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HumpLinks: All that glitters is not just Kole

Kole Calhoun won his first (and the Angels only 2015) Gold Glove yesterday. Defensive contributions are highly subjective, explaining why Calhoun was not joined by Mike Trout.

Scott Halleran/Getty Images

Serious congrats to Kole Calhoun, winning a Gold Glove for his play in right field this past season.

Mike Trout, predictably, lost out to Kevin Kiermaier of the Rays. Kiermaier was great in CF, no doubt. Folks who read enough of me know that I have super serious doubts about how we measure defense, even with today's metrics. One such metric that hates Trout and adores Kiermaier - DRS - is among those. But it's indicative of why I remain skeptical.

To understand DRS, one needs to go to the source: The Fielding Bible. This is now the source for the advanced metrics portion that Rawlings began incorporating recently into GG factoring. I am going to summarize how DRS is figured for brevity sake, but you can go to the link and read the full extent for yourself to check on my veracity.

Essentially, a bunch of people sit around and watch every play in every game and put the outcomes into a database. These people have a bunch of pre-defined options they can select from to codify the play. (So right away we have serious human subjectivity AND a selection bias.) Then things are tallied up and all the players are compared against each other at their respective position. Here is where the fun part comes in.

If two batted balls happen to get encoded identically, and a first player makes an out on that ball and the second player does not, the first player gets plus DRS points and the second player gets negative DRS points. Seems simple enough, once one gets over the initial subjectivity and selection bias. But wait. What if the first player was standing at the spot the play was made at the time the ball was hit, but the second player was positioned far away? The Fielding Bible recognizes the importance of positioning, and tries to claim that they make an adjustment for it, but then they go on to reveal that they actually do not.

"Positioning, reaction, and range all factor into a player’s defensive ability. Whether an outfielder made a routine catch because he was positioned well or he had to sprint twice as hard because he got a poor read on the ball off the bat, the out still counts the same. The Plus/Minus System doesn’t know why the player made the play; it just knows that he did (or that he didn’t). As a result, the best plays according to the Plus/Minus System aren’t always flashy Web Gem nominees. As with anything else, the best defensive players can make the hard plays look easy."

In other words: "Hey, yeah, positioning is real important. But an out is an out and we don't give a crap how the out was made. We can't figure that out anyway (because we are more focused on the batted ball). It's on the player to make the play regardless of how far he has to go and how flashy it might look."

What does this mean to me? Well, it means that if Mike Trout is positioned by his coaches to play shallow, and a lot of balls are commonly hit to the track, he may be too shallow to get back to every one of them and many will fall for hits. But if other players are positioned deeper and any one of them is able to make those plays, Trout will get a negative DRS value for every one of those balls and the other player will get positive DRS values.

This is why I am holding out hope for StatCast. What if the difference between Kiermaier's gaudy advanced metrics and those of Trout are heavily warped based on defensive positioning as mandated by their respective coaching staffs? StatCast will put to the data that which TFB only gives lip service towards today. And it will finally make sense again that, yeah, the guy who may be no worse than the 3rd fastest runner in all of MLB will be recognized for having a good deal of range with those same wheels when using them to play in the outfield.

Meanwhile, have yourself some HumpLinks:


Angels Baseball

For Sale: Hitting the Free Agent market out of the LAA minor league system yesterday, per BaseballAmerica via Alden Gonzolez, are: Geovanny Acosta, Daniel Hurtado, Jeremy McBride, Cesar Melendez, Drew Rucinski, Alex Sanabia, Eduard Santos, Albert Suarez, Mike Antonini, Jeff Malm, Ryan Verdugo, Adam Wilk, Jose Gil, Raywilly Gomez, Zac Livingston, Luis Hernandez, Drew Maggi, Blake Gailen, Grant Green, Roger Kieschnick and Jared Mitchell.

Waiting on Byung-Ho: This could complicate things. The Twins won the bidding rights to Byung.Ho Park, and now they gotta go sign him. That might take awhile. If they do, it will create a logjam in their infield, and somebody would have to go. That somebody would be Trevor Plouffe. In that event, the Angels would go after Plouffe in a trade, and the Twins would want Cam Bedrosian and more. We shouldn't any problem giving up Shit-the-Bed-rosian, and if he is the jewel in any package we win. Plouffe is now in his arbitration years and won't hit Free Agency until 2018. He is a power-hitting, nominal OBP, good fielding third baseman. He's no Manny Machado, but he would be a step forward from David Freese. The problem is, though, that this play might force the Halos to wait on 3B and allow other 3B chances to slip away. Word is that Byung-Ho won't sign today, but surely tomorrow.........


