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Defensive Stats vs. the "Eye Test"

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  • Defensive Stats vs. the "Eye Test"

    Poz has done it again! Good article on the issue.

    Poz correctly points out that there are actually very few cases where significant divergence exists between the numbers and the eyeball. My own case is where those two diverge, the burden of proof is on the eyeball, however, and not the defensive metrics. Not because the metrics are infallible, but because their results are the product of a systemic methodology whereas the results of the eyeball test cannot possibly be as consistent or objective. That doesn't make the metric flawless, but it does give it more credibility than the opinions of various observers. There are no doubt some skills not picked up as easily by the metrics (though that fact continues to lessen as the metrics improve), but such hypotheses would be provable given evidence, something rarely seen from the eyeball crowd, is there's anything more to them.

    In other words, while the people supporting the metrics are always willing to change (i.e. improve) the metric based on empirical data suggesting that, it seems to me that the casual observer is rarely willing to adjust his own evaluation when the numbers don't agree with his preconceptions about a player's defense. Again, it seems obvious to me where the burden of proof lies in these rare cases where reputation differs from genuine analysis.
    "It is a simple matter to erect a Hall of Fame, but difficult to select the tenants." -- Ken Smith
    "I am led to suspect that some of the electorate is very dumb." -- Henry P. Edwards
    "You have a Hall of Fame to put people in, not keep people out." -- Brian Kenny
    "There's no such thing as a perfect ballot." -- Jay Jaffe

  • #2
    With the newer defensive metrics my question is what exactly are the measuring?
    Strikeouts are boring! Besides that, they're fascist. Throw some ground balls - it's more democratic.-Crash Davis

    Comment


    • #3
      Originally posted by Honus Wagner Rules View Post
      With the newer defensive metrics my question is what exactly are the measuring?
      That would, of course, depend on the specific metric in question.

      Does anyone else find it surprising that the long-time statistic of fielding errors was never divided between a throwing component and a catching component? Seems that would have been fairly easy to have done all these years.
      "It is a simple matter to erect a Hall of Fame, but difficult to select the tenants." -- Ken Smith
      "I am led to suspect that some of the electorate is very dumb." -- Henry P. Edwards
      "You have a Hall of Fame to put people in, not keep people out." -- Brian Kenny
      "There's no such thing as a perfect ballot." -- Jay Jaffe

      Comment


      • #4
        I think that the further that one goes back, the harder is is to quantify fielding stats. It's hard to me to believe that we know how far Jack Glasscock had to to go to reach or not reach each batted ball.

        Also I'm not sure how an eye test can pass any burden of proof. It's subjective by definition.

        I was in San Diego for Ozzie Smith's rookie year. We clearly knew that he was something special from the start. Had the metrics not supported that, I would have been dumbfounded. So they did get it right Just kidding, it looks like most of the metrics correlate well, the Marty Marions ect.. are well represented.
        This week's Giant

        #5 in games played as a Giant with 1721 , Bill Terry

        Comment


        • #5
          Originally posted by Chadwick View Post
          That would, of course, depend on the specific metric in question.

          Does anyone else find it surprising that the long-time statistic of fielding errors was never divided between a throwing component and a catching component? Seems that would have been fairly easy to have done all these years.
          I think the issue is even more fundamental. Aren't most if not all defensive metrics based on what fielders actually do in the field? What basic defensive stats can be measured on the field directly? You have putouts, assists, and errors and that's it.
          Strikeouts are boring! Besides that, they're fascist. Throw some ground balls - it's more democratic.-Crash Davis

          Comment


          • #6
            Radio broadcasters had always been the source of my opinions when I was growing up. TV broadcasters would generally repeat what they had heard from the local radio guys, IMO. For this reason, I have trusted the guys on the radio anywhere I might be listening.

            One of the things that would be mentioned in these broadcasts was the player's "jump on the ball", whether he was an infielder or an outfielder. It always seemed that the middle infielders and CF would have an advantage on such things because they could have a better angle on how the catcher was setting up on the hitter. Yet, any observant player anywhere on the field could make the same observation by force of habit.

