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RedsManRick
09-20-2011, 11:29 AM
I've tried (and largely failed) to articulate this position before, so I'm very pleased to see FanGraphs themselves do it much better than I could.

http://www.fangraphs.com/blogs/index.php/fangraphs-official-position-on-uzr/

And here's the ESPN article showing how PBP defensive metrics work in the context of Curtis Granderson: http://espn.go.com/blog/new-york/yankees/post/_/id/22911/grandersons-defense-not-easily-evaluated



That’s right — in fact, it’s so right I’ll write again, embolden’d even: One year of UZR data is enough.

The proper question, however, is, “Enough for what?”



A single season of UZR is a point along the spectrum of true talent, but the error range for that single point is so large as to mean almost nothing. So yes, one season of UZR is not enough to determine a players true talent level.

Bronzing a player’s glove after a single season would be as foolish as enshrining a hitter after just 400 plate appearances.

HOWEVER! That is only when we are talking about true talent levels. Many people who use UZR suppose incorrectly that since a single season does not accurately report true talent levels we can effectively ignore that season until there’s a wealth of data.

But just because a single season does not tell us a player’s true talent, it does not mean that year’s UZR tells us nothing. To the contrary, the data shows us the story of the season, it describes the season precisely.

But definitely read the whole article.

Really, it's pretty intuitive. If a guy hits .400 for 200 PA, we don't want to call him a ".400 hitter". But he really did get hits in 40% of his at bats. That's not to say UZR is perfect, obviously. But we should be considering our question before dismissing it due to small sample size. Small samples are a problem if you want to use them to estimate the whole population -- but as measures of that specific thing, they can be perfectly fine.

To be fair, the author probably overstates the case slightly. UZR is still an estimation, a translation of what happened, not a direct measurement -- unlike, say, batting average, which just counts events and does not place differential estimated value on them.

Lastly, I would just say, be thoughtful about your own perceptions. Human memory is a funny thing. What we choose (subconsciously) to flag as memorable is based in large degree on our existing beliefs and understandings. And when we do reflect, we choose a narrative first and then create the images. In short, our memories aren't good at systematically recalling and summarizing series' of events over time. So when we try to judge a guy's defense, in the absence of data we immerse ourselves in that shapes the narrative (like we do with OPS), we're likely defaulting back to some big-picture summary of ability rather than actual performance over the last year. Useful for getting a reasonable estimate of true-talent, not so useful for a given year. If the data conflicts with our perception, we should consider it's our perceptions that are unreliable.

jojo
09-20-2011, 11:42 AM
I've been beating this drum for a while...


If one really wants to be comfortable estimating a player's true talent level, roughly 3000 defensive innings (or approx 3 yrs) seems to be the appropriate threshold.

That's a different issue than simply asking what defensive value was provided over a season (i.e. given the distribution of chances, how did a player perform relative to his peers), which may or may not be repeatable oe reasonable to expect going forward.

pahster
09-20-2011, 11:49 AM
Lastly, I would just say, be thoughtful about your own perceptions. Human memory is a funny thing. What we choose (subconsciously) to flag as memorable is based in large degree on our existing beliefs and understandings. And when we do reflect, we choose a narrative first and then create the images. In short, our memories aren't good at systematically recalling and summarizing series' of events over time. So when we try to judge a guy's defense, in the absence of data we immerse ourselves in that shapes the narrative (like we do with OPS), we're likely to defaulting back to some big-picture summary of ability rather than actual performance over the last year.

Very true. We're all biased information processors.

jojo
09-20-2011, 11:52 AM
Lastly, I would just say, be thoughtful about your own perceptions. Human memory is a funny thing. What we choose (subconsciously) to flag as memorable is based in large degree on our existing beliefs and understandings. And when we do reflect, we choose a narrative first and then create the images. In short, our memories aren't good at systematically recalling and summarizing series' of events over time. So when we try to judge a guy's defense, in the absence of data we immerse ourselves in that shapes the narrative (like we do with OPS), we're likely to defaulting back to some big-picture summary of ability rather than actual performance over the last year.

Determining defensive value of a guy using just our eyes and memory? Ha! We're not even good enough to reliably pick the guy out of a lineup.

