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1) using profanity or any euphemisms for profanity
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Princess Coraboo
2005-01-30 22:36
by Jon Weisman
Note: The Dodger Thoughts blog has moved to the Los Angeles Times.

Yet another statistician - David Pinto of Baseball Musings - offers numbers indicating that Jeff Kent was a better fielding second baseman in 2004 than Alex Cora.

I'm not keeping score, but I'm pretty sure that Kent is beating Cora in most of these studies.

Hey, I'm no different from the rest of you. This is like having people telling me that Phoebe Cates isn't beautiful or the hamburgers at Kirk's in Palo Alto during college weren't the best anyone has ever had.

But what are your options?

a) Conclude that all the statistical models picking Kent over Cora are flawed.

b) Conclude there's a conspiracy among statisticians to make Paul DePodesta look good.

c) Overlook or deny that these Kentriffic statistics exist.

d) Conclude that, at a minimum, there might be something to this.

You're welcome to make a case for a) if you can, but it seems better to go with d).

Someone could have the prettiest swing, but if the guy's offensive stats repeatedly trailed Mr. Herky Jerky, would you insist he was the better hitter? How many times can it be the stats' fault?

It should be as simple as the plot of Paradise that Cora is a better fielder than Kent, but it's not. There's something about Kent we're not seeing, something about Cora we're not seeing, or something about these models we're not seeing.

At any rate, anyone should be wary of stating unequivocally that the Dodgers have weakened their defense at second base. With all the evidence piling up against him, how can anyone stipulate to Cora's supremacy at this point? Really, is there so much harm in acknowledging the mere possibility that are eyes might be misleading us?

Beyond that, the task today is to increase the breadth and depth of this conversation by publicizing these advanced fielding models with the simplest possible explanation for how they work (like, "rate of expected outs converted.") Because just like it was with OPS, it's going to be a matter of momentum, of seeing other people using these statistics and feeling comfortable with them, to win acceptance for them.

OPS isn't the end of the conversation about offense - but it improves the conversation. It expands it. That's what I'm talking about. We need to expand the conversation about how defense is measured.

It's 2005, and like it or not, you can't judge a second baseman by its cover. Kent can field a little bit, and Cora maybe not as much as we thought.

And by the way, Cates' acting improved as her career went on...

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