Highs and Lows of UZR 2007-9: Bay

As explained in the overview post, here, this is part of a series looking at the best and worst defensive performers over the past three combined seasons. Rankings are done by adding a player’s UZR with his aggregate positional adjustment so as to level the playing field with regards to difficulty. Essentially, it’s removing the grading curve.

Previously covered:
The Best
5th, Ryan Zimmerman 43.7 runs above average.
4th, Omar Vizquel 45.8 runs above average.
3rd, J.J. Hardy 48.7 runs above average.
2nd, Franklin Gutierrez 51.4 runs above average.
1st, Chase Utley 54.8 runs above average.

Tonight, the start of the bottom five, with the fifth worst, OF Jason Bay.

To start with, here’s how bad the bad group has been. You can see above the runs that the good group amassed over average, topped with Chase Utley with 54.8 runs. There were nine players that had a higher absolute run value on the negative side.

Jason Bay leads off this series with his 64.9 runs below average. His defense is so bad in such a non-premium defensive position that he was merely a replacement level player in 2007 when his bat disappeared.

Luckily for Pittsburgh, Bay’s bat did return in 2008 and the Pirates dealt him off to Boston in a deal that involved Manny Ramirez, himself one of the worst fielders in the game. Bay has maintained his resumption of good hitting and Fenway Park has helped, providing him with a sympathetic park for right-handed sluggers. That Bay has been able to be a three-win player the last two seasons despite fielding so poorly in left field as to start him off in a -25 run hole speaks to his bat and durability.

Jason Bay enters free agency this winter and one has to wonder how long he goes before he ends up in a DH role. With his high level of offensive output and at only 31 years of age, Bay is going to fetch a high price and contract. Be wary, National League teams.



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Matthew Carruth is a software engineer who has been fascinated with baseball statistics since age five. When not dissecting baseball, he is watching hockey or playing soccer.


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RKO36
Guest
6 years 7 months ago

Maybe he can mask his poor fielding by playing in LF at Fenway . . .

Kenny
Guest
Kenny
6 years 7 months ago

I, as a Sox fan, hope that Theo passes on Bay, and grabs Holliday instead. He may not have the bat Bay does, but it’s not much worst either, but he’s the much better all around player.

YC
Guest
YC
6 years 7 months ago

Is there any reason to believe that playing left field in Fenway Park, which has the most ridiculously small fielding area in all of baseball somehow distorts the true fielder’s ability? By default, the lack of area in the field will lead to a smaller number of plays converted into outs in Fenway Park compared to other stadiums, assuming that the quality of the batted balls stay the same. If there isn’t some kind of ballpark adjustment, I don’t think the UZR numbers will correctly reflect the actual fielder’s abilities.

Looking at Manny Ramirez’s fielding stats, he posted 3 consecutive years of absolutely devastating fielding with a UZR/150 below -15 between 2005 and 2007, and then had UZR’s that are below average, but not quite as bad during his two years with the Dodgers. And this is Manny that is in his late 30’s and a year or two older than the Red Sox Manny. Coincidence? Maybe. Also looking at Jason Bay, his worst fielding years was in 2008 and 2009, with his injury filled 2007 closely behind. I know this is pretty SSS, but still noteworthy.

Is there anywhere the “Green Monster” effect on fielding metrics has been analyzed in depth? And does any of the credible defensive metrics out there (UZR / PMR / RZR / +/-) make appropriate adjustments? I hope someone can lead me in the right direction here. Thanks.

TJ
Guest
TJ
6 years 7 months ago

I think what you see is more of a fluke than a fact, you have to remember that it takes time to build up usable UZR stats, thats the one of the main points of this series of articles. I see what you say though, but would like to add that in 2008 both players played at least a few games in Fenway park. Also if Manny was to have been hurt or Bay been hurt by the dimensions of Fenway park they (especially Manny) would have had to play defense well out of his ability in their respective ball parks, Although I am not saying this is the case. Another point of intrest is that Manny only played 101 games this season therefore his UZR/150 numbers should be the ones compared against those of his other season, and if that is the case than this season is no more worse than his fielding in Fenway park. Furthermore I have always known small fields of play to mask poor defense, I do not know if this is the case with UZR, but it may mell be the case too.

Michael
Guest
6 years 7 months ago

I’m pretty sure MGL makes a park adjustment for Fenway in left field. IIRC.

