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.