A Gardner Worth His Weight

Because the UZR listed here on FanGraphs often gets presented as one number, and the fact that UZR stands for Ultimate Zone Rating, it is often mistaken as shorthand for a measurement of a player’s range only. In fact, a player’s UZR is the sum of his range runs, his error runs, and his arm runs (for outfielders) or double play runs (for infielders).

Since the beginning of the 2008 season, here are the top outfield throwing arms, by ARM rating.

1. Hunter Pence, +11.1
2. Matt Kemp, +10.8
3. Ryan Ludwick, +9.0
4. Nick Markakis, +9.0
5. Brett Gardner, +8.4

Now, here are the innings totals for those same five players.

Pence, 2,081
Kemp, 2,039
Ludwick, 1,701
Markakis, 2,095
Gardner, 745

Which of these is not like the others? Gardner has racked up an incredible +8.4 ARM rating since showing up in the majors last year, and he’s done it in half a season’s worth of playing time. He has 83 “defensive games” as a major league outfielder, meaning that he’s had just over 1/2 of a season’s worth of balls hit to him to turn into outs. The four guys ahead of him are all at 200+ defensive games during this same time span.

This is a ridiculous performance, honestly. Over a full season, Gardner’s +17 pace would easily be double that of the 2008 ARM leader (Pence). He’s been worth almost a win to the Yankees (in half a season!) just by chucking the ball back in from the outfield.

When I looked up Gardner on the Fans Scouting Report for 2008, he graded out fairly average across the board in strength, accuracy, and release. Based on the 29 ballots filled out by Yankee fans after last season, Gardner’s arm was nothing to write home about. Melky Cabrera‘s arm ratings were significantly better. Melky’s ARM rating this year; -3.2.

I haven’t seen Gardner throw enough to know whether the Yankee fans who filled out the Fans Scouting Report were blind or if Gardner is just taking advantage of a bad scouting report on him around the league. So, Yankee fans, help me out here – is Gardner’s ARM rating just a crazy fluke or did he steal Francoeur’s arm over the winter?

If Gardner really does have one of the best throwing arms in baseball, then there’s really no way that New York can justify keeping him out of the starting line-up on a regular basis. He’s already one of the best base stealers in the game (30 for 33), and his +10.6 range runs 600 innings as a major league center fielder suggest he might be an elite defensive player even without the crazy throwing. If the Yankees can really expect +5 to +10 runs per year from Gardner’s arm, in addition to above average range, and crazy good base stealing efficiency, then he’s worth an everyday line-up spot even with his .698 OPS in the majors.

In fact, when you look at the total body of work that Gardner has put together since showing up in New York, he’s racked up +3.3 wins above replacement in 342 plate appearances. Even with heavy regression, Gardner looks to be good enough to play everyday.

A Yankee prospect that might have been actually underrated? Now that’s worth writing about.




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Dave is a co-founder of USSMariner.com and contributes to the Wall Street Journal.


64 Responses to “A Gardner Worth His Weight”

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  1. Tom B says:

    season ticket holder in yankee $tadium.

    his speed to the gaps and to the wall lets him get the ball in quicker, that’s about it. guys get caught trying to leg out doubles and triples solely because they didnt think he’d get there so fast, not because of the actual throw. his arm is accurate, but he under throws the ball and short hops it. his throws home frequently hit the pitchers mound and careen off into oblivion.

    melky probably has one of the best arm’s in the major leagues. don’t know why it would be rated so low.

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    • Zack says:

      Melky seemed to struggle alot with accuracy this year, not hitting cutoff men, throwing to the wrong place and letting guys advance a base- not sure if that stuff factors into his rating though

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  2. Chris says:

    That’s a ridiculously small sample size to use to judge a player’s arm or baserunning efficiently.

    A GM who would make personnel decisions on this basis would deserve to be fired.

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  3. Kevin S. says:

    Small, but not ridiculously so. Usually, you need a 1,000 innings for a player at a given position to get a significant sample. Gardner’s three-fourths of the way there, so, as Dave says, even with a heavy regression, he looks to be very valuable for his defense.

