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Projecting Fielding Percentage - Should you? If so, how?

Many experienced Scoresheet managers – even successful ones ignore fielding percentage. They know it affects how often their opponents score runs, but they reason, it is too difficult to predict. That is the level of predictability and reward for accurately projecting a player’s fielding range is not worth the effort. One need only look at the fielding averages of regular third-basemen recently to see why. Alex Rodriguez led this group in Fielding Percentage last year (2008), yet finished last amongst the regulars in 2006. Melvin Mora was second to last in Fielding Percentage in 2008, yet was the second best the year before.


Other Scoresheet managers maintain it is a very important part of their success. Without concrete evidence otherwise, you would think the ability to not make errors is a real skill generally repeatable by those who possess it. The example of A-Rod and Mora alone is not enough to throw out the possibility that it is a skill, but obviously does beg a careful study beyond my mathematical skill. Hence, I have resigned to ignorantly choose one camp or the other and, being lazy by nature, have always been one who has ignored error proneness. This year I’ll give it a try.


ESPN’s fielding data has sadly stopped giving Zone Ratings, but thankfully they have fielding percentages handy year by year. So, I’m going through them. If I notice strong consistency to have a high fielding percentage for his position, I add a +F next to his range factor such as I did for Mark Ellis. If there is just a noticeable - but neither strong nor persistent - tendency for a high fielding percentage, I’ll append a +f. If the opposites are true, that is a merely noticeable tendency towards making a high percentage of errors (low fielding percentage), I put in a –f. If the tendency for errors is strong or persistent, I’ll give him a -F.


By, the way, at first I used the letter E, however, a +E made me think that player made many errors, so I realized F is less confusing.

John Carter