Captain Hook
09-20-2011, 01:17 PM
I've been beating this drum for a while...

Three years seems like a long time.I would think injuries and age could really throw the accuracy off if your looking to project what you could expect from a player.I admit that I don't know a lot about UZR so maybe it takes these things into account somehow but I like the one year idea better.I can't imagine too many people disagreeing if after a year, UZR says someone is a great defended and what they've actually seen with their eyes suggest the player is a great defender.So I would agree that if you were going by stats alone then maybe the one year idea isn't the best way to go but who really makes a decision based on stats alone?

BTW the link to the article isn't working for me.

lollipopcurve
09-20-2011, 01:24 PM
This sounds to me like a year of UZR is enough to tell you what someone's UZR for the year was.

Not sure I see much value here. Until they start measuring ball flight and speed, and defender's routes and speed (plus throw times), count me a major skeptic on the defensive metrics for individuals.

blumj
09-20-2011, 02:19 PM
That fangraphs article seems to have vanished, the espn one was really interesting, though, thanks for the link.

RedsManRick
09-20-2011, 02:22 PM
This sounds to me like a year of UZR is enough to tell you what someone's UZR for the year was.

Not sure I see much value here. Until they start measuring ball flight and speed, and defender's routes and speed (plus throw times), count me a major skeptic on the defensive metrics for individuals.

UZR is pretty simple. How many times did a guy make an out compared to how often his peers did in a similar situation. Is the definition of those situations perfect? Of course not.

But what's your alternative? Ignoring defense entirely? If not, you're doing something to account for it -- what is that process and how is it better than UZR?

lollipopcurve
09-20-2011, 02:25 PM
But what's your alternative? Ignoring defense entirely? If not, you're doing something to account for it -- what is that process and how is it better than UZR?

I'll take scouting info in this case. UZR throws out some wild numbers for single years -- too easy to get bamboozled by it.

RedsManRick
09-20-2011, 03:27 PM
I'll take scouting info in this case. UZR throws out some wild numbers for single years -- too easy to get bamboozled by it.

Sure, UZR throws out wild numbers for single years. But maybe that's because over a single year, players can have pretty extreme defensive performances -- just like a hitter can have pretty extreme offensive performances over a few hundred PA. Again, I think we're conflating performance measurement with true talent estimation. Just like a .900 OPS hitter can put up a 1.200 OPS over a few hundred PA, a +7 runs fielder could put up a +20 over a season. It would be interesting if we took samples of 200 PA, converted them in to runs above replacement and looked at the distribution. Imagine Jay Bruce's. He'd swing from 0 to 20 and then we could question the validity of that too.

Just curious, but how do you use the scouting info? Whose scouting info? Is that scout talking about a player's overall ability or his performance in the last year?

For all we know, a given scout is likely to be more off-base about a given player in a given year than UZR. We just don't have a convenient way to sort through his assessments and judge them. Just because the biases may not be as obvious doesn't mean they don't exist.

We treat scouting data like it's a safe default, but particularly when it comes to measuring performance over a discrete time frame and not assessing overall ability, how do we know that scouts are better than the stats? I'm not saying the stats are better, but I think it's a fair question.

I would also add, we have to remember the scale differences. UZR, as it's presented, is relative to average at that position, not total contribution. THis is really different than the way were used to looking at stats. We're used to making adjustments in our head -- not having to make them is disorienting, especially when it result in counterintuitive findings such as "A SS with negative UZR can still be a better defender than a RF with positive UZR".

It's just really challenging to accept that on offense, average is notable above replacement level whereas defense, average is at replacement level, and once you adjust for position, can even be below replacement. That is to say, the average LF is a worse defender than a generic replacement level defender freely available in the minors or FA. That doesn't seem too odd when it's written out, but when it's in number form, it just looks wrong.

lollipopcurve
09-20-2011, 03:32 PM
We treat scouting data like it's a safe default, but particularly when it comes to measuring performance over a discrete time frame and not assessing overall ability, how do we know that scouts are better than the stats?

I'm not saying the stats are better, but I think it's a fair question.

