BASEBALL DEFENSIVE STATISTICS. With all the statistical work that’s been done by sabermatricians in baseball, defensive statistics are, as is the case with basketball, less satisfactory. The variety of approaches shows how little agreement there is. Baseball Prospectus has arrived to announce that spring will come (just as, forty years ago, the rookie issue of Baseball Digest announced that it would come). This year the defensive statistics for players in Baseball Prospectus are based on analysis of every play during the year. The stats for 2008 show the importance of defense. For example, the surprise team of 2008 was Tampa Bay, whose Defensive Efficiency rating went from 30th (last) in the majors in 2007 to 1st in the majors in 2008. When Detroit went to the World Series in 2006, it ranked first in the American League in Park-Adjusted Defensive Efficiency. Baseball Prospectus pays appropriate tribute to Bill James: “Almost a quarter of a century ago, Bill James wrote that much of what we perceive to be pitching is actually defense.” (Mary Jane and I have a Bill James dedication in common with Norman Mailer and William Goldman).

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