It is often quoted that a single year of UZR data is equivalent to about a 1/3 of a year of hitting data as far as representative sample size is concerned. With that in mind, I recently combed through our database and compiled the UZRs of every player from the past three seasons along with their rank in each of the past seasons individually.
Upon seeing the finished product, I immediately came to the conclusion that UZR alone wasn’t good enough. After all, what was I trying to rank? My hope was to compile a list of the relative fielding performances of each player. The issue standing in the way is that UZR is position-adjusted. Yuniesky Betancourt has been a horrible, horrible shortstop the past few years, but he’s still a better defender than David Ortiz. So I added the positional adjustments back in and arrived at a result that I think does a good job at capturing the best and worst fielders overall.
Over the next week and change, I will be detailing the individuals that stand out on the list. For now, here’s a few who just didn’t quite make the cut.
On the good side was a flurry of infielders, as you might expect. Pedro Feliz, Jack Wilson, Brandon Phillips, Nick Punto and Jimmy Rollins all just fell outside the top five. Nyjer Morgan finished 12th overall and was one of only three outfielders to make it into the top 20. Carlos Gomez finished exactly 20th and the other (can you guess who?) cracked the top five.
On the negative side, we find a whole bunch of outfielders who really should not be playing anywhere. Congratulations to Bobby Abreu, Delmon Young, Jack Cust, Ryan Braun and Prince Fielder. You all narrowly avoided being singled out as one of the five worst fielders of the past three seasons. Manny Ramirez, Jason Kubel, Vladimir Guerrero, Jose Guillen and Mike Jacobs round out the next worst five and mark the edge of players that totaled more than 50 runs of negative value with their UZR and position.