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.
Tonight, the third best player from 2007-9: SS J.J. Hardy.
Hardy’s inclusion should not be too much of a surprise. Unlike the previous two profiles, Hardy does not have much in the ways of peaks or valleys in UZR. Instead, he is rather consistent with UZRs — always in the level a tad more elevated than simply “above average.”
Like the other shortstop, Vizquel, however, Hardy’s future on this list is murky. His hitting took such a dramatic turn for the worst this past season, from a .355 wOBA in 2008 to a .292 wOBA in 2009, that he lost playing time to Alcides Escobar and was even optioned back to Triple-A. One consequence of that demotion is that Hardy’s free agent status was postponed by a year, making him quite a bit more valuable.
Whether he stays with Milwaukee this off season will be seen, but he should make for an attractive trade target, and given that some of his offensive woes can be traced to a poor BABIP, Hardy deserves a starting job somewhere. His defense alone makes him worth his cost, and if his bat returns, so should the four-win seasons that he posted in 2007 and 2008.
At 48.7 runs above average, J.J. Hardy is our last player among the top five that did not eclipse the 50-run marker. Stay tuned for the second-best, and our lone outfielder, tomorrow.