The good people at Fangraphs rolled out their aggregate defensive rating system this week. Believe me, it is worth your time. It weighs all advanced defensive metrics and fan scouting reports to give a more “complete” view of a player’s defense. Certainly a must click.

As I combed through some of the results I promptly fell down a Fan Scouting Report rabbit hole. Countless fans and Fangraphs readers alike (stats nerds don’t actually like baseball, you know) offer their opinion on the various skills and traits of defensive players. Needless to say, I came across some interesting and, arguably, entertaining results.

The fans rate a wide variety of defensive skills such as: instincts, speed, hands, arm strength, and arm accuracy to name a few. Each attribute is rating on a 0-100 scale with 0 being lowest and 100 highest, meaning 50 is average. Let’s make with the mockery!

  • Juan Pierre’s arm strength: 0. That is a zero. Nil. None. 61 different people with varying agendas and rooting interests offered their opinion of Juan Pierre’s wet noodle throwing arm and all – TO A MAN – agree: it is worthless. Not a single vote for anything other than the very, very worst in baseball. Impressive stuff.
  • Troy Glaus’ first step: 9. Blue Jays fans are familiar with Troy Glaus single-handedly redefining the words “fall down range” from his time hobbling around the Rogers Centre turf. “Lurch” grew increasingly disinterested in playing defense over the years, a trait his move to first only made worse. Bouncing around the National League over the past year years has only spread the gospel of Glaus watching ground balls bound into the outfield.
  • Delmon Young’s instincts: 6. Nobody is confusing Delmon Young with Willie Mays but the fans are of the opinion that Delmon would be better served starting each play with his back to the plate. Perhaps a more athletic player could get away with making bad reads but Delmon Young is trending towards “bad body” in the worst way.
  • Ryan Howard’s arm accuracy: 0. Another donut on the board! As a first basemen, Ryan Howard isn’t often called upon to put his dreadful arm to use. We shouldn’t pile on poor Ryan Howard, it isn’t as though he’s signed to an unwieldy long term contract or anything. Besides, as his defense worsens with age, the Phils can just move him to DH.
  • Alfonso Soriano’s hands: 6. Crazy to think Alfonso Soriano was once the Yankees second baseman of the future. For an infielder to have such poor hands is unthinkable. Luckily for Soriano, the Nationals farmed him out to the outfield in 2006. His great speed and strong arm made him quite the fielder for a few years before age and (perceived) disinterest chipped away at his defensive reputation. Playing for the Cubs the last few years, the only real defending expected of Soriano is picking home runs balls off the outfield grass after the Bleacher Creatures toss’em back.

Of course there are plenty of positive results worth discussing, like Yadier Molina’s perfect release & arm accuracy scores or Ichiro picking up the best overall ranking. But wallowing in snark is what we do around here, so snark we shall. I’d love to see any other oddities that jump out at you in the comments.

Comments (5)

  1. Also with Delmon Young’s Hands: 5 – there must be some arthritis making his thumbs useless or his hands were horribly mutilated in a farming accident.

  2. Betancourt demands a recount. He’s at least as horrible as Jonny Gomes.

    Podsednik’s numbers are more grist for the WTF mill. As are Rivera’s given he scored 74 on arm strength and still ended up in the bottom 20%. That oufield is going to be shitty unless we find a 3B.

    The good news for Toronto fans is our middle infield looks pretty good to most people.

  3. Betancourt’s numbers almost don’t add up. None of his ratings are nearly as bad as most of Billy Butler’s but there Yuni is, breaking badness records the world over.

  4. I’m pretty happy about this, because to be honest, despite all my research of sabermetrics through the years and what they represent, the ability to truly represent how good a player is defensively with statistics seems hard to do. I forget who it was, but there was a sabermetrics expert on the Baseball Prospectus podcast a few months back, and he was talking about how the problem with all defensive metrics is they don’t truly analyze each individual play. There is no analysis based on how hard the ball was hit, its’ trajectory/arc, etc. Certainly, having a combined rating of all these defensive sabermetrics is much better than the system that currently exists. I find it very hard to believe in UZR. But I think we’re still a long way from truly having excellent defensive metrics, and we may never actually be able to.

    • I agree they aren’t perfect, but if you go to three years of data (as the UZR designers planned all along) you take a lot of the hard hit/soft hit minutia out of the equation. But the Field F/X stuff will render all this moot. MOOT I SAY.

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