When Seattle and Tampa Bay open their three-game series on Tuesday night, it will mark a match-up of the two best defensive teams in the majors. At least when measured by team UZR. Some would say the Mariners are following a similar path to the Rays of 2007 and 2008; going from a poor team defensive to one of the best in the league within one off-season.
Seattle’s surge has been lead by your current UZR king, Franklin Gutierrez, Endy Chavez, and Adrian Beltre. Meanwhile another newcomer, Ronny Cedeno, has taken kindly to an all encompassing utility role, producing positive UZR in left and at second base in about 30 innings of work.
Meanwhile, defense is apparently unwelcome in the general Washington D.C. area. The nationals and Orioles make up the two worst defenses to date. That seems a bit surprising in Baltimore’s case, given an extremely athletic outfield and shortstop Cesar Izturis. Bizarrely all four register as negatives thus far, but we’ll see how long that lasts.
Speaking of improved defenses, let’s hear it for the Texas Rangers and Jon Daniels. Nelson Cruz, Chris Davis, Ian Kinsler, Josh Hamilton, Omar Vizquel, and Hank Blalock are all rated as average or slightly above, with Cruz tying Gutierrez for the overall UZR lead. The Rangers worst defender has been Michael Young, who isn’t taking to third base as quickly as the Rangers would’ve hoped.
The Padres haven’t showcased much range (-4 RngR) yet when they have fielded balls, they’ve converted them into outs, as showcased by a positive ErrR.
Minnesota’s outfield boasts one Delmon Young, who has gunned down plenty a baserunner in his day, but still they have the lowest combined ARM rating in the league. Atlanta leads the league in ARM.
Not much has went right for the Yankees thus far, but their infield has been silky smooth at flipping double plays, a far cry from the Phillies, who, along with the Cardinals and Royals, have fewer than -1 run earned through DPs.