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Mar 24

Fielding Bible Volume III by John Dewan & Ben Jedlovec

Posted on Sunday, March 24, 2013 in Reviews, Sports, Technical

fb3The Fielding Bible Volume III is a fascinating book of the subtleties of playing defense in Major League Baseball.

I had read their first volume and I was excited to read their third. I was not disappointed.

John Dewan and Ben Jedlovec have unveiled another wonderful guide for baseball stat-geeks.

Dewan and Jedlovec included new studies on crucial aspects of fielding, including defensive positioning, the Ted Williams shift, bunts, double plays, outfielder arms and catcher defense.

Their statistical analysis – building on the work began by stat-godfather Bill James – has significantly increased our understanding of the benefits of a good defensive player and the consequences of playing a poor defensive player.

I love the praise they heap on poor hitting, great fielders like shortstop Brendan Ryan; and though I’m a Derek Jeter fan, I appreciate their detailed analysis of his defensive shortcomings.

They use many analysis tools in their book, I’ll highlight three. 

Defensive Runs Saved, called the most comprehensive defensive evaluation tool, received significant enhancements to the eight-component system first introduced in Volume II.

Good Play/Misplay Runs Saved has added previously-unrecorded aspects of defense like scooped throws and pitch blocks.

Timer Plus/Minus measures each fielder’s ability to turn batted balls into outs, “creating the most objective fielding evaluations ever.”

There are comprehensive Defensive Scouting Reports on each player from each position on the field.

Though this is a fascinating book for the serious baseball fan, if f I had one complaint – and I’m certainly not an expert on this! – it’s that it needed another edit. There were more than a couple instances of poor punctuation, uncapitalized letters at the beginning of sentences, and even a couple of dangling half-sentences.

That said, I love this book!

In case you’re wondering, the 2011 Fielding Bible Award winners were:
First Base – Albert Pujols, St. Louis (5th award)
Second Base – Dustin Pedroia, Boston (1st award)
Third Base – Adrian Beltre, Texas (3rd award)
Shortstop – Troy Tulowitzki, Colorado (3rd award)
Left Field – Brett Gardner, New York Yankees (2nd award)
Center Field – Austin Jackson, Detroit (1st award)
Right Field – Justin Upton, Arizona (1st award)
Catcher – Matt Wieters, Baltimore (1st award)
Pitcher – Mark Buehrle, Chicago White Sox (3rd award)

And, yes, the stats are from 2011. The book is a year old, but if you’re a serious baseball fan or just want to see how your favorite players grade on defense the Fielding Bible Volume III is a book I highly recommend.

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