Give me a seasoned eye who watches a guy play 20 games in the OF, combined with whatever video they can compile, and that's plenty to assess whether a guy is above average, average or below average. Not rocket science.

dougdirt
09-20-2011, 03:38 PM
Give me a seasoned eye who watches a guy play 20 games in the OF, combined with whatever video they can compile, and that's plenty to assess whether a guy is above average, average or below average. Not rocket science.

The Baseball Info Solutions guys watch every play of the year for The Fielding Bible awards/ +/- system for Dewan's book. They then categorize each play with ball trajectory and landing location. The +/- system usually agrees with UZR. Yes, there are some faults in there, but there are also going to be faults/differences among scouts too. The numbers aren't perfect because no defensive play is created equally. But that is the same way for offense. Joey Votto doesn't get the same pitches to hit as Edgar Renteria does. But we treat their 600 PA's in a season in the exact same light in terms of hits/outs/bases don't we?

lollipopcurve
09-20-2011, 03:56 PM
But that is the same way for offense. Joey Votto doesn't get the same pitches to hit as Edgar Renteria does. But we treat their 600 PA's in a season in the exact same light in terms of hits/outs/bases don't we?

The number of pitches a hitter sees over the course of a season is way higher than the number of chances a defender gets. That's why a single season of data for hitters is more trustworthy than a single season of defensive data. What we're debating here is whether or not a single season of UZR data is worth all that much, and I'm saying it's not. It's not without value -- it's just got too much volatility year to year for my liking.

Keep in mind that the pitches a Votto chooses to swing at and the pitches a lesser hitter like Renteria chooses to swing at are quite a bit more similar than the two entire cohorts of pitches seen. In general, those guys are swinging at "good pitches to hit."

IslandRed
09-20-2011, 04:20 PM
My take... The advanced metrics are, or will be, important for parsing the distinctions between fielders at a position and helping teams evaluate the players accordingly.

On the other hand, for over 100 years, the unaided eye was sufficient to get players into their proper slot on the defensive spectrum.

I think part of it is just a matter of the probabilities involved. It's difficult to distinguish a .250 hitter from a .300 hitter without paying attention to the stats over a large sample. But a defender is supposed to make the play nearly 100% of the time, so a truly deficient defender is not that hard to identify. It's at the margins -- calculating the difference in value between two shortstops, or deciding if a borderline shortstop needs to be moved across to second base -- where the stats can be really helpful.

Scrap Irony
09-20-2011, 04:33 PM
If the Reds buy this, it's probably good news for Chris Heisey as a CF. Both he and Drew Stubbs grade out as 4.5-ish defensive players, meaning the loss of Stubbs would be negligible from a glove standpoint.

RedsManRick
09-20-2011, 04:37 PM
Keep in mind that the pitches a Votto chooses to swing at and the pitches a lesser hitter like Renteria chooses to swing at are quite a bit more similar than the two entire cohorts of pitches seen. In general, those guys are swinging at "good pitches to hit."

But if Votto is hitting what he hits off of 200 "good pitches to hit" and Renteria is getting 300 "good pitches to hit", doesn't that matter? What would Votto hit if he got as many good opportunities as Renteria?

RedsManRick
09-20-2011, 04:40 PM
My take... The advanced metrics are, or will be, important for parsing the distinctions between fielders at a position and helping teams evaluate the players accordingly.

On the other hand, for over 100 years, the unaided eye was sufficient to get players into their proper slot on the defensive spectrum.

Just to play devil's advocate, how do we know that? That is, if we were putting guys in the wrong spot, how would we know?

But really, that's not what this article was about. The entire point of the article was to differentiate between contexts of using data. Using a season of UZR to assessing a guy's defensive true talent, bad idea. Using a season of UZR to assess how a guy performed defensively in that season, as good idea as any other way we've got for doing it.

lollipopcurve
09-20-2011, 04:46 PM
But if Votto is hitting what he hits off of 200 "good pitches to hit" and Renteria is getting 300 "good pitches to hit", doesn't that matter? What would Votto hit if he got as many good opportunities as Renteria?

These seem to me theoretical questions. Why are they important?

