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Baseball by the numbers

Study evaluates success of statistical analyses in determining the player with the golden glove

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4:42pm, August 6, 2009

WASHINGTON — Baseball fans know who has the golden glove, but assigning a number to a player’s defensive merits has been tricky. A recent analysis suggests new sophisticated statistical methods could offer a fuller picture for sports nuts, Benjamin Baumer reported August 5 at the Joint Statistical Meetings.

Traditionally, fielding ability has been calculated by dividing a player’s number of errors by the total number of chances the player had to make a play, and subtracting that number from one. (Errors are mistakes that would have been avoided with “ordinary effort” — an arguably subjective call.) But this long-used formula doesn’t give credit to a fielder with range, who can successfully run down a ball out of reach for most players.

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