How the new defensive statistic Reaction and Range was really started
In the eighth inning of Game Seven with Boston and New York, Pedro Martínez struck out Alfonso Soriano to start the inning. At that time I rose from my seat in the upper deck in Yankee Stadium and saluted the crowd, with a raised hand, and fingers extended, and said "five outs to go." How many fans woke up that day without any tickets, but asked the owner of the team, by instant messenger if they could go, and the reply was, "how many tickets do you want." That is what happened to me on that day, and now, in 5 outs the dream would be complete. Derek Jeter was up next, and he hit a drive to deep right center. When it left the bat, it seemed like a harmless fly ball. As I had smuggled my mini DVCamera into the ballpark, and was taking my own footage of every pitch, (so I could bring back a souvenir of Boston celebrating winning the pennant, and sending it to the owner the next day.) The on-screen clock showed that it took 3.6 seconds from when the ball and bat met, until it went by Trot Nixon's futile lunge.
As the days and weeks followed, I couldn't stop thinking, if only Nixon had caught that ball there would have been two outs, and nobody on base, and surely the curse would have been broken. Baseball has so many statistics that give historians a reference of what happened in crucial games, but there really isn't anything that shows when a fielder, had poor reaction , and showed little range in making a play. That is when I came up with a new statistic for the game. Reaction and Range, R/R. If you think about it every play a fielder makes is determined by his reaction to the ball being hit, and the range that he makes to reach the ball.
If you made Reaction and Range into a formula, it would be: A play by the defense is proportional to the reaction time, divided by the range distance. Time/Distance. In Nixon's case he had 3.6 seconds to range 20 feet from where he was positioned before the pitch. His R/R that will go down as the first R/R number ever recorded was a very poor -.180. It doesn't help change the outcome of the game, but the real reason Boston lost, was not because Grady Little left in Pedro too long, but because Nixon did not have any reaction and range on Jeter's hit.
I have taken this idea and sent it to many that are truly inside the game. I have generated responses from Theo Epstein, Jed Hoyer, and Bill James of the Red Sox. I have heard from Tom Verducci, Alan Schwarz, John Sickels, Phil Birnbaum, Jim Callis, Dinn Mann, David Pinto, Mark Simon and Ken Heard, who is chairman of the Science committee at SABR. Last month, Heard had my theory published in the SABR newsletter called "Rising Fastball." Dinn Mann of MLBAM has forwarded this statistic to Bob Bowman at MLB, they plan on putting six cameras in every park, so that defense could be more defined. It is my hope that someday baseball will recognize a statistic for defense, called Reaction and Range.
Each player would have different R/R numbers at each position, but each position would be able to compare players at the same position. A shortstop might range 40 feet for a ground ball in 2.4 seconds for a R/R of +.060, if he makes the play and -.060 if he misses it. A third baseman might dive 10 feet in .5 seconds for a R/R number of .050. Graphs could be kept of every player for a season. the numbers in blue would be those that were made, and in red those that were missed. Plays of the week could be ranked with a degree of difficulty determined by their R/R number.
What would you consider the top five greatest games in Red Sox history. My list would be as follows 1. October 1, 1967, Jim Lonborg beat the Twins, and there was pandemonium on the field. 2. Carlton Fisk and Bernie Carbo, Game 6 in 1975. 3. Bill Buckner, need I say more. 4. Bucky, ditto. 5. Game 7 in the Bronx last year. How many fans of the Red Sox can say they were at all of those games? I can, that is why I call myself the World's Greatest Living Red Sox Fan. Of course some people say I am really the curse. Really I am just a fan, that always wanted to think of a new statistic, "for the good of the game."