(Insert comment about UZR not being perfect and needing a lot of data to make it useful, etc, etc.)
You’ve heard that stuff before, so I’ll spare you the long winded version. Obviously, these numbers don’t mean much since there’s only about 250 innings worth of data to discuss. Still, I like to compare this stuff to the “eye test” we administer every team we watch a game. We’ll run it down by raw UZR score.
We start with Brett Gardner, who’s raw UZR comes in at 3.3 (27.8 UZR/150). Though Brett’s reputation on defense proceeds him, I’m surprised his UZR is that high already. Based on what I’ve watched this year, I would’ve said he was doing well out there, but not that well. Essentially, though, this matches up with the eye test: Brett Gardner is a good fielder.
Curtis Granderson is next on the list with a 1.8 UZR (10.4 UZR/150) and that also makes sense. He’s had some iffy plays lately, but generally, Curtis has been great in center field this year. There aren’t many (any?) other players this side of a healthy Franklin Gutierrez I’d want in CF over Granderson.
His hip is apparently all better and it’s showing in the field. Alex Rodriguez pulls in after Granderson with a 1.6 UZR (15.2 UZR/150). This is definitely the most surprising so far. A-Rod definitely looked better than he had in the last two years, but I didn’t think he’d be in the black in terms of UZR. I’ll enjoy this while it lasts, but don’t think I’m going to be holding my breath while the other shoe prepares to drop.
In limited time at the hot corner (53 innings), Eric Chavez has contributed 1.5 UZR (20.6 UZR/150). There’s no way we should be shocked by this, considering Chavez’s defensive past. But, due to the injuries of the last seemingly forever for Eric, it’s definitely a surprise to see him up there.
Mark Teixeira and his usually strong glove have tallied 1.0 UZR this year (8.4 UZR/150). Ho hum. Tex always looks like he’s playing a great first base and the numbers usually back that up. Nothing to see here.
Derek Jeter‘s 0.5 UZR (1.7 UZR/150) is now the most surprising thing on this list. I’m not quite sure how it’s gotten that high, but it has. From the eye test, Jeter has looked atrociously slow in the field. Perhaps he is getting to more balls than we imagine. At the very least, he can sure throw better than Eduardo Nunez…
Nick Swisher, for whatever reason, has a bad defensive reputation. He’s not overly fast, so I guess I can see where it comes from, especially with his “ability” to make some routine plays look rather adventurous. His UZR, 0.4 (2.2/150) is fitting based on the eye test. He’s going to make all of the plays he should and some of the ones he shouldn’t.
Robinson Cano could be the new poster boy for the difference in perception and stats in looking at defense. Cano’s got the lowest UZR on the team right now, clocking in at -1.4 (-16.3/150), but he’s looked anything but below average in the field this year. His range hasn’t necessarily looked any different, but his double plays are just a thing of beauty to watch. I’d expect this number to bounce back up at some point, but not too much further, considering Cano’s UZR history.
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