Sunday, August 29, 2004

Notes on Player Evaluation

This blog has been online for less than 24 hours and I've already gotten a fair amount of hits. Based on the feedback so far (a ridiculously small sample size), I'm willing to believe that if I continue this quality of work some people will return regularly and perhaps gve a good deal of weight to my arguments. This prospect is fairly exciting for me (and maybe it is for you too-- just think, three years from now you could be bragging to your friends about how you'd been visiting The Fourth Outfielder since Week One). It should be noted, however, that my baseball expertise (if it can even be called that) is confined to a limited set of observational tools. I only watch 60-70 baseball games a year on TV, I've only been to one MLB game in person in the last fifteen years, and I haven't played baseball in over eight years. As such, I am a child of secondary sources when it comes to non-statistical player evaluation. I strongly believe that scouting and statistics are more or less equal in both their powers to deceive and their powers to predict, and any smart baseball decision almost certainly involves a careful consideration of both. That being said, I think I have a good feel for many areas of baseball statistics and I derive a bizarre level of enjoyment from hunting down obscure data (if you don't think I was loving the two or three minutes spent on Retrosheet.org finding the last time Robin Ventura faced Kris Benson, you're sadly mistaken). I honestly can't tell you anything about James Loney's swing other than that most people who've seen it speak of it as if it was the Venus di Milo with arms, but I can take a good look at how is Double-A stats compare to other 20-year old first basemen; more importantly, I'll try my best to show how the stats illuminate his raw talent and how the prevalent observations of his raw talent illuminate his stats. My analysis won't always be perfect, but I genuinely want to do what my favorite writers have done: offer perspectives on issues that many readers wouldn't have thought of on their own, offer analysis of different perspectives that synthesizes them effectively, and make readers enjoy reading.

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