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Journal of Quantitative Analysis in Sports

Editor-in-Chief: Glickman, Mark

4 Issues per year

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Estimating Fielding Ability in Baseball Players Over Time

James Piette1 / Shane T. Jensen2

1University of Pennsylvania

2University of Pennsylvania

Citation Information: Journal of Quantitative Analysis in Sports. Volume 8, Issue 3, ISSN (Online) 1559-0410, DOI: 10.1515/1559-0410.1463, October 2012

Publication History

Published Online:
2012-10-09

Abstract

Quantitative evaluation of fielding ability in baseball has been an ongoing challenge for statisticians. Detailed recording of ball-in-play data in recent years has spurred the development of sophisticated fielding models. Foremost among these approaches, Jensen et al. (2009) used a hierarchical Bayesian model to estimate spatial fielding curves for individual players. These previous efforts have not addressed evolution in a player’s fielding ability over time. We expand the work of Jensen et al. (2009) to model the fielding ability of individual players over multiple seasons. Several different models are implemented and compared via posterior predictive validation on hold-out data. Among our choices, we find that a model which imposes shrinkage towards an age-specific average gives the best performance. Our temporal models allow us to delineate the performance of a fielder on a season-to-season basis versus their entire career.

Keywords: fielding; hierarchical Bayesian models; time series

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