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Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Sneak Peek:  ESPN Defensive Ratings

Many people have commented with glee about ESPN’s latest masterpiece, ESPN Player Ratings.  These ratings take everything that’s important about a player and boils it down into a number than can be used to evaluate that the player’s worth to a team, the most important thing in baseball.

Using my Top Secret Insider Connections, I broke into ESPN’s headquarters and procured the secret upcoming formula from the two-key secure mainframe inside Bristol’s reactor core.  Enjoy!  But if you don’t hear from me again, it means that E-men got to me.

UPDATE: I’m in even hotter water as I have obtained the exclusive spreadsheet and am posting it here.  I’m in hiding right now, but I feel the walls closing around me.  Please, tell people.  Tell people.

ESPN’s Defensive Ratings

by Andronicus W. Einsteinium

Everybody’s talking about the ESPN Player Ratings© recently unveiled by ESPN.com© in conjunction with ESPN©, The Worldwide Leader in Sports©.  Now, I am happy to bring you the© companion creation, ESPN Defensive Ratings©!

Like ESPN Ratings©, ESPN Defensive Ratings© rank players according to everything that’s important.  In this case, the aspects of defense that cause teams to win championships.  As an example, here are the 2007 MLB Shortstops, ranked by ESPN Defensive Rating©.  Enjoy!  Players get 30 points for being the best in a category and 1 point for being the worst.  Categories are weighted by importance and then, multiplied by some number to look like a 1-100 scale even though it really isn’t.

Legend:

FPCT - Fielding Percentage (19%) - By far the most important measure of fielding, fielding percentage has proven itself for more than a century as the gold standard by which excellence is judged.  Until now.

+/- 35 - How many years from Age 35 (16%) - Stats cannot measure a player’s leadership, which comes from experience.  But this is the next best thing.

Ht>60 - Height over 60 inches (10%) - It’s well known that taller players have more trouble playing defense because their gangly limbs can get in the way, unlike short, compact sparkplugs.  This is only weighted 12% because it would be unfair to be too hard on elite defenders like Derek Jeter who overcome their height.

Skin - Skin tone (1-10) (14%) - Everybody knows that white players have to work harder because they don’t have as much natural talent.  Hard work should always be honored.

Elc. V - Electoral Votes of Home State (7%) - When you think of defensive prowess, what do you think of?  California and Florida boys who work in the sun, good ol’ Texas lads who farm during the day and play baseball at night, and scrappy New Yorkers, full of piss and vinegar.  All those states have a lot of electoral votes.  Nuff said.

Clutch - Clutch Ability (15%) - Do I have to say more?

Team WSWWII - Team World Series since WWII (9%) - Stat nerds were very disappointed that we included quality of team in our ESPN Player Ratings©.  I’m guessing that they don’t think the sample size is large enough, so, after consulting with a team of molecular biologists, I decided to go back more than half a century to 1945!  Take that small-sample whiners!

Jump - Random Jumping (10%) - Sometimes, you just need to leave your feet to make a throw in order to inspire your teammates to greatness.

Dan Szymborski Posted: June 12, 2007 at 06:28 PM | 48 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
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Reader Comments and Retorts

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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. AROM Posted: June 12, 2007 at 06:55 PM (#2401513)
Forget UZR. This is the standard by which all defensive stats must be judged. An incredible effort Dan, bringing all the tangible and intangible together.
   2. AROM Posted: June 12, 2007 at 06:57 PM (#2401522)
A quibble though, You have Harris listed as a 9 for skin, higher than other 'white' shortstops like Crosby and Young. They have to play under the sun, while Harris plays in a dome. Shouldn't you consider a park factor here?
   3. Slinger Francisco Barrios (Dr. Memory) Posted: June 12, 2007 at 06:58 PM (#2401523)
Shouldn't "+/- 35" be shown as, in Derek Jeter's instance, -3? Or is it meant to be the absolute value of the difference? This would hurt Jeter a bit (if his Clutch weren't off the charts).
   4. Slinger Francisco Barrios (Dr. Memory) Posted: June 12, 2007 at 07:03 PM (#2401525)
Also, Elc. V is totally bogus. When I think of defensive prowess, I think of Venezuela. Perhaps a column relating to oil production would be more appropriate. It would conveniently include your Texans, although it might overrate Rusty Staub (not to mention Curt Schilling) just a bit.
   5. RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: June 12, 2007 at 07:12 PM (#2401540)
I don't think there is enough emphasis on "grit", and I'm not sure "Skin tone" effectively captures it. Are you factoring in determination? Off-field obstacles overcome? Managerial fondness for said player? Ability to keep a MLB job despite the absence of talent? Instances of announcers calling him a "gamer"?

