Lol Ultimate Zone Rating .... Ultimate useless geek stat. Is baseball played on a field or in a math lab?
4/29/2011 3:23 PM
Quote post by silentpadna on 3/22/2011 2:29:00 PM:
As far as quantifying defense in real life, I actually think the graviation toward UZR is a lost cause.  I think there are way too many variables to isolate, context matters, and wild fluctuations from season to season with individual players casts all kinds of doubt on its reliability

Padna-- very interesting article in the front of the Baseball Prospectus annual agreeing with you and providing some reasons in support, hinting that there are data refuting UZR as well. 

The thrust of it, if I remember correctly, is that the data collection is grossly unreliable.  What one person calls a player's zone another observer often does not, and the determination of flyball vs line drive is also unreliable.  Furthermore, observers tend to determine your assigned zone based not on the actual ground you should be covering but based on a radius around where you are actually standing, significantly neutralizing the effect of defensive positioning on range.  Therefore, UZR's measurement is both unreliable and biased to the point where, as you expect just from noticing its fluctuation, it's nearly useless.

The hope is (again, iirc) that the new HitFX software, which allows you to track and store the trajectory of all batted balls (and I think it uses's online video), will lead to unbiased, precise determinations of "zone" and therefore a stable UZR that would be a truly helpful fielding metric.  But that's apparently just a hope so far.

And hbdgirl-- baseball may be played on a field, but HBD is, in fact, effectively played in a math lab.  Sorry to geekify you.
4/29/2011 3:44 PM

A picture of hbdgirl visiting the HBD developers on a lunch break in the math lab (note the UZR formula on the wall over hbdgirl's left shoulder):

4/29/2011 3:50 PM (edited)
Only a geek would be looking over her left shoulder.   Nerd.
4/29/2011 3:55 PM
Whatever happened to you hit the ball, you throw the ball, you catch the ball? All these nerdy new stats sound really important but the basic principles of Baseball haven't changed in over 100 years. Don't walk the leadoff hitter .... Man on 2nd and nobody out, hit the ball to the right side .... Don't make the last out at 3rd Base..... Blah, blah blah. You don't need sabermetrics for that. I'm all for progress but there's progress and then there's overcomplicating things.

4/29/2011 7:49 PM
Posted by hbdgirl on 4/29/2011 3:23:00 PM (view original):
Lol Ultimate Zone Rating .... Ultimate useless geek stat. Is baseball played on a field or in a math lab?
Gotta get the eyes checked. I thought that said, "meth lab."
4/29/2011 11:02 PM
That would be the south side of Chicago.
4/29/2011 11:05 PM
If you go down there, you best beware of a man named Leroy Brown.
4/30/2011 9:58 AM
4/30/2011 1:52 PM
Bump for jello.  Page 5.
2/21/2012 12:22 PM

Bump for mikebr#

4/5/2012 4:29 PM
Posted by silentpadna on 3/22/2011 11:23:00 AM (view original):
This is a very interesting thread.  Too bad I didn't have time for forums while my family and I moved across the country.  Anyway, as Mike's division rival in this league, I prefer to give the 30K foot view. 

My team won the WS in Season 4 and the LCS in Season 5.  I decided that since that team was aging, I would go into full rebuild mode starting in Season 7.  So I plucked speed and defense from the Rule 5 draft over the next couple of seasons and played almost every position on the field with guys ratings greater than the the recs.

Long story short is that while I rebuilt, the speed and defense carried me, and all of the pitchers I acquired "mysteriously" overperformed from their career norms.  Except for Etherton, who pitches great for Mike, but totally sucked for me (ain't randomness grand?).  I increased my win total to 100 during the "rebuild" season and have continued to contend.

If you were to look at defense +/- totals and ratios over the past several seasons, you'll see without running a correlation that the top teams will generally cluster around the top of either the total plus plays, ratios, or both. 

I don't need a detailed to study to be able to intuitively see the relationship.  If I had a guy like Snow on my team in Mantle (I can't get Jonas to trade him to me), I would probably DH him.  If I was in the NL, I'd probably trade him, much as I would hate to, to an AL team.  (BTW Jonas, you are welcome to take my advice and trade him to me - I'm in the AL).

I think defense is very hard to quantify and the effects aren't really seen on an individual basis.  This is only a hunch, but I don't think you see linear improvement by adding one or two excellent defenders.  I think you see it in total context.  One thing I regularly do is select my lineup based on my starting pitcher and because I value rest (kind of to the extreme), I shuffle guys around the field throughout the season.  When a flyball pitcher pitches, I stack the outfield with better range, sometimes at the expense of the infield, but rarely since most of my players are excellent defensively.  When a groundball pitcher pitches, the infield is solid.

I have pitchers that if you look at their ratings are good, but there are many better pitchers.  I don't have a real bona fide ace, like most of the other contenders.  I do have very solid to very good pitchers, but not to the same level as most of the Cy contenders, at least according to ratings.  But every season, the staff, as a whole outperforms their counterparts who a lot of times have better ratings.  Home park is a factor, but they're good every season.

Great thread.
About 5 months ago, when I first read this post, one of my teams had been held together too long after a decade of dominating its division. My elderly former stars had suffered through a 59 win season and there was little hope for improvement with a near empty farm system after a decade of trading prospects to try to win now. When I read the post, the next season had already started so I didn't have a great deal of flexibility, but since I always make a point of having a good fielding SS and CF, I was in ok shape. After starting the season at 5-20, I reorganized my lineup to focus on defense and grabbed a couple of good D players unsigned in FA. I now had a weak hitting lineup in which every player was capable of winning a GG. My team instantly started performing. We ended up with 83 wins, which in a league with a couple 100+ winners and a lot of 70-80 win teams was good enough for the 2nd wild card.
This season I made a few upgrades and my team is currently 85-61 (94 win pace), 4th best in the league, and headed for the #1 wild card. The entire team is built of 5 homegrown players and 20 players who were FA signings who I signed for ~1/2 of their original asking price or less. The team gets blown out on occasion and just doesn't have the bats to blow out anyone, which makes the expected win % low, but they win alot of close low-scoring games. I have some old pitchers having "career years" and am a source of frustration to many opponents of how my team wins games when they look so horrid if you scan the roster. So now I have the payroll flexibility to reload with the IFA market and am still able to compete.
4/6/2012 12:32 PM
Bump for tuft.   Page 5.
6/6/2012 2:47 PM
Bump for lc
1/28/2013 5:31 PM
Thanks Mike      
1/28/2013 5:35 PM
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