Saturday, November 01, 2008

Fielding Bible +/-

Yesterday, I talked about the Fielding Bible Awards where a panel of experts selects the best fielders in the game at each position. Today, I'll discuss the Fielding Bible +/- statistic. The leader boards can be found for free at the Fielding Bible site linked above. More players can be found at Bill James Online (a pay site) and more detail will be included in The Fielding Bible, a book which will be published in February, 2009.

Baseball Info Solutions video scouts watch every play of every major league game and record information about location , distance, speed (soft/medium/hard) and type of hit (groundball, liner, flyball, bunt, fliner (somewhere between fly and liner) for each play.

Each type of play (e.g soft hit ground ball hit into the hole between short and third) has a difficulty which is determined by how many times major league fielders convert that play into an out. For example, if that play was made 30% of the time, the a player gets a score of +.70 for making that play. If he doesn't make that play, he gets a -.30. All the scores on all the plays are summed for a player to get his +/- rating. The rating represents how many plays the player made above or below those an average player at his position would make.

According to this system, The best Tigers fielder in 2008 was Placido Polanco who made 14 plays above what an average second baseman would make. Other Tigers are shown below:

1B. Miguel Cabrera -4
2B. Placido Polanco +14
SS. Edgar Renteria -9
3B. Carlos Guillen -8
RF. Magglio Ordonez -11
CF. Curtis Granderson -12
LF Marcus Thames -13/ Matt Joyce +3

Lots of minuses. This is more evidence that the Tigers need to improve their defense next year.


  1. For me as a casual fan, lousy fielding can be a bit more troubling than lousy hitting or lousy pitching because I think that lousy fielders have a congenital condition that is incurable. At least with hitting and pitching there can be the illusion created that a change in the coaching staff will somehow change a player's approach and bring out that untapped potential. I've never heard of a coach who had a reputation for improving people's fielding.

    My hope for improvement is based upon Granderson returning to his 2007 form, Cabrera improving with familiarity at first base, and someone of a "glove man" stature replacing Renteria. I don't believe that Inge will hold onto the third base job, and I think that Guillen will return there and perform adequately.

  2. Charles, I agree with you on Granderson improving and the signing of a defensive guy at shortstop. I also believe that Inge will end up as a utility player. I'm not sure about Cabrera and Guillen. I'm hoping.


  3. These ratings are suspect if Granderson is rated the 2nd worst defensive player on the team.

  4. Doug, one thing to keep in mind is that Granderson's numbers should not be compared to other players on his team. It is in comparison to other center fielders. Most teams have very good defensive center fielders so the competition is tougher. I think Granderson was probably the second best defender among Tigers regulars behind Polanco.

    Just based on watching the games, Granderson was not nearly as good this year as he was last year. He was not getting to as many balls. I was a bit surprised to see his final number so low but I don't think it's too far off base. He didn't have a good year defensively.



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