            This factor would probably explain the difference between the measure from the metric, and the conclusion of an eyeball test. Does this infielder consistently make the play close at first, or does he even attempt a throw where another IF would not bother? Does this OF 'get' to more flyballs because he was positioned well and never seems fooled, or does he make a misstep and then simply outrun the ball to make it up? Only the media, and a season-ticket holder who actually attends the games, can assess that by attending the games that often. This is why radio broadcasters' views on defense weigh heavily for myself. From what I understand and remember, managers and coaches pick the GGs, but radio broadcasters have a great angle to do that.

            Posnanski discusses Hosmer's fans and supporters as overrating his value on defense, and the metrics rating him much worse. Since he is a 1B-man, this apparently makes him the defensive equivalent of what I remember of Stretch McCovey. Stretch Willie McC was always discussed as great with the glove, hence the nickname. Yet, Baseball-Reference.com has him as costing his teams runs on defense each year. Neither player at 1B could have a jump on the ball which would matter that much at that position. So, 1B eyeball test is even more prone to being misled.

            IMHO, I will still trust the eyeball test. Defensive metrics will have to earn their way into my sentiments and logic, for no other reason than they haven't been around long enough.
            Catfish Hunter, RIP. Mark Fidrych, RIP. Skip Caray, RIP. Tony Gwynn, #19, RIP

            A fanatic is someone who can't change his mind and won't change the subject. -- Winston Churchill.

            Experience is the hardest teacher. She gives the test first and the lesson later. -- Dan Quisenberry.

            Comment


            • #7
              Wouldn't that make the eyeball test wrong since poorly positioned players and such would be making spectacular efforts to make plays or just missing whereas the well-positioned or intuitive player would make these plays without any extraordinary effort. Thus the intuitive player would make more plays and make them look more routine and as such look much less WOW! to the observer.

              Comment


              • #8
                Originally posted by PVNICK View Post
                Wouldn't that make the eyeball test wrong since poorly positioned players and such would be making spectacular efforts to make plays or just missing whereas the well-positioned or intuitive player would make these plays without any extraordinary effort. Thus the intuitive player would make more plays and make them look more routine and as such look much less WOW! to the observer.
                Good point, but this is why I distrust the data and the broadcasters' viewpoints on rookie ballplayers, and even that for players who are in their second or third years. Beginning in the 4th year, both sources, IMO, are more trustworthy. It is very true that radio broadcast teams are filled with 'homer' voices, even the Cardinals. I've heard all kinds of supportive comments about ballplayers who had proven themselves to be less than that discussed by the Cardinal radio team. Over enough years, they are proven as correct or they are not. Clearly, their views of Yadi Molina were accurate, but they were not so accurate about Skip Schumacher.

                Your view is correct because broadcasters discuss what they see with jaded perspectives. They love their team too much, either out of professional loyalty or because of true and longterm love of the team. They tip their hand on the 'homer-ism' when they described a rookie Brave Andruw Jones in 1997 as playing too shallow and questioned why he would do so.

                In my book, the data on stat measures can be skewed in rookie seasons and even for a year or so later than that. An assist, by definition, must involve a teammate. If the 1B-man is less than he should be (or even outright lousy), that would skew the rest of the infield's data on defensive measures. A person can examine the data that much more closely, and determine the truth, but few fans and media-types will do that before sharing opinions and building reputations of players on their team, and maybe of opponents as well.

                This is why I believe in a ballplayer's defensive reputation beginning about the 4th year. Either the radio guys could be biased before that, or the data could be incomplete. Just IMO, but the data will be incomplete as long as I have to spend that much more time. Ultimate Zone Rating, Revised Zone Rating, Total Zone with Location.... all that might be great, but I have other things to do. My fantasy baseball days are done, and I just watch and listen to games now. Truth be known, I question too much about too many players over PEDs, and that takes the fun out of what I used to see in fantasy baseball. Its a great place to be as a fan, retired fantasy geek. It is better to trust your own eyes, and voices speaking for you.

                The Cardinal broadcast team of John Rooney, Mike Claiborne, Dan McLaughlin and Mike Shannon is not as strong today as it was with Jack Buck. They are homers at times. Then again, that is why Buck was special and his son is just another ordinary observer, BTW.

                Catfish Hunter, RIP. Mark Fidrych, RIP. Skip Caray, RIP. Tony Gwynn, #19, RIP

                A fanatic is someone who can't change his mind and won't change the subject. -- Winston Churchill.

