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Yuni had a GaLE on Friday May 5, 2008

Posted by Brad in stats, video.
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Here’s some grisly video from the first inning of Friday’s Mariners game against the Yankees:

There are several reasons why this play is awful. On the surface, it’s because Yuni makes an error, which is never fun to watch. Also, he makes an error while fielding a grounder hit by Derek Jeter, who’s a terrible terrible defensive shortstop (as Fire Joe Morgan will tell you). And, to top off what was an abysmal start to an abysmal series against the Yankees, Mike Blowers says at the end of the clip, “That’s a play we see him make all the time.” You can choose to infer that Blowers is saying that Yuni usually successfully fields grounders, but I prefer to interpret it as Blowers acknowledging that Yuni is prone to mental lapses in the field.

To make matters worse, Jeter ended up scoring in that inning, laying the groundwork for a 5-1 loss. Yuni’s error was so terrible that it made me invent a new statistic, the Game Losing Error or GaLE. It’s slimly based on the Game Winning RBI (GWRBI) which was a popular stat in the 1980s–when a batter knocked in the go-ahead run, he was credited with a GWRBI. It supposedly measured hitters’ clutchiness, until everyone realized that it pretty much reflected regular (non-GW) RBI totals. (Read Dave Pinto’s post for more on GWRBI’s.)

GaLE’s work a lot like GWRBI–when an error leads to a go-ahead run scoring, the fielder that makes the error gets dinged with a GaLE. So, Yuni’s error on Friday gives him a GaLE. What about the rest of the season? Here’s a game-by-game breakdown

4/1 vs. the Rangers: In another shortstop-on-shortstop error, Yuni’s errant throw turns Michael Young’s double play ball into a fielder’s choice. Young fails to score, but J.J. Putz fails when Josh Hamilton hits a game-winning home run in the 9th. No GaLE
4/5 vs. the Orioles: Yuni botches a Ramon Hernandez grounder. On the same play, Luke Scott scores on an errorful throw by Raul Ibanez. That tied the game at 2, though the O’s went onto win, 6-4. Technically, no GaLE.
4/16 vs. the A’s: Yuni’s error lets Bobby Crosby score, but the Mariners win 4-2. Thanks Felix! No GaLE.
4/24 vs. the Orioles: Adam Jones reaches thanks to a Yuni error, but he’s stranded. M’s lose. Sorry Jarrod. No GaLE.

Final total: Yuni has just one GaLE this year.

So… maybe this stat is especially useless. It’s reliant on the whims of the scorekeeper and the game’s scenario. Still, I’m bothered that FanGraph’s WPA doesn’t count defense into its WPA and Clutch stats. Derek Jeter gets credit for getting on board in Friday’s game, when the blame should go straight to Yuni.

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