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Bill James Newsbeat

Tuesday, June 23, 2020

Bill James: Why We Need Runs Saved Against Zero

        Absolute values, measured from zero up, create structure to our thought.  Absolute values make analysis possible.  Without reference points, it is very, very difficult to create a map, because every little error magnifies itself over space, creating an uncertain relationship between distant points.  “Surveying” is a matter of accurate measurement, yes, but it is also a system of creating multiple reference points.  Every map starts with a zero point; you don’t know what it is, but the guy who created the map does.  (For Google Earth, by the way, the zero point is in Lawrence, Kansas.  Really.)

        I understand, of course, why fielding is difficult to measure in absolute terms.  It is difficult to measure in all sports.  Offense is measured from the ground up.  Defense is measured from the sky down.  How tall is Charlie, measuring down from the sky?  It’s a hard problem.

        But the lack of a zero point, in measuring fielding, creates chaos in our ability to analyze fielding.  It creates just as much confusion in measuring fielding as it would in measuring income, or in creating a map.  And, because we have been measuring fielding in this odd way, there are lots and lots and lots of things about fielding that we SHOULD know, but we just have no way of knowing.

RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: June 23, 2020 at 01:00 PM | 183 comment(s)
  Beats: bill james




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