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.
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.