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For you guys who Like to Follow Stats...


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Fielding ability is tough to quantify.Fielding percentage can be misleading. An infielder might catch every ball hit to him, but might have terrible range -- somebody once said Todd Zeile had the range of a cocktail napkin, ifyouknowwhatimsayin' -- which means more balls roll past him than perhaps another infielder with a slightly worse fielding percentage. Outfield assists don't always mean the outfielder has a strong arm. One outfielder might have more assists than another outfielder with a better arm because more teams simply run on him.


The Hardball Times Baseball Annual 2008 ranked every big-league team's fielding ability in 2007 based on its Plus/Minus System. The Plus/Minus System is based on videotape reviews with video scouts who record every batted ball into a computer, allowing for analysis of defense. John Dewan's Plus/Minus System ranked all thirty major league teams as follows:


Team 2007

Toronto Blue Jays +92

New York Mets +73

Atlanta Braves +68

Kansas City Royals +66

Arizona Diamondbacks +54

Detroit Tigers +45

Chicago Cubs +36

St. Louis Cardinals +36

Oakland Athletics +25

San Diego Padres +24

Philadelphia Phillies +19

San Francisco Giants +16

Cleveland Indians + 8

Washington Nationals + 4

Texas Rangers - 2

Milwaukee Brewers - 2

Colorado Rockies - 3

Minnesota Twins - 6

Los Angeles Angels -12

Boston Red Sox -14

Baltimore Orioles -14

Los Angeles Dodgers -15

New York Yankees -37

Seattle Mariners -49

Pittsburgh Pirates -50

Houston Astros -51

Cincinnati Reds -59

Chicago White Sox -76

Florida Marlins -88

Tampa Bay Devil Rays -107


According to the book, "By tracking every play of every major league game, the Video Scouts record detailed information on each play, such as the location of each batted ball, the speed, the type of hit, etc. A player gets credit (a ?plus? number) if he makes a play that at least one other player at his position missed during the season; he loses credit (a ?minus? number) if he misses a play that at least one other player made. Team plus/minus totals are calculated and ranked by cumulative scores at middle infield, corner infield and outfield, along with rankings on double play efficiency, skill in handling bunts, and throwing.


"While the Colorado Rockies set the major league record this year with a .989 team fielding percentage, author John Dewan believes that, ?Fielding percentage is, in essence, a subset of plus/minus. Making all the plays that you?re supposed to make is a tremendous asset. But the No.1 underlying skill needed for great defense is great speed.?


I'm still not completely sold on statistics like Zone Rating, etc., but they're interesting to talk about.




Jim Salisbury's Sunday baseball column looks at how Detroit Tigers owner Mike Illitch told Dave Dombrowski to break the bank and farm system to bring Miguel Cabrera and Dontrelle Willis to the Tigers.


I'm sure that'll provide plenty of fodder here.




Check out Salisbury's Extra Bases, which has some good Phillies-related nuggets.

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