Whether or not you know it, if you're a baseball fan, you probably appreciate or enjoy the game a little bit more because of Tom Tango. The pseudonymous saberist, currently a consultant for the Chicago Cubs, has had a hand—often the most important one—in developing many of the most interesting and useful statistical tools developed over the last decade or so, including some of the best-known, like WAR and FIP. Even better, as befits someone who's maintained a vigorous internet presence even when working for major league teams, he's put them out there for everyone to use and tinker with.
One of Tango's ongoing cool projects is the Fan Scouting Report, which is pretty much exactly what it sounds like. Tango's idea is that if enough observant baseball fans grade the defense of the players on the teams they know best, the wisdom of the crowd should apply. (He's right, too: remember that Deadspin readers have already proven, through their Hall of Fame voting, that they have better baseball opinions than veteran baseball writers!) This allows for just plain fun stuff, like seeing how fans rate Yasiel Puig's reaction time, and also gives researchers a credible body of scouting data to work with.
For the wisdom of the crowd to kick in, though, there has to be a crowd. It's not that hard to get a decent sample of Boston Red Sox or New York Yankees fans willing to take a few minutes to grade their team's players; getting Miami Marlins or San Diego Padres fans is a little tricker. So if you do have a few minutes, head on over to Tango's site and help him out, making sure to check out the results for past years once you're done. After all, he has a pretty good pitch:
We know the fans know what they are talking about. We know they know how to observe good and bad fielding. Now, I just want to know what the fans know. And, hopefully, so do you.
Photo by Victor Decolongon/Getty