So it could use some tweaking, but this is obviously the gold standard that all fielding discussions should utilize. Well done Dan.
   6. Yeaarrgghhhh Posted: June 12, 2007 at 07:13 PM (#2401541)
Is Tejada only getting credit for the Orioles' world series appearances? that doesn't seem right.
   7. The Artist Posted: June 12, 2007 at 07:13 PM (#2401542)
I think this is a good start Dan, but where do you measure a player's "desire to win"?
   8. Yeaarrgghhhh Posted: June 12, 2007 at 07:18 PM (#2401547)
Bristol's reactor core.

Is that anything like the one in "I, Robot"?
   9. The Buddy Biancalana Hit Counter Posted: June 12, 2007 at 07:18 PM (#2401549)
Danny Ainge believes this is worthless because it fails to account for a player's brain type.
   10. Dan Szymborski Posted: June 12, 2007 at 07:21 PM (#2401556)
I appreciate the kudos, but the work was done by Andy Einsteinium and I'm in enough trouble with ESPN for infilitrating their secret lair. I hope to eventually mend fences enough to get an interview with Andy, so he can tell us about his tremendous journey from crack addict sleeping in ESPN's janitorial closet to the number 1 cognitive biologer for the big E.
   11. Dan Szymborski Posted: June 12, 2007 at 07:28 PM (#2401564)
A quibble though, You have Harris listed as a 9 for skin, higher than other 'white' shortstops like Crosby and Young. They have to play under the sun, while Harris plays in a dome. Shouldn't you consider a park factor here?

I can't speak from Andy, but Jeff Bennett discussed this at length. Essentially, as Bennett's theory goes, park factors are overrated - clearly, Carl Crawford can still be black in a dome and Khalil Greene can still be surprisingly white in sunny San Diego, so it's unfair to penalize Brendan Harris or to reward Miguel Tejada.
   12. Garth found his way to daylight Posted: June 12, 2007 at 07:47 PM (#2401588)
I think you're missing the key piece of any good defender: Number of ESPN Web Gems accrued.

Also, you've touched upon it with +/- 35, but "clubhouse presence" is conspicuously missing.
   13. The Artist Posted: June 12, 2007 at 07:50 PM (#2401592)
Also, what about the "mental toughness" aspect? Seriously Dan - I'm disappointed.
   14. AJMcCringleberry Posted: June 12, 2007 at 08:04 PM (#2401615)
Any ratings that don't have Jeter #1 I can't take seriously.
   15. Walt Davis Posted: June 12, 2007 at 08:11 PM (#2401628)
Hey, lay off Dan -- it's not his fault that Stats doesn't track Web Gems.

I agree with the Venezuelan factor though so perhaps a ranking of oil production and consumption -- that way you get to keep Venezuela, Texas, California, and NY.

I think there may need to be some position-specific factors included. I don't know how you measure SS defense if you don't include salary/HR. Used to be only the Yankees were aware of this factor -- it's why they moved AROD to 3B.

The key point is that this stat is useless until it can show to everybody that Jeter is #1.
   16. DaMick knows what love is. A Boy Loves His Dog. Posted: June 12, 2007 at 09:15 PM (#2401702)
Would the use of self-tanning lotion constitute use of illegal performance enhancing drugs?

DaMick
   17. zonk Posted: June 12, 2007 at 11:37 PM (#2401811)
Hey, lay off Dan -- it's not his fault that Stats doesn't track Web Gems.