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  4. Greg F. says:

    His arm isn’t very strong, and I don’t think it is as good as his ARM rating would suggest, but it is not as weak as others have made it seem. To me, it seems like the scouting report on him is that he has a weak arm, so it is tested often. Teams have paid for this though, as his arm has looked very accurate to me. He has made some great throws to the plate that maybe bounced once but were right on, but as Tom B notes, he has also made some terrible throws as well.

    Based on what I’ve seen this season, Gardner’s arm is better than Melky’s. It seems like Melky thinks he has the greatest arm in the world and tries to overthrow it, which has resulted in a ton of inaccurate throws.

    While Melky’s arm is stronger than Gardner’s, I’ll take Gardner’s average throw strength and his accuracy. At this point, I think that Gardner has done enough to warrant starting in CF from here on out; his defense is ridiculous.

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  5. John Franco says:

    I am with the others – I have probably watched about 70% of the Yankees’ games this year and it seems to me that he is benefiting from poor scouting reports/people underestimating his speed in getting to balls. Combine that with an *accurate* throwing arm that is probably only a little below average, and he has surprised some people. I also think he plays a bit shallower than Melky does.

    Completely agree with Greg F that Melky needs to get over his own arm. He does have a cannon out there, but cannons are notoriously inaccurate, and he has a bit of Clemente-itis (or Vlad-itis if you prefer) where he just lets it fly in the general direction of the infield.

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  6. matt says:

    Melky has a stronger arm, Gardner (at least this season) has a more accurate arm.
    His plus speed also allows him to get to balls faster and catch guys in the middle of stretching hits. Overall Gardner is a decent if not spectacular player. He has earned his spot in the lineup, and every hit Melky gets is upping his offseason (or this season) trade value.

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  7. Chris says:

    Kevin, for defense, fine, 1,000 innings. But your arm would require a lot more because for every 4 playmaking opportunities a CF has, he gets how many (1 tops?) to use his arm, or be in a situation where a runner is forced to make a decision based on his arm. Add in that he’s playing in a new park with poorly-established effects. . .

    And I get that Dave’s regressing, but he’s still placing him amongst the top arms in baseball. There’s simply far too little data to make that determination.

    Simply put, I would put far more faith in a scouting report that the data when it came to Gardner’s baserunning or arm at this point.

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    • Kevin S. says:

      Dave didn’t place him anywhere; the results, fluky as they are, put him in that top five. I do kind of wish Pizza Cutter had done split-half reliability tests for the UZR components in addition to hitting and pitching, but such is life. I think the point is that while the sample isn’t large enough to tell us what his true ARM runs level is, it is enough to tell us that the scouting reports undersold it. Information is still information, even if it’s not enough to be (relatively) definitive.

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      • Chris says:

        Information this limited can be counterfactual.

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      • Kevin S. says:

        I think you’re kind of overstating how limited it is. Also, it’s not counterfactual – it happened. It’s a fact. It almost certainly doesn’t represent his true talent level, but counterfactual is the wrong term for it. To totally ignore it would be foolhardy. At the very least, a GM should try to determine why the discrepancy between the scouting report and the results exist. Ignoring information is not a smart thing for a GM to do.

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      • Chris says:

        Am I?

        How many “ARM” data points does 700 inings have? How many plays a game does a ball come to Brett Garnder where either A) he has a real opportunity to make a play on a runner, or B) the runner has to make a real, informed decision whether or not to run or advance an extra base based on his perception of Gardner’s throwing ability?

        Having watched thousands of baseball games, I would venture to guess the answer is less than one per game. Most baserunning decisions are made regardless of who’s out there, because either the ball is too deep for anyone to prevent advancement, or too shallow for anyone to attempt advancement. It’s only on the tweeners, the scooped up base hits and the medium range fly balls, where an outfielder’s arm comes into play.

        So really we’re looking at what, 70, real data points that would help us come to a conclusion? And mixed into that is a LOT of noise (park effects at Yankee Stadium we don’t have a handle on yet, quality of baserunners, quality of infielders taking cutoffs).

