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OF Arms

Yesterday, David announced that the UZR data presented here on the site has been updated to include outfield arm ratings and double play ratings for infielders. So, today, I figured I’d take a look at some of the guys who have been standouts in those categories. This afternoon, we’ll look at outfield arms.

ARM ratings, like UZR, vary a bit from year to year. Because of that, it’s generally better to look at more than one season’s worth of data to get an idea of how much value a player is adding with his throwing ability from the outfield. So, here are the leaders in ARM over the past three years:

Alfonso Soriano – +25.6 runs
Jeff Francoeur – +23.4 runs
Ichiro Suzuki – +12.5 runs
Nick Markakis – +10.8 runs
Michael Cuddyer – +10.4 runs

and now the trailers over the same time period.

Brian Giles – -19.5 runs
Juan Pierre – -16.3 runs
Jermaine Dye – -13.5 runs
Shawn Green – -12.3 runs (and he didn’t play in ’08!)
Adam Dunn – -12.2 runs

As you can see, the spread in value of a strong arm versus a weak arm is significantly smaller than it is with range. The very best arm is +45 runs compared to the very worst arm over a three year period. In range, the spread is almost 100 runs from best (Carl Crawford) to worst (Brad Hawpe). So, while arm strength is nice, it is simply not as important as range.

That doesn’t mean that it doesn’t have any impact, though. Over the last three years, Soriano is averaging +8.5 runs per season with his arm. That’s almost a win per year in value. Likewise, Francouer, Markakis, Ichiro, and Cuddyer get significant value from their ability to gun down runners and hold runners from advancing.

These numbers cover 2006 to 2008. But, what if we go back in time, and look at 2003 to 2005?

At the top, we see Jim Edmonds at +21.8 runs, followed by Richard Hidalgo (+17.9), Alex Rios (+17.1), Rocco Baldelli (+16.8), and Ichiro again (+14.0). The noodle arms are led by Juan Pierre (-18.4), Jason Bay (-13.8), Tike Redman (-13.7), Brady Clark (-13.2), and Johnny Damon (-13).

Pierre, as you may have noticed, shows up in the bottom of both three year periods. Indeed, since 2002, Pierre’s arm has been worth -42.2 runs, canceling out more than half of the +70.9 runs he got with his range. He has been consistently awful at throwing, and it’s just yet another reason why the contract the Dodgers gave him was absurdly awful.