The number of possible outcomes in an at bat -- K, other out, 1B, 2B, 3B, HR, BB -- are sufficiently detailed (I believe the falutin' term is granular) that it kind of cancels out the differing conditions under which Votto and Renteria hit. Not true of defenders under UZR -- out or non-out.

lollipopcurve
09-20-2011, 04:47 PM
Using a season of UZR to assess how a guy performed defensively in that season, as good idea as any other way we've got for doing it.

I'd disagree that there as good as good pro scouting. The results vary too much from year to year.

RedsManRick
09-20-2011, 05:27 PM
These seem to me theoretical questions. Why are they important?

The number of possible outcomes in an at bat -- K, other out, 1B, 2B, 3B, HR, BB -- are sufficiently detailed (I believe the falutin' term is granular) that it kind of cancels out the differing conditions under which Votto and Renteria hit. Not true of defenders under UZR -- out or non-out.

I'm not sure I follow your logic. The variety of outcomes doesn't account for the fact that each hitter has a fundamentally different set of opportunities. Just like a fielder may not face the same group of balls hit in to his zone compared to his peers, hitters don't face the same set of pitches compared to their peers. For both we have an issue of inequal opportunity. For hitters we just accept that as part of the game and move, essentially including that variance in what it means to be a hitter. We don't try to control for the fact that player X saw more sliders than player Y. His job is to hit what's thrown to him. What really varies are the number of opportunities and the value of the events that happen in those opportunities. Why are we so focused on this for fielders, but not hitters?

In terms of the variety of outcomes themselves, you're right. With hitters, there's a lot of variance in the value of possible outcomes, so we need to use the proper weights to accurately value performance -- translating PA outcomes in to standardized runs and not just use a counting stat like AVG or OBP (SLG is just a quick and dirty attempt to weight).

But is there a comparable amount of variety defensively? To me it seems the answer is no. It's not like a guy is going to play a single in to a homer. In the infield, it's mostly out vs. single, with some doubles mixed in. It's a bit more true with OF in that plays not made in front of the guy are likely to be singles whereas plays not made to the side or behind are likely to be doubles and triples. So if a guy is particularly adept at coming in but poor at going back, that will have varying impact. But ultimately, just like hitters adjust their approach to account for their strengths/weakness given an expectation of how they'll be pitched, fielders adjust their positioning based on their strengths/weaknesses given an expectation of where the balls will be hit. But since walks and homers are basically taken out of the equation for fielders and because the variety of outcome has more to do with position than fielder skill, it seems to me that fielders experience less variance.

I understand that there's enough difference between defensive metrics such that we should be skeptical over any given figure. But in terms of systematically incorporating defensive performance in to an overall evaluation of player performance in a given year, I haven't seen an approach more rigorous and compelling than how the WAR framework does it. Essentially, my question is, if not UZR, then what? How are you making the adjustment to incorporate defense in to your performance assessment and how do you know that it is more consistent/reliable/accurate?

jojo
09-20-2011, 05:54 PM
I'd disagree that there as good as good pro scouting. The results vary too much from year to year.

That's exactly one of the limitations of scouting... as an approach is can't pick up on nuances such as season to season value.

jojo
09-20-2011, 06:09 PM
Here's a blog entry from MGL (the creator of UZR) that is on topic:

Does (one-year) UZR tell us exactly what happened? (http://www.insidethebook.com/ee/index.php/site/article/does_one_year_uzr_tell_us_exactly_what_happened/)

lollipopcurve
09-20-2011, 08:20 PM
But is there a comparable amount of variety defensively? To me it seems the answer is no.

No, a defender can only record the out or not. That's the way the game is designed, no changing that. In order to get the granularity that we have on the hitters side, they're going to have to start measuring jumps, routes to balls, throws, stuff like that. These types of skills won't always manifest in game "events," but they will give us a true understanding of a defender's talent. What we have now is only a rough approximation.

Yes, a year of UZR tells us something about what happened in that year. Predictive value, very limited. If you need to put a number on a player's defensive contribution in a given year in order to calculate WAR, sure, throw it in there. But in the end it may well make that number less reliable.

Personally, I don't find the prospect of having a single number to capture a player's total contribution all that compelling. It seems a statistician's need more than a talent evaluator's.