        Would you judge a hitter after 70 plate appearances? after 150? Would you say with any confidence that such a limited amount of data proved scouts wrong? Of course you wouldn’t. So why would you do that with far noisier dataset?

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      • Kevin S. says:

        You’re assuming that I would judge a player *solely* on that dataset. I never claimed that, not at all. I said information should not be summarily disregarded, and that what he’s done does need to augment the scouting reports.

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      • Chris says:

        Dave’s analysis above IS solely based on the statistical record. If he consulted scouting reports, I’m not seeing it.

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      • tom s. says:

        i remember tom tango saying that the data set required for ARM info was actually very small, because the discrepancies from player to player were huge. so I doubt the numbers are nearly as unreliable as you think.

        to tell whether new york is warmer or colder than chicago you might need a data set of 150 days. to tell whether new york is warmer or colder than fairbanks, you might only need 50 days.

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      • Chris says:

        Tom, that would explain why the differences matter, and why there CAN be significant differences between players, but it would have very little effect on the reliability of a small sample size. Certainly not to the point where you could confidently group Gardner in with the best arms in baseball after 700 innings of data.

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      • Chris says:

        Those comments aren’t especially convincing. A month of pitching will establish that lincecum is a better K pitcher than pineiro. And a half season will probably establish that ichiro has a better arm than Pierre. That doesn’t mean it isn’t subject to considerable fluctuation. Look I’ll concede that these stats establish that Gardner doesn’t have a horrible arm. But Camerons “regression” is still placing him in elite company. That’s just not justifiable.

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      • Kevin S. says:

        Cameron’s regression did not put Gardner in elite armstrength company. It put him in elite *defensive* company. Major difference. RTFA.

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  8. Greg says:

    I’m pretty stunned by this revelation. I watch Yankees games now and then, but my biggest recollection of Gardner’s arm is the atrocity of a throw he unleashed from SHALLOW left center on Lowell’s sac fly at the end of this clip:

    http://boston.redsox.mlb.com/media/video.jsp?content_id=5006327

    Obviously just one play, but for someone with the best arm in the majors, he looked like he borrowed Johnny Damon’s arm here.

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  9. Pat Andriola says:

    Really? This one has me perplexed. I’ve watched a lot of Yankee games, and Melky has one of the strongest arms I’ve seen in a while. I know accuracy is involved too, but Gardner just seems average, nothing at all absurdly good, like his ARM rating has him at.

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  10. Dave says:

    Scott Rolen tagged up from 1B and got to 2B safely on a fly ball hit to Gardner over the weekend. Gardner managed to kill about 8 worms with his throw. Crazy fluke on the part of his ARM rating.

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  11. Tom says:

    A far better arm than he was reported to have, he does make quality throws on a consistent basis. Cabrera’s arm is stronger but he rarely has an idea of where its going. Gardner has, in my evaluation, an above average arm.

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  12. delv says:

    I think both Melky and Gardner have made garbage throws this season. Melky’s been flying open and has performed better in the past. Gardner will sometimes have a nice, accurate, average throw and sometimes ground the ball into a 4-hopper. Gardner’s rating is probably part fluke and partly influenced by his great range.

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  13. Mo Wang says:

    This is an easy one. gardner should be getting most of the playing time out there in CF. But the Yankees stubbornly cling to Melky for some unknown reason. Maybe it is because Melky has several walk-off hits this year. But Gardner has been much better. They need to play him more.

    There are some wacko Yankee fans out there that actually want Swisher benched to accomodate Gardner and Melky in the lineup together. But Melky is the one that needs to be benched.

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  14. pete says:

    Watching Gardner (and his defensive stats) tells me that he is an elite overall defensive outfielder because of his terrific speed, decent jumps, and fairly consistent arm. But it is by no means an elite arm. What tends to happen is that hitters will hit what should be a standup double, and he will cut the ball off before getting to the wall, then throw an accurate one hopper to 2nd base and get the guy out. This will, I believe, eventually correct itself. Over the course of a season, I think he’s a guy who will, like matsui when he was in the outfield, get guys to run into outs, but never be someone who can consistently bail a pitcher out of a sac-fly or a hit w/ RISP.