Perhaps my sources are just better than Dan's, but I believe that ESPN Defensive Ratings+© -- which does include the Web Gems quotient -- are only going to be made available to ESPN Insider© subscribers. My sources further tell me that if you don't mute certain parts of ESPN's Baseball Tonight© or ESPN's Sunday Night Baseball© Presented by Taco Bell©, you'll hear a secret code you can use online at ESPN.com© to see ESPN Defensive Ratings+Extreme©... though, my mole tells me that you're likely hear the code solely from the lips of Kruk, Morgan, or the like.

ESPN Defensive Ratings+Extreme© will include the Stuart Scott Catchphrase Quotient©, which ultimately shows Derek Jeter to be top of the heap.
   18. North Side Chicago Expatriate Giants Fan Posted: June 12, 2007 at 11:46 PM (#2401822)
Brilliant. Just brilliant.
   19. Dan Evensen Posted: June 13, 2007 at 01:06 AM (#2402040)
Dan, I am in awe.
   20. RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: June 13, 2007 at 01:24 AM (#2402111)
Perhaps my sources are just better than Dan's, but I believe that ESPN Defensive Ratings+© -- which does include the Web Gems quotient -- are only going to be made available to ESPN Insider© subscribers. My sources further tell me that if you don't mute certain parts of ESPN's Baseball Tonight© or ESPN's Sunday Night Baseball© Presented by Taco Bell©, you'll hear a secret code you can use online at ESPN.com© to see ESPN Defensive Ratings+Extreme©... though, my mole tells me that you're likely hear the code solely from the lips of Kruk, Morgan, or the like.

ESPN Defensive Ratings+Extreme© will include the Stuart Scott Catchphrase Quotient©, which ultimately shows Derek Jeter to be top of the heap.


This post was brought to you by Bud Light. Always worth it.
   21. Balkroth Posted: June 13, 2007 at 02:14 AM (#2402191)
So where does Eckstein rank ?
   22. The importance of being Ernest Riles Posted: June 13, 2007 at 02:28 AM (#2402207)
You forgot regression to the mean.
   23. AROM Posted: June 13, 2007 at 02:29 AM (#2402211)
Clutch doesn't regress to the mean, it rises to the occasion.
   24. Garth found his way to daylight Posted: June 13, 2007 at 02:37 AM (#2402228)
Clutch doesn't regress to the mean, it rises to the occasion.

That may be the funniest thing I've ever read at BBTF. It reminds me a lot of the great Chuck Norris jokes.
   25. The importance of being Ernest Riles Posted: June 13, 2007 at 02:51 AM (#2402285)
Clutch doesn't regress to the mean, it rises to the occasion.


<standing ovation>
   26. Phil Coorey is a T-Shirt Salesman Posted: June 13, 2007 at 07:02 AM (#2402432)
Wow, just wow funny
   27. Scoriano Flitcraft Posted: June 13, 2007 at 11:30 AM (#2402447)
With all due respect for the effort, this might have been kinda sorta five years ago.

Now, not so much.
   28. Dan Szymborski Posted: June 13, 2007 at 02:13 PM (#2402508)
Updated.
   29. joshtothemaxx Posted: June 13, 2007 at 02:16 PM (#2402510)
Nothing gets me more excited than the graceful leaping image of Derek Jeter. And his clutchitude.
   30. 1k5v3L Posted: June 13, 2007 at 02:33 PM (#2402526)
Nothing gets me more excited than the graceful leaping image of Derek Jeter. And his clutchitude.


The SOB didn't have to jump last night to grab that liner by Chris Young. He should've dove to his left.
   31. The Polish Sausage Racer Posted: June 13, 2007 at 04:37 PM (#2402640)
Y'know, I'd sign up for this service if it still had Harold Reynolds coming to upgrade your wardrobe.
   32. Schilling's Sprained Ankiel Posted: June 13, 2007 at 04:47 PM (#2402655)
This is a masterpiece. Well Done.
   33. Famous Original Joe C Posted: June 13, 2007 at 04:48 PM (#2402660)
Always enjoy your work, Dan.
   34. zonk Posted: June 13, 2007 at 05:00 PM (#2402674)
Updated.


Ummm... not quite.

Where are the waves of pop-ups? Where are the floating Flash widgets to get in my way of reading the content? Where are the noises, flashing lights, and other baubles? Where are the obstrusive , jump-to-the-front ads to interfere with drop-down menus?