Big Oil
Member
Big Oil
6 years 7 months ago

I’ve been thinking the same thing concerning total fielding area. Take a look back at the post by tangotiger and his response on a summary of UZR:

“UZR

Suppose you know how often a ball is bit at the 45-foot mark between 2B and 3B, and suppose you know that the average SS turns all balls hit to that spot into an out 80% of the time. Suppose that Jimmy Rollins gets 100 plays like that, and he turns 90 of them into an out. We say that Rollins is +10 plays above average.

UZR looks at each foot mark between 3B and 2B, and looks to see how often all SS made an out at those marks, and goes through the exercise above.

(Actually, not each foot, but each angle. Same thing.)

Not only the vector, but also the distance from home plate is considered. Again, it’s the same exercise, but more variables are considered.

Not only vector and distance, but whether it’s a GB, FB, LD, Pop. And the hardness hit of the batted ball. And whether the pitcher is a GB pitcher or not. And the park. And the runners on base and outs. And if the batter is lefty or righty.

Now, it doesn’t necessarily break each play out into its own bucket, because otherwise, you won’t have enough other plays from other SS to compare against from the same bucket. So, it buckets a certain number of those variables, and applies adjustments for the other variables.

At its most basic, it answers this question: “Given that an average fielder faces this exact distribution of batted balls, how many outs did our fielder actually record against the expectation?””

Solely looking at the last question posed, you would have to think the size of LF in Fenway would have an affect, perhaps more substantial than any other park in baseball, on UZR. The Crawford boxes would also have an affect by this logic. The converse is Coors, which IMO has one of the largest outfields in baseball (not having looked at total dimensions).

Big Oil
Member
Big Oil
6 years 7 months ago
Nick
Guest
Nick
6 years 7 months ago

YC, that doesn’t really explain the bad years in Pittsburgh.

It’s so funny to hear Bay’s awful defense brought up to the local MSM now that he’s a free agent, and they act so surprised. Then in the same breath they literally treat it as a joke that JD Drew is worth 14 million.

As for Bay, I’m fine with suffering him in LF one more year and then moving him to DH. If his bat declines, I’m pretty sure the Red Sox can find a DH. I’m not really concerned about John Henry’s wallet if the deal looks bad after two years.

tdotsports1
Member
6 years 7 months ago

Exactly, a team like Boston can afford to overpay or make a mistake or two, or three and not really have any ill effects on their future success and payroll. It will always be bloated. Bay/Holliday, they would both be fine for Boston.

Judy
Guest
Judy
6 years 7 months ago

Well, I do think there’s something a tad suspicious about the fact that Manny’s the worst and Bay’s just bad in a more ordinary way, until they get swapped for each other, then Bay becomes the worst while Manny becomes the one who’s just bad in a more ordinary way. I believe there’s a pretty good chance that Manny makes the cut on this list of the worst of the worst over Bay if they were never traded for each other.

tdotsports1
Member
6 years 7 months ago

Or the fact Manny is just NOT a good fielder?

Judy
Guest
Judy
6 years 7 months ago

Of course he isn’t, neither is Bay, neither are some of the other guys who might roam around major league OFs.

heyyoo
Member
heyyoo
6 years 7 months ago

Fiedling Bible

Manny

2004 -11
2005 -12
2006 -11
2007 -14
2008 – 3
2009 – 7

Bay

2004 +5
2005 0
2006 2
2007 -8
2008 -8
2009 -1

FWIW, Cameron

2004 -3
2005 0
2006 +3
2007 +5
2008 +7
2009 +3

BX
Guest
BX
6 years 7 months ago

I can’t wait to see where Dunn and Giambi rank, if they do.

john
Guest
john
6 years 7 months ago

UZR punishes BAY for being a conservative ball player, I have watched him for years ,he makes the plays ,is able to cover a lot of ground but does not take any undo risk, the same can be said with his stolen base total and probably to a lesser extent his K’s.

wobatus
Guest
wobatus
6 years 2 months ago

UZR for 2009 has been changed with the UZR update. He now is UZR +1.9 in 2009 and a 5 WAR player last year. Of course, he was still “meh” in most prior years, but this issue was one of the more dominant themes this offseason, how bad a fielder Bay was, its impact on his WAR, how bad his Mets contract was, how Cameron compared to him, how Willingham compared to him. To some degree, this changes that debate at least somewhat.

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