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Examining an oft-cited method of predicting regular-season success from spring training stats.

It’s only natural to seek meaning in spring training statistics. By the time spring games roll around, we’re baseball-starved enough to believe anything. We’re also preparing for fantasy drafts, which means we’re always on the lookout for any info that could give us an edge. And contrary to the popular stathead saying, spring training stats aren’t actually meaningless—they’re just less meaningful, compared to a same-sized sample of big-league performance. Any change in a player’s performance should produce a corresponding (albeit small) change in our projection for that player. The more extreme that change in performance is, and the larger the sample, the more that projection shifts.

The most commonly cited method for assessing spring training statistics was proposed and popularized by John Dewan, the owner of Baseball Info Solutions. Dewan has devoted most of his analytical efforts to quantifying fielding, but he tackles other statistical topics in his “Stat of the Week” series at the website of publisher Acta Sports. Since at least 2005, Dewan has published an annual list of players whom he thinks stand a good chance to break out in the upcoming season, based on their spring training stats.

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July 18, 2012 5:00 am

Manufactured Runs: Getting Shifty Again


Colin Wyers

BIS addressed one problem with their defensive metric that was making Brett Lawrie look better than he is.

A while back, you may recall, I wrote an article about Brett Lawrie’s rating in one defensive metric, Baseball Info Solution’s Defensive Runs Saved. My conclusion:

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July 10, 2009 12:57 pm

Midseason Review


Eric Seidman

Reviewing who's doing how well at which positions depends greatly on the lens through which you view their performances.

This past week has served as a mid-season review of sorts, recapping the activities-both surprising and expected-in the performance realms of teams, hitters, starting pitchers, and relievers. We conclude this series with a look at how the fielding has shaken out so far. Unlike the previous reviews, in which my colleagues were able to employ comparisons between projections and actual results, the area of fielding is generally immune to such strategies. In fact, fielding stats are really more along the lines of performance snapshots at a specific point in time rather than irrefutable truths about talent levels. The reasoning deals with the methodologies behind the systems in place, so before moving onto the leader boards, let's briefly review what these metrics are currently evaluating.

For fielding, Ultimate Zone Rating (UZR) and John Dewan's Plus-Minus system are generally considered cutting edge, and both work in somewhat similar fashions. Developed by Mitchel Lichtman, UZR essentially breaks up the fielding grid into a wide array of different zones, measures the overall number of outs converted by each position in each zone, and compares the individuals at the positions to the average. The various components include range, errors, double plays, and/or throwing arms with the end result translating plays above or below average into runs, with the type of batted ball and park taken into account, providing a tangible quantification of how a player performed at a position relative to the average of himself and his positional peers. Dewan's system measures performance in plays in relation to the average without the run conversion. Due to the relative nature of this system, an influx of slick fielders can lead to an improved league, paving the way for situations in which a player with identical skills from one year to the next does not measure up as well.

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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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November 30, 2006 12:00 am

Transaction Analysis: November 22-29, 2006


Christina Kahrl

Royce Clayton finds his tenth major league team, and that's the least exciting signing in an inflated market. Christina takes you through the winners and losers so far.

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