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Highs and Lows of UZR 2007-9: Gutierrez

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:
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.

Tonight, the second best player from 2007-9: OF Franklin Gutierrez.

Gutierrez only got in a half-season in 2007 and three-quarters of a season in 2008. None of that mattered thanks to his outrageous 2009 season. Not to dismiss 2007 or 2008 as irrelevant. They certainly pointed out how good with the glove Gutierrez was and lend us some additional credence for the ridiculous 2009 figure. In 2007, Gutierrez posted a +1.0 UZR for every 70 innings fielded. In 2008, that ratio was one run for every 45 innings. That actually fell to one run for every 47 innings this past season, but that it was accomplished over a full season and in center field rather than right makes it all the more impressive.

To try and put into context just how amazing Franklin Gutierrez‘s 2009 season was, here are two figures. First, his combined 30.9 runs in 2009 was the best in baseball by 5.5 runs. His defense was worth half a win more than anyone else’s. Furthermore, the 30.9 was the highest individual season mark in the entire 2007-9 sample. And that 30.9 figure, taken alone would have been good enough for 27th on our three-year list.

Simply by taking the field and playing defense, Gutierrez totaled over five wins of value. That he added some value with his bat, as a right-handed hitter in Safeco Field no less, was pure cherry-flavored gravy atop the ice cream sundae of awesome that was Gutierrez’s 2009.

And as historic as that season was, and as great as that three-year period was, it wasn’t enough to make Gutierrez our top ranked fielder from 2007-9. Edging him out by just over a run per season is the next profile.