Archive for July 16th, 2009

Fielding Symposium Part III: Fielding as Undervalued

Let me start my rejoinder by saying that there are three central premises on which John and I are in agreement:

  1. It is tougher to quantify fielding than hitting.  I firmly agree with this sentiment: In fact, this is why I believe that this new camera technology is revolutionary. It makes it easier to quantify something that is very difficult to quantify. Of course, it will still be more difficult to quantify than hitting. I don’t object to this.
  2. There are more factors to account for in fielding than hitting. This is true for the reasons John explains.
  3. Fielding is more interactive than hitting. Again, this is true and this is a reason it is more difficult to quantify fielding than hitting.

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Fielding Symposium Part II: The Limitations of Statistics

Josh thinks that, thanks to the sophisticated camera technology reported by The New York Times, there is a statistical revolution coming in baseball, specifically with regard to how we evaluate fielders.

It is true that this technology will lead to better statistics than the current options of fielding-percentage and zone rating, but I think he overestimates the effect this will have on the game itself. Measures of an individual’s fielding ability will never be as important as those of his hitting ability.

This is not to say that fielding is not important: Josh pointed out the documented postseason success of teams with high defensive efficiency. And every attentive fan realizes that good teams play good defense. Continue reading

Fielding Symposium Part I: Baseball’s Next Statistical Revolution?

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In Moneyball, Michael Lewis chronicles Oakland A’s general manger Billy Beane’s use of unconventional statistics (sabermetrics, using baseball-speak) to field a competitive team despite Oakland’s small budget.  The A’s found that statistics like on-base percentage (OBP) and slugging percentage were undervalued on the open-market, allowing Beane to sign and trade for better players at a lower cost. Due to the popularity of Moneyball and the increased popularity of sabermetrics more generally, these statistics are not nearly as undervalued as they used to be. So, what’s a general manager like Beane to do now? What methods of evaluating players are currently undervalued?

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