UZR Tidbits Through 5/24

Same format as last week, but first to address the corner outfield question. Both have equal positional adjustments, hence why I lumped them together. I understand some people would rather have separate the two positions listed separately, so heading forward that’s what I’ll do.

Best: Chris Davis (3.4), Ryan Howard (3.3), Lyle Overbay (3.2)
Worst: Jason Giambi (-5.3), Prince Fielder (-3.3), Aubrey Huff (-3.2)

Best: Brandon Phillips (6.6), Placido Polanco (6), Howie Kendrick (5.1)
Worst: Dan Uggla (-8.1), Chris Getz (-5), Jose Lopez (-2.9)

Best: Adrian Beltre (7.7), Joe Crede (7.4), Evan Longoria (5.3)
Worst: Michael Young (-7.9), Josh Fields (-5.4), Chipper Jones (-4.6)

Best: J.J. Hardy (5), Ryan Theriot (4.2), Marco Scutaro (4.2)
Worst: Yuniesky Betancourt (-9.1), Miguel Tejada (-6.9), Orlando Cabrera (-2.4)

Best: Nyjer Morgan (10.9), Juan Rivera (4.9), Raul Ibanez (4.6)
Worst: Jason Bay (-6.4), Jeremy Hermida (-4.7), Carlos Lee (-4.2)

Best: Matt Kemp (7.4), Mike Cameron (6.6), Franklin Gutierrez (5.7)
Worst: Vernon Wells (-10.3), Shane Victorino (-8.1), Carlos Beltran (-4.8)

Best: Nelson Cruz (6.3), Hunter Pence (5.4), Ichiro Suzuki (4.2)
Worst: Andre Ethier (-9.4), Brad Hawpe (-7.6), Jermaine Dye (-7.2)

The Mariners have three players rank amongst the “best” at their position, which appears to be the most of any team in the league. Unfortunately, they also have two of the worst at the middle infield positions, including Betancourt, who stakes claim of the worst individual infield defender to date. Oddly the Mariners have chosen against using Ronny Cedeno in place of either Betancourt or Lopez despite the defensive upgrade.

Vernon Wells’ days as a good center fielder might be over. Over the last three years: -14.3, -1.1, 7.5, so far this year Wells is showing no signs of bouncing back, and actually seems to be getting worse. Whether that holds up or not is another story.

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24 Responses to “UZR Tidbits Through 5/24”

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  1. Kincaid says:

    They were talking on the national broadcast of the Brewers game last night about how Fielder was more focused on being a better defender this year, and how he was turning his glove around and becoming a better all-around player. It reminded me a lot of what I’ve heard about Ryan Howard this year, so it’s funny to see they’re pretty much in opposite positions so far. Of course, the play that prompted the discussion was a hot shot right at Prince: a tough play to be sure, but not exactly a display of any new range.

    I kind of feel bad for Michael Young for still being this bad even after leaving short.

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    • theraysparty says:

      I doubt fielder can get some more range without losing some pounds. And that won’t happen since he will lose some power with all that weight. Ryan Howard is as big weight wise, except five inches taller so he has more reach. Fielder has only on error this season compared to last season in which he had 17, so saying his glove work improved is believable (need a Brewers fan to confirm that).

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  2. CH says:

    I know the award doesn’t mean much anymore, but that’s 3 gold glove winners at the bottom of the CF list. Slightly surprised by that.

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  3. Todd says:

    I’m not sure about UZR. I have watched every Rangers game and since the 3rd week of the season EAndrus has got to every ball that any human could ever hope to touch but he is not climbing in UZR. I don’t get it.

    However, it is correct in both MYoung and CDavis. Young is awful it 3B and Davis is outstanding at 1B.

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  4. R. J., I assume you just looked at “qualified” defenders. Check out Jose Guillen’s numbers in RF.

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  5. mikey says:

    Anyone have a comment on Ethier? I’ve not seen him play very much, but he seemed pretty speedy in the one game where I saw him in person. It’s a bit shocking to see him as the worst RF. Sure, a lot of that is from holding runners and errors, but he’s still -4.8 in range, last among NL RF’s.

