this in about 1/3 of a season’s worth of playing time.† Everett as a +30 defender seems ridiculously high, but its right in line with what he’s done over the last few years, and less than what he did in 2006.† Loretta was at -5 runs, but in only 16 defensive games.† By the Zone Rating published by Hardball Times Loretta has made plays on only 38 of 64 balls hit into his zone, a terrible .594 zone rating, and he gets to few balls outside his zone as well.† Is he really a -50 fielder over a full season?† That would be highly unlikely that he’s as bad as the small sample size shows him, about as unlikely as the randome player who starts the year 38 for 100 is a true .380 hitter.† However, I think it is reasonable to assume that Loretta, who is getting older and primarily a second baseman, would be as bad as the worst regular defensive shortstops if he played regularly.† He might be the worst.† I’ll guess in a full season he’d be -20 runs at shortstop.
If the difference between Everett and Loretta is 50 runs over a full season, that’s about 67 hits, or 0.4 per game.† What has been the actual difference for the Astros since the injury?

I went to baseball reference, put the game logs into an excel spreadsheet, and looked at the numbers before and after Everett’s injury.† First of all, since the injury the ERA has risen from 4.42 to 4.65.† While I’m not controlling for different mixes of pitchers, or the defense from the other 8 players on the field, or offense of opponents played, a defensive shift of the magnitude from Everett to Loretta should show up somewhere in the team totals.† And in this case, it certainly does.
Looking at Batting on Balls in play, including reached on error, the Astros allowed a .318 average up to June 14th.† Since then, they have allowed an unreal .341 BABIP.† To bring them back to .318 I’d have to subtract 33 hits, and thats nearly one per game (34 games).
Even with Eric Bruntlett, a pretty good fielder, getting some time here as well, the Astros have given up more than twice as many extra hits as I would expect just based on my estimates of Everett’s and Loretta’s ability.
How much offense are they gaining with Loretta?† Loretta this season is hitting just slightly better than his career average, with Everett a bit below his.† Using career averages of 3.5 Runs created per game for Everett, and 5.2 for Loretta, if both players make 400 outs the difference is 25 runs, only half the difference in their fielding.
Astros fans should hope Everett recovers quickly.† Or for a lot more playing time for Eric Bruntlett.


18 Responses to Do the Astros miss Adam Everett?

  1. Pizza Cutter says:

    Perhaps the ‘Stros should trade for a really good defensive shortstop… like Derek Jeter!

  2. Lisa Gray says:

    pizza cutter must be a *(%^&#$! cubs fan….

  3. Austin says:

    I saw a comparison of Jeter to Everett last year, since Jeter won the Gold Glove and Everett lost out to Omar Vizquel AGAIN. Jeter was something like -5 runs, WAAAAAAYYYY behind Everett. Jeter’s a good fielder, but not a great fielder. He wins the GG because he makes some really good-looking plays sometimes.
    But this was a fascinating article. Thanks for the read!

  4. Will says:

    I think it would be interesting to see how Everett compares to Jeter in terms of total runs. I so often hear about Jeter’s shortcomings at shortstop and Everett’s ungodly ability. However, after watching the Astros since they brought up Everett almost everyday, I find it hard to believe that his defense makes up for that awful production at the plate. I have nothing to back this up…yet.

  5. Sean Smith says:

    Actually, using BRAA from Baseball Prospectus and UZR fielding, Everett has been pretty close to Jeter over the last 3 years:
    2005 +10 (-19, +29)
    2006 +24 (-24, +48)
    2007 -3 (-12, +9)
    2005 +17 (+28, -11)
    2006 +23 (+38, -15)
    2007 +11 (+18, -7)

  6. Patrick Flanders says:

    I believe the answer is to play Bruntlett at shortstop. Has anyone noticed that he has the best on base percentage for the entire team? And, he is a very good defensive shortstop. He has a great work ethic and doesn’t cause problems in the locker room. He has got to be a manager’s dream.

  7. Hutch says:

    You can throw out all the stats and other factors that you think apply, but there are really only two numbers that matter. Wins and losses.
    Through June 14th, the Astros were 27-38.
    Since June 14th, the Astros are 18-19.
    So … with Everett as the everyday starting shortstop (I realize he didn’t start every single one of those games through June 14th … but he played a vast majority of them), the team was 11 games under .500 in the standings over that span. With Everett on the disabled list, the team is 1 game under .500 in the standings over that span. That is a 10 game difference.
    The Astros are a better team with Everett out of the lineup.

  8. Jack says:

    When Everett comes back we should put Bruntlett on second. He’s only a year older than Burke, and is better defensively, so why not? The idea with Burke was that he’d have a high OBP and be our #1 or #2 hitter but Bruntlett’s OBP has been pretty good himself. We may lose a little bit of power, but the improved defense would more than make it up.

  9. […] A couple of good posts about Adam Everett on the ‘net. This one is a detailed statistical comparison of Everett to Mark Loretta which argues that despite Loretta’s improved offense, the Astros would be better off with Everett. Do The Astros Miss Adam Everett? […]

  10. Dome Dogs says:

    RC/27 isn’t the correct measure for offense. RC/27 simply measures in an isolated environment of a single player composing an entire team what the team would produce on offense. If you are using the fielding metrics which are measuring what the AVERAGE player would have produced at the position, you need to employ an AVERAGE gauged offensive metric. Also you need to analyze the impact of of the Everett injury more than just Loretta and Everett.
    I did this exact bit, and didn’t even give Mark Loretta the adjustment that you did and came up with the Astros are losing only 4 runs in 40 games. So…I am perplexed as to how we the Astros are screwed?? ( )
    Also, W-L record speaks for additonal .2 runs in ERA versus what I am sure is more than .2 R doesn’t really matter now does. The object of playing a baseballl game is winning the baseball game.

