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Price: $21.95

Paperback 432 pp.
50 line drawings, 6.125" x 9.25"



Publication date:
April 2011

Imprint: OUP US

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Baseball's All-Time Greatest Fielders Revealed

Michael A. Humphreys

Much of the credit for helping the Red Sox win the World Series went to a more scientific approach to baseball statistics, dubbed "sabermetrics" by its greatest proponent, Bill James. But one aspect of the game has defied quantification: the number of runs individual fielders save. Traditional fielding statistics count errors and plays made, but not hits that fielders should have reached. Major League teams have recently addressed this gap with proprietary location data for every batted ball, but this information has been kept secret, and will never exist for the first century of modern major league baseball history.

Now, in Wizardry, comes the long-awaited breakthrough, Defensive Runs Analysis (DRA), created by Michael A. Humphreys. Drawing entirely on public information available to any fan, and using clear, concrete examples, Humphreys demonstrates how to apply classic statistical methods to estimate runs saved by fielders going back to 1893. Humphreys tests his analysis against established fielding measures, and explains their respective strengths and limitations. From shortstop to left fielder, he presents and defends his list of the greatest fielders of all time with anecdote-rich essays. More than that, Humphreys shows how to incorporate DRA into overall player ratings, putting fielding into the context of pitching, hitting, and base running. And he caps off this book with extensive appendices, including a chart of alternative fielding systems, a history of fielding analysis, DRA ratings for all fielders with 3,000 innings at one position, and (in conjunction with the author's website) single-season DRA ratings for all fielders since 1893.

Sabermetrics changed baseball and introduced a generation of young people to the art of statistical inference. Now a seasoned analyst makes the case for the biggest changes in historical player valuation in decades, while opening up new approaches for further exploration.

Readership : Baseball fans, Sabermetric enthusiasts, and statisticians.

Part One: Motivations and Methods
1. The Big Picture
2. One Way to Measure Fielding
3. Measuring the Many Measures of Fielding
4. Summing Up Fielding Careers in One Number . . . and Attaching Asterisks Thereto
5. Putting Top Players from Different Eras on 'Equal' Footing
Part Two: The Greatest Fielders of All-Time
6. Shortstop
7. Second Base
8. Center Field
9. Third Base
10. Right Field
11. Left Field
12. First Base
13. Catcher
Part Three: Fielding in the Context of Pitching, Hitting and Base Running
14. (A Select Few of) Baseball's All-Time Greatest Pitchers
15. Incorporating Fielding Ratings into Overall Player Ratings
16. Conclusion
A. Defensive Regression Analysis (DRA)
B. Notes on the history of fielding analy
C. Chart of alternative fielding systems
D. Career DRA ratings for all fielders with 3,000 innings or estimated innings at one position
E. Single-season DRA ratings for all fielders since 1893 (Available book's website)
Certain data used to develop DRA (Available book's website)

There are no Instructor/Student Resources available at this time.

Michael A. Humphreys advises on taxation issues related to international capital markets for Ernst & Young LLP. He lives in New York City.

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Special Features

  • Presents a groundbreaking method for analyzing baseball fielding statistics and evaluating defensive performance.
  • Uses this new methodology to put players from different eras on equal footing in order to rank the best fielders at each position throughout baseball history.
  • Provides an analysis of other defensive metrics currently being used by other baseball statisticians, details the strengths and weaknesses of each system, and compares each system to the author's own methodology.
  • Offers colorful anecdotes and historical details of both well known and lesser know players throughout major league history.