August 18, 2014

Upgraded defense could be the difference for Yankees

Yankees fans love Billy Crystal just as Mets fans love Jerry Seinfeld. In this case, I love Seinfeld more than Crystal, but both are pure baseball guys at heart. Anyway, there's a great Q&A with Seinfeld on ESPN that I implore you to read, simply talking baseball. He touches on a variety of topics.
I've been doing this joke lately, because I turned 60 this year, and people around that age make a bucket list. I made a bucket list, turned the "b" to an "f" and was done with it. If you want to kite surf down the Amazon, go ahead. I'm going to crack open a beer and watch a ballgame. 
When I think of retirement, all I would think of is going to a baseball game every day.
Perfection. Couldn't agree more.

Later in the interview, he's asked about the evolution of statistics in baseball, to which he responds, "I love it. ... There's no such thing as too many stats."

Again, couldn't agree more. One area of statistics that I'm especially interested in as defensive metrics. For starters, it relates directly to my job (I help manage the Wilson Ball Glove social media accounts). 

But more important, the defensive stats currently being used (UZR/150, DRS, etc.) are hurting the game because they're so far off. Yes, hurting, because WAR, a metric that is now widely regarded as the best overall metric to rate a player, can be so heavily swayed by defensive metrics.

Eventually, I hope there will be statistics for each portion of defense (range, throwing power, throwing accuracy) that can then be used to form the most accurate overall metric by averaging those three stats properly weighted for each position.

Until that day comes, it's best to just ignore what's out there and stick with the eyeball test. And let me just say this: anybody with an eyeball can see that the Yankees' infield has taken a turn for the better since Brian Cashman brought in Chase Headley, Stephen Drew and Martin Prado to play third, short and second.

If you only caught the highlights of Sunday's game, you probably saw that Brett Gardner had the key two-run single to give the Yankees a lead. But it was really a win for the defense today. Headley and Prado each had at least a few hit-saving plays and Drew flashed the leather as well. These three are major, major upgrades to Yangervis Solarte, Derek Jeter and Brian Roberts.

They've always had great outfield defense with Brett Gardner and Jacoby Ellsbury supplying tremendous range, and we all know what Mark Teixeira can do at first, but now with an infield defense to match the Yankees are starting to win games with their defense.

The Yankees are seven games out of first place but just 3.5 games behind in the wild card race. It may be too early to place bets – if you're into that sort of thing you can do so at william hill online betting – but a few defensive victories could be the difference in playing in October or playing golf. 

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