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    • Kevin S. says:

      Speaking of Matsui, this makes me wonder how ARM runs treats relay throws. Maligned as Jeter is for his range, he’s always turned the relay exceptionally well. With a quick release, a Yankee LF/CF doesn’t need a strong arm to get a runner out, because getting halfway to Jeter is often all he needs to do.

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      • John Franco says:

        I wonder about this too. Jeter may have the range of a statue but he has a tremendous arm and the smarts to know where to throw the ball. Cano also has a good arm for a second baseman.

        Maybe someone should talk all this over with Melky. Track the ball down and get in in quickly and ACCURATELY to the infielders, and you’re actually accomplishing MORE than you are by winging the ball in the general direction of the lead runner.

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    • JH says:

      Several people have commented on Gardner’s ability to cut balls off that would go for doubles against most CFs, then “surprise” the hitter/baserunner with an accurate throw to 2B.

      If this is an edge he has over the average CF, whether he gets the runner at 2B on the throw going forward or prevents future hitters/baserunners from trying to stretch, this “skill” is insanely valuable based simply on the expected run value of a 1B vs 2B.

      The “strength” of the arm seems far less important.

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  15. alskor says:

    He’s being used as a platoon player. Lets not forget that. He’s not an every day starter and the Yankees seem to have intelligently recognized his flaws and put him in a good position to succeed.

    Gardner has 174 ABs on the season. 137 vs RHP, and 37 vs. LHP. Melky, conversely, has 234 ABs on the season. 166 vs LHP, and 68 vs. RHP. Its basically a strict platoon between those two – but Yankee fans seem to not have noticed.

    Gardner’s platoon split looks like this:
    vs. RHP .299/.366/.445
    vs. LHP .243/.349/.324

    Its a nice little setup that makes the most out of two sort of limited players. It also means they regularly have a good 4th OFer on the bench. No reason they shouldnt keep this going for a couple years, if you ask me.

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    • Gryn says:

      They have not been platooned. Melky has 166 AB vs RHP, and 68 vs LHP. In many of the games where Gardner has played CF, Melky has played LF or RF.

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  16. alskor says:

    Is it possible Gardner benefits in his ARM rating because his arm is so bad pretty much anyone is willing to run on him at any time? For example Scott Rolen taggin from 1st to 2nd… do players take more bad risks, and as a consequence get thrown out a lot BECAUSE his arm is so bad?

    Maybe its sort of the way people used to think Nap Lajoie was a phenomenal fielder (this is, famously, from the BJ New Historical Abstract)because he fielded tons of balls – but in reality he fielded tons of balls because he played in front of terrible pitching staffs…?

    Ive seen the guy play plenty… his arm is pretty bad. I realize in the glossary it describes ARM rating as also measuring the ability to prevent players from advancing a base… but I admit ignorance as to how its calculated.

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    • Jack's Son says:

      No because your ARM rating improves when people don’t attempt to advance bases too. So someone with a reputation for a strong arm would get better ARM ratings for people that don’t test that player’s arm. Gardner get’s to the ball quickly, has a decent release speed and is usually accurate. All in tandem, it makes him ARM rating pretty good.

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  17. Tremont says:

    Crazy, crazy, crazy fluky stat. Gardner throws like a righty girl, trying to use her left arm. He ten-hops every throw. They are usually on target though.

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    • alskor says:

      Maybe we should be teaching guys to throw like that…

      …but more likely, the ARM stat is flawed in some way.

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  18. mjmetro says:

    he plays so shallow that he doesn’t need a really strong arm to get the ball in and his throws are typically accurate. having watched most yankee games this season (and last), gardner looks like a superior player to melky. he has better range, speed and is a far more patient hitter with less power. not like melky has much anyway…

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  19. daneptizl says:

    Gardner definitely doesn’t have a gun, but he also definitely does not have a terrible arm. Sometimes he’ll make a nice throw home, and sometimes he unleashes a worm killer. His arm strength is probably a 50.

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  20. nick says:

    it’s a Tim Raines type situation; he throws guys out with his legs, and by being pretty accurate….

