clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Bill James Interview and Baseball Analysts

Rich Lederer has moved to a new site called Baseball Analysts. You should check it out.

He has an excellent interview with the prolific Bill James up there right now. It's worth the read.

This part especially stood out to me because of how lucky (or more likely, GOOD) Billy Beane and company were to have Bobby Crosby ready when Tejada walked.

RL: There you go. In the 1982 Baseball Abstract, you introduced the Defensive Spectrum, which I believe was one of your biggest contributions. How did you develop that and does it still hold true to today?

BJ: It still holds true. I use the Defensive Spectrum as an example to try to explain to somebody why the definition of sabermetrics proposed by the dictionary ("computerized study of baseball records") is totally wrong. The Defensive Spectrum doesn't have anything to do with numbers, doesn't have anything to do with computers, statistics or anything. It has to do with organizing concepts so that you can understand them.

The Defensive Spectrum is still tremendously useful to me. The Red Sox...we don't have a shortstop -- we're losing (Orlando) Cabrera -- so there's a debate in the organization. If we had no second baseman and could come up with a lefthanded-hitting second baseman and a righthanded-hitting second baseman that were pretty good, no one would worry too much about it. But shortstop is really hard to find guys who are good. If you wind up filling in someone at that position, you almost, by definition, wind up weak. If we needed to attune at first base, we'd be fine. We'd find a guy who could crush lefties and a lefty who was pretty good, and we'd be fine.

At shortstop, if you have to fill in, you're in trouble most of the time. The Defensive Spectrum is a necessary concept to explain why that is true because there is nobody drifting into the shortstop position because he failed [chuckling to himself] at somewhere else. Nobody! There are guys who are good and there are the guys who are not shortstops because they're not good.

Oh, and he also did a piece about some writers and executives favorite players recently and was kind enough to include yours truly (forgive me for the embarrassing answer, but I had to be truthful). Read here.