Early Results, Fans Scouting Reports

Tom Tango posted his request for fans’ scouting reports of player fielding back on September 11th. I looked at the results today for the first time, given that there was a reminder to FanGraphs readers to do ratings today.

It’s sorta involved: “For any player that you’ve seen play in at least 10 games in 2012, I want you to judge his performance in 7 specific fielding categories.” (Emphasis mine.) This favors the fan who attends over ten live games a year, as Tango also advises,

“If you don’t have an opinion on a particular characteristic of that player, then go on to the next characteristic for that player. This applies especially for you TV watchers, and [sic] you can’t tell how well Peter Bourjos can read the ball off the bat.”

In other words, you need to be a serious fan to qualify, though it’s really just an honor system. That said, it takes a serious enough fan to read FanGraphs, or to visit Tango’s site, and especially to sit down and do this, however incompletely. (I’m not going to participate even though I went to at least a dozen Brewers games this season — I’m a very observant fan, but I tend to watch the pitcher and catcher very closely to the exclusion of noticing defensive alignments, first steps by the fielders, etc.)

I am, however, interested in the results — not the how the fans rate the players, necessarily, though I will look at those results, too, after the project ends. No, right now I’m far more interested in which teams have been most thoroughly addressed by the fans.

I’m making a couple of assumptions in doing this. First, I’m assuming that while many fans will rate players that aren’t on their favorite team, they will probably rate players from their favorite team first (i.e. before they do ratings for players on other teams) and most thoroughly, especially given the prerequisites set by Tango. Secondly, I am also assuming that most people will be honest about whether they can meet those prerequisites before rating players.

The table below shows fan participation in Tango’s project as of 11:30ET today.

In the table, then, “Results” refers to how many individual fans offered at least one rating. “Players” is the number of times a player had at least one tool rated. “Tools” is the number individual tools rated. All of these are provided neatly at Tango’s site.

The final two columns are my own additions, and are meant to give an idea of the average thoroughness that participating fans have exhibited. “T/R” is Tools rated per Result (i.e. per participating fan), and “T/P” is Tools rated per Player.

Team Results Players Tools T/R T/P
Arizona Diamondbacks 17 130 791 46.53 6.08
Atlanta Braves 34 336 2167 63.74 6.45
Baltimore Orioles 31 310 2011 64.87 6.49
Boston Red Sox 40 377 2492 62.30 6.61
Chicago Cubs 39 299 2006 51.44 6.71
Chicago White Sox 16 212 1338 83.63 6.31
Cincinnati Reds 28 293 1986 70.93 6.78
Cleveland Indians 31 273 1763 56.87 6.46
Colorado Rockies 15 179 1196 79.73 6.68
Detroit Tigers 56 626 4218 75.32 6.74
Houston Astros 13 127 852 65.54 6.71
Kansas City Royals 39 364 2383 61.10 6.55
Los Angeles Angels 27 222 1473 54.56 6.64
Los Angeles Dodgers 11 119 819 74.45 6.88
Miami Marlins 11 126 840 76.36 6.67
Milwaukee Brewers 38 376 2535 66.71 6.74
Minnesota Twins 33 342 2313 70.09 6.76
New York Mets 31 264 1724 55.61 6.53
New York Yankees 36 320 2045 56.81 6.39
Oakland Athletics 18 180 1214 67.44 6.74
Philadelphia Phillies 23 293 1954 84.96 6.67
Pittsburgh Pirates 25 238 1594 63.76 6.70
San Diego Padres 13 136 826 63.54 6.07
San Francisco Giants 38 375 2403 63.24 6.41
Seattle Mariners 107 1115 7300 68.22 6.55
St. Louis Cardinals 28 279 1823 65.11 6.53
Tampa Bay Rays 18 180 1218 67.67 6.77
Texas Rangers 34 319 2184 64.24 6.85
Toronto Blue Jays 59 645 4287 72.66 6.65
Washington Nationals 22 205 1323 60.14 6.45

The early results have the Seattle Mariners way out in front in terms of the counting stats. 107 fans had rated at least one Mariner at the time of this snapshot, almost twice the next nearest total: 59 fans had rated at least one tool of a Blue Jays player. Similar, the Mariners were the only team to have at over 1000 player ratings, and had 7300 tools rated, 3013 more than the Blue Jays.

Mariners fans are either the most enthusiastic or the most dishonest. They are not, however, the most thorough. The Phillies and White Sox were (at the time of the snapshot) the only two teams to have over 80 tools rated per participating fan (T/R), though they only had 23 and 16 participating fans, respectively. The Dodgers and the Rangers, on the other hand, had the two highest scores in terms of tools rated per player rated. The Dodgers were tied for last in participating fans with 11.

I’m inclined to say that maybe Mariners fans are the most progressive and enthusiastic in terms of thinking about baseball stats. And maybe they’re also honest with themselves: they want to participate, but they are less likely rate a tool that they don’t have confidence in rating. Given that Partick Dubuque is a Mariners fan — his self-reflection capabilities are off the charts — this makes sense.

On the other hand, Dodgers fans will finish what they start, even if they shouldn’t, but they’re not likely to participate in your stupid little project anyway, nerd.

Upon looking at these results at Tango’s site, seeing that the Mariners had the most participants by far, I wanted to write something about the “new fan.” The Mariners have been pretty awful the last few years. The increasing availability of stats in that time, particularly advanced stats, has allowed fans to be involved with the game in new and exciting ways. The Community Research section that is a part of FanGraphs provides examples of the kinds of insights a few fans might offer using readily available and free information.

I wonder if the availability of these statistics and the growing number of baseball writers/websites who use them are helping to produce a more detail-oriented fanbase. Fans of losing teams, though I’m sure they’d rather not, can look beyond the standings, even beyond boxscores, and see hope — or better, imagine detailed and practical solutions to their teams’ problems. Maybe that leads to delusions, but I’m betting that it also leads to a new kind of enjoyment — a kind that can be turned to in lieu of playoff berths and winning seasons.

One effect of the proliferation of advanced stats is their possible influence on awards. People say that Felix Hernandez would have never won the Cy Young in 2010, when he posted a 13-12 record, were it not for advanced stats. The Mariners lost 101 games that year. There wasn’t much to be proud of as a Mariners fan. But Felix’s Cy Young was something to be excited about, at least. It offered a feeling of vindication to M’s fans.

Tango’s project has been providing fans a way to participate in the stats they use to evaluate players, and that’s awesome. Stats get fans involved in news ways. Even Ned Colletti has admitted that stats get people interested in the game. It’s funny how divisive the issue of advanced stats has been, how divisive it still is. Regardless, they may have pragmatic worth when it comes to building or maintaining a fanbase.

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I would imagine Dave Cameron and Jeff Sullivan have a lot to do with the high numbers of Mariners fans. They write excellent Mariners blogs and educate the crap out of everyone who read them. Mariners fans are also cocky dicks, sometimes.