Anthony DiComo has some fresh content up at MLB.com about the Mets, playing defense, and the horror that will doubtless ensue when the two are wed on the fields of Flushing a couple weeks hence. While so many out-of-position defenders — Lucas Duda in right field, Daniel Murphy at second base, Jason Bay anywhere — won't be easy on the eyes, DiComo probed reputed defensive metrics wizard John Dewan for his thoughts on the 2012 Mets glovemen:
"We're at the point where we think we've really got a good handle on measuring defense," Dewan said. "It was always the holy grail of 'How can you figure out how to measure defense?' And we think we've reached a very good spot now where we've got a good handle on measuring defense."
It's true that defensive analysis has undergone a dramatic transformation over the past few years, leaving behind its recondite past in favor of a comfortable but still mildly abstruse present. During that time, the value of defensive contributions has ranged from marginalized to aggrandized, while the truth surely rested in between all along. The nuances of advanced zone-based metrics are mostly lost on me; I'm usually happy deferring to the experts on more esoteric matters while focusing on higher-level concepts like range-versus-appearance and the defensive spectrum. The findings of Dewan and others, coupled with more rudimentary analyses, provide a sufficiently developed picture to make general observations and predictions about players. That's good enough for me.
There's also a bit in the article about the impact Citi Field's new dimensions may have on the Mets' defense.
Dewan's data is not built to account for such changes, though he agrees they could have significant impact.
"It theoretically makes sense," Dewan said. "Just like contouring any park to your strengths and weaknesses, that's going to help their defense."
Assigning less outfield pasture to Bay and Duda is surely a good idea, but that's really just an accidental consequence of restructuring the park to stimulate offensive production. Besides, it's not as if you could just alter the layout of a ballpark every year or two to exploit the talents and attenuate the shortcomings of that version of the team, right?