January 11, 2018

PLUS THE HR's....:

KEEPING SCORE : 'The Last Thing You Want to Do Is Hit the Ball to Center Field' (Benjamin Hoffman, Jan. 10, 2018, NY Times)

Glavine, a fairly old-school player with an affinity for traditional statistics like wins and saves, made a surprising suggestion: Perhaps the number-crunchers of the game could build an argument for Jones.

"I think he's one of those guys that you really have to start to take a look at how he impacted the game on the defensive side of the ball," Glavine said. "How the Hall of Fame voting committee goes about doing that, I don't know, but there are certainly all kinds of sabermetrics in today's game that I think could be applied to Andruw."

Glavine is right that analysis of defense has been refined in recent years. The most precise measure is a statistic called defensive runs saved, which was devised by Sports Info Solutions. The company uses game data and video to assess the quality and value of a fielder's plays. For example, did he make a diving catch of a sinking line drive or did he break the wrong way, then trap a ball that he should have caught easily?

Jones's defensive peak, from 1997 to 2002, came just before Sports Info Solutions started tracking that statistic. While the number of runs Jones saved during those years is unknown, it is a testament to his excellence that from 2003 to 2007, as he began to decline, Jones still saved 67 runs. In the same time period, the second- and third-best defensive outfielders in baseball, Torii Hunter and Willy Taveras, combined for 68 (Hunter had 39, Taveras 29). Even after he had slowed down, Jones put a Babe Ruth-like distance between himself and his defensive competition.

In another effort to assign a numeric value to a player's defensive contributions, Baseball Reference created a formula for defensive WAR. The statistic has been tracked to 1871 -- five seasons before the National League was created. By Baseball Reference's assessment, Jones is the best defensive outfielder in history, his 24.1 defensive WAR trumping Paul Blair's 18.6 and Mays's 18.1. He led all players, regardless of position, in defensive WAR in 1998.

Although runs saved has become a critical component of defensive WAR's formula, John Dewan, the owner of Sports Info Solutions and the author of "The Fielding Bible," said the best statistic for comparing players across eras was Bill James's fielding win shares. It is part of James's system of measuring a player's contribution to his team's wins, and it relies on a consistent formula through the years. By that measure, Jones ranks fourth among outfielders with 85.5 career fielding win shares, trailing only Tris Speaker (117.8), Mays (103.6) and Max Carey (94.8).

Jones led the majors in the statistic for five consecutive seasons, from 1998 to 2002, and he was in the top six for fielding win shares 10 times in 11 seasons.

For his part, James, regardless of what his statistic indicates, has publicly stated that he does not feel Jones's defense has been proven to be worthy of Hall of Fame consideration, but Dewan came to a different conclusion.

"There is no question that Andruw Jones was one of the best defensive outfielders of all time," Dewan said.

Posted by at January 11, 2018 6:16 AM