Elsewhere in Baseball

Safe Slides: MLB is looking into a rule overhaul of the parts that involve takeout slides, with the consideration towards eliminating them altogether. As with everything "rules changes" involved, MLB first has to ask the players for permission to protect the players............

Safe Sight Lines: MLB is also looking at the extension of netting on field level seats. We absolutely do need to find ways to protect the ever-growing numbers of people who fail to pay attention to the game they spent enormous amounts of money to watch while sitting apart from the rabble of us commoners sitting up above, in order to protect the one person among the millions who gets seriously injured every 5 to 10 years. But it is fun to watch the owners and Front Office execs squirm their way through this discussion..........

Cord Cutting: The future took a setback this week as Ted Leonis, owner of the both the Washington Wizards and Washington Capitals, pulled back from his earlier intent to stream his own sports content using his own IP network and, instead, signed a 15-year extension with CSN Washington, a cable-based Regional Sports Network built by Comcast. All in, it's nearly $1 billion for Leonis. Obviously, that money is too easy to take instead of imagining a more profitable opportunity in the open market. If any owner is going to break this barrier, eschew the old markets, and reach out directly to cord cutters, the first is probably going to be Steve Balmer...........(By the way, if you want to spend some weekend chore brainstorming, read this long form about how technology is consuming MSM and think long and hard about how your understanding of the world will change when corporations, unencumbered from any journalistic standards, inevitably win.)..........

Home Cooking: The KC Royals "earned" home field advantage in this past World Series in large part because of the efforts of LA Angel Mike Trout in the 2015 All-Star exhibition game. This was Uncle Bud's idea, so there has to be a better way. One person is still thinking..........

Ball Fore!: Here is a fun idea for how to entertain sports fans with a baseball stadium that otherwise would lie idle, Golf, anyone?!?............

A Rose Smells: Don't forget! We still have the impending baseball news bonus to be announced sometime in the next 7 weeks in which Pete Rose will get sent back to his folding table in Las Vegas for the final time in his life...........


Award Season

Gold Gloves: LA Angels Kole Calhoun won his first Gold Glove Award for his 2015 play in Right Field. Let's ignore the reality that AL RF play was weak and relish the attention, congratulating Kole enthusiastically whenever possible. He gets to keep this honor for a lifetime. The full 2015 winning list is:

American League National League
Pitcher Dallas Keuchel Zack Greinke
Catcher Salvador Perez Yadier Molina
First Base Eric Hosmer Paul Goldschmidt
Second Base Jose Altuve Dee Gordon
Third Base Many Machado Nolan Arenado
Shortstop Alcides Escobar Brandon Crawford
Left Field Yeonis Cespedes Starling Marte
Center Field Kevin Kiermaier A.J. Pollock
Right Field Kole Calhoun Jason Heyward

BBWAA Awards: The Finalists for 2015 were named last night. The full list is:

AL Rookie of the Year Carlos Correa, Francisco Lindor, Miguel Sano
NL Rookie of the Year Kris Bryant, Matt Duffy, Jung Ho Kang
AL Manager of the Year Jeff Bannister, A.J. Hinch, Paul Molitor
NL Manager of the Year Terry Collins, Joe Maddon, Mike Matheny (because, Cardinals)
AL Cy Young Sonny Gray, Dallas Keuchel, David Price
NL Cy Young Jake Arrieta, Zack Greinke, Clayton Kershaw
AL MVP Lorenzo Cain, Josh Donaldson, Mike Trout
NL MVP Paul Goldschmidt, Bryce Harper, Joey Votto

The announcement schedule is:

Rookie of the Year Monday, Nov. 16
Manager of the Year Tuesday, Nov. 17
Cy Young Wednesday, Nov. 18
MVP Thursday, Nov. 19

Hall Of Fame: The HoF isn't buying into the request by the Writers to increase the number of players they can vote for each year ("The Rule of 10"). Make no mistake, the Writers want to vote for more than 10 because they want to deal with the backlog created by pushing back the PEDs players, and the HoF doesn't want the PEDs players into the Hall. So expect the HoF to agree to open up The Rule of 10 right about the time that Barry Bonds ages off the ballot. Heaven knows we don't want to be diluting the fantastic career of the immortal Pie Traynor.........


Hot Stove Season

Have some fun: MLB Trade Rumors is hosting a contest allowing you to pick where you think the major free agents will land this offseason. The options for each include all the teams, AND retirement, AND Japan. "Unsigned", as happened with Kendrys Morales and Stephen Drew prior to the 2014 season, is not being offered. You have until Friday night to enter, and they promise cash prizes!............