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  21. hateraid says:

    Gardners arm is pretty awful 90% of the time. 10% of the time though he seems to be able to make above average throws. It’s actually kinda of infuriating. I’m guessing the combination of his fluky arm and this fluky stat are producing this fluky result.

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  22. Rich says:

    Gardner doesn’t have a great arm, but he is able to windup and put his whole body behind his throws while maintaining accuracy.

    Melky has a stronger arm, but his accuracy has been inexplicably off this season.

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  23. RollingWave says:

    Brett Gardner does not have a strong arm, it’s north of Damon / Bernie, but that’s not really saying much.

    Cabrera has a very strong arm. but this year it hasn’t been very accurate.

    I think this stats miss the fact on runner decisions. If you have a reputation for having a gun, people generally won’t run on you in borderline situation. thus your score will probably end up worse since the times people take the extra bases or tag on you are the times that the balls are hit truely deep or took bad bounces. where as a guy with a accurate but weak arm might end up better because plenty of guys will take those questionable chances against you.

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  24. Rob in CT says:

    I agree with the concensus here: Gardner’s arm is just sorta ok, but his speed and other teams challenging him may have conjured this crazy ARM rating. His accuracy is pretty good, but I’ve seen him throw the ball into the ground (like he held on too long trying desperately to throw harder than he really can) and throw a 20 hopper to home. Kinda pathetic, really. His arm is better than Damon’s for sure, and when he doesn’t do the throw it into the ground thing it’s passable.

    Melky has an accuracy issue this year. In the past, his arm was both really strong AND accurate. I don’t know if he’s lost accuracy b/c he’s playing less or b/c his arm strength has gone to his head or what. The power is still there, but he’s throwing offline a lot.

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  25. Ian says:

    Ive watched pretty much every Yankee game this year, and Ive yet to see Gardner display anything but a well below average throwing arm. Ever.

    In reality, his arm is a detriment to the team. Defensively in general he seems to have performed not nearly as effectively as Melky; even though hes much faster Melky seems to get better reads, take better routes and actually end up catching more balls on the gaps.

    Melkys arm is very good, but this year he has lost some accuracy as he seems to have fallen in love with just launching the ball. Make no mistake though, when teams do not go first to third or when 3rd base coaches stop base runners at 3rd in stead of waving them home, its Melkys arm they are worrying about. Gardners is just a tick above a noodle.

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  26. Rob in CT says:

    As for the rest, his range really is as good as UZR says, and his hitting is good enough to not kill you. That’s enough to be useful.

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  27. OldYanksFan says:

    Yankee fans here have it 100% correct.
    … Gritner has an average arm.
    … Runners are testing him, so his numbers are high because of that
    … He has good mechanics… throwing position, etc… and at times can be accurate (on a bounce or 2)
    … His legs and positioning add to the ARM numbers

    Melky has a great arm. Remember his first year or so? How many players he gunned down at the plate? But he has indeed fallen in love with how hard he throws, and just throws hard now, not accurately. It seems to wants to hit his spot on the fly, instead of 1 bounce, which adds to his inaccuracy.

    However, Bretts arm will never get better, and if he even stops throwing smart/putting 100% into it, he will regress. For Melky, there is hope, that with a lobotomy, his arm may become an asset again (which it is NOT now).

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    • Taz says:

      People are saying his rating is overblown because runners are testing his arm. But he only has 3 assists to show he managed to throw someone out. The glossary says the ARM goes up if the outfielder “keeps more than his share of runners from advancing extra bases.”

      So someone with the reputation of having a good arm would get a higher ARM because people don’t run on them. If people are truly testing Gardner’s arm, they must be succeeding since he only has 3 assists. That would bring his ARM rating down, not up as people are saying.

      Correct? Or am I missing something?

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      • Kevin S. says:

        It would seem that way. The important thing to note here is that while his arm is not legitimately good, he *may* be legitimately good at doing what UZR credits to the ARM rating. Since there’s no real reason to expect his legs to go for a couple years, he could sustain something close to the defensive wizardry he’s displayed so far (SSS caveats apply, of course).

