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Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Smart Ball Architect

Great article today by John Walsh of The Hardball Times on measuring "smart" players. He used the same critiera that Bill James used in the New Historical Baseball Abstract but uses a more rigorous approach for both active and retired players since 1954. One could certainly argue that in addition to the four criteria used you could also include pick offs and weight them differently but the article is worth the read if simply for the closing paragraph.


I was very curious to see how Ozzie Guillen ranked based on the James method. It turns out he ranks 385 out of 555 players, in the bottom third. I actually expected him to rank lower, because on June 23, 1989, Ozzie fell for the ol' hidden-ball-trick, getting fooled by Brewers first baseman Greg Brock. It's hard to imagine a less heads-up play that you can make on a baseball diamond. That's alright, Oz, anybody can get surprised once. The amazing thing is, just a couple of months later, on August 5, Ozzie was caught napping on first base again (yep, hidden-ball-trick again), this time by the Tiger first-sacker Dave Bergman. Well, it appeared that Ozzie had finally learned the lesson, since he avoided being embarrassed for the next season and a half or so. But, no, in May 1991 he fell victim to the hidden ball trick a third time. So, yes, sometimes a player does contribute in a way that does not show up in the box score. Based on Ozzie's intangibles, I believe he deserves an honorary position alongside none other than Dr. Strangeglove as the worst percentage player of all time.

The data on hidden balls tricks is listed on Retrosheet.

1 comment:

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