Value Intensity – Who Made the Most of Their Time on the Field?

Introduction

Seven months ago, back when The Process Report was still up and running, R.J. Anderson looked at which Rays player spent the most time on the field. I mulled this over a bit and decided that he was missing the offense part of the equation. I created a metric for time on field in May, but never got around to actually revealing my findings. Since that time, Fangraphs has updated their leaderboards, making this a much easier task. I am looking at how much time each player spent on the field (Time on Field) and how many wins they contributed per ten thousand minutes (Value Intensity).

Method

As far as I can tell, a player can spend time on the field in three ways: playing defense, making a plate appearance and running the bases. I’ll break each of these up and explain how I calculated the amount of time each player spent there.

Defense:

According to Beyond the Box Score, the average game length in 2010 was two hours and 50 minutes. However, this also includes about 42 minutes of commercials (17 inning breaks and 4 pitching changes at 2 minutes each). So assuming there are 128 minutes of actual game time, this leads to an average inning length of 7.1 minutes. So, for every inning of defense, a player gets 7.1 minutes of playing time. Time spent pitching is also included with this section.

Plate Appearances:

A plate appearance can mostly be broken down into number of pitches seen. So, a player’s time at the plate is calculated as pitches seen * pace. Pace is the amount of time between pitches which is calculated for each batter. There are mound visits and throws to first base, but this should be close enough.

Base-running:

This is the hardest to calculate, since it is dependent on so many things (pickoffs, double plays, home runs, number of outs, etc.). The first thing I did was break out home runs. For every home run a player hit, he accumulated 22 seconds of playing time running the bases (thanks to the tater trot tracker). Then, I summed a player’s walks, hit by pitches, singles, doubles and triples as his number of times on base. I assumed that each time a player reached base, he would be there for two subsequent plate appearances of 3.8 pitches per PA with a pace of 21 seconds. So basically, for every time on base, a player receives 2.66 minutes of playing time.

Overall Equation:

Based on all of the previous assumptions, this is my equation for player time on field in minutes:

DefensiveInnings*7.1+Pitches*Pace/60+HR*0.37+(BB+HBP+1B+2B+3B)*2*3.8*0.35

Value Intensity

Value Intensity is simply calculated by taking the Fangraphs WAR, dividing it by Time on Field and multiplying by 10,000. The 10,000 multiplier is just to get the numbers away from being too small (2 instead of .0002). It is defined as “Player value added per 10,000 minutes of playing time.” 10,000 minutes translates to roughly a full non-pitcher, non-DH season.

Results

Here is the link to the spreadsheet if you would like to download it and play with it yourself.

With the exception of two players with barely any playing time (Antoan Richardson and Logan Schafer), pitchers dominate the top 56 spots. The first full-time offensive player to appear is David Ortiz. Of all the players with more than 100 minutes of playing time, the top five spent a majority of their time as a designated or pinch hitter.

Conclusion

There aren’t many ground-breaking results here. Pitchers have the highest value intensity, followed by designated hitters, then everyone else. However, it is nice to see some numbers associated with it. According to this calculation, the top five in time on field last year were Joey Votto, Dustin Pedroia, Nick Markakis, Dan Uggla and Starlin Castro. The most value intense (disregarding time limits) were: Antoan Richardson (132 wins/10,000 minutes), Stephen Strasburg (56), Craig Stammen (52), Roy Halladay (45) and Drew Pomeranz (43).

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