Monday, April 13, 2009
It appears that the market has shifted. Position players with poor defensive reputations, with little regard of their skill with the wood, have fallen like the Dow Jones.
To varying degrees, Bobby Abreu, Jason Giambi, Adam Dunn, and Pat Burrell have all taken pay cuts from what they expected last summer. OBP is out; Zone Rating is in or whatever is your favorite defensive metric.
The added emphasis on glove work for a more complete position player evaluation is prudent, but it seems to have shifted too much. When Frank Catalonotto, Ray Durham, and Jim Edmonds are without jobs and Mark Kotsay, Mike Lamb, and Jason Michaels have Major League deals; something is amiss.
Forecasting fielding - by nature - is more difficult than hitting. Projecting fielding is dependent on getting the pitching portion of run prevention right. A key component has to be the number of fielding opportunities for a given player. Without precise pitching projections, it is highly unlikely to have accurate forecasts.
The inherent dependent nature of a fielding forecast should lead to discounting a player’s defensive value relative to his offensive production when projecting performance. The ranks of baseball’s unemployed would indicate that many clubs may not be discounting their glove work forecasts enough.