Fielding in the Hardball Times Annual

I was inspired to create a one-time special section in this year’s Hardball Times Annual. Due to all of the good material we were receiving related to fielding statistics, it made sense to create a section devoted to this hot topic in sabermetrics. Five terrific articles were submitted that seemed to fit together like a glove, laying out the present and possible future of fielding stats.

Dave Cameron of Fangraphs has a tribute to fielding and the importance of fielding stats in today’s world. In doing so, he talked about his own conversion to the importance of fieilding—a conversion that probably mirrored mainstream sabermetric thinking too.

John Dewan contributes some terrific 2008-2010 fielding stats, including many of his cutting-edge statistics such as total Defensive Runs Saved (by position and team), plus/minus range, turning double plays and throwing (by team). There’s so much to digest, that I think of his article as a “mini Fielding Bible” for 2010.

Ben Jedlovec, a crack analyst at Baseball Info Solutions introduces “hang time” data to our readers. BIS has been collecting data on the amount of time each batted ball hangs in the air and where it lands, data that is much more powerful than the typical classification of batted balls into line drives, fly balls, etc. Ben uses the data to make some insightful observations about pitchers and fielders.

Rob Neyer has been blown away twice in his life: when he first read Bill James’ Baseball Abstract and this summer, when he attended the PITCHf/x conference. In the THT Annual, Rob talks about Sportvision’s FIELDf/x system, which was unveiled at this year’s conference, and what it means for the future of baseball and its fans. His article is called “Everything is About to Change.”

Finally, Kate McSurley, of Sportvision, lays out some FIELDf/x detail and Hit Tracker’s Greg Rybarczyk uses the FIELDf/x data to show what the future of fielding analysis might look like. He calls his proposed metric True Defensive Range, and his concept fits nicely with Ben Jedlovec’s observations.

To top it off, Greg and Sportvision have devised a sample graphic that might appear on your computer or TV screen in the future, a graphic that would allow us to see just how good (or bad) an individual play or individual player is. This is it (click on the image for a closer look)…

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To get the entire story, buy the Hardball Times Annual 2011 today.

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