IslandRed
09-20-2011, 10:48 PM
Just to play devil's advocate, how do we know that? That is, if we were putting guys in the wrong spot, how would we know?

But really, that's not what this article was about. The entire point of the article was to differentiate between contexts of using data. Using a season of UZR to assessing a guy's defensive true talent, bad idea. Using a season of UZR to assess how a guy performed defensively in that season, as good idea as any other way we've got for doing it.

Yeah, I know, I was just playing devil's advocate myself. I'll note, however, that since the metrics have been helping, I haven't noticed any real difference from the old days with respect to what the players at each position look like or play like.

But yes, I'm also a believer in the notion that teams have to quantify defensive value, even if it's implicit, because defense is part of the whole package and a ballplayer has to be evaluated and priced on the whole package. Even if UZR and the ilk are just used as a sanity check or a starting point, going through the exercise is of value because it will clarify the team's thinking. And honestly, one-year UZR can be useful because a team doesn't always have the luxury of waiting three years to make up its mind on a player.

lollipopcurve
09-21-2011, 08:42 AM
And honestly, one-year UZR can be useful because a team doesn't always have the luxury of waiting three years to make up its mind on a player.

Exactly the liability of using UZR as well. Teams need to make short term decisions. Why would you base those on a metric that doesn't gain validity in the short term? Just because we have it doesn't mean it works well. "Sanity check," perhaps, but then how do you explain that a defender who grades out at the top of his position one year grades out mediocre the next? Seems to me that stat mavens who decry people's faith in stats like batting average and ERA would be recommending caution when it comes to short-term faith in UZR as well.

RedsManRick
09-21-2011, 09:02 AM
Exactly the liability of using UZR as well. Teams need to make short term decisions. Why would you base those on a metric that doesn't gain validity in the short term? Just because we have it doesn't mean it works well. "Sanity check," perhaps, but then how do you explain that a defender who grades out at the top of his position one year grades out mediocre the next? Seems to me that stat mavens who decry people's faith in stats like batting average and ERA would be recommending caution when it comes to short-term faith in UZR as well.

If I was trying to estimate a guy's true talent, I would take my single year UZR with a big grain of scouting. If I'm trying to understand how a guy performed and how many runs that was worth, I'm going to lean on the stats.

So long as you keep coming back to trying to use 1 year UZR to estimate true talent, you're beating a straw man.

Scrap Irony
09-21-2011, 09:12 AM
Essentially, UZR is flawed, but it's the best thing we've got.

It allows for ALL plays made, not just those that are especially memorable.

Is it predictive? Nope. Not for one season.

That said, is it enough to insist that Drew Stubbs and Chris Heisey are basically the same defensive OF? We all know Stubbs has better overall tools, but he hasn't shown an affinity for using them all that much thus far in his career.

Is it enough to make a deal, knowing full well scouts like Stubbs much, much better?

lollipopcurve
09-21-2011, 09:40 AM
If I was trying to estimate a guy's true talent, I would take my single year UZR with a big grain of scouting. If I'm trying to understand how a guy performed and how many runs that was worth, I'm going to lean on the stats.

I agree in general. However, I think the connection between runs and UZR might be quite weak. I don't understand it well enough to say for sure, but my sense is that there is enough shared space between defenders, especially outfielders, that pinning plays on just one defender is unfair/arbitrary often enough to throw the runs calculation into question.


So long as you keep coming back to trying to use 1 year UZR to estimate true talent, you're beating a straw man.

I guess I don't see the point of mixing offensive stats that do get at "true talent" with defensive stats that don't (i.e., a 1-2 year UZR sample), if one wants to claim that WAR is a measure that captures true talent or that should be used as an authoritative metric in deciding how much a player is worth going forward.

lollipopcurve
09-21-2011, 09:45 AM
Stubbs has better overall tools, but he hasn't shown an affinity for using them all that much thus far in his career.

Just sayin'... I've been saying this about Stubbs' defense since early in 2010. Got pretty much no support. Now, folks have seen more and some are citing UZR numbers. All of a sudden, people are saying what I was. And I have to point out he still hasn't accumulated a significant UZR sample size, almost 2 full seasons later.

