SI on defensive metrics

DMZ · February 3, 2006 at 11:06 am · Filed Under General baseball 

Attempts to answer the question “Is Jeter any good defensively?” Includes a really good, long, early quote by this really smart baseball guy I know, “Dave Cameron”.

One thing the article seems to omit, though, is that Jeter’s long-term numbers have been much worse. There’s a lot of speculation that Alex’s presence at third has allowed him to play farther up the middle, which suits Jeter’s skill set much better. But all in all, it’s a nice article about new stat methods and what they offer.


30 Responses to “SI on defensive metrics”

  1. jtopps on February 3rd, 2006 11:30 am

    Congrats Dave! Impressive national press. Slowly but surely, the good guys are making headway.

  2. Adam S on February 3rd, 2006 11:39 am

    Yay, Dave (or David)!

    Jeter, worse? From the table in the article, Jeter is 29th in UZR, 31st in PMR, 25th in Range, and 31st in Plus/Minus. How much worse can you get?

    Oh, I see. His range factor has greatly improved. He’d been fading from 4 to 3.7 before A-Rod arrived and Jeter is back up to the mid 4’s. League average has stayed pretty close to 4.15. His fielding percentage is up a bit too, though not as dramatic. But should we care about either of those stats?

    I’ve felt for a long time that Jeter was insanely overrated — perhaps +30 on offense but -30 on defense — and a league average SS if that. That may not be far from the truth.

    Is the story in the printed magazine, or just online?

  3. Paul Covert on February 3rd, 2006 12:52 pm

    Congratulations, Dave!

  4. Jeff on February 3rd, 2006 12:58 pm

    I should mention (and provide a link to) author Jon Weisman’s blog, Dodger Thoughts.

  5. Evan on February 3rd, 2006 1:04 pm

    Before A-Rod went to New York, Jeter rated as far below average with his glove as Ozzie Smith was above average.

    Jeter is very good at making throws from the hole. Jeter is very good at tracking flyballs. Unfortunately for Jeter, those aren’t especially important shortstop skills.

    He can track flyballs, he’s fast, and he has a strong arm. Why has he been in the infield all these years?

  6. Mr. Egaas on February 3rd, 2006 1:26 pm

    Nice press Dave. Congrats.

  7. msb on February 3rd, 2006 1:27 pm

    what with that game from the other big sport happening this weekend (provided it actually airs here: “Whipping winds and saturated soils from weeks of rain could lead to falling trees and power outages this weekend. ‘I can see the headline now,’ said National Weather Service meteorologist Ted Buehner. ‘Seattle wins Super Bowl. No one saw it.'”), here are a few vaguely baseball-related links (in addition to Dave’s new internet fame) to tide us all over:

    Jim Bouton imparts his football wisdom and his appearance at the upcoming SABR convention is mentioned.

    Jimmy Caple discusses some NFL myths like ‘the NFL has parity unlike baseball’

    Bill Simmons mentions Mariner futility as one reason he is “rooting for the poor fans in Seattle” (while expecting P’burgh to win)

    and the WBC & MLB will be running one of those vastly expensive Superbowl ads

  8. Evan on February 3rd, 2006 2:02 pm

    I’m with Bill. I’m also rooting for the Seahawks while expecting the Steelers to win.

    That said, I suspect I will see exactly none of the game. The Six Nations starts tomorrow, and after a day of watching rugby (Wales!)there’s just no way I could sit through a football game.

  9. robbbbbb on February 3rd, 2006 2:33 pm

    “And then they’d call me an idiot and walk away.”

    You, too?

    I don’t have access to a good fielding stats library, although I notice Jeter gets bad marks from the newer measures. I do have eyes on the field, and I see that Jeter doesn’t get to many balls.

    I recall, vividly, the 2001 ALCS. I was in the stands in left field. I saw a hard shot ground ball go right past Jeter’s left side and into center for a single. To field the ball, all he’d have had to do is fall over to his left. Bad play. That’s the one that sticks in my mind every time someone tells me Jeter’s a good defender.

  10. Zero Gravitas on February 3rd, 2006 3:01 pm

    Yeah but did you see that one play where he dove into the stands for a foul ball and almost broke his melon open, but he held on to the ball? That was AWESOME man, really gritty. Now I just want to see more of that same kind of stuff from Ichiro. Then we’ll really be cooking with gas.

  11. Evan on February 3rd, 2006 3:10 pm

    I have to admit that was an amazing play (in an amazing game), but it was dumb. Jeter could have been seriously hurt doing that (he did have to leave the game, but his injuries could have been Cameron/Beltran bad).

    And watching it live, Jeter didn’t have to dive into the stands. He caught the ball on the field. If he’d then stepped up onto the low wall and leapt, he could have been much higher and landed more like a crowd-surfer and less like a Stuka with defective elevators.

  12. Jim Thomsen on February 3rd, 2006 3:38 pm

    So, Dave, when are you going to analyze baseball full-time and for a living? That was a quote that distilled the debate like no other I’ve ever seen.

  13. sparky on February 3rd, 2006 4:10 pm

    Gassko did a rundown of the different systems (very similar to Dave’s post from the other day) today at THT

  14. Arford on February 3rd, 2006 4:37 pm

    Congrats to Dave, but also congrats to Jon Weisman. I had no idea he was writing for SI now. Jeff linked to Dodger Thoughts above, which is the only non-M’s baseball blog that I read with any regularity. Jon’s a heckuva writer, glad to see him working for a larger audience.