  11. This is what I’ve been saying all along. It must be worse now. Loretta’s down to .298/.373/.390. This would be nice work at SS, if he could field the position.
    The problem is exacerbated by having Lamb at 3B and Biggio at 2B, Scott in RF and Lee in LF, and a combo of non-CF-types.
    Worst defense in baseball?

  12. vladimir says:

    Useless static analysis. “While Iím not controlling for different mixes of pitchers, or the defense from the other 8 players on the field, or offense of opponents played” — you *HAVE* to if you’re to make any meaningful sense of it. Otherwise you’re blowing hot air. Take a look at the Astros rotation and bullpen in the time frames in question and look at how many XBH they’ve given up. Look, too, at the offense and see how anemic they’ve been (hint: Bruntlett and/or Loretta at SS is a net offensive improvement). The Astros problem isn’t at SS, it’s at the plate and on the mound.

  13. Sean Smith says:

    “you *HAVE* to if youíre to make any meaningful sense of it.”
    Thats what UZR does, if you read the full article. Looking at blunt measures like team hits allowed is used to illustrate the defensive loss.
    “The Astros problem isnít at SS, itís at the plate and on the mound.”
    And they wouldn’t have so many problems on the mound if they had better defense. Shortstop’s only part of it. With Loretta, Wigginton, and Lee on the left side, anything hit to that part of the field is pretty much an automatic hit.

  14. Sean Smith says:

    If you don’t believe me then ask Jason Jennings.

  15. vladimir says:

    “If you donít believe me then ask Jason Jennings.”
    You ask Jennings after you re-read my previous post — “the Astros problem isnít at SS, itís at the plate and on the mound.”
    Jennings gave up three BB. Jennings gave up two doubles, both to right side — not SS, not LF, etc. Jennings gave up two HR (nobody is going to make plays on balls hit into the Crawford Boxes). That leaves three singles and a sac fly to the left side, none of which would’ve been mitigated by having Adam Everett on the field. Neither would the infield single (2B side).
    Top 1st: San Diego
    – B. Giles WALKED
    – M. Cameron WALKED, B. Giles to second
    – M. Bradley GROUND RULE DOUBLE TO DEEP RIGHT, B. Giles scored, M. Cameron to third
    – A. Gonzalez hit SACRIFICE FLY to left, M. Cameron scored
    – K. Greene SINGLED TO LEFT, M. Bradley to third
    – J. Bard SINGLED TO LEFT, M. Bradley scored, K. Greene to second
    – G. Blum WALKED, K. Greene to third, J. Bard to second
    – T. Stauffer SINGLED TO LEFT CENTER, J. Bard and K. Greene scored, G. Blum to second
    – B. Giles DOUBLED TO DEEP RIGHT, G. Blum and T. Stauffer scored
    – M. Cameron HOMERED TO DEEP LEFT, B. Giles scored
    – M. Bradley SINGLED TO SECOND
    – A. Gonzalez HOMERED TO DEEP LEFT, M. Bradley scored
    – M. McLemore relieved J. Jennings
    – K. Greene walked
    – J. Bard grounded into fielder’s choice, K. Greene out at second
    Now go ahead and tell me how this was one game (actually, one inning which a pitcher was unable to complete) and your point is about the effect during the whole season. My point will remain that Adam Everett isn’t a difference-maker unless you’re talking about individual games (whether he gets a key hit or makes a key play or bot) — not whole seasons. He’s just a role player: his role is only more important when the Astros lack offense — ask Roger Clemens and Andy Pettitte.
    The problem for Houston THIS season is they fixed the offense at the expense of pitching. It’s not simply because Adam Everett is on the DL.

  16. Sean Smith says:

    Yes, there are a lot more problems with the team than Everett being on the DL.
    Losing Everett is a net minus. You lose more runs on defense having Loretta in there than you gain by removing Everett’s bat.
    The pitching certainly shares in the blame, and losing Clemens and Pettite can never help. But the pitching would look better if they had their should-be gold glove shortstop in the lineup.
    “Itís not simply because Adam Everett is on the DL.”
    I never claimed Everett’s loss was the whole problem. Just that losing him hurts.

  17. vladimir says:

    “…the pitching would look better if they had their should-be gold glove shortstop in the lineup.”
    Not when the pitchers are walking in runs and can’t get out of the first inning. Not when the balls are soaring 50-90′ above the shortstop’s head for the left field stands. Doesn’t matter whom you put at SS (or LF) when the ball is on a 420′ flight unless you strap a rocket to his aaa….. Hmmm, wonder if that’s against the rules. Steroids weren’t for a couple decades.
    Thoughts and prayers for those in the Twin Cities. +

  18. Pizza Cutter says:

    Vlad, you’re missing Sean’s point. Everett’s not going to influence every plate appearance or at bat on defense, and he’s not necessarily going to produce anything different than Loretta or anyone else could on a ball hit toward the left side of the infield.
    But, he does have an effect and over time, a very large one. So much of an effect that the runs he saves in the field outweigh his poor bat. Sean isn’t trying to make a point about the Astros overall, just Everett and, by extension, the undervaluing of defense in general.

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