Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Follow Up on Phillies' Defense

Hat tip to Chris.

Rollins looks good in this, and that's good. Abreu? Still coming out looking bad. I'm glad Rowan, next to him, is apparently the best or one of the best.

From yesterday's Philadelphia Inquirer:
Are you a Moneyball believer?

If so, The Fielding Bible might be of some interest. John Dewan, the author who works closely with sabermetrics impresario Bill James, has compiled a book that ranks players defensively based on a plus/minus system. The system is supposed to show how many plays a player makes compared to the average player at his position.

His formula basically throws out old-school statistics such as errors, putouts and assists, which are not an accurate measure of a player's skills, he says. In Dewan's system, tape of every play of every game last season was reviewed. The exact direction, distance, speed and type of every batted ball were entered into a computer. Players received credit for plays that other players could not make, while they lost credit for not making plays that other players did.

Got it?

Cutting through the intricacies, the Phillies, if the numbers are to be believed, were the best defensive team in baseball last season.

In Dewan's system, first baseman Ryan Howard ranked second last season among big-league first basemen. Second baseman Chase Utley, once considered a defensive liability, also ranked second. Shortstop Jimmy Rollins ranked fourth and third baseman David Bell finished first.

That's right, first.

"He has very good range with good hands and good footwork," Dewan wrote. "Although he doesn't have a very good arm for a third baseman, he has a quick release and good accuracy with his throws."

Manager Charlie Manuel often said last season that one of the reasons he continued to play Bell while he struggled against righthanded pitching was because of his defense.

Pat Burrell ranked 10th among leftfielders, and Aaron Rowand ranked first among centerfielders.

Gold Glove rightfielder Bobby Abreu? He ranked 28th out of 31.

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