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June 13, 2012 7:00 am

Manufactured Runs: The Madness of King Bill


Colin Wyers

A conscientious sabermetrician questions everything, even the work of Bill James.

The really great thing about learning from one’s predecessors is that you can learn just as much from when they are wrong as when they are right, if you take care and are vigilant—which is to say, that you recognize that an error was made to begin with.

At its core, sabermetrics got its start because people were able to read things and then ask questions about what they read, rather than taking everything at face value. Does this make sense? Is this really true? And I think that any sabermetrics worthy of that name is as willing to question itself in this fashion as it is everyone else.

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In March 2002, Baseball Digest said we were living in "the era of the shortstop." After all, the late 1990s ushered in a crop of offensive-minded shortstops like Alex Rodriguez, Miguel Tejada, Derek Jeter, and Nomar Garciaparra. The article included the Royals' Neifi Perez, but given the benefit of hindsight, I'll leave him out of the discussion. A popular conception was that this represented a new era where the once defense-dominated position was no longer going to be a wasted spot in the batting order. As the other teams scrambled to keep up with the Joneses, was something lost in the process? Is the quest for the next batch of power-hitting shortstops leaving defense in its wake? To answer this question and others, we will use the Win Shares system to help us.

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March 7, 2003 12:00 am

Breaking Balls: Getting Defensive: Advanced Concepts


Derek Zumsteg

In Part One, I took a walk through the big fielding stats: errors and fielding percentage, Range Factor, and Defensive Average/Zone Rating. Here, we'll talk about three of the more advanced fielding statistics: Pete Palmer's Fielding Runs, Clay Davenport's Fielding Translations, and Bill James' Win Shares.

In 1984 the coolest book ever was published, The Hidden Game of Baseball. Written by Pete Palmer and John Thorn, The Hidden Game gave birth to Linear Weights, a system that translates each event on the field into a value in runs. Linear Weights would go on to become the basis of Total Baseball's signature stat, TPR, which is derived from a combination of Batting Runs (offensive performance) and Fielding Runs (yep, you guessed it, glovework).

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