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June 6, 2012 5:00 am

Manufactured Runs: What We Really Know About the Shift


Colin Wyers

The defensive shift revolution makes for a nice narrative, but how much has it truly changed the game?

Last week, we examined the effects of fielding shifts on fielding metrics. For those who missed out, I’d advise you to go read it, but the short version is that location-based fielding metrics can overstate the importance of fielding shifts to a team’s defense and thus overrate players who are shifted in such an arrangement.

But if the fielding shifts are throwing defensive metrics off, that doesn’t mean that they aren’t contributing to team defense, right? And we are in what some people might term a shifting renaissance. John Dewan of Baseball Info Solutions says:

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Is the shifty Brett Lawrie truly the amazing fielder that some defensive metrics claim he is?

Let’s play a game called “Which one of these is not like the others?”

Culled from Fangraphs, Baseball-Reference, and yours truly, defensive ratings for Brett Lawrie:

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October 1, 2010 8:00 am

Ahead in the Count: Pitch Data and Walks


Matt Swartz

Is having pitch data available helpful in determining a pitcher's walk rates?

Last week, I looked at Predicting Strikeouts with Swing and Whiff Rates, breaking down pitch-by-pitch data to see if things like swinging-strike rates could provide more enlightenment when combined with the previous year’s strikeout rate to predict future strikeout rate. The answer was mostly negative. This was primarily due to two reasons. One was that much of the data on pitch locations is poor, and ensuing discussions highlighted just how poor it is. The other reason, however, is that strikeout rate is the quickest statistic to stabilize over small samples, so one year of strikeout data does a very good job of predicting subsequent strikeout data already. However, this week I will look at walk rate, and attempt to determine whether this data is more useful in predicting future walk rates. There is certainly evidence of value added in this case, far more so than with predicting strikeouts.

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March 12, 2010 11:52 am

MLB 10


Marc Normandin

A developer tells how advanced metrics help shape his company's video game.

Baseball video games have come a long way from the early days of arcade-style gameplay. Today, with franchise modes and career progression, the need for additional data is apparent. Throw in the fact that you have a more informed audience—and as a baseball audience, a very fickle one—and you realize how important it is to get your team and player ratings right, or else it may not matter how well your product plays. The developers from Sony Computer Entertainment San Diego are aware of this, and they use some of today's most advanced data in order to craft an authentic baseball experience for you in your living room. Jason Villa, a producer on MLB 10: The Show, spoke to us about how they do this.


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March 13, 2009 12:45 pm

Prospectus Q&A: John Dewan


David Laurila

A post-conference conversation with the man behind the indispensable pair of volumes of The Fielding Bible.

It might be a stretch to say that "defense" is John Dewan's middle name, but then again it easily could be. The author of the highly acclaimed The Fielding Bible has delivered an even more impressive second volume, making Dewan the industry's most influential voice when it comes to defensive metrics. A co-owner of Baseball Info Solutions, Dewan moderated the Baseball Analytics panel at last weekend's MIT Sloan Sports Analytics conference. Afterwards, he sat down with Baseball Prospectus to talk about why Carlos Gomez is a better defensive outfielder than Nate McLouth, why shortstops love Justin Morneau, and what it means to be a Molina.

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