More than just an error-free record

Joba goes long, powers Yanks to series win
T-Kep on A-Jax

Yankees Indians Baseball

When Mariano Rivera and the Yankees sealed the deal on their 5-2 victory over the Indians last night, it marked the 18th game in a row in which the Yankees had not committed an error. Over that span of games, the Yankees have gone 14-4, and the team seems to be living proof of the adage “defense wins games.”

But on its face, this errorless streak is a bit deceptive it doesn’t really tell us very much about how the Yankees have been doing in the field. It does tell us that the Yankees have been sure-handed and that the team’s pitchers can trust the other eight men on the field. It does tell us that the Yankees are fielding the balls they can get to cleanly, but it does not tell us if the Yankees are getting to more balls and thus are turning more potential hits into outs.

For that, we have to move beyond the limited statistic of errors and look at some of the new defensive metrics that assess range and defensive efficiency. Over the weekend, long-time RAB reader Jamal G. commented on the defense: “I think the huge defensive statistic that people should be paying attention to is the Yankees’ being 5th in the AL (12th in MLB) in Team Defensive Efficiency with a .697%. I expected the defense to be better, but in the 18-20 range; this is surprisingly awesome.”

I had recruited Jamal to write a longer guest column for us, but then the new Statistician Magician beat us to the punch. In his piece, he analyzes the various parts that make up the Yankee defensive whole and concludes that, while so far there are no stand-outs, the team is much improved over recent years. He concludes:

The team’s overall defense is close to average. But that is much improved based on what we all saw last season. And because of this, they don’t have a real flaw: above-average pitching, once it comes around completely; a very good offense when healthy; and now a decent enough defense too.

If they keep up the glove-work, which they should, it will be a great step in the right direction for Cashman and the rest of the organization. Because Cashman seeing their success coincide with an improvement on defense, will let him truly understand what he has been missing for some time now.

…Because defense matters.

With Derek Jeter‘s new-found range, Robinson Cano‘s resurgence and some excellent outfield defense after a few years of Matsui-Damon-Abreu, the Yankees are turning balls that once were hit into outs. Their starting pitchers can go deeper into games, and the team enjoys fewer opposing base runners.

Right now, it’s all clicking for the Yanks, and their defense is a large part of it. The error-less streak looks good on paper and makes for some nice headlines, but it tells only part of the story. As much as they are winning with hitting and winning with pitching, the Yankees are starting to win with fielding too, and as Flying Joba Chamberlain showed last night, it looks good.

Photo by Mark Duncan for the Associated Press.

Joba goes long, powers Yanks to series win
T-Kep on A-Jax
  • Joe R

    Cano looks good. Teix looks good. The belly flop from Joba? Had me laughin pretty good. Took off way too early but was able to stay with it and catch it near the ground. Had he not caught that ball it probably wouldve looked way worse and even more so funny. All in all the Yankees are playing good baseball. Hopefully it continues.

    • Dave M

      Even if Joba had missed the ball, you’d still have to admire his effort.

      • BklynJT

        Didn’t proctor make a similar play in 07, the only difference being he didn’t have the frame of mind to double up the runner.

      • Joe R

        Definitely

  • lordbyron

    As long as the Yanks continue to make the ‘routine’ plays with this type of efficiency, we’ll all be happy.

  • JP

    Having strikeout/fly-ball pitchers added to the rotation doesn’t hurt.

  • mustang

    “With Derek Jeter’s new-found range”

    LMAO…. i guess winning does fix everything.

    • http://www.riveraveblues.com Benjamin Kabak

      I’d guess that his range will be back at normal-for-Jeter levels by the end of the season, but that doesn’t mean we can’t enjoy it while it lasts.

      • mustang

        I think people made too much of this range issue in the first place with all the other things he brings to the table.

        For example :
        “Jeter became the fourth player in major league history to total 2,600 hits, 200 home runs and 1,000 RBIs in his first 15 seasons.”

        But I guess people need to complain about something.

        • http://www.riveraveblues.com Benjamin Kabak

          Well, no one’s ever denied Jeter’s offensive prowess. That’s why the Yanks have long been able to tolerate his below-average defense. The same holds true for Posada.

          • mustang

            Lets hope they can ” tolerate ” it to a few more rings.

            Man, you guys are funny today.

            • http://bronxbaseballdaily.com Matt ACTY/BBD

              If Derek Jeter didn’t hit like Derek Jeter, you’d be complaining a whole lot about his range. Jeets is one of the best offensive SS of the last 20 years (as is Jorge for catching, and I think he’s the best not named “Piazza”) but his defense has been quite lacking.

              • mustang

                If someone were to give me a 1965 Shelby Mustang with old tires and told me you can only keep it with these tires and you can’t change the tires until they blow. Believe me I’m going to keep talking about how bad the tires are.

