With Baseball’s Winter Meetings in Dallas, Texas underway, it’s perfect timing to dive into the free agent pool. This is the second part of our nine-part series entitled Set You Free, which takes a position-by-position look at this offseason’s free agency market. Today, Jesse Behr goes over available backstops.
Last week, in the span of six days, five catchers were taken off the market: Jake Fox signed with the Pirates and Carlos Corporan with the Astros to minor league deals, Ryan Doumit will head to Minnesota and Jose Molina to Tampa Bay on one-year deals, and Ramon Hernandez to Colorado on a two-year $6.4 million deal. Hernandez theoretically swapped spots with Chris Iannetta, who was traded to the Angels for right-hander Tyler Chatwood.
I like to talk. I like to talk a lot. Most of the time, I have things worth saying. Sometimes, it just flies right over people’s heads. Regardless of what I’m saying, how I’m saying it never comes out quite perfect. Doesn’t matter whether I’m talking baseball or chatting with a babe from the SU Volleyball team (which, come on folks, it’s clear there isn’t much of a difference for me at this point), the chances I exactly what I want to say are not high.
However, this is not the case with statistics.
Elite Defenders is one of many projects already underway at FoI that allows statistics to speak for both us and speak up for themselves. I’ve sat down with my buddy Tom Barrile countless times this semester, arguing for hours on end whether or not baseball is the superior sport over football (obviously, as everyone deep-down knows, it is). What we CAN’T ARGUE is the number of television viewers that watch the MLB postseason compared to the NFL playoffs.
In September of 2006, PROTRADE.com (a ‘sports stock market’ website) released an article on their picks for the Gold Glove winners that season. In the article, the PROTRADE staff wrote that “traditional fielding statistics don’t measure range, perhaps the most important trait of a solid glove man. Errors tell us how a player does when they get to the ball — but what about when he doesn’t?”
PROTRADE used a system that measured the direction and distance of every hit so as to compare every fielder’s performance with the historical averages at that ballpark. Their statistic was (ironically enough, given the name Moneyball Fielding Runs (or MBF).
Five years later, the baseball community has two stats PROTRADE could not work with: Ultimate Zone Rating and Defensive Runs Saved. According to our friends at FanGraphs.com, UZR puts “a run value to defense, attempting to quantify how many runs a player saved or gave up through their fielding prowess” while DRS “captures a player’s total defensive value … comparable to UZR.”