I share Aaron’s dubiousness about Miguel Cabrera playing third base for the Tigers. And I laughed during the Prince Fielder press conference when Fielder said this:
“I’m confident in Miguel doing a good job. That’s where he started out, at third base.”
Which is why Chipper Jones will be playing shortstop for the Braves, Jim Thome will be playing third base for the Phillies and Rick Ankiel will be the opening day starter for the Nationals.
But maybe we shouldn’t mock. During that press conference, Jim Leyland made an allusion to Miguel Caberea losing weight and being just fine at third base. Then a recent picture of Miguel Cabrera — courtesy of his personal trainer Radhi Muhammad of 4.40 Fitness and Athlete Development — was forwarded to me. Check this out:
Mercy me. Two tickets to the gun show, please!
I have no idea if that translates to better-than-expected play at third base. But I’m just sayin’, maybe we need to revise this whole “the Tigers infield is fat” thing. Because it doesn’t seem to apply to Miguel Cabrera at the moment.
If you are old enough and lame enough as I am, you may have lurked around on sabermetic message boards in the 1990s. If you did, you may have heard of Sherri Nichols, who back in the day, was a significant contributor to the advancement of statistical analysis, particularly defensive analysis.
While it’s probably better that not everyone is as old and nerdy as me, the downside of it is that most people haven’t heard of Nichols and know nothing about her contributions. That changes today with Ben Lindbergh’s excellent analysis of Nichols and her work over at The Ringer, which I recommend that you all read.
The short version: Nichols is the one who planted the seed about on-base percentage being valuable in the mind of Baseball Prospectus Founder Gary Huckabay, back in the late 80s. She’s also the one most responsible for the rise of zone-based defensive metrics in the 1990s, such as Defensive Average, which she created and which served as the basis for other such metrics going forward. She also played a critical role in the development of RetroSheet, which collected almost all extant box score and play-by-play information going back to the turn of the 20th century, thereby making so much of the information available at Baseball-Reference.com and FanGraphs possible. A key contribution there: making the information free and available to everyone, rather than closing the underlying data off as proprietary and either charging for access or keeping it in-house like some recent data collectors have chosen to do. Ahem.
A larger takeaway than all of Nichols’ contributions is just how loathe the baseball community was to listen to a woman back then. I mean, yeah, they’re still loathe to listen to women now, as indicated by the small number of women who hold jobs in baseball operations departments, but back then it was even worse, as evidenced by Lindbergh’s stories and Nichols’ anecdotes.
A great read and a great history lesson.