Doolittle: The slow demystification of defensive stats

From Bradford Doolittle at on March 26, 2018:

A couple of weeks ago, I dropped into the seventh annual SABR Analytics Conference, a three-day series of panel discussions and presentations that hint at new frontiers of baseball research. The range of topics was impressive, extending well beyond the realm of statistical analysis.

Interested in the role of neuroscience in player development? How about the success of the sports media in communicating analytical precepts? The SABR conference has you covered. But, of course, it was an analytics conference first and foremost, and the meat of the event was in its statistical presentations.

There were a lot of good ones, but the two that stuck with me were related to a topic near and dear to my heart: defense. My takeaways, in a nutshell: We’ve never had better tools with which to evaluate fielders. And we’ve still got a long way to go to making use of them.

This is an issue in every sport, and always has been. We’ve developed tried-and-true methods for tracking how teams score. But we’ve not been nearly as successful at tracking how they keep opponents from scoring. And when you think about it, the latter is just as important as the former.


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Originally published: March 26, 2018. Last Updated: March 26, 2018.