The Z Files: Does Defense Matter?
The Z Files: Does Defense Matter?

This article is part of our The Z Files series.

While analyzing defense has come a long way, there's still work to be done. It's relevancy in the fantasy game pertains to evaluating pitchers, as it stands to reason their numbers should reflect superior defensive support.

Whether it's a team's penchant for making the routine play, the outstanding play or simply better positioning, the best measure for our purposes is BABIP (batting average on balls in play). This is especially apropos for those generating pitching projections using component metrics. Each hurler's BABIP is usually regressed towards league mean for that type of pitcher (groundball, fly ball). Tempering towards team defense seems like a worthwhile endeavor.

Unfortunately, there's one catch. For BABIP to be reliable, it needs to be predictable. Today, team BABIP from the past five seasons will be investigated to gauge just how predictable, hence useful, it is in projecting pitcher performance.

The method will look at the correlation between projected team BABIP and actual, both in total and broken into components. The statistics will be kept relatively simple, gauging the linear relationship between projected and actual using the Pearson Coefficient (r). By means of explanation, r=1 means there is a direct relationship, actual is perfectly predicted by the past data. If r=0, the variables are completely random. When r=-1, there's a perfect inverse relationship. In this case, it would entail the worst BABIP becoming the best BABIP and vice versa.

To get things started, here's a table with each team's overall BABIP for the last five seasons:

Team
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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Todd Zola
Todd has been writing about fantasy baseball since 1997. He won NL Tout Wars and Mixed LABR in 2016 as well as a multi-time league winner in the National Fantasy Baseball Championship. Todd is now setting his sights even higher: The Rotowire Staff League. Lord Zola, as he's known in the industry, won the 2013 FSWA Fantasy Baseball Article of the Year award and was named the 2017 FSWA Fantasy Baseball Writer of the Year.
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