In the previous edition of Stat of the Week, we took a small sample from Baseball Info Solutions' Enhanced Fielding data to compare Jason Giambi and Mark Teixeira's ability to scoop bad throws at first base. We showed that while Teixeira scoops more balls than Giambi, he also plays the field more often and Giambi actually had more scoops per game started. Many loyal Stat of the Week readers emailed us, correctly noting that if we knew how many potential scoops each player actually missed, we'd have an even better evaluation.
We're in luck, because BIS also tracks how many throws each first baseman doesn't catch. If the ball is within the first baseman's reach and he doesn't come up with it, he receives a Defensive Misplay #14 (Failing to Catch the Throw). In addition to the Scoops we used in that last Stat of the Week (i.e. Good Fielding Play #7—Handling Difficult Throw), we’ll also add in Good Fielding Play #8 (Catches Wild Throw), which includes throws that pull the first baseman off the bag but are caught, saving extra bases.
Using these three enhanced fielding categories, we came up with the average rate of first basemen scoops. It's the total of the two Good Fielding Play categories divided by the Total Opportunities. Total Opportunities adds together Good Fielding Plays #7 and #8 to Defensive Misplay #14. We'll call it Scoop Percentage, even though we are including some throws that aren't technically scoops (for example, it could be a leaping, lunging grab of a wild throw that saves a base or two.) The league-wide Scoop Percentage for 2008 and 2009 combined is 81%. That's based on 2,692 opportunities.
We then use the 81% figure to come up with Scoops Above Average. We like Scoops Above Average better for ranking purposes, as it give credits for handling more opportunities. Here are the top 10 in Scoops Above Average for 2008-09 (data through August 24):
| Player ||Saved Throws ||Missed Throws || Scoop Percentage ||Scoops |
| Casey Kotchman ||69 ||5 || 93% ||9 |
| Todd Helton ||79 ||9 || 90% ||7 |
| Carlos Pena ||66 ||8 || 89% ||6 |
| Albert Pujols ||82 ||12 || 87% ||6 |
|Ross Gload ||34 ||2 || 94% ||5 |
| Ryan Garko ||30 ||2 || 94% ||4 |
| Carlos Delgado ||42 ||5 || 89% ||4 |
| Derrek Lee ||61 ||9 || 87% ||4 |
| Nick Swisher ||21 ||1 || 95% ||3 |
| Jason Giambi ||37 ||5 || 88% ||3 |
As you can see, the oft-traded Casey Kotchman leaps to the front of the pack, while Todd Helton ranks second. Despite starting only half of the time at first base, Giambi comes in tenth. Over 2008-09, Teixeira has saved one throw more than the average first baseman. With only 55 Throws Saved in 75 chances, Reds first baseman Joey Votto brings up the rear at 6 below average.