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2005-03-06 15:00
by Jon Weisman
Note: The Dodger Thoughts blog has moved to the Los Angeles Times.

Jeff Kent says that there's no way to measure defense. None. Forget even trying.

From Bill Plunkett in the Orange County Register:

"I still think it's all (expletive)," Kent said. "How can you (measure defense)? It's one stat in the game that people have really tried to corner and they can't, because the decisions each defensive player makes prior to each pitch is different. You can't do it.

"You can easily say one player is slower than another. But one guy may get a better jump than another. How can you measure that? Or maybe one guy sets up differently to get an advantage. You can't factor that."

Paul DePodesta might not be ready to give up.

A standard bearer for baseball's new wave of freethinkers who rely on stat-creating, computer-literate player analysis, DePodesta said he has been trying to devise a way to measure defensive contributions and "separate pitching and defense" for seven or eight years. During that time he has discarded some attempts, refined others and continues to refine the one he currently uses.

"We have our own that's pretty unique," he said, joking that he doesn't have a catchy acronym like UZR or OPS or VORP for it yet.

DePodesta said he uses a "melange of items" including raw statistics, including errors and chances, as well as information gleaned from charts kept during games which show the position of fielders and where balls are hit.

And in the end ...

"We try to look at every player holistically in terms of runs created and runs prevented. That being said, we're very comfortable with Jeff as a total player."

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