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      • Tom B says:

        runners aren’t moving on him also because its very tough to gauge how fast he is and what balls he can get to in the outfield, so they are already a few steps closer to the bag than they would be if say, vlad was running around in CF lol

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  28. losjanks says:

    The general consensus seems to be that Gardner’s arm strength, while not above average is pretty close to adequate – especially when combined with the other fielding “raw materials” he brings (generally accurate throws, great speed, takes good lines to balls in play). I couldn’t agree more.

    Opponents probably test him more than they test Melky, as most here seem to have observed. However, since the stat is supposed to take into account whether or not teams are testing a fielder, I don’t think that would “inflate” the numbers.

    I’mma take a sec to go a little of-ftopic here cuz Melky has been brought up a lot. I think people have fallen in love (the Melk man included) with the glamour of the strong arm. What he has in that department though he is pretty much lacking elsewhere: his throws can go anywhere, he doesn’t take good lines to balls, often doesn’t get a good jump/read on the ball, and while he’s no Giambi, he’s nowhere near as speedy as Gardner. I think Gardner generally makes better decisions when it comes to throwing, however sometimes his tools get him in trouble by making him a bit more aggressive than he ought to be – still that beats effin Bobby Abreu pulling up anytime he got within 20 yards of a wall.

    I think Girardi has it right so far this season – since neither player is really polished and ready to play every day he’s been riding the hot hand of whoever has been playing better at any given time. Defense aside, Gardner, though he has less power (not a huge problem since Melky ain’t exactly a monster either), has more patience at the plate (though Melky has definitely improved this year over last in that department), way better wheels and base running smarts. If Gardner can maintain about a .260-.280 AVG with .350+ OBP and let’s say about a .400 SLG, he’s worth running out there every day and is the superior player to Melky considering his all around game. Whether he can do that over the course of a full season remains to be seen.

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  29. Mickeysghost says:

    Seems obvious to me. Gardner’s arm strength is average to slightly below average for CF but he has a very quick release and is more accurate than Melky. He’s still trying to make an impression and win the everyday job so, this year, he occasionally overthrows and throws it into the ground. He’ll learn to stop doing that. Cabrera has a stronger arm but, this year in particular, he has shown a painfully slow release as he winds up to try and show off the strength which only results in wildly inaccurate throws. Those defending his arm are basing their opinion on last year when he took advantage of his anonymity to throw out a few unsuspecting runners at home. That doesn’t happen anymore.

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  30. B.E. Earl says:

    The biggest problem I’ve seen with Gardner in the OF is that occasionally he will seemingly hold onto the ball a little too long on his throws and drill it right into the ground. He needs to air it out a bit more. But he is generally consistent and accurate.

    Markakis is the only other guy on the list that I have seen regularly and Gardner doesn’t come close to his arm. Then again, Markakis doesn’t have Gardner’s range. Wash? Maybe.

    I dig Gardner’s skill sets as a regular Yankee, even if his arm isn’t as strong as the stats suggest.

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  31. Dave says:

    Melky does not just have a slightly better arm than Gardner but a significantly better one. I’d say I’ve watched (close to) every Yankees game for the past three years and most Yankees games for many years before that. During that time I’d say the only arms that really stand out to me are two very bad one’s (Damon’s and Bernie’s) and Melky’s very good one. The rest of them all have had adequate to above average major league throwing arms – Gardner included. If you notice anything about Gardner’s arm it will be the occasional five-hopper he sends back to the infield. That said, the ground he covers in the outfield is phenomenal – and you can see his route running improving day by day.

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  32. CH says:

    He threw a 4-hopper to 2nd base the other day trying to throw out Scott Rolen who tagged up on a pretty shallow fly. Obviously, Rolen was safe.

    Whatever he’s accomplished with his arm this year, it’s not from pure arm strength.