                • http://bronxbaseballdaily.com Matt ACTY/BBD

                  I’m not a big car guy but wouldn’t bad tires rob the car of its overall performance? Jeter’s offense is incredible, but his bad defense robs his overall performance.

                • mustang

                  “I’m not a big car guy but wouldn’t bad tires rob the car of its overall performance?”

                  You hit on the head, but you still drive it because it’s a 65 Stang and when the tires blow you change them. You don’t stand there looking at a American Classic wondering why the tires are so bad.

            • http://twitter.com/tsjc68 tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Ridiculous Upside

              Man, you guys are funny today.

              Take my wife, please!

              http://www.instantrimshot.com

              I take my wife everywhere, but she always finds her way home!

              http://www.instantrimshot.com

              I said, “Where do you want to go for our anniversary?” She said, “Let’s go somewhere I’ve never been.” I said, “Try the kitchen.”

              http://www.instantrimshot.com

              • I Remember Celerino Sanchez

                I hear you’ll be here all week.

                • tim randle

                  you mean ‘weak’

                  :(

              • Spaceman.Spiff

                I hear we shouldn’t forget to tip your waitresses.

          • JP

            The “arithmetic” explanation for the Yankees dynasty years in the 90s: Tremendous offensive production from positions which generally don’t provide much offense, SS and C.

            • V

              And CF.

        • JP

          Yeah, his offense is great. He’s beaten up and 35 years old and he still has the best or close to the best offensive stats of any SS in the AL. You’re right, we probably complain too much about him.

          But everything comes to an end, and you can get so bad at a position that it hurts your pitching staff. If Jeter hits 15 homers this year, he will have made a liar of me, in that I predicted this would finally be the year his offense didn’t compensate for his defensive shortcomings.

          But he isn’t going to get better at SS, he’s just going to get worse. Much depends on the quality of an available replacement. Ramiro Pena hitting .240/.290/.320 isn’t going to cut it no matter how well he fields, unless maybe you have 4 other guys on the team hitting 30+ homers. But if the Yankees had a young minor league SS who could flash leather and put up league average offense, maybe .270/.330/.400, it’d be stupid not to put that guy at SS.

          My numbers may be off, but you get the point. It’s not a question of if, but when. I think it could be soon, but eventually Jeter will lose his SS job, and at that point it’s going to be tough to find a home for him.

          • mustang

            I understand your point, but i think right now too much is made out of it. But i agree with you soon rather then later this is going to become a bigger issue.

            • http://twitter.com/tsjc68 tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Ridiculous Upside

              Mustang, you know we’re one of the most forward thinking blogs around here. We’re not content to say “It’s not a problem now so don’t worry about it.” We’re anticipating and planning for tomorrow’s problems today, so that we can make appropriate moves (or non moves) that leave us in the best position to contend annually.

              It’s why we were, by and large, against the Santana trade. Because we attempted to anticipate how the future was likely to play out, we currently still have Hughes, Cano, Melky, Wang, AJax, IPK, and Hilligoss in our organization and we also have our desired ace lefty frontline starter.

              Jeter’s at short is fine for now. Jeter at short shouldn’t be our plan for 2011. That’s why we discuss it.

              • Chris

                Why shouldn’t Jeter be the plan for 2011? He’s still one of the top 3-4 SS in the league, so there’s no reason to expect that in 2 years he will suddenly pull an Ortiz (I think that’s going to be my new phrase for anyone that completely falls apart). Jeter’s been a bad defender his entire career – it’s not like his defense has suddenly started to suffer because of age.

                If you can get Hanley Ramirez to replace him? Sure, pull the trigger. But right now, and for the next few years, you would need an elite SS to replace Jeter’s production.

                • http://twitter.com/tsjc68 tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Ridiculous Upside

                  Two reasons:

                  1) You have to expect that as he continues to age, he’ll continue to get worse defensively. He probably won’t hit an Ortiz wall where his offense becomes a traveshamockery, but it’s not hard to forecast that his DEFENSE may hit a wall and become an Ortizian traveshamockery. He’s already a subpar defensive shortstop. Come 2011, when he’s turning 37, he’ll probably be an absolutely atrocious defensive shortstop.
                  2) He profiles well defensively for a corner outfielder. Jeter has more overall speed than quickness, and better planar range on getting under flyballs than lateral range for getting down on grounders. And, his arm is strong but inaccurate. Moving him from SS to LF could easily turn his defensive negatives into defensive pluses.

                • JP

                  Oooh “planar range.” Are you a math major TSJC?

                  The other thing you failed to mention is that his offense is in a steady decline phase, too.

                  I’m probably wrong with what I’m about to say, because I have a defense fetish, but if we had a guy with Ramiro Pena’s defensive skills and Brett Gardner’s offensive skills (acknowledging that both are not anything fantastic), it would be an immediate improvement to the team to install this Brett Pena/Ramiro Garnder guy at short, and install Jeter in left.