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  6. tarheelcoach says:

    I think this shows that we still don’t have a reliable way to measure defense. For example – Beltran. Beltran not only has to deal with days when he has a 40 year old on one side and an IF on the other, but he plays in a huge ballpark that no human could cover completely. So to say he is not getting to balls goes back to WHY? You certainly can make a case that he has to play deeper – a ‘prevent defense’ type CF because of those reasons, and that hurts his UZR.

    UZR doesn’t take into account positioning at the start of the play. Another example – the 9th inning of the Mets/Sox game on Saturday. The announcers brought up the fact that Lowell was not guarding the line, but Wright was. Well, Wright made a play down the line UZR certainly would have looked favorably on. But if Lowell had faced the same exact batted ball, there was no way he could have made the play. Does this mean Wright is a better fielder? Of course not. It was simply a strategic decision by the managers. But UZR gave the player credit.

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    • joser says:

      You do understand that UZR numbers from samples this small are meaningless, right? We really need to look at two or three years’ worth of data before UZR has any validity (see Beltran’s career numbers in the column to the right above).

      Yeah, I don’t know why Fangraphs runs this post on a weekly basis either.

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      • radiosurgery says:

        UZR numbers aren’t predictive at this point, but the UZR these players has accumulated still means something. These are still the players that have been playing the best defense at their position, as determined by UZR, up to this point. Sure there are flaws about positioning etc. but UZR is still one of the best ways to measure defense. Stats can be useful without being predictive.

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    • joser says:

      And yes, UZR has its issues (I’m fairly convinced it doesn’t properly handle park factors, for example) but it’s still much better than most of the alternatives (and certainly better than just counting errors like we used to do).

      Someday we’ll have both a complete Hit FX and Fielder FX, so we’ll know where the fielder started and where the ball went, and how efficiently the former got to the latter (or didn’t). And that day is probably not all that far away.

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  7. e poc says:

    Adam Dunn deserves a mention for his atrocious defense. He’s at -8.1 right now, but he’s spread it around between the outfield corners and first base.

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    • Kincaid says:

      Skip Schumaker is in the same boat, at -10.6 split between 2B and corner OF. His -6.9 at 2B alone is also second worst at the position, but he doesn’t have enough innings there to qualify.

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  8. mattsd says:

    Matt Kemp isn’t going to be a +22 CF, but it’s interesting to see how good he has been so far.

    The scouting community was divided on whether he could stick in center, but it seemed the Dodger front office either was convinced he could not, or was completely lost. Back to back offseasons, with a major league ready Kemp, the Dodgers signed a premium free agent CF, presumably under the assumption that Kemp couldn’t handle center.

    To be fair, Kemp was as bad in 2006 as he has been good this year in an equally small sample size, so we’ll see how he progresses (or regresses . . . ) over the course of the next few seasons, as he would seem to have bought himself at least another year or two in CF at Dodger Stadium.

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  9. Kevin S. says:


    [/brain fart]

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  10. c3raig says:

    From a brewers fan, Fielder has been more sure handed this year. I don’t see much difference in range, but he has done a good job scooping pitches and catching quick liners or grounders near him.

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  11. Alireza says:

    I don’t know if the Dodgers really ever doubted Kemp’s physical ability to handle the position, given that he runs like a track star and jumps like the basketball player he was to go with what rated as the best arm in baseball last year in the HBT rankings. His main issue was reading balls off the bat, especially hit straight at him, though I think part of that was due to his playing a lot of RF and getting confused. The new contacts also seem to have helped. There is no reason he can’t keep up this high level of play.

    That said, I become less of a fan of UZR as time goes on. It really seems to not account well for park factors as well as the ability to make athletic plays that have little to do with raw range. Torii Hunter and his ability to turn sure fire XBH into outs seems completely discounted by UZR.

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  12. PhD Brian says:

    Ryan Zimmerman has to make the UZR list for 3Bs. He is consistently the best for range I have ever seen in 30 plus years of watching baseball. I would even rank him better than Schmidt. But he has had a few throwing errors. Is that his problem?

    he is also first in runs, rbis, and OPS in the NL this season. 2nd in BA. Frankly, you could easily argue that in the NL, outside of Pujhols, Zim is the best player in the league this season. To bad he plays for such a bad team!

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    • PhD Brian says:

      Sorry, I meant first in runs, rbis, ops among NL 3bs. And second in BA among NL 3Bs

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