I link this Ben Lindbergh piece at Grantland not to mock Derek Jeter’s defense, but because the approach here — with heavy use of Gifs and infographics — is a really cool way to look at defense in general. As Lindbergh puts it, it meshes the old fashioned eye-test — which usually helps Jeter’s case — with some advanced metrics.
People already know that Jeter is not and never has been a strong defender and those who doubt it aren’t the sorts to be persuaded by silly things like evidence. But what this does do is take the defensive discussion out of the realm of extremely-flawed defensive metrics and literally shows us what people are talking about when they talk about the player’s defensive strengths or weaknesses. And there are strengths, even if Jeter has been poor on the whole.
None of this is particularly helpful from a data analysis perspective — it would take an awful long time to write up these sorts of defense stories for everyone and you still don’t have data sets you can compare — but it is pretty spiffy and probably tells us more than anything else on the matter can.
Fox Sports Detroit has named Matt Shepard their new full-time play-by-play guy for Tigers games. Shepard will work with analysts Jack Morris and Kirk Gibson, who will split time.
This is the move in response to former longtime announcers Mario Impemba and Rod Allen getting suspended and later fired following an in-booth altercation in Chicago last September. The two of them, who weren’t exactly friends, reportedly fought over a chair, with conflicting reports of how serious the fight was. An anonymous witness said Allen put Impemba in a choke hold. Allen recently gave an interview in which he denied that and said it was only some pushing and shoving. Either way, it ended their 16-year team-up for Tigers games.
Shepard has worked for Fox Sports Detroit for nearly 20 years, doing fill-in play-by-play for the Tigers — he replaced Impemba for the last few weeks of last season — and for Detroit Pistons games. Gibson has been a part time analyst for the network for the past couple of seasons, splitting time with Allen. Morris has done Tigers, Blue Jays and Twins games over the years, sometimes even splitting time between the Twins and Tigers, which is rather unusual.
Shepard is pretty good at his job. While Tigers fans liked and were familiar with Impemba, there won’t be a falloff in quality. Gibson makes some good analytical points and has a surprisingly sharp and biting sense of humor about him, but his gruff and monotone delivery is not everyone’s cup of tea. You get used to it. Morris is not my cup of tea — he tends to do a lot of the “back in my day” stuff former players often do — but I’m pretty sure he could recite the dictionary on TV in Detroit and a lot of Tigers fans would tune in. Such is life.