Ibanez is not good at defense

DMZ · December 18, 2008 at 3:04 pm · Filed Under Mariners 

Much goodness in this Baker discussion with Ibanez on his departure.

To sum up: Ibanez doesn’t believe in defensive stats.

His specific arguments are notable for being surprisingly cogent. Most players dismiss defensive measurement with a much broader brush (“dumb kids in mom’s basement hurr hurr hurr”).

He’s also wrong, of course.


19 Responses to “Ibanez is not good at defense”

  1. JLP on December 18th, 2008 3:31 pm

    Gotta love the USSM/LL love from Chris in Bothell.

    I can understand why Raul left. He wants a ring, wants to play the field, and won’t get either one of in Seattle anytime soon. Good luck, Raul.

  2. Typical Idiot Fan on December 18th, 2008 3:34 pm

    I don’t want to cause a shitstorm but doesn’t Raul bring up at least one valid point:

    It’s not just the location of batted balls that has to be judged, Ibanez said, but also the speed and angle at which they are hit.

    “Trying to judge accuracy on a camera view is not the same,” he said.

    I’ve heard a lot of people saying that if we had better ball-off-bat data we could do a better job of judging whether or not a ball should have been caught. I could have sworn I heard someone mentioning that the pitchFx system was going to incorporate something like this into a newer version of gameday.

  3. Red Apple on December 18th, 2008 3:36 pm

    Ibanez is good at being defensive.

  4. Mat on December 18th, 2008 3:56 pm

    I guess it is kind of difficult to appreciate just how slow Raul is in the outfield these days unless you show up to see his slowness in person.

  5. BigJared on December 18th, 2008 4:00 pm

    I don’t need any sabermetric sorcery Raul. I have watched your circus of comedy in LF for years.

    You get poor jumps. You take bad lines. You’re slow.

    The old school scouting types and the new school numbers types can probably agree on one thing: Raul Ibanez isn’t a very good outfielder.

    I wonder if Raul has seen the extensive .gif collection he gave birth to.

  6. Kunkoh on December 18th, 2008 4:01 pm

    I’m not a mathematician (or expert in probability and randomness); but it doesn’t seem much different than BABIP. It doesn’t take into account weak ground balls vs hard hit line drives, how fast/slow a player is or the like; however in the bigger picture the randomness evens out over the league of players. It gives us a general idea on whither someone was getting lucky, or unlucky – it’s not the end all be all (no single stat is). I think the same can be said for the newer defense metrics, in that they are as close as we can currently get to rating a player.

    Either way, I’m not sure how many lawn darts, bobbles, misses, etc you have to see before you realize Raul just isn’t good at defense. I don’t expect someone to admit they are bad at something though; especially when they are getting paid for that.

    PS. I do like Raul, he seems like a great guy and I wish him the best. I’ll miss him at the plate, but not so much in LF.

  7. Graham on December 18th, 2008 4:05 pm

    It doesn’t take into account weak ground balls vs hard hit line drives

    All of the worthwhile defensive stats do.

  8. DMZ on December 18th, 2008 4:06 pm

    That’s a fine point too — he’s arguing that it’s a probability thing, and he’s judged against “80% of LF make that play”. But we’re absolutely used to doing exactly this kind of thing with even batting average.

    If you were hitting .150 and people said you sucked, what would their reaction be when you said “you’re only basing that on your expectations, which come from a probablistic view of how all other hitters do — you’re leaving out where I’m trying to hit the ball, on whether or not someone’s on base…”?

    You’d be laughed at, and rightly so

  9. jefffrane on December 18th, 2008 4:13 pm

    Apparently, I need to get out more. I had no idea there was so much hostility among baseball fans toward statistical analysis of the game. Nor did I realize y’all were just faddists!

    I have no idea why it matters whether we watched Ibanez on the television or in person. No matter what, it was obvious that he was incapable of running down flyballs that weren’t falling into his mitt. No stats required, just paying attention.

