Thursday, February 21, 2008

Rock, Paper, Scissors

Jeter and Stick Michael (the Yanks long-time scout) have come out in response to the outcry about Jeter's declining range and defensive skills. Good for them. Here's their defense, in two parts, Jeter first:

"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."

Jeter, 33, pointed out you can get the exact same ground ball off the exact same pitcher and there could be an average runner or there could be Ichiro running. "How can you compute that?" he asked

And Stick had this to say, with my emphasis, as usual:

"You simply can't do that by those charts, that's a bunch of baloney," Michael added. "It's disgraceful. You have to use a scout's eye to determine range."

What about Jeter's range now in his 13th major league season?

"It's not as good as it was, but it's not bad," Michael said. "You might put some people ahead of him range-wise, but that doesn't mean they are better shortstops. Look how sure-handed he is, look how clutch he is. That makes up for a lot."

So, Stick says you need a scout's eye to REALLY determine a player's range as the statistical analyses don't adequately capture pitching types and Jeter adds in the men-on-base dynamic. Since I don't know how Zone Rating or the other defensive stats are computed, let's table that for another time. But what's so funny is that he uses "clutchness" as a defense about Jeter's defense. (rolls eyes) And he also readily admits Jeter's range isn't as good as it was. I'm not as young as I was, either.

So good defense beats clutch but clutch beats bad defense? Newfangled rock/paper/scissors?

Shysterball had a fun look at this, too, by the way.

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