...and above all -- why haven't we heard from Sean yet that BB-Ref will be updated to actually make this statistic accessible and at least entertaining?

I have to say, I'm a bit worried about the future of ESPN Defensive Ratings© if they cannot be properly buried behind behind webjunk and shitty design, then rescued by bb-ref as with everything else.
   35. CrosbyBird Posted: June 13, 2007 at 06:17 PM (#2402740)
Best touch is Eckstein's "skin" rating.
   36. Slinger Francisco Barrios (Dr. Memory) Posted: June 13, 2007 at 06:22 PM (#2402744)
Tell Einsteinium we appreciate the update. Two comments.

- Surely the +/- is backwards, per post #12.

- Eckstein is pretty pasty, but 41 points ahead of Wilson? No way.
   37. Dan Szymborski Posted: June 13, 2007 at 07:32 PM (#2402792)
- Surely the +/- is backwards, per post #12.


Lower is better, with higher values being negative. I was trying to poke fun at the tendency to not just do things arbitrarily, but actually to apply the arbitrary stat in a ridiculous manner.
   38. danup Posted: June 13, 2007 at 07:37 PM (#2402798)
... wait, Khalil Greene is white? I've been looking at his defensive numbers all wrong!
   39. Dan Szymborski Posted: June 13, 2007 at 07:48 PM (#2402808)
Don't feel bad. Everybody goes through The Khalil Effect at some point in their lives. Whether it's a kindergarten teacher looking at the attendance list or a baseball fan seeing Greene for the first time, everyone goes through the shock that the man named "Khalil Thabit Greene" isn't just not a minority, but a very white man, sometimes with flowing blond locks like a Norse god.
   40. cardsfanboy Posted: June 14, 2007 at 04:59 PM (#2403869)
Isn't Khalil Greene the guy that looks like Spicoli (Sean Penn)?
   41. Andere Richtingen Posted: June 15, 2007 at 01:52 AM (#2404617)
Don't feel bad. Everybody goes through The Khalil Effect at some point in their lives. Whether it's a kindergarten teacher looking at the attendance list or a baseball fan seeing Greene for the first time, everyone goes through the shock that the man named "Khalil Thabit Greene" isn't just not a minority, but a very white man, sometimes with flowing blond locks like a Norse god.

You're just jealous.
   42. Dan Szymborski Posted: June 15, 2007 at 03:09 AM (#2404728)

You're just jealous.


I actually usually have quite a full head of hair, I've just been shaving it since September. I haven't been able to keep it up - my skin is too sensitive and my scalp still wants the temperature to be 20 degrees warmer than the rest of my body.
   43. Anthony Giacalone Posted: June 15, 2007 at 05:23 AM (#2404768)
Brilliant!
   44. MSI Posted: June 15, 2007 at 02:29 PM (#2404888)
hilarious as always.
   45. FrankM Posted: June 15, 2007 at 02:51 PM (#2404908)
I too went through the Khalil Effect.

Also when I found out Chip Ambres was black.
   46. Slinger Francisco Barrios (Dr. Memory) Posted: June 15, 2007 at 07:21 PM (#2405112)
I was trying to poke fun at the tendency to not just do things arbitrarily, but actually to apply the arbitrary stat in a ridiculous manner.

I'm just keeping the ridiculosity coming is all.

Whether it's a kindergarten teacher looking at the attendance list

$5 will get you $10 he was home-schooled at that age.

I too went through the Khalil Effect.

I'm still not getting over Willie Bloomquist.
   47. meet the mets Posted: July 10, 2007 at 12:40 AM (#2435187)
there is absolutely no way in hell that this list/formula is accurate. please, anything that has young and jeter ahead of renteria, reyes and furcal is absurd. i mean really, jeter's range was bad enough for most of his career, but it is plain embarrassing now. does anyone bother to see how many hits up the middle there are against the yankees? and i don't mean screamers back up the box, i mean soft choppers up the middle on the ss side by 6-10 feet that jeter doesn't even get close too. gimme a break.
   48. Dan Szymborski Posted: July 10, 2007 at 11:53 PM (#2436168)
Fer, I'm guessing you didn't read the explanation?

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