                Experience is the hardest teacher. She gives the test first and the lesson later. -- Dan Quisenberry.

                Comment


                • #9
                  Originally posted by Chadwick View Post
                  That would, of course, depend on the specific metric in question.

                  Does anyone else find it surprising that the long-time statistic of fielding errors was never divided between a throwing component and a catching component? Seems that would have been fairly easy to have done all these years.
                  Why did they stop calling extra bases advanced "stolen bases" in 1898? You advance a runner delibertely, or cause an error (e.
                  g. Breaking up a double play), or advancing (yourself) an extra base on a ball thrown away, etc. Etc....you get zero statistical credit. Yet.... it wins games in the long run. Lots of them over the course of a career vs. a Cecil Fielder type.

                  How many times in this video does a wild or rushed play or throw advance him or the runner an extra base or score a run? How many times over 3,587 professional games played since 1992 has that happened....for all of which he was attributed zero statistical credit?

                  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GeT1LI5Sqes&t=2s

                  Where's the credit in WAR for this vs. the Adam Dunns of the world striking out 200 times a year, incapable of anything other than a walk, K, or "accidental non home run hit"? You know, a hit that lands on the actual field, instead of over a wall so one guy can trot around the bases-most often quite anticlimactically- with the other 9 guys on the field standing watching inert on their heels.

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Originally posted by abolishthedh View Post
                    IMHO, I will still trust the eyeball test. Defensive metrics will have to earn their way into my sentiments and logic, for no other reason than they haven't been around long enough.
                    This example might help with that foray into your sentiments and logic re eyewitness perceptions of fielding vs. advanced defensive metrics.

                    http://fieldingbible.com/jeter.asp

                    Jeter won 5 Gold Gloves. And he is according to every metric out there just about the worst fiedlding SS in baseball history.
                    Last edited by Floyd Gondolli; 03-08-2018, 07:35 PM.

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      I really wish the Fielding Bible Awards would become more well known and viewed as a "real" awards. I really like their methodology. It's much more well thought out than the Gold Glove Awards, though the Gold Glove Award took positive step forward in adding a sabermetric component to the voting a few years ago.
                      Strikeouts are boring! Besides that, they're fascist. Throw some ground balls - it's more democratic.-Crash Davis

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Originally posted by Honus Wagner Rules View Post
                        I really wish the Fielding Bible Awards would become more well known and viewed as a "real" awards. I really like their methodology. It's much more well thought out than the Gold Glove Awards, though the Gold Glove Award took positive step forward in adding a sabermetric component to the voting a few years ago.
                        Agreed totally.

                        Pujols won it 5 times and they didnt even give out the award until 2006.

                        Yet another reason he's at least on par with Lou Gehrig.

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          I like this discussion a lot. Here's what I say. When somebody can show me a defensive metric that shows Mark Belanger, Bobby Wine, Dal Maxvill, and Maury Wills to be the top defensive shortstops in the 1960s, and Billy Cox to be as good as Brooks Robinson at third base, then I will believe they have created the correct historical metric.

                          Obviously, the new data where every breath a fielder takes is measured by some device. If player A covers x feet of ground at shortstop and player B covers X+1 feet, that means something.

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Originally posted by Floyd Gondolli View Post

                            Why did they stop calling extra bases advanced "stolen bases" in 1898? You advance a runner deliberately, or cause an error (e.
                            g. Breaking up a double play), or advancing (yourself) an extra base on a ball thrown away, etc. Etc....you get zero statistical credit. Yet.... it wins games in the long run. Lots of them over the course of a career vs. a Cecil Fielder type.
                            Credit of course is given for taking an extra base, even if it's not classified as a stolen base. Credit is also given in some metrics for reached on error, because evidence indicates it's not random, that some players have a repeatable skill for that. Credit is not given for advancing a runner "deliberately", as the evidence indicates it's not a skill. Like RBI, it's a matter of opportunity.



                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Originally posted by Floyd Gondolli View Post

                              Agreed totally.

                              Pujols won it 5 times and they didnt even give out the award until 2006.

                              Yet another reason he's at least on par with Lou Gehrig.
                              I don't remember Gehrig having a bunch of non HOF seasons.

                              This week's Giant

                              #5 in games played as a Giant with 1721 , Bill Terry

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