So much for D, Jays in Bottom Half of League Rankings and Still Winning Games

During the off-season defense was pointed to as the new ‘sabermetric’ way to exploit the trade and free agent market. The Red Sox loaded up on D and how’s that working out for them?

With a suspect offense, amazing starting pitching is the reason for the Jays early season success.

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Currently the Jays rank in the bottom half of major league baseball in overall team D according to Fan Graphs.

The one saving grace has been the double play ball. The Jays are 4th in double play runs above average as a team.

Individual Player and Position Notes:

Note: Needless to say sample sizes are small. (UZR stats = UZR/150)

The Good

Aaron Hill (23.2 UZR)
Vernon Wells (11.0 UZR)

I’m shocked at Vernon’s + score. When I think back on numerous games this season I haven’t been bitching about VDub’s fielding as much as in the past. Hopefully he can keep it going.

Hill is studly as always.

Other positive notes:

Both John McDonald and Mike McCoy have great UZR stats from the 2B position. Clearly 2B has been a defensive position of strength for the club (which makes sense considering the high team double play rate). McDonald is also solid at 3rd in limited duty (13.0), although in only 34 innings played.

In-between:

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Travis Snider has been good in LF (11.4 UZR) and near league worst in RF (-66.5 UZR).

SS Alex Gonzalez has been steady. He’s committed 5 errors and has a -2.7 UZR. He’s not stinking the joint up but he’s not playing as advertised.

Lyle Overbay’s defensive stats have improved over the past few weeks, putting him right near league average. 1st base is always a tough stat to read.

The Bad:

3rd Base: Both Bautista (-35.5) and Encarnacion (-9.4 with about a million errors) have been terrible at third base.

Fred Lewis, statistically speaking, has been atrocious in LF. His UZR is a whopping -61.0. For his career Lewis is a negative fielder across the board (particularly bad in RF & CF). Odd for such a speedster.

Catching

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UZR and other advanced metrics haven’t made a seemless transition to the catching position. Old school stats still have some value.

Jose Molina has been great behind the plate. His team ERA is 3.28 in 9 starts. He has allowed 4 WP and has thrown out 8 of 11 base stealers

John Buck has a team ERA of 4.31, has allowed 15 WP and has allowed 18 of 20 to steal successfully.

Let’s Turn it Up

The Jays defense has been just ‘there’ this season. It’s not losing games but it’s not winning them either. If the D can come around they may be able to pick up some slack for the inevitable pitching regression. If this happens the Jays might be able to hang around the top of the wild card standings for longer than anyone though possible.

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has written for mopupduty.com since 2006. Follow Matthias on Twitter, Facebook and Google +

  • It’s worth noting those are UZR/150 game numbers, not straight up UZR. The difference is immense.

    • It was implied. Does anyone even use straight UZR anymore?

      There is no way AHill could have a 23+ UZR in 20ish games. That’s just silly talk.

      • Considering that UZR needs about 1000 innings to be worthwhile, UZR/150 only makes sense when working backwards, not projecting forwards.

        Otherwise you get crazy numbers like -61 and +22 after a month.

        • You gotta start somewhere in a season. Thus the inclusion of

          “Note: Needless to say sample sizes are small.”

          On the whole I find the UZR numbers a good representation. Some players are doing well, some are having a hard time and others are average. The team’s D as a whole is slightly below average. Anyone with any sense knows that Lewis or Snider aren’t going to end the year -60.

  • Early

    Are you trying to project that the defence will underperform over 162 games or are you just saying that they are underpeforming defensively but it hasn’t affected their overall performance so far this spring?

    • “The Jays defense has been just ‘there’ this season. It’s not losing games but it’s not winning them either.”

      I didn’t make any real projection. This is more of a ‘here are the numbers’ article. Obviously I’m hoping they can pick things up a bit and climb up the MLB defensive efficiency ratings.