Gold Gloves Fielding Bible awards are inOctober 31st, 2012 by terrybenish
Some of this will be a rehash of reporting already done, but it
is worthy of a distinct set of words.
We’re going to talk about two Mariners, Brendan Ryan and Dustin Ackley and concepts like Ultimate Zone Rating (UZR), Range Factor and Wins Above Replacement Player (WAR) which are common currency amongst Sabermetric folks and maybe are not the be all that they’re supposed to be.
There has been great consternation and effort amongst baseball analysts and writers both regarding measurable defensive stats for years, because fielding percentage was so inadequate and misleading a stat to measure if a player was a great or poor defender. People started using range factor, a stat from the mind of Bill James as a way to capture the best short stops etc.
Within the past seven or eight years UZR has come to be used as the best measure. The problem is that it is at best flawed and at its worse misleading. If you want a definition of UZR a good link to go to is from Dave Gershman:
Here is an exhaustive discussion on why UZR is a terrible stat:
Last little bit before the discussion, UZR is a big component of WAR, which tries to give a single number as to the value of a player. If the defensive component is broken, I suspect the whole thing is, unless we’re back to the days of recent past where defense is unfathomable, so let’s not discuss it. That was what passes for a plug, because I think WAR is very inadequate and for a bunch of statisticians way, way too simple. In the case of defense, an analyst needs to look at all the individual stats, range arm etc and vote that way. The whole replacement player thing is basically a long wave average, a statistical regression to the mean. In the short run it misses changes in the game and in the long run, well in the long run, well shoot we all move on.
So Brendan Ryan won the Fielding Bible Award as the best short stop in baseball, hands down. Here is the link to the 2012 Awards and the voting panel includes: 1. Bill James 2. Peter Gammons 3. Hal Richman 4. Joe Posnanski 5. John Dewan 6. Doug Glanville 7. Mark Simon 8. Rob Neywer 9. Tom Tango and three tie breakers.
Brendan Ryan lost the Gold Glove award to J.J. Hardy of the Orioles. Hardy is a good short stop and for a short stop a very good hitter. That last factoid sort dropped into the discussion like a bee doing a header into your chocolate milk, as in why did you write that? Well Gold Glove awards are voted on by team managers and a few coaches. The Orioles made the playoffs, the vote for Hardy is a traditional reward for that fact and a recognition of his contributions. Is it correct? Statistically, probably not at all, but it’s what has been done forever and a day.
Ryan is probably the best short stop since Ozzie Smith was in his prime. So what about Dustin Ackley? I don’t want to be guilty of the same goofy bias of the Gold Glove voters, so I won’t say he’s a terrible hitter, because Ryan is worse even than him, so I won’t say it. I’m left to wonder why he’s in the discussion, except to speculate that the managers might have said, “Well shoot-fire, he can’t hit a lick so he must be good defensively, because they run him out there all the time.”
The Fielding Bible folks do not seem to have talked about Ackley at all. Ackley may not be even the best second baseman in the Mariner organization, Kyle Seager is a much better second baseman statistically and to the eye, but then he is playing third base and was drafted below Ackley a couple of years ago. At the end of the day Nick Franklin might be better too.