Scouting eyes matter, because decisions can't always wait for the mathematical models to take a final shape.

blumj
09-21-2011, 09:59 AM
I believe the fangraphs article was in the context of a series, since scrapped, where they were attempting to recommend top candidates for the major awards. I think this is the only one they actually went through with that's still there, supposed to be fangraphs so-called "official" position on the best AL MVP candidates.
http://www.fangraphs.com/blogs/index.php/fangraphs-official-position-on-2011-al-mvp/

Which apparently re-ignited the whole using single season UZR in fWAR kerfuffle, or other single season defensive stats in other versions of WAR, and led to the article that's since been retracted and scrapping the series.
http://www.fangraphs.com/blogs/index.php/in-retrospect/

My guess is that the writer wasn't recommending using single seasons of UZR for talent evaluation, but, since the article is gone, I never read it.

IslandRed
09-21-2011, 10:04 AM
I guess I don't see the point of mixing offensive stats that do get at "true talent" with defensive stats that don't (i.e., a 1-2 year UZR sample), if one wants to claim that WAR is a measure that captures true talent or that should be used as an authoritative metric in deciding how much a player is worth going forward.

Practically speaking, by the time a player reaches a point in his career where the team really needs to put a dollar figure on him because the expense of keeping him or acquiring him is a factor, the defensive sample size is out there.

For younger players, a 1-2 year metrics sample may not narrow down true talent completely, but it will at least take a decent stab at how he's done so far. Mix it with scouting and let them serve as bounds checks on each other. If there's a big variance, try to figure out why.

RedsManRick
09-21-2011, 10:05 AM
Scouting eyes matter, because decisions can't always wait for the mathematical models to take a final shape.

I think we're all in violent agreement. I don't know of anybody who thinks that scouting eyes don't matter. If we were in the situation presented earlier, where we needed to make a decision about whether to keep a guy or pay him a certain amount, we would want a lot more information about him than just how well he performed over the past 6 months. But when we're just trying to measure how well a guy performed over the last 6 months, we have to be very careful not to bias that assessment with our other knowledge.

The issue is about what question you're asking. Estimating a true talent/Projecting future performance and measuring past performance over a discrete period of time are not the same thing and actually require different inputs. The latter is very difficult to do absent hard data. I don't want to beat a dead horse, but this keeps getting glossed over. It is not a minor difference. Frankly, I'd have zero problems with choosing a different defensive stat and/or approach to valuing defensive performance. I just want to see recognition that if you are measuring a player's past performance, you have to do that calculus at some point -- formally or informally. And from where I sit, UZR is the most consistent, least biased way to do it.

I think Stubbs is a great example. The guy has the tools to be the best defensive CF in baseball, but his performance has been average due largely to struggles going back on the ball.

That said, I do think you make a keen observation on the relationship between stats and perception. They are not independent. If our eyes tell us something, we try to find the stats to back it up. And if the stats tell us something, we watch to find things that confirm that as well.

And blumj is right, the article turned in to a big, hot mess over at FanGraphs because the author overstated his case. But really, even MGL has struggled to consistently differentiate. This conversation is an ongoing source of debate in the saber community.

lollipopcurve
09-21-2011, 10:19 AM
ractically speaking, by the time a player reaches a point in his career where the team really needs to put a dollar figure on him because the expense of keeping him or acquiring him is a factor, the defensive sample size is out there.

For younger players, a 1-2 year metrics sample may not narrow down true talent completely, but it will at least take a decent stab at how he's done so far. Mix it with scouting and let them serve as bounds checks on each other. If there's a big variance, try to figure out why.

Sounds good to me.

RedsManRick
09-21-2011, 11:29 AM
Practically speaking, by the time a player reaches a point in his career where the team really needs to put a dollar figure on him because the expense of keeping him or acquiring him is a factor, the defensive sample size is out there.

For younger players, a 1-2 year metrics sample may not narrow down true talent completely, but it will at least take a decent stab at how he's done so far. Mix it with scouting and let them serve as bounds checks on each other. If there's a big variance, try to figure out why.

John Dewan (BIS) tells this story about Nate McClouth. They had posted their data on him and a scout called him up to tell him how off-base their rating was. The scout talked about McClouth's great positioning, how nothing fell in front of him, and how the stats weren't accounting for that.

