Measuring defense is really, really hard. One can criticize any of the popular defensive metrics. In fact, I bet you spend a lot of time on AN doing just that. But you know what, I'd rather have a scout's opinion of a player's defense. Wait scratch that. I'd rather have a dozen scouts' opinions.
Now here's the dirty little secret: you're a scout. I am too. We watch every A's game, which means we watch Mark Ellis go to his left, Daric Barton do the splits, and Jack Cust lumber after pop ups more than any professional scout. By putting our honest observations together, we can come up with a consensus scouting profile on any player. And I'm asking you to tap into that potential.
That's what the Fan Scouting Report is all about. Every year, Tom Tango asks thousands of fans to give their scouting reports by rating fielders in a variety of categories. Says Tom:
What I would like to do now is tap that pool of talent. I want you to tell me what your eyes see. I want you to tell me how good or bad a fielder is. Go down, and start selecting the team(s) that you watch all the time. For any player that you've seen play in at least 10 games in 2010, I want you to judge his performance in 7 specific fielding categories.
And best of all:
And, most importantly, do not, absolutely do not, look at any numbers. Don't look at his fielding percentage, range factor, zone rating, UZR, or anything else that someone else is telling you. I just want you to rely on your eyes. You are the scout. I need you to rely completely on your own observations.
Tom's been doing this every year for over five years now, so we're starting to get good historical data. In some cases the fans agree with the numbers. In other cases, they disagree. It's all very useful information, because it gathers our collective experiences to tell us what the numbers might not. The more opinions the better. As usual, the A's have one of the smallest response pools in the Fan Scouting report. For every evaluation of an A's player, there are a zillion for the Mariners and Red Sox and Yankees!
But this is important: be honest in your evaluations. This isn't a ballot-stuffing contest. (For those of you who have been around AN long enough, we're not trying to beat blue-grey sky here.) This is an attempt to use the collective knowledge of the best-informed baseball fans our there to help us identify fielding skill. Thanks for helping Tango out in his project, which I think is the most creative and informative collective-wisdom projects in the blogosphere.