« Girardi: "Expect The Best" | Main | A-Rod: Jeter To Have MVP Season In 2008 »

February 21, 2008

Jeter: You Can't Trust Fielding Data

Derek Jeter doesn't like Spatial Aggregate Fielding Evaluation. Via Kevin Kernan -

Derek Jeter arrived at his 16th Yankees spring training yesterday labeled the worst shortstop in the majors by some statistical braniacs over at Penn.

"Maybe it was a computer glitch," the three-time Gold Glove winner said of the report. But Jeter just didn't laugh this one off. He defended himself, saying, "Every (shortstop) doesn't stay in the same spot, everyone doesn't have the same pitching. Everyone doesn't have the same hitters running, it's impossible to do that."

The minute that I saw this, I thought of Tom Tango and his Jeter feature in THT 2008. As Dan Agonistes once wrote about THT '08:

[The book includes]...Tom Tango's excellent piece titled "With or Without Derek Jeter" ...In that article Tom uses Retrosheet data to demonstrate without a doubt (at least to me) that Jeter is among the worst fielding shortstops of his generation by showing that when Jeter is on the field, regardless of the other context which Tom does a great job of neutralizing, fewer batted balls are turned into outs. Period. And one would think that should be the bottom line when evaluating defense.

I was going to e-mail Tom on this Jeter quote, but, then I saw he was already on it.

It would be interesting to see Kevin Kernan go back to Jeter with Tom's findings and try and get a comment. Or, better yet, show it to Girardi and Cashman to see if they'd be willing to comment on it.

Posted by WW Staff at February 21, 2008 01:10 PM

Comments

I don't see what good it would do to try and get Cash/Girardi to comment on it. Why would they want to comment on something that might force them to criticize Jeter in public?

We both know Jeter's going to stay at shortstop until the day he's no longer a Yankee. No point thinking of an alternative since it ain't happenin...

Posted by: MJ [TypeKey Profile Page] at February 21, 2008 01:37 PM

You have an "in" with Tom Tango? That is pretty awesome. His articles are always logical and insightful.

Posted by: A Tampa Yankee in King George's Court [TypeKey Profile Page] at February 21, 2008 01:49 PM

It’s no big deal. Anyone can e-mail Tom via his site.

Posted by: WW Staff [TypeKey Profile Page] at February 21, 2008 02:04 PM

Did Jeter actually see how bad Bernie was in CF before he was finally moved out? How could he want to go through that himself?

Posted by: Rich [TypeKey Profile Page] at February 21, 2008 02:10 PM

To put it nicely.

When you talk about Jeter's fielding....the first thing you talk about is his hitting.

If I had to list the best fielding shortstops to the worst fielding shortstops in baseball, I would be pointing out that Jeter almost won a batting title on a couple of occasions and has been a clutch hitter.

Then I'd leave it at that.

Posted by: Sonny M [TypeKey Profile Page] at February 21, 2008 03:20 PM

Although his defense is pretty poor, at least he's willing to give his body for the team, and he can catch a pop up too. Hah!!!

Posted by: minikraft [TypeKey Profile Page] at February 21, 2008 03:28 PM

This might lead to a bit of a backlash, but in briefly combing through my memory of the past few seasons, I don't have that many recollections of Jeter not making a play that looked like one he should have made. I don't mean the balls that bounce off his glove or eat him up- those are obvious errors.

I mean balls that when they come off the bat, they look playable and Jeter just doesn't come up with them -I don't have a lot of those moments jump to the surface.

So to me, this means one of three things - 1) I'm Jeter biased (there are worse things to be), 2) The difference between being first on the list and last on the list isn't that big in terms of watching a guy play everyday, maybe it translates to 1 or 2 plays a week, where as shortstops can easily be involved in 20 plays a game. 3) Jeter's positioning and/or range is just so bad that I don't think he has a shot at balls that other people would get to, I just don't notice since I don't watch other teams play as often.

Thoughts?

Posted by: Ken [TypeKey Profile Page] at February 21, 2008 03:47 PM

As I've said before.... Who you gonna believe, the stats or your own lying eyes? The stat work says Tejada is a better shortstop. Not a chance. If you think that’s right, you need to put down the laptop and the stat sheet and start watching the games. Miggy’s good for 2-4 judgment errors a week (throwing the ball to the wrong base on a cut-off or haplessly trying to nail a runner at the plate when the right play is to keep the trailing runner from advancing). Jeter has one clear shortcoming in the field, his range to his left. On the other hand, he charges balls better than average, is among the very best in the league at tracking fly balls, is never out of position or late to second base, has tremendous situational awareness, goes to his right about average, turns the double play at least on average, his arm strength is above average and his arm accuracy is average (although his bad throws tend to occur early in the year and rarely in tight situations). In addition, he may be the best relay SS in baseball. His relay release and accuracy to the plate are exceptional. For years, Jeter’s relay abilities have helped to mitigate the subpar outfield arms. Some of these things don't show up in stats, like the relay throws and never being out of position. Moreover, he’s never hurt, always hustles, leads the league in leading by example, and is good for 200+ hits a season. If his wheels are good he’s still capable of 20+ steals at a high efficiency rate. If I’m starting a ball club, he’s my SS.

