Vernon Wells, MLB’s Worst Fielder

Vernon Wells, MLB’s Worst Fielder

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I’ll be honest, Vernon’s fielding makes me laugh out-loud. His routes are comical and anything hit more than five steps away from his initial positioning is bound to drop. My eyes (and anyone else’s) can plainly see that. What do the numbers say?

Vernon’s UZR/150 (zone rating over 150 games) is an MLB CF worst -31.9. To put this into perspective a few players are tied for second down at -12ish. Vernon score is more than two and half times poorer than the second worst CF in the MLB! Holy shit, that’s not simply bad, that’s downright terrible.

According to the advanced run algorithms, Wells’ fielding has cost the Jays 21.3 runs vs an average fielder this season. This is second worst in the MLB, only -0.3 less than Adam Dunn’s -21.6 fielding runs.

To put how shitty this total is into perspective let’s use this image:

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Vernon Wells -21.3 fielding runs is more than Rolen’s (10.6) and Hill’s (8.5) combined batting runs! Wells’ poor fielding wipes out Rolen’s and Hill’s batting excellence.

That may help to explain why the Jays are having strong to semi-career years from four offensive stars (Hill, Scutaro, Lind and a resurgence of Rolen) and are still under the .500 mark, pitching injuries aside.

Vernon, man up and accept a demotion to a corner outfield position for the good of the team. Brain cramps aside Alex Rios is a much better option in CF.

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

  • The “Vernon Wells” course correction at the very last second is painful to watch. Whoops, looks like its going over my head!

  • Ian

    This post confirmed my suspicions about Wells. I just can’t fathom how his defensive skills and range has dropped off so significantly within the past few years. Is he afraid to dive for a ball and break his wrist again?

  • That’s a mystery to me as well. I don’t see why his routes and reads are so bad, even with injuries. He was solid if unspectacular a few years back. Maybe he’s devoting more time to his hitting at the cost of his fielding.

  • So he gets a the giant contract because he was a good hitter and a gold glove fielder. Then his bat sucked but is still good with the glove. Now there is absolutely no way to justify his contract. Not even the slightest bit.

    Must be the Vince Carter Syndrome: Play at an all-star level, sign massive contract, stop caring to play cuz you are getting a shitload of money which hinders the team. All we need now is a confession that he never gave it all.

  • Yikes…

  • Ian

    Bubbles, I like that theory!

  • JJ

    He was either cheating, or he’s just gotten really old, really fast. Thank you for proving his ineptitude.

    This brings up the next question, who’s better in left field, Lind or Wells?

  • JJ

    He was either cheating, or he’s just gotten really old, really fast. Thank you for proving his ineptitude.

    This brings up the next question, who’s better in left field, Lind or Wells?

  • Brian

    Wow. I can’t believe how quickly ‘fans’ turn. I may not be the biggest V.Wells fan, but seriously, do you really believe Wells really dogging it in spite of the spotlight on him continuously, every route being scrutinized, every at-bat disected. Frankly, I think he is being miscast, and Cito is the only one that sees it. He is giving him a chance to get his confidence back by dropping him in the batting order, and I believe he will put him back at #3 eventually, where he belongs. He is not a 30-40 homer guys, in spite of his salary. He is line drive hitter (or was), with the occassional homer.
    Give the guy a break, he will be back.
    Really tiring to read the continuous negative comments on boards about the Jays.

  • Tdot

    Ummm…let me guess, the same ranking system also says Jeter is the best fielding SS — are you kidding me – stats are useful for hitting and pitching but fielding has never been completely categorized.

    In fact, this system works better for infielders because a scorcher to the gap that no CF would have would negatively affect V-dubs zone rating.

    and from one of these statheads: “The equation works better for infielders than outfielders, presumably because infield Revised Zone Rating is based on only ground balls, while outfielders are judged on fly balls, line drives and fliners. In fact, I don’t suggest that you apply the math to individual players, because the equation will differ considerably from position to position. And I personally like breaking out the stats, because that gives you more information.”

    Your article is shoddy and takes more leaps of faith than the National Enquirer finding Jesus forming in the clouds above Iraq. Seriously, do some research rather than finding numbers that still need to be interpreted.

  • Tdot, I’m not sure what you’re talking about. Jeter is far from the best fielding shortstop based upon this system. He’s middle of the pack at best and is only +1.8 runs.

    From your comment:

    “In fact, this system works better for infielders because a scorcher to the gap that no CF would have would negatively affect V-dubs zone rating.”

    If you look into this system and critique it the way you do, then all Jays outfielders would be poor due to the sample of linedrives/flyballs, etc, correct? Yet Alex Rios has a +10.1 UZR/150, while Wells is -31.9. Smaller sample but a large differential. To build on this last season Rios had +23.8 UZR/150 in CF while Wells was -24.

    I don’t have a problem with opposing opinions based upon fact or number. Now yours is a poorly thought out attack. Perhaps you should go back to your enquirer, I hear a bat boy was born in Brazil….

  • Nick0rz

    Tdot. The way UZR works is it compares the balls that the fielder gets against the average. Therefor it would even out over the course of the season because all CF’s would face approximately the same amount of hard liners to the gap, and they would all receive about the same amount of high hanging flyballs hit right at them.

    By comparing to the average CF, its able to establish if they’re above average or not above average. Although the system can vary greatly from year to year, by taking the stats from multiple seasons we can establish if the player is a good fielder or not. In this case, Wells has been getting worse and worse over the past few years.

  • Wow. Obviously everyone understands the problems with UZR, and generally “statheads” prefer to have at least 2 or 3 seasons worth of data to really get behind someone. With Wells’ piss-poor -24 /150 last year…Hrmmmm!

    However, have you watched Vernon Wells play CF this year? It was enjoyable when Tabler, a couple of weeks ago, reminded us that Vernon Wells has 0 errors in 2009.

    It just goes to show you how ridiculous the E is. No, Vernon isn’t dropping balls that he should have caught given his position when the ball is about to enter his glove. However, if you judge a CF defense from the moment the ball leaves the bat than Wells has been awful.

    Slow jumps…in the wrong direction.. corrected by a slower than average fielder…who still thinks that he can play shallow/deep and get to those balls…results in:

    A fielder who gets to the landing spot and just flails his body, hoping the ball will fall into his mit.

    It’s not laziness, but it could clearly be a lack of desire. Throw in the possibility of the roids, or an injury.. and Bam!

  • Wally

    What a fountain of misinformation this article is……. You can skew all of these numbers anyway you want to get any kind of result you want. Vernon Wells isn’t playing up to his former Gold Glove defense calibre this year, but he hasn’t dropped off THAT much to the point he is below average. Ask Major League managers and players what they think of his fielding and I think you will get a much more accurate answer.

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