All statistics and records are as of April 21st.
Entering weekend play, UR Softball (URSB) has had a reasonably strong season, compiling a 14–10 record overall thanks to some standout play on offense and defense, but the team has one particular area that could use improvement.
The ‘Jackets have scored 5.2 runs per game on average, against 3.3 runs allowed per game. Because their wins have been considerably more lopsided than their losses, their expected wins at this point due to run differential (via pythagenpat) have exceeded their actual wins, 16.6 to 14.
The team’s most impressive major statistic is its earned run average (ERA). It ranks in the 90th percentile in the statistic with 1.97 earned runs allowed per seven innings pitched. The team’s pitching trio of seniors Eleni Wechsler and Sam Malecki and sophomore Elizabeth Bourne have posted figures of 1.60, 1.90, and 3.55 in the statistic respectively, while the Division III average is 3.82. It has allowed a combined OPS (on base plus slugging percentage) of .607, compared to the average of .743.
But the disconnect between the team’s ERA and its overall runs allowed per game is, simply put, enormous. Though the team doesn’t allow an abnormal number of unearned runs (those attributed to errors) per game, they rank 411th out of 416 Division III teams in percentage of runs allowed that are unearned.
For perspective, 73 percent of runs have been earned this season overall, but this figure is only 56 percent for the ‘Jackets. If they had an average percentage with the same ERA, they would surrender only 2.7 runs per game, which is a figure more befitting their imposing pitching staff.
Because of this, the logical blame falls on the fielding. As a unit, it ranks 259th with a .942 fielding percentage. So this figure is sub-par, but still far ahead of the team’s earned run ratio. The team has had a number of innings that were extended by error and resulted in an opponent rally.
Take one game at Ithaca, for example. The ‘Jackets had a 1–0 lead entering the top of the sixth inning, but two errors directly and indirectly caused five unearned runs to score in the frame. This is just one example, but there need not be a one-to-one correspondence between errors and unearned runs, and it seems that the ‘Jackets have allowed quite a few errors to result in substantially damaging innings.
Overall, the team’s defense as a whole is still strong, rankings in the top quartile of teams in schedule-adjusted defensive ratings by Massey. But if the team could do a bit more damage control, it could turn the defense from strong to dominant.
The offense has a similar ranking to the defense. The unit may not be exceptional in any one area, but it doesn’t have a significant weakness, either. URSB’s on base percentage of .349 ranks 219th in Division III, while its slugging percentage (SLG) of .418 is 138th. Combined, the team’s OPS+ (an index of OBP and SLG, normalized to league average for both stats) is 106, or six percent better than average.
Combining underlying context-free hitting statistics (so most everything except runs and runs batted in), as well as stolen bases, gives an estimate of how many runs the player contributed to the offense in the form of runs created (RC).
Note that the combined runs created for a team need not equal its actual runs scored, because the statistic is actually estimating how many runs a player would have contributed to an offense given the expected number of runners on base from a typical offense. In addition, there is mathematical oddity to adding the RC of multiple players, since not everything scales linearly and the formulas are based around the statistical profiles of individual players.
The team leaderboard for RC is shown in a table, alongside plate appearances and RC+, an index similar to OPS+ in that it measures runs created per plate appearance relative to the norm.
Sophomore catcher Harleigh Kaczegowicz has an impressive triple slash line (batting average, OBP, and SLG) of .392/.416/.500, which gives her an OPS+ of 145, especially impressive considering her physically demanding position. Her performance is even more striking when looking at her 171 RC+. The team has five players with an RC+ of 115 or greater, so the team has a dependable offensive nucleus.
As a whole, URSB has solid offense and defense, but could have an elite defense if not for costly fielding mistakes spiralling into harmful innings. If the team did as well as expected in close games, it would have 2.6 more wins on average up this point, and if one tacks on the reduction in runs allowed from errors mentioned earlier, that total would increase all the way to 4.3 more wins. As Bill Parcells once said, you are what your record says you are, but there’s reason to be extra optimistic about the ‘Jackets going forward.