Posted by: #15 [TypeKey Profile Page] at February 21, 2008 03:50 PM

you need to put down the laptop and the stat sheet and start watching the games.
==============
How do you think they compile the stats? You think they make these numbers up?

Posted by: Raf [TypeKey Profile Page] at February 21, 2008 05:09 PM

Raf,
Show me the stat that covers throwing the ball to the wrong base, or how deep a relay man can range and still make an effective throw, or how much impact the first baseman has on throwing errors.

Posted by: #15 [TypeKey Profile Page] at February 21, 2008 05:18 PM

Raf,
Show me the stat that covers throwing the ball to the wrong base, or how deep a relay man can range and still make an effective throw, or how much impact the first baseman has on throwing errors.
=================
How bout a stat that shows how well a fielder turns a batted ball into an out? Can't throw to a wrong base, if a baserunner isn't there. No need to make an unecessary relay throw if there isn't a baserunner present.

As for 1b impact, there's the E-6 vs. an E-3. And even if a fielder's a butcher, if he's an offensive force, someone will find a position for him. Not so, if he's a defensive wizard.

Everything that you mentioned shows up in the stats one way or another, be it in range factor, zone ratings, defensive efficiency, etc, etc, etc, etc.

Posted by: Raf [TypeKey Profile Page] at February 21, 2008 05:34 PM

Raf..

As Mark Twain said...There are three kinds of lies: lies, damned lies, and statistics. You really believe that Tejada is a better shortstop?

Posted by: #15 [TypeKey Profile Page] at February 21, 2008 06:00 PM

I don't have a dog in this fight, but I am amused that people are so quick to dismiss statistics on the premise that they should "watch the games." As if there were any other way to compile the numbers.

Having said that, if several defensive metrics say that Jeter's a bad shortstop as compared to his peers, then there may be something there. You can wax poetic all you want, but the numbers say that he doesn't get to as much balls as others, that he doesn't make as much plays as others. Like I said before, it doesn't matter if a player throws to a wrong base, or how deep a relay man ranges, or how much of a butcher a 1b is. Maybe a good SS eliminates the BR, eliminating the need to throw to a wrong base. Maybe a good SS gets the runner out, therefore eliminating the need to go deep for a relay to throw a runner out at the plate. Maybe a better SS fields his position better, making better throws, always hitting his target @ 1b.

Stats may not be the be all end all, but they serve some use.

Posted by: Raf [TypeKey Profile Page] at February 21, 2008 06:18 PM

How could anyone actually watch Jeter play SS and not see that at a minimum, he can't get to balls up the middle that most shortstops get to?

Posted by: Rich [TypeKey Profile Page] at February 21, 2008 06:26 PM

Jeter ranged from SS to home plate in Game 3, 2001 ALDS v Oakland. Season on the line, score 1-0 Yankees. I understand it was only 1 play, but was worth millions compared to other plays in the SS world. Of course, it could've been luck, but you can say that about any play. Depending on your point of view.

Posted by: susanmullen [TypeKey Profile Page] at February 21, 2008 08:35 PM

Jeter ranged from SS to home plate in Game 3, 2001 ALDS v Oakland.
__

That's not indicative of range, it's an example of being heads up, which we all agree that Jeter is. His problem is lateral movement and getting a quick jump on batted balls.

Posted by: Rich [TypeKey Profile Page] at February 21, 2008 09:31 PM

If his name wasn't Derek Jeter and didn't play for the Yankees, this would be a non-issue. Jeter hasn't been the same since separating his shoulder. It certainly doesn't help to be hit in the knees constantly by pitchers, especially just above the knee cap. Jeter doesn't have a quick first step. His instincts and his ability to make a big play in big games are still there. I think Girardi and the coaches will have Jeter in the right position to make more plays.

I'm glad that we have people who sit in a lab and come up with a formula for who is the best and worse fielder in the league. Because quite frankly, fans just don't have two eyes anymore. Next, you'll hear how terrible Posada is at calling games. Or how pitchers pitch better when Jose Molina is catching. Big bleeping deal.

Posted by: E-ROC [TypeKey Profile Page] at February 22, 2008 04:00 AM

If his name wasn't Derek Jeter and didn't play for the Yankees, this would be a non-issue.
---------------
Exactly. Chances are, he probably would've been moved to another position, especially if as you say "Jeter hasn't been the same since separating his shoulder. It certainly doesn't help to be hit in the knees constantly by pitchers, especially just above the knee cap. Jeter doesn't have a quick first step."

Anyway, like Ripken, Jeter isn't moving off SS until he's good and ready to. If it hasn't happened by now, it isn't going to happen.

Posted by: Raf [TypeKey Profile Page] at February 22, 2008 10:43 AM