2007 Fans Scouting Report

Dave · August 23, 2007 at 10:52 am · Filed Under Mariners 

Tom Tango is back for another go around for his fan’s scouting report. Rather than just re-write the explanation, I’ll just quote last year’s post on the subject.

Friend of USSM and extremely smart guy Tom Tango is putting on his annual Fan Scouting Report. With all the work done to try to quantify defensive analysis, Tango is taking the Wisdom of Crowds approach. None of us are defensive experts, but if you’ve read the wisdom of crowds thesis, you realize that we all have our own small insights to add, and when you get a large representative sample, you can end up with some very good information.

By bringing together a lot of people who watch a lot of baseball, he’s compiled ratings based on the popular consensus of how good defensively players are. The data certainly isn’t the be-all, end-all of defensive analysis, but it’s very good information to have.

So, if you’d like to participate, go fill out the survey. However, please read the instructions. Tom takes a unique approach to evaluating defensive skills, and one that I whole-heartedly agree with; he wants to know what kind of skills a player has, and not how those skills compare to the relative merits of the other players who man that position. Or, as he states it:

Try to judge “average” not as an average player at that position, but an average player at any position. If you think that Chone Figgins has an average arm, then mark him as average, regardless if you’ve seen him play CF, 1B, 2B, or 3B.


Position-independant defensive analysis is superior, in my opinion. Do we want to slag Derek Jeter’s defense at shortstop because his range isn’t good, relatively, to other shortstops, while giving Troy Glaus a pass because his defense at third isn’t as bad compared to other 3B? No – Jeter’s a significantly better defensive player than Glaus, but that gets lost in the shuffle of defensive position rankings.

So, let me encourage you guys to go fill out the survey. Tom’s been extremely helpful to us, and this is a great chance for us to return the favor.

Basically, what he’s asking you to do is rate the players you’ve seen play more than 10+ games this season in terms of different skills. Since we’ve all watched a lot of Mariner games, that’s where our opinion will be most useful. But if you live in another city and catch a lot of games from other teams, too, feel free to fill in the data for non-Mariner players.

This isn’t the be-all, end-all of defensive analysis, but it’s another little piece of evidence we can look at when trying to put the puzzle together. So, check it out.


30 Responses to “2007 Fans Scouting Report”

  1. hoser on August 23rd, 2007 11:11 am


    I like that the links are more visible now. The first one doesn’t seem to work.

  2. JMB on August 23rd, 2007 11:18 am

    Link fixed.

  3. lyt on August 23rd, 2007 11:21 am

    2-I dont think so just tried an not working

  4. Jay R. on August 23rd, 2007 11:26 am

    Worked for me. Voting completed. Should be interesting.

  5. lyt on August 23rd, 2007 11:30 am

    It worked just got done voting

  6. Sec 108 on August 23rd, 2007 11:52 am

    I feel empowered having had my say about Guillen.

  7. lailaihei on August 23rd, 2007 12:10 pm

    Thanks for votiing!

  8. tangotiger on August 23rd, 2007 12:45 pm

    Thanks for the link, and I appreciate the overwhelming response.

    93 of the last 120 ballots I received are for the Mariners.

  9. chief on August 23rd, 2007 12:51 pm

    Dave, the link works fine. Thanks for the opportunity to vote.

  10. marc w on August 23rd, 2007 1:09 pm

    I put my vote in a few days ago, and put in a comment that Yuni’s rankings are going to be fascinating to watch.

    His scouting reports, which most people heard about here, in large part informed his ranking as one of the elite defenders in the game. Now, the defensive metrics and visual evidence indicate that he isn’t the next ozzie smith, at least not yet. He’ll no doubt take a tumble. But the question is, to what extent do you (Dave or Tom) think USSM ‘drives’ these rankings?
    That is, if YuBet came up with a team w/o this type of site, would his rankings have been similar? If he played somewhere where people weren’t talking about DER, or UZR or PMR, would that have any effect?

    I keep thinking that USSM plays a role in shaping these rankings – in large part because I’m sure 70% of the M’s votes link to the survey from here (the other 30% come from LL) – but I don’t know if that introduces a systematic bias. My gut says that the M’s rankings should somehow be more ‘true’ but the YuBet experience cautions me that it’s probably not all one way traffic. Who knows.

  11. Grizz on August 23rd, 2007 1:22 pm

    The statements on this site about Yuni’s defense, at least those from the authors, have been fairly critical this year.

  12. julian on August 23rd, 2007 1:34 pm

    The validity of the “wisdom of crowds” approach relies on the assumption that, on average, the crowd “knows” a player’s true skill. I think this leaves the consensus approach open to a lot of the subjective biases that USSM often rails against. To give an extreme example, if you were to poll baseball fans in general (no doubt a very large sample, with a lot of “wisdom”) about defensive skill, good hitters who received multiple gold gloves would likely be over-rated in general.

    Obviously, if you’re polling more quantitatively-minded fans, you might not be subject to these extreme biases, but I would contend that sabermetricians also have their own biases which will undoubtedly be reflected in the poll. These results will then be reported back to us, thereby confirming our (perhaps mistaken in some cases) beliefs.

  13. Tropics iRE on August 23rd, 2007 1:36 pm

    when i get on the topic of our middle infields defensive performance… i get very discouraged. I DO NOT like how Yuni is playing out in SS, and also DO NOT like how Lopex is swatting his leather either.


  14. marc w on August 23rd, 2007 1:48 pm

    11- that’s exactly what I’m getting at. His ranking, which used to be positively Everettian, will be really low. So much so that it’ll probably set the record for biggest year-on-year change, at least for someone under 40, or someone who didn’t undergo experimental surgery.