So Dewan had has team go back and put together a comprehensive analysis of how McClouth's rating was so bad. They already do their coding by watching video, so they were able to show examples of what the math was doing. It turned out, the scout was both right and wrong. McClouth played extremely shallow. And he actually got to a higher percentage of balls than most CFs. So given the way the human brain works, it seemed like McClouth was great (our brains do frequency pretty well).

But what the scout wasn't accounting for was that while McClouth was turning singles in to outs, he was also turning outs in to doubles and triples. And while the number of singles-turned-outs was greater than outs-turned-extra-bases, the values were much different.

While McClouth was getting to more balls, he was costing his team runs. And while it's easy enough to dismiss a ball hit over his head as one he wouldn't have gotten to anyways, the video told a different story.

The scout was able to accurately describe what was happening on the field. But he wasn't able to convert that in to actual impact on run scoring. Now, that doesn't in any way counter the sample size issues with defensive stats. But it does highlight the reality that stats can do things that people simply struggle at doing on their own.

edabbs44
09-21-2011, 03:26 PM
I get the feeling that, if UZR were an "old school" stat/metric, the "new school" would destroy it.

blumj
09-21-2011, 04:40 PM
I get the feeling that, if UZR were an "old school" stat/metric, the "new school" would destroy it.

That'll happen soon enough, once there's a better stat to destroy it with.

jojo
09-21-2011, 05:07 PM
I get the feeling that, if UZR were an "old school" stat/metric, the "new school" would destroy it.

That assumes things about stat users that frankly aren't fair.

signalhome
09-21-2011, 05:52 PM
That'll happen soon enough, once there's a better stat to destroy it with.

Right on. UZR, while flawed, is the best we have, so we use it in lieu of ignoring defensive contribution altogether. Eventually we will probably have a defensive stat equivocal in value to wOBA, and when that day comes, you'll likely never hear me use UZR again.

MikeThierry
09-22-2011, 01:12 AM
I've been pretty much on board with UZR and UZR/150. As pointed out by many posters here, it is probably the most accurate measurement we have when it comes to defense. I'll take it any day of the week and twice on Sunday over a scorekeepers judgment.

It is also an interesting observation about perception. I run into this all the time when people say Matt Holliday is a bad defensive left fielder simply due to that botched play in the 2009 playoffs. When you look at his UZR numbers, he is one of the best outfielders in the game. He doesn't look pretty getting to the ball but does get good jumps and knows how to play the angles correctly.

Speaking of left field, I never realized how good defensively Brett Gardner from the Yankees is in left.

blumj
09-22-2011, 07:50 AM
I've been pretty much on board with UZR and UZR/150. As pointed out by many posters here, it is probably the most accurate measurement we have when it comes to defense. I'll take it any day of the week and twice on Sunday over a scorekeepers judgment.

It is also an interesting observation about perception. I run into this all the time when people say Matt Holliday is a bad defensive left fielder simply due to that botched play in the 2009 playoffs. When you look at his UZR numbers, he is one of the best outfielders in the game. He doesn't look pretty getting to the ball but does get good jumps and knows how to play the angles correctly.

Speaking of left field, I never realized how good defensively Brett Gardner from the Yankees is in left.
He would probably be one of the best defensive centerfielders in baseball if they played him in center. He's one of those players who you don't think about much unless your own team is playing the Yankees, but he'll drive you batty when they do.

lollipopcurve
09-22-2011, 08:35 AM
Speaking of left field, I never realized how good defensively Brett Gardner from the Yankees is in left.

Speaking of playing a good LF, Sappelt has looked outstanding out there for the Reds. Plays aggressively and looks comfortable and in control all the time.

dougdirt
09-22-2011, 09:36 AM
Speaking of playing a good LF, Sappelt has looked outstanding out there for the Reds. Plays aggressively and looks comfortable and in control all the time.

That is what happens when you play natural center fielders in left field.... they dominate defensively.

lollipopcurve
09-22-2011, 09:39 AM
That is what happens when you play natural center fielders in left field.... they dominate defensively.

Not sure I'd put it so categorically, but yes -- the guy covers ground well and closes on balls with a purpose.