Posted by Steve
I’m just giving an update on my new endeavor. I am typing this from my new apartment in Pennsylvania. I’ve been here since Friday.
My first day of work was pushed back a week to next Monday, but I went and checked out the office today with my roommate. We were given a tour and a rundown of what we’ll be doing and where we’ll be working.
Pretty much my entire job will revolve around watching baseball. I’m still having a hard time getting my mind around that. I’ll be charting pitches and scoring games. Scoring games will be much different from the traditional scoring, though.
A big part of it will be recording defensive plays. I will have to judge whether a play is a “defensive misplay” or a “good fielding play.” Here is how they describe these terms.
A defensive misplay is any play which is not an error (or a passed ball), on which the fielder surrenders a base advance or the opportunity to make an out when a better play or a different play would have or might have gotten the out or prevented the advancement.
The universal standard governing a defensive misplay is a “reasonable opportunity to make a play.” No player should be charged with a defensive misplay when he has no reasonable opportunity to make a play.
A good fielding play is a play that is made when it is not clear whether the play can be made. A good fielding play is NOT necessarily a play on which the player looks good making the play–diving or spinning. It is a play that is made when, had the play not been made, no one would have faulted the fielder for not making it.
The basic underlying principle of a good fielding play is that it must happen in an unclear situation. A good fielding play is extremely hard to define because it has, in a sense, exactly the same consequence as an “ordinary” fielding play. For example, if a shortstop fields a routine ground ball and throws the runner out, the play is scored 6-3. But if the shortstop fields a ball deep in the hole and guns down a fast runner, the scoring is still 6-3. The difference is not the actual outcome of the play, but the realization that a possibility (in this case, the runner being safe at first) did not manifest itself.
Yikes! Piece of cake, right? You should be able to see why simply calling a play an “error” is no longer sufficient if you are trying to get useful information. Fielding percentage is just about useless when determining a player’s defensive effectiveness. BIS records this information for every game. It is possibly the most valuable information they can supply to teams, which is why they have so many MLB teams as clients.
Edit: Added explanatory paragraph
I should add that it isn’t simply recording “good fielding play” or “defensive misplay.” I need to distinguish which type of GFP or DM it is. For example, there are 55 different defensive misplays and 27 different good fielding plays. Examples of DMs: Failing to reach a fair pop up, failing to reach a foul pop up, bobbling a ground out/losing the lead runner, failing to cover the base (they should just rename this The Prince Fielder). Examples of GFPs: catches wild throw, quick double play pivot, outfielder prevents the advancement of runners, potential wild pitch catch. There are also possible outcomes–what happened as a result of the play. Example: The recording of an out which was unlikely when the play began. There is a specific code for each GFP and DM. The code is as follows: (Good Fielding Play #); (Fielder Position #); (Consequence #); (Action #). Example: If the center fielder robs a home run on the second pitch to the first batter of the inning, I need to record it as GFP24;8;2;2.
If that all seems confusing, it’s probably because it kind of is. I sure have my work cut out for me, although I’m guessing I should get the hang of it before long.
Since I don’t start for a week, I plan on using this time to do some updates on the blog. Also, look for my annual “I received my BP Manual” post with my observations on the Brewers’ PECOTA projects this week.
Finally, I have made the decision that every post to get a ‘Crocodile Blood’ tag also gets a different VVP glamour shot. Enjoy.