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Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Instream Sports: Jordan: (Brendan) Ryan’s Hope

David Jordan’s...“shout-out to Brendan Ryan, the defensive player of the year, who apparently didn’t speak clear enough into the clown’s mouth and was screwed.”

We’re not there yet.

That’s the only conclusion we can arrive at after looking at the 2012 Rawlings Gold Glove Award winners. To see that Brendan Ryan, possibly the best defensive player in the game this season, is not a part of this list is extremely weak sauce. Many outlets use Sean Forman’s Defensive Wins Above Replacement (dWAR); some use FANGRAPHS’ UZR rating (UZR). Some discount the Range Factor (RF/9) metric. We throw them all together is a delicious recipe of glove work goodness. We also utilize some traditional statistics in our Pitcher Defense formula such as Putouts, Assists and Errors as stand-ins for UZR. Let’s go over the winners vs OUR winners:


If the Baseball Writers ever decided to create a Defensive Player of the Year award, most sabermetric experts, analysts and observers (looking at you, Colin) believe the voting should begin and end at the shortstop position. In any case, Brendan Ryan, in our view, was the runner-up for the overall award behind Matt Wieters. That said, Ryan was awesome this season. This is to take nothing away from the Orioles shortstop, who according to RF/9, while he beat Ryan for range factor, he was way behind the Mariners’ shortstop by a wide margin in UZR and dWAR. We have Ryan better by almost 20% over Hardy. The voters are simply paying waaay too much attention to offense here……


…And reputation here. Brandon Crawford, Zach Cozart, Starlin Castro all were superior to the Phillies’ veteran shortstop by our calculations. UZR, dWAR, RF/9, Rollins was behind all of them in every category with the exception of Castro for UZR rating. This is not even mentioning the Pirates’ Barmes, who had highest UZR by a wide margin, highest dWAR and ended 3rd in range. The Braves’ Audrelton Simmons is potentially a defensive star at the position, he simply didn’t play enough innings for us to compete here. Bad job, Rawlings.

Repoz Posted: October 31, 2012 at 11:45 AM | 11 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: sabermetrics

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Statements posted here are those of our readers and do not represent the BaseballThinkFactory. Names are provided by the poster and are not verified. We ask that posters follow our submission policy. Please report any inappropriate comments.

   1. Yeaarrgghhhh Posted: October 31, 2012 at 12:25 PM (#4289251)
Again, this is silly. Hardy was +15/season according to BIS, +18 with Total Zone, and +10 with UZR, an average of +14. Ryan was +28, +10, and +17, and average of +18. Hardy also had 300 more innings at SS. They both had great seasons defensively, but unless you think BIS is gospel (and I find +28 a little hard to believe), it was a toss up and Hardy is a fine choice.
   2. Infinite Yost (Voxter) Posted: October 31, 2012 at 02:05 PM (#4289333)
David Jordan is my dad's name.

I'm pretty sure my dad didn't write this.
   3. valuearbitrageur Posted: October 31, 2012 at 02:10 PM (#4289339)
Uh, oh, i just go a sneak peek at David Jordan's next piece. It is titled...

"my disappointment of a son, what kind of man would call himself Voxster?"

He then goes on for three paragraphs about how your mom won't listen to him and kick you out of the basement.
   4. Greg K Posted: October 31, 2012 at 02:23 PM (#4289355)
I'm also not sure Hardy won on the merit of his bat. He certainly hit better than Ryan, but he had a pretty poor season with the bat himself. Eight AL shortstops had a higher wOBA than Hardy.

I'd say he likely won because
A) as #1 points out he is really good defensively
B) he likely gets some kind of Orioles "magic season" boost

EDIT: Oops, fangraphs includes Zobrist on its list of AL SS, make that 7 (Andrus, Aybar, Jeter, Cabrera, Escobar...not that one, Peralta and Carroll).
   5. Dock Ellis Posted: October 31, 2012 at 02:27 PM (#4289360)
Who the heck is Craig Gentry?
   6. Mike Emeigh Posted: October 31, 2012 at 03:43 PM (#4289439)
Who the heck is Craig Gentry?

Rangers CF, 648 innings in CF this year. Hard to make a case for a guy who didn't even play half the innings (something the authors sort of recognized).

-- MWE
   7. cardsfanboy Posted: October 31, 2012 at 03:56 PM (#4289451)
Looking at the results, isn't this one of the better Gold Glove results in recent memory? (Did I miss the Gold Glove results thread?)
   8. Dock Ellis Posted: October 31, 2012 at 04:08 PM (#4289457)
Thanks MWE. It's not often a player I'd never heard of being discussed as a candidate for an award.
   9. cardsfanboy Posted: October 31, 2012 at 04:20 PM (#4289464)
Looking at their complaints...Sorry but first off it the guy didn't play at least 120 games at the position(catcher and pitcher excepted) then I don't think they should even be considered.

