Nate McLouth's Defense

There's been a lot of talk today--here at Bucs Dugout, at the PBC Blog, and at WHYGAVS, about this article at Baseball Think Factory that says that Nate McLouth has been fielding "terribly" this year.

Baseball Think Factory is a great site, but I'd take all this with a grain of salt. Fielding stats are subject to all kinds of year-to-year fluctuations, and this one only represents a bit more than a half year's worth of play.

No methodology is listed in the article. I'm not questioning BBTF's methodology, but I'd love to see it, if anyone knows where to find it and can send it along, because there's a lot of stuff here that just doesn't make a lot of sense to me. The numbers suggest that:

1) That the no-kneed Jody Gerut was the top CF in the NL, and 22 runs better than McLouth, despite only playing half the season;

2) That Pat Burrell and Juan Pierre have been the best LFs in the league;

3) That all the catchers in the league except Geovany Soto were within one run of being average (wouldn’t a few plays at the plate, all by themselves, make the range between the best and merely average greater than one run?);

4) That the no-longer-mobile Brian Giles has been an excellent right fielder; and

5) That Luis Rivas has been an above-average shortstop.

I'll say that again: This metric thinks that Luis Rivas has been an above-average shortstop this year. That's insanity. So let's take all this with a grain of salt, shall we? I think WHYGAVS' guess that he's "probably slightly below average" is probably closer to the truth. I've watched Jim Edmonds quite a lot this year, and while I think the Post-Gazette's "trust your eyes" approach only goes so far, any system that says McLouth has been eleven runs worse than Edmonds has some explaining to do.

UPDATE: I'm leaving the above intact, but it's more strongly worded than it should have been. I didn't mean to suggest that the metric has no value, or anything like that, only that its stranger findings probably aren't anything to get up in arms about.

-P- Credit where credit's due: this article about the trades by Jerry Crasnick at ESPN is really quite good. It gives Neal Huntington a fair shake, accurately describes fan attitudes in Pittsburgh, and even mentions that while many in the mainstream media panned the trades, "some bloggers rode to Huntington's defense." Giddyup!

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