  10. DMZ on December 18th, 2008 4:16 pm

    Ibanez in the article is arguing that scoring of ball flight/speed/etc shouldn’t be done by people watching on TV.

  11. Kunkoh on December 18th, 2008 4:17 pm

    Graham, I was speaking specifically of BABIP. Probably not the best metric, but it seems to be a decent for a general look at whither a hitter’s getting (un)lucky. Though it obviously shouldn’t be the sole determining factor. (please correct me if I’m wrong!) And using that in reference to Raul’s belief in defensive metrics (that it doesn’t take everything into account) to show that while they may not take everything into account, they are still useful.

    Or more specifically, that over the course of all players the probability will even out for hard hit, soft, this, that and the other; and since all players are using the same stats it should be roughly accurate.

    As for “worthwhile defensive stats”; I admit I have no idea what all goes into UZR. (again, please let me know if there is a better metric!)

  12. Red Apple on December 18th, 2008 4:18 pm

    TV does add 10 pounds, after all.

  13. terry on December 18th, 2008 4:21 pm

    Ibanez in the article is arguing that scoring of ball flight/speed/etc shouldn’t be done by people watching on TV.

    He’s also arguing that the scoring shouldn’t be done by the people doing it irregardless of the tv.

  14. SonOfZavaras on December 18th, 2008 4:24 pm

    What I’d also like to know is where the hell Baker gets words like “allignement” and “per sei”.

    I’ve been told UZR is the best way to evaluate defensive prowess, but I haven’t found out yet what goes into it.

    But I don’t need UZR or a VCR to know Raul is among the worst left-fielders in the game defensively. Fifty games or so seen personally with him playing there are enough to convince me of that.

  15. Bozo on December 18th, 2008 4:46 pm

    What I’d also like to know is where the hell Baker gets words like “allignement” and “per sei”.

    Canada ? Just a guess …

  16. Slippery Elmer on December 18th, 2008 5:20 pm

    SonOfZavaras: What I’d also like to know is where the hell Baker gets words like “allignement” and “per sei”.

    I was coming to say the same thing. I guess that’s the trade-off with a blog: no slot man to fix your lame misspellings.

    I thought it was a good article, though, despite the statements in question.

  17. jjracoon on December 19th, 2008 6:35 am

    Ibanez has always been an average outfielder in my eyes and played adequately when there were two other outfielders with excellent defensive skills; however, his reaction time has slowed down and the balls that he could make a play on before are now dropping in. I remember a game last year where two times the same flyball was hit to the warning track about 30-40 feet from the
    left field line. In both cases he was still frozen in place with not even a step taken. I was never fast but I reacted to the pitch and contact
    when I was young. It was hard to accept that my first move ability was going away and I should accept a position change such as 1st base. Pride is a hard thing to overcome. I just hope that he can do alright with the bat so fans overlook his declining skills!!

  18. Oolon on December 19th, 2008 9:04 am

    It doesn’t surprise me that players aren’t big believers in defensive stats. From what I’ve seen even the statsheads aren’t big believers in defensive stats.

    There’s a plethora of defensive stats out there and usually any discussion is started with something like, “Defensive stats can’t be measured as easily as offensive stats”. And then the discussion usually looks at several defensive systems which tend to generally agree, but often don’t.

    So, until the people who are wrapped up in numbers are comfortable I can’t really fault the players for saying they don’t pay much attention to them.

  19. DMZ on December 19th, 2008 9:25 am

    I don’t think it’s true at all that statheads aren’t believers in defensive stats.

    Personally, as something of a stathead, I think they’re rougher than what we can do with offensive stats, especially because we’re still untangling the complicated relationship between pitchers, batted balls, park effects, and the hitter’s actions. But they’ve come amazingly far in a few years, and offer a wealth of information.

    You do have to be careful about how you interpret them, of course.

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