  15. F-Rod on February 3rd, 2006 8:02 pm

    I just want to throw out a question about Jeter’s effectiveness…I have done no research on this but is there any explanation in the numbers by the yankees having a lot of strike out pitchers??
    I’m sure he probably is overated in defense but to call him an average overall player is insane….there is probably no better all around SS in the league..he is a great hitter and always answers the call whether the yanks need him as a leadoff…two hitter

  16. DMZ on February 3rd, 2006 10:49 pm

    Not really, and they’re not really such strikeout pitchers. But, in case that was an issue, Jeter fares poorly compared to other Yankees who have also played short behind that staff. While on an individual year-by-year basis you might say it’s a small sample size, it’s over his whole career and it’s pretty consistent.

  17. Matthew Carruth on February 4th, 2006 3:08 am

    “there is probably no better all around SS in the league”

    Miguel Tejada and Rafeal Furcal.

    A-Rod was by far better and so was Nomar until he got hurt.

  18. rbenchley on February 4th, 2006 3:08 am

    I’ve felt for a long time that Jeter was insanely overrated — perhaps +30 on offense but -30 on defense — and a league average SS if that. That may not be far from the truth.

    I loathe the Yankees, and have always had the impression that Jeter is a jerk, but it’s absolute insanity to suggest that jeter is a league average shortstop. Despite his defensive shortcomings, he is among the top shortstops playing today and is an easy choice for the Hall of Fame. That being said, he should really move to the outfield. He has a good arm and he can track flyballs, so it would probably work out well. If it was good enough for Robin Yount, it should certainly be good enough for Jeter.

  19. Joe on February 4th, 2006 9:09 am

    Ah, the good ol’ blogger mafia begins its quiet infiltration of the media establishment.

    Jeter is a very good baseball player, but he isn’t even the best shortstop on his own team. But SS, along with CF, is the “elite” position — especially for the yankees. Jeter might leave it eventually, but only when he’s slowed down so much his defensive shortcomings are obvious to everyone — at which point he’d be useless for the outfield (see Williams, B). Maybe then he and ARod can switch places, since however much ARod will have slowed down by then he’d still be better at the position than Jeter is now.

  20. Rusty on February 4th, 2006 11:48 am

    Wish I had the supply contract through the years on the ink needed to write all the articles on Jeter’s defensive skills. The fact that so many articles are still being written merely shows that the eyes still have it over any credible statistical analysis.

  21. Rusty on February 4th, 2006 12:36 pm

    I hope this is on-topic since it involves using defensive statistics and drops the name of Bill James. Jim Bouton, author of “Ball Four” in today’s Seattle Times…

    The No-Huddle Offense, of course. That’s the strategy teams use in the closing minutes of the game, when they really want to score. How effective is the No-Huddle Offense? A statistician, like baseball’s Bill James, would no doubt show that more points are scored in the last two minutes of a football game than in any other five-minute period. And this is when the entire world knows the offense is going to pass and the defense will try to stop them with something called the Prevent Defense. Exactly what the Prevent Defense prevents is not clear.

    I hate to shake football to its foundations, but can you imagine if the No-Huddle Offense was used for the entire game? And the opposing team failed to deploy the Prevent Defense? The mind boggles.”

    I’ve always enjoyed Bouton’s writing no matter what sport he’s talking about. It’s interesting that he’s hip to statistical analysis.

  22. Doc on February 4th, 2006 1:31 pm

    No huddle offense the whole game? That would be Jim Kelly’s Buffalo Bills…

  23. msb on February 4th, 2006 3:03 pm

    my favorite line of Bouton was “here’s my advice: Try to Score the Most Points.” reminded me of Fairly 🙂

  24. Joe on February 4th, 2006 3:59 pm

    The fact that so many articles are still being written merely shows that the eyes still have it over any credible statistical analysis.

    No, that merely shows the eyes can be fooled. And most people would rather believe selectively-remembered “great plays” than actual aggregate results.

  25. Evan on February 4th, 2006 4:41 pm

    In Canadian football, one team (the Calgary Stampeders) used the no-huddle offense (it’s usually called the hurry-up offense up here) all the time during the early ’90s. They were dominant.

    That said, they also had the best players. With Doug Flutie at QB (a man built for the Canadian game), the game really wasn’t fair. I always thought they went with no huddle so they’d have a better chance at breaking scoring records.

  26. Evan on February 4th, 2006 4:44 pm

    Swapping A-Rod and Jeter wouldn’t be smart. Jeter’s real skills defensively are his speed and his arm. Moving him to third makes his speed irrelevant – he’d be an even bigger defensive hole.

    He should have been playing CF since about 2001.

  27. Mat on February 4th, 2006 6:19 pm

    Congrats to Dave for the good pub.

    And speaking of defense, the M’s will likely need good defense if Yorman Bazardo winds up pitching for them in the bigs, as his minor league K/9 of 5.82 isn’t very promising for his future as a high-strikeout pitcher. If anyone else spent the $10 to watch the Carribean World Series on, you might want to switch on the Venezuela/DR tilt now, as Bazardo just entered the game in relief for the M’s.

  28. Dylan on February 4th, 2006 6:26 pm

    The prevent defense is not meant to necessarily prevent a score at all, it’s meant to prevent one big play turning into a touch down and to keep the ball in bounds.

  29. davepaisley on February 5th, 2006 1:19 am

    Yeah, but it usually just prevents the team that uses it from winning.

  30. Jonathan on February 5th, 2006 8:39 pm

    Bully for Dave! And I agree with Jim, one of the most eloquent analyses I’ve ever heard on the subject. And just as succinctly put into its societal & historical context by being called an idiot and walked away from. We’re lucky to have you.

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