  15. rsrobinson on August 23rd, 2007 2:04 pm

    Yuni was a tough one to grade. The tools are all there to be an elite defender, it’s the consistency that isn’t.

    When you get past Ichiro and Beltre I could see significant areas of weakness in all of the Mariners’ defenders.

  16. Grizz on August 23rd, 2007 2:09 pm

    If the voters follow the instructions (particularly the part in block lettering), Yuni’s rating should be fair.

  17. tangotiger on August 23rd, 2007 2:12 pm

    I’m looking at preliminary results, and YuBet did have a substantial drop in two categories, but overall, he’s still above average, and behind Ichiro/Beltre.

    There’s an evaluation on one player that I’m sure Dave will not agree with. So, if you think Dave is influential, well, he might be, but not in all cases.

  18. Evan on August 23rd, 2007 2:38 pm

    Dave thinks Ichiro has a weak arm – I suspect the crowd disagrees.

  19. scraps on August 23rd, 2007 2:42 pm

    I think that Dave thinks Ichiro has an erratic arm more than a weak arm.

  20. marc w on August 23rd, 2007 3:20 pm

    I think a lot of people think Ichiro has an erratic arm.

    Thanks Tango – that’s actually good to hear. Though, of course, given the ‘DO NOT CONSIDER POSITION’ rule, I suppose a SS really shouldn’t drop all that far in terms of range or hands.
    Anyway, it’ll be fun to pore over the results. Thanks again for doing it!

  21. Tropics iRE on August 23rd, 2007 4:01 pm

    … if you cant hit your target (first baseman/teammates glove) you dont belong in the game!!! …i hope you can hear me YUNI!¿!¿

  22. Evan on August 23rd, 2007 4:03 pm

    I like that we’re permitted to evaluate players on any team, because we often see a lot of players on division rivals, or local teams on TV if we’re not in Seattle. It gives me an opportunity to tell people what a great arm Alexis Rios has.

  23. nwtrev on August 23rd, 2007 5:05 pm

    If anyone is interested here are the results for 2006.

  24. tangotiger on August 24th, 2007 7:12 am

    I asked Dave about the player in question, and he corrected me in my view of his view (i.e., I remembered wrong).

  25. tangotiger on August 24th, 2007 7:59 am

    You guys have already shattered the previous record (that you held) for most submissions. At 300 and counting. Even a no-name (to the rest of us) like Jason Ellison received 78 submissions, which is more than most players on any other team.

    Anyway, prelim results (subject to change) are that Ichiro/Beltre are still considered elite, while YuBet took a tumble to a slightly above-average for a SS. Ellison is considered an above-average fielder for CF, and way-above at the corners. Sexson/Ibanez are easily the two worst fielders on the team. Except for Broussard, everyone else is average to a nick above.

    Look for the full report right after the season concludes.

    The YuBet example is exactly why these reports are important. PBP metrics will show numbers all over the place year-to-year, and, because of their small sample, will NOT imply any kind of directionality (the uncertainty range around those numbers makes it that you can’t tell if someone is on a trend or not). However, *your* numbers don’t have that problem. Your uncertainty level around his evaluation is far lower, and therefore, if we see him going from an “82” to a “66” (or whatever the final numbers will be… 50 is average for a fielder and 60 is average for a SS), then we *can* conclude that something drastic did happen to him.

  26. tangotiger on August 24th, 2007 8:10 am

    Oops… serves me right for doing prelim analysis without better quality check.

    Ellison is average, Burke is way low, and Broussard is challenging the other two.

    (Tech note: I had my “header” record in the original counts, where “1 to 7” was for Yubet, “8 to 15” was for Ichiro… by the time you get to Ellison, he got numbers over 100, which severely inflated his numbers. This would not have happened had I went through my normal process through a database. This was purely an Excel issue.)

  27. marc w on August 24th, 2007 10:03 am

    Tango – what can we conclude happened to YuBet? I mean, I think scouting reports never matched the on-field performance, and then finally, the scouting reports ‘fell’ back in line with actual performance.
    Actually, I think there’s a bit of both – his range looks notably worse now than it did in say 2005, but I think we may have been fooled by something back then (when he was rated 90 or whatever). It wasn’t just us, of course, but I want to know why that happened.

    Also, I’m wondering if a player’s usage as a ‘defensive replacement’ drives some of the numbers. Ellison has never received ‘above average’ rankings in the corners from the PBP metrics. Again, sample size and uncertainty mean your numbers are probably ‘better’, but I wonder how getting the tag of ‘defensive replacement’ influences people’s opinions/evaluations.

  28. tangotiger on August 24th, 2007 10:50 am

    Note that I corrected Ellison in post 26.

    As for YuBet, his fall from grace was in two categories: a bit in footwork/release and a ton in accuracy.

    In 2005, he was stellar across the board:
    And in 2006, that was repeated:
    Though his accuracy dropped the most (11 “points”), though it was still at a high level.

    As of right now, his accuracy is well below-average. His footwork/release is right around average.

    It’s possible that he just got lazy this year. But, you guys would know alot more about it than me.

  29. marc w on August 24th, 2007 11:25 am

    Ah, gotcha.

    Yes, his accuracy did take a hit – it’s tough to miss all those errors. But it’s his acceleration score (best proxy for what’s gen. called ‘range’?) that I thought might drop a bit more. We’ll see, I guess!

    Has MLB told you that you’re go to get a plug from mlb.com? That’ll be fascinating. My guess would be Betancourt scores a bit better from those voters…

  30. tangotiger on August 24th, 2007 11:59 am

    I haven’t asked yet. Probably next week.

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