Which leaves their complaints down to Hardy vs Ryan; Rollins vs Barmes; Moustakas vs Beltre; Headley vs Wright; (We'll get to their outfield choices in a bit) and nobody cares about pitchers.

Hardy vs Ryan, a mistake, but they have a very good player win it, so it's not a crime, it's a difference of opinion. I agree Ryan is better, but again, Hardy is pretty good, if you want to base it strictly on stats, then you really need to just play computer games.

Rollins vs Barmes...clear mistake based upon reputation only.
Moustakas vs Beltre.... The writer acts like this is a travesty. First off one season of data is not indicative of the actual quality of defense that the player provided, second Beltre provided excellent defense, second the award does have something to do with reputation. This isn't like giving Jeter the award, this is like giving A Brooks Robinson a little past his prime the award. His disdain at giving it to Beltre, is exactly the type of garbage comment that makes people say to the stat community get out of your house. As it stands, we don't have enough data to evaluate how good Moustakas really is.

Headley vs Wright---mistake. (although the writers obsession with a meaningless stat like rf/9 is pretty disturbing)

Now onto the outfielders. Apparently the writer doesn't realize that the vote is based upon individual positions, as he recommended three centerfielders in the Al Trout(110 games in center) and Span (125 games in center) Gentry(114 games in center) so his critique of the AL outfielders is a complete and utter waste of time.

In the NL He has two centerfielders (Bourn and Harper) so again his analysis (which consists of basically looking at three stats only for this season---guys like this make the stat community look like Murray Chass) is utter bunk. Mind you, there is no way that Bourn should have been passed over, but McCutchen offensive year was just too strong, I guess.

   10. djordan Posted: October 31, 2012 at 05:24 PM (#4289523)
@ Cardsfanboy, thanks for taking the time to comment on my work. Here are my follow-up thoughts:

1)I said this was an experiment toward the end of the post. "Granted, the SABERLEADERS was an experimental test of measuring the BBWAA award winners using sabermetrics, as well as creating new achievements..... We’re still working on different elements and taking advice where we may need to make adjustments." So, yes, it's not perfect, but I believe we are one of the first sites to "blend" different metrics together to compile a number that gets us close to finding the true top fielder at each position. We're not there yet, either, but we're getting closer as a community to being able to quantify this award. I think that's a good thing.

2) I should've designated an award for each outfield position. I chose to reward pure defense - I did not specify this further in the article - I should have. By doing this, I lumped Trout into the "OF" category as opposed to "CF." I'll do it differently next season.

3) Went back and forth on including Gentry. He had a fine season - I used 100 games as my cutoff. Should I have used 120, 125? Maybe. Live and learn. Of course, does this mean we should strip George Brett of his batting title in 1980 (.390) because of his 515 PAs vs Cecil Cooper (.352) and his 678?

4) Moustakas played 20 more games @ 3B than Beltre, so the argument of extra number of games above the cutoff (re. Span-125) needs to be consistent.

5) I've heard many times before that UZR is composed of stats from three seasons. Then would you say it's meaningless to even list UZR for a first year player?

6) For most of the positions we only used UZR, dWAR & RF/9. I consulted with writers and sabermetric analysts from the major stat sites if including RF/9 (but not as the sole metric) made sense. That's why it's there. It is my belief that a blended number removes any of the Brett Lawrie-like outliers that sometimes occur. Are there other stats/metric that you believe would improve this? I only want this to be the most true number it can be.

Ultimately, I didn't post this here. I gave it my best effort. When I first began this process, I called it a "statistical test kitchen," very open-minded and willing to make adjustments. Someone in this forum asked me to adjust Catcher's Defense and I gladly did that. If you have more specific defensive stats that get us to a better place, please, let's make this a group effort. I think that's something even Murray Chass, on a shining Saturday afternoon, riding a unicorn, over a rainbow, could agree upon.
   11. Walt Davis Posted: November 01, 2012 at 01:07 AM (#4289751)
First off one season of data is not indicative of the actual quality of defense that the player provided

Says who?

One season of data is such a small sample that it is not a reliable indicator of the "true talent" -- i.e. it does not have a lot of predictive power.

That, in no way, implies that it is an inaccurate measure of the actual quality of defense that the player provided. And it most certainly is "indicative" of that quality.

Now, if you want to substantiate a claim of measurement error, then that's fine. But to, for some reason, penalize a player you need to show that the measurement error is bias which worked in favor of that particular player.

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