November 11, 2010

Don’t trust UZR/150 in one-year span

UZR/150 is an "advanced" defensive metric to help determine a player's range. It is not a stat you can use to compare all defensive players in a year and simply say, "the player with the best UZR/150 is the best defender in the league." If that were the case, Brett Gardner would have been the best defender in the majors last year by a wide margin.

As Moshe Mandel of The Yankee U outlined in his post yesterday, we have no tell-all defensive metric like OPS or ERA for batting and pitching (some prefer wOBA and FIP for measuring those too). We have to look at all defensive numbers collectively and factor in what MLB scouts have to say. UZR/150 is nowhere near as accurate for measuring defensive ability as the best offensive and pitching stats rate hitters and pitchers.

Don’t believe me? Let’s play “Who’s Line is it Anyway?” baseball style.

PlayerUZR/150 in 2010
Player A-2.4
Player B-0.9
Player C-5.4
The Yankees had three Gold Glove winners this year. Two of whom most people agreed with (Mark Teixeira and Robinson Cano), but one has taken over the talk of sports media for the past 48 hours (Derek Jeter).
PlayerUZR/150 in 2010

“If that’s what UZR says, then flush it down the toilet,” said an anonymous MLB scout, who rated [Teixeira and Cano] between 75-80 on a 20-80 scale. “Those guys are exceptional and their defense is in a class of its own.”

So I’m supposed to trust UZR/150 for one middle infielder but not another? I’m not saying Jeter deserved to win the Gold Glove, I’m just advocating that UZR/150 should never be used by itself to rate players defensively in a one-year span or less.

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