Revelations E:6

This system, documented in John Dewan’s "The Fielding Bible", adds another facet to the shimmering diamond surface that is statistical baseball analysis.  It’s interesting as another tool to help us understand how players defend, but seems even more limited than the author of the article describes – the fact that it ignores positioning (not the responsibility of the player but perhaps one of the most important unquantifiable factors in what makes a good team defense) doesn’t even get a mention.  On one hand, it conceivably tells us a bit more about the pure abilities of a player (absent their coaches) and how they would do if left to their own devices (how often does this really happen?!).  On the other hand, since it lacks one very important position (catcher) and the attendant coaches’ influence on maximizing any given players’ abilities it can’t do much to tell us how a team will actually perform.

Not unsurprisingly Manny comes out quite poorly. As does Sheff.  And our favorite defensive whipping boy Derek Jeter finishes last at shortstop, with one of the worst net ratings of any player. So maybe Dewan is onto something.

18 comments… add one
  • Ehh, like you say, it skews a little much towards simply running down a ball and converting it. Too many factors (OF assists, DP turning, catching in its entirety) are totally ignored.
    But on the plus side, the results in Snow’s article seem to make sense, which is more than we can say for most defensive stats. There’s no bombshell, like seeing that Kevin Youkilis was a +28 or something. Most stats have some weird blip like that… like how David Gassko’s “range” metric (posted on Hardball Times) indicated that A-Rod was the worst 3B in the AL last season. I hate Slappy McSlimeball as much as the next guy, but even I know that’s not true.

    pstar April 7, 2006, 10:05 am
  • Yeah, I admire the effort to get better defensive evaluations, but this seems riddled with flaws. I got a kick out of the line about how Gonzalez makes himself look better than he really is by making spectacular plays. Huh?
    Also, it doesn’t make sense to me how Manny’s number is so much lower than Trot’s, given the information they used. Maybe someone can explain this to me. According to the article, Manny missed 14 balls he was expected to catch, whereas Trot missed 12. But when processed through their calculations, Trot is the best right-fielder in the league, and Manny is one of the worst left-fielders.

    airk April 7, 2006, 11:39 am
  • I’ve heard this book reviewed and it sounds pretty hacky. The Phillies were the best defensive team in baseball last season? Um, no.

    Nate April 7, 2006, 11:48 am
  • Make what you want of any particular metric, one can see with one’s own eyes that the Yankees’ defense is going to be abysmal this season.

    tom yf April 7, 2006, 1:29 pm
  • Also, if anyone remembers what I was saying about Chacon’s apparent anomalous control over BABIP, check out Bronx Banter for details.

    tom yf April 7, 2006, 1:36 pm
  • airk, according to the article, Trot caught twelve more than he was expected to, not missed. That is why his rating was so much better than Manny’s.

    NDJB April 7, 2006, 1:55 pm
  • airk, the Gonzalez assessment is also known as the Jeter Defense. Whenever Neyer or some other stathead asserts that Jeter is a lousy shortstop based on the numbers, the counterargument is always that Jeter makes so many spectacular plays.
    Somewhat off topic, but did anyone else raise an eyebrow over the Baseball Prospectus excerpt that’s been on Page 2 for a few days? The one by Nate Silver that says David Ortiz isn’t actually a “clutch” hitter (according to numbers the author doesn’t provide) but that Randy Winn and Orlando Merced are. Am I the only person who finds that a little fishy? I can accept that his late-inning numbers aren’t consistent from season to season, but you’re not gonna get anywhere with me by touting the likes of Bobby Higginson.

    pstar April 7, 2006, 2:31 pm
  • Is this the same analysis that has Kevin Millar ranked higher as a defensive 1B than JT Snow. They’re talking about it today on EEI.

    Brad April 7, 2006, 4:06 pm
  • It’s almost all about range, and then catching it when you get there, of course.
    Jeter has won the last two gold gloves at short, does make great plays on balls, especially going back on them, and doesn’t make too many errors….EXCEPT FOR THAT ONE THE OTHER NIGHT, goddam it… I’m almost over that.
    However, all the fielding analysis programs I’ve looked at say his range is lacking, which is why he rates poorly.

    whatever April 7, 2006, 4:42 pm
  • according to the article, Trot caught twelve more than he was expected to, not missed. That is why his rating was so much better than Manny’s.
    Heh, oops. I blame the internets for my diminished reading comprehension skillz. :)

    airk April 7, 2006, 4:52 pm
  • Yeah, I’m blaming the intern- ets here at work for my bad comprehension skills as well.

    Brad April 7, 2006, 5:46 pm
  • Did anyone hear me say that this guy says that JT Snow has a worse defensive ranking than Kevin Millar.
    Can’t we not take it seriously from this point on?

    Brad April 7, 2006, 5:48 pm
  • Not necessarily, Brad. Every statistical measurement system has it’s flaws, so you simply have to look at what the stat is measuring and acknowledge what it doesn’t do well. Like I said in the main post, it’s simply another piece of data to help us understand the bigger picture. 12 teams use the statistic, which would lead me to believe it has some use, albeit limited in scope. And it says Jeter sucks as a fielder, which should be good enough for most of us! ;)

    SF April 7, 2006, 6:39 pm
  • One of the things about statistical analysis is that it sometimes conflicts with popular perception. Bill James has Craig Biggio as the second best player of the 90’s, ahead of players like Frank Thomas and Ken Griffey Jr.. Maybe it’s just me, but that doesn’t exactly match how I “saw” things, and I’m guessing a lot of people out there are like me. Still, I don’t doubt that James, a much smarter man than me, is valuing these players correctly. So, to me, just because a system has Millar ahead of Snow, doesn’t mean it’s necessarily invalid. Actually, if the system were to reconfirm our perceptions, I’d be even more suspicious of its validity.

    NickYF April 7, 2006, 6:57 pm
  • Sox-Orioles: Sox score 4 runs in the first on six, yes, six walks and a bunt single by Crisp to lead off the game. Sac fly by Youk, and Crisp pops up to the catcher with the sacks still juiced to end the inning. Surreal to say the least. Remy says it’s the worst 1st inning performance he’s ever seen by a pitcher (Cabrera).

    whatever April 7, 2006, 7:34 pm
  • and the great thing, whatever, is that Cabrera is on my fantasy team. fantastic!

    NickYF April 7, 2006, 7:58 pm
  • Yikes Nick, that was ugly. 7 walks and 7 runs in one and a third innings.

    whatever April 7, 2006, 8:01 pm
  • “Jeter has won the last two gold gloves at short, does make great plays on balls, especially going back on them, and doesn’t make too many errors….EXCEPT FOR THAT ONE THE OTHER NIGHT, goddam it… I’m almost over that.”
    WE, you’re killing me. That passage made me laugh.
    That said, Chris Snow wrote an article in yesterday’s Globe about this and the point of it was that according to this fielding metric, the Sox are actually a worse team defensivley this year than last. For the record, using this metric, the ’05 Sox ranked 22nd defensivley and the ’05 Yankees 30th or dead last.
    There are things that range simply doesn’t take into account like the ability to turn the double play or the ability of a third basemen to cover the bunt or the assist ability of outfielders (Manny’s 17 assists last year don’t even factor in).
    I’m no sabermetrician, but there’s a reason why offensive stats are more developed than defensive stats – they’re far easier to quantify.

    Craig April 8, 2006, 8:17 am

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