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Machine Learning Our Way to the Gold Glove Award

I love good defense. Watching a center fielder chase down what should have been a blooped-in single, instead creating a shocked reaction from the baserunner as he turns and realizes he’s out is priceless. That classic, one hand in the dirt, rest of the shortstop’s body flying through the air snag, is truly my favorite. I know what people say about the excitement of a home run and I get it. The rifle-like, cracking sound of bat on ball, closely followed by fans standing and cheering and spilling and spitting! God, I’m going to miss baseball this winter!

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As the season comes to a close, we celebrate more than just home runs. We celebrate and award players for all their actions on and off the field. With that, it’s nearly time to award the best defensive players of the year with the Rawlings Gold Glove Award. There’s nothing like having a gold glover on your team and being able to watch them hold it down in the field all season long.

​Like many awards, managers and team coaches get to vote on the Gold Glove. Managers can’t vote for players on their own team and they have to stay in their own league. In addition, they have to vote for players who qualify (mostly needing at least 713 total innings) as laid out by Rawlings. It’s nice to have the men who are closest to the game voting and giving out these awards, but there must also be some quantifiable way to determine who is deserving. According to Rawlings, 25% of the vote is left up to metrics. Using the SABR Defensive Index, advanced analytics are now built into the award. This index includes:

– Defensive runs saved (DRS)
– Ultimate Zone Rating (UZR)
– Runs Effectively Defended
– Defensive Regression Analysis
– Total Zone Rating Read the rest of this entry »


The Arm of Marcell Ozuna and the Outfield Arm Runs Saved Statistic

Sunday night baseball is such a great thing. Yes, I may fall asleep around the sixth or seventh inning, but I tend to fall asleep to baseball, which is nice. It’s such a summer feeling for me to have the window open, the summer breeze blowing in, and talk of baseball in the background. On June 9, the Cubs were aggressive early on the base paths. At one point, with Kyle Schwarber on first base and Kris Bryant at the plate, Bryant hit what would typically be a routine single to left-center. ​Now, with the Cardinals and the Cubs fighting it out for the top spot in the division, you saw an aggressive approach by Schwarber. Did mastermind Joe Maddon have that all planned and ready? Did he tell his team to run on Marcell Ozuna? Well, if so, maybe he (or his team of data scientists and analysts) was evaluating the rARM statistic.

Part 1: The Stat – Throwing Arm Runs Saved

A player’s total Throwing Arm Runs Saved is then the sum of our three halves: flyballs Runs Saved + groundballs Runs Saved + Miscellaneous Kills Runs Saved.

– The Fielding Bible Read the rest of this entry »