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  33. Chip says:

    I think a lot of you guys are missing the point. Brett Gardner has average arm strength but the ARM stat doesn’t measure actual arm strength. It actually measures how well a fielder prevents runners from taking extra bases. Therefore, I doubt this is an over-inflated stat but simply misleading for guys trying to get a read on arm strength. Gardner can cut balls off (or catch balls) that Melky couldn’t dream of touching and therefore prevents many extra base hits. Keep that in mind the next time you watch Melky diving for a ball that Gardner would have caught easily. Additionally, Gardner rarely overthrows his target. Overthrows are what lead to extra bases taken (see Cabrera, Melky) and by one-hopping his target accurately, his throws are more effective than the 1 out of 5 change Melky is going to be on target.

    One more interesting tidbit. Gardner’s Wins Above Replacement for 2009 is 2.1 while some guy named Jason Bay is at 1.9. Just sayin……

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    • Rob in CT says:

      I largely agree, except I think you’re overestimating how much Gardner’s range > Melky’s range. Melky’s good out there too. If his arm was as accurate as it’s been in the past, Melky’s D would be very close to Gardner’s, IMO. Since he’s been wild this year, that’s not the case. Plus, Gardner is a better hitter (OBP is life, especially when you can run like Gardner).

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      • Kevin S. says:

        Not really. Last year was the first in which Melky’s range has rated above average for center, and it wasn’t by all that much. As many have noted, that’s because he takes really terrible reads on balls and isn’t nearly as fast as Gardner.

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  34. RKO36 says:

    As a Yankee fan this stat comes as a shock that Gardner has one of the best arms in the majors. Good, but not great.

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  35. puck says:

    Sounds like there’s a consensus on Gardner. I think as we see more ‘arm’ stats and folks continue to do fan surveys like tango’s, we’ll see that the stuff tracked by “arm” ratings can have just as much to do with general range than with the actual throwing arm.

    Brad Hawpe seems the inverse to me. Strong, low, uncannily accurate throws, yet his arm ratings are poor. Since I see most Rockies games on tv, it’s hard to see how long it took him to get to a base hit in order to throw, but on other plays, his lack of range is fairly easily to see (as it is in games in person).

    Makes sense. I remember Bill James speculating about this in the abstracts when reviewing the high assist totals of some speedy but seemingly less-than-strong-armed OF’s.

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  36. JC says:

    Get over the fact that Melky has a stronger arm that is not what ARM rating is about. Anyone who thinks Melky is close to the defensive player gardner is just because of some arm strength is obviously new to the world of sabermetrics and has not yet lost their “fan” eyes.

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  37. Schteeve says:

    Anyone who really thinks that they can judge an outfielders arm by watching tv is nuts, unless they meticulously record standard outcomes, (velocity, vector, trajectory, times the ball hit the target on the fly, on one hop, missed the target missed the cutoff man etc) anything short of that is reliant too much on memory.

    I’ve never heard anything other than that Melky has a cannon, and Brett has a pop gun. And I’d bet most “fanscouts” remember that when thrying to eyeball the two players. Far easier to go along with conventional wisdom than to question it.

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  38. CSM says:

    Yeah… Gardner has nice range in the outfield, but anyone who’s actually watched him play knows he has an average arm that is definitely inferior to Melky’s. No one bothers to run on Melky.

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  39. Jared says:

    Gardner takes horrible routes in the outfield, often running curved paths to the ball instead of straight lines. His arm would probably be a 45 on the 80 scale. He is fairly accurate but has no strength. Often when he gets excited to throw out a runner he throws the ball straight into the ground. That is how Rolen or Kevin Millar or I forget the guy but he was slow tagged from first on a ball that did not even reach the warning track.

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  40. Ali Cow bell says:

    Gardner has a little better range and Melky a better arm. Gardner has a whopping three assists and Melky has one. In my opinion, while both are still young, they are 4th outfielders on championship caliber teams. Having Gardner’s speed on the bench if they get to the World Series will force Melky into starting. Gardner should start against most righties who struggle to hold runners or on the road at pitcher parks and Melky should start at home, against lefties and righties who tend to serve up more gopher balls. Both should be in the outfield at the end of the game as they are both slightly above agerage defenders. I don’t think the stats give really bely what we all can see with the human eye. Fluky numbers – lets check them with a bigger sample size.

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  41. Disco says:

    I am just reading this now and from watching, the strength of Gardner’s arm is closer to Damon than it is Melky.

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