                • http://mantisfists.files.wordpress.com/2008/10/julius-carry-aka-shonuff.jpg The Honorable Congressman Mondesi

                  “The other thing you failed to mention is that his offense is in a steady decline phase, too.”

                  That’s the tough point to make, today. So far, in 2009, Jeter’s seen a bit of an offensive resurgence, and people will explain away his relatively poor 2008 by pointing to the wrist problems.

                  I think Jeter’s in his decline phase… I mean, it’s just a fact of life, the guy’s a 35 year old shortstop. But it’s hard to tell people his offensive is in serious decline right now.

                • Chris

                  1) You have to expect that as he continues to age, he’ll continue to get worse defensively.

                  Except that’s only partly true. You say that he will continue to get worse defensively, but there is no evidence that his defense has gotten worse over the last 10 years or the last 3. So basically what you’re predicting is that one day, without warning, Jeter will suddenly lose what defensive ability he has. That’s not realistic. He’s going to decline as he ages, but there will be some warning. If he had gotten progressively worse over the last couple years, then I would agree that we need to do something sooner rather than later, but he hasn’t so we don’t.

                  As for your other point, he doesn’t profile nearly as well offensively when playing a corner OF position, and we have no idea whether he’d actually be any good in the outfield (we think he would, but it may not turn out that way). I actually thought they should have moved him to CF in 2006 instead of signing Damon, and then moved A-Rod back to SS (A-Rod’s range would probably suck, but I’m confident that he’d hit 1 HR for every gruond ball he missed). At this point, it’s probably too late for that type of move.

                • Chris

                  “The other thing you failed to mention is that his offense is in a steady decline phase, too.”

                  On the surface, it would appear that he’s had a steep decline from 2006 through now, but that’s not really the case. The problem is that 2006 was an abnormally good season, then 2007 was an average (for him) season. In 2008 he had the quad injury early, but the bigger issue was when he was hit on the wrist. He went into a tailspin for about a month, but his second half production and production so far this year have been back to his career averages.

                • http://mantisfists.files.wordpress.com/2008/10/julius-carry-aka-shonuff.jpg The Honorable Congressman Mondesi
                • http://twitter.com/tsjc68 tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Ridiculous Upside

                  So basically what you’re predicting is that one day, without warning, Jeter will suddenly lose what defensive ability he has. That’s not realistic. He’s going to decline as he ages, but there will be some warning. If he had gotten progressively worse over the last couple years, then I would agree that we need to do something sooner rather than later, but he hasn’t so we don’t.

                  But here’s the thing: Every offseason, we have a choice to make. We can choose to find a long-term solution at LF (like, say, Bay or Holliday or Crawford) and thus, lock Jeter into SS going forward, or we can choose to find a long-term solution at SS (like, say, Hardy or Reyes or HanRam) and thus, lock Jeter into LF.

                  If we wait for Jeter’s need to be moved off of SS to be obvious, we may have missed our opportunity to move him off of SS because we may have filled the hole we’d move him to. It’s better to anticipate Jeter’s decline and move him a year too soon than to miss the boat and move him a year too late.

                • Chris

                  There has been no offseason where we’ve had an opportunity to replace him at SS with someone equal or better (I’d be fine with moving him if we could replace him with a Reyes or HanRam, but I’m not sold on Hardy). Also, even if we were to sign someone to a long term deal in LF, we are only committed to Swisher through 2011. That would potentially open up a spot for him in the OF if he needed to move.

                  I have no problems moving Jeter (to the OF or off the team) if it makes the team better, but I can’t see a reasonable scenario in 2009 or 2010 where that make sense. Maybe his performance over the next 18 months will decline enough to make a move justifiable, but right now I don’t see it.

        • http://mantisfists.files.wordpress.com/2008/10/julius-carry-aka-shonuff.jpg The Honorable Congressman Mondesi

          If you order a pizza and half is covered in delicious pepperoni awhile the other half is covered in diarrhea, would you not acknowledge or be concerned with the diarrhea-covered half just because the pepperoni half was so delicious? Just because Jeter’s offense is great doesn’t mean people can’t acknowledge his lack of defensive range. It all matters when analyzing him as a baseball player.

          • mustang

            Understood, but don’t think the half cover in diarrhea is equal to Jeter’s bad defense.
            In other words i understand his bad defensive is part of analyzing him, but i think too much is made out it.

            • http://bronxbaseballdaily.com Matt ACTY/BBD

              but i think too much is made out it.

              That would be fine if Jeter played third or first or a corner OF position; but Jeter plays what is arguably the most important defensive position on the field.

              • Chris

                Here are how Jeter has ranked as a SS in total value (offense and defense):

                2009: 4th
                2008: 6th
                2007: 8th
                2006: 1st
                2005: 3rd
                2004: 3rd
                2003: 5th
                2002: 3rd

                Clearly he’s not cutting it at SS.

                • http://bronxbaseballdaily.com Matt ACTY/BBD

                  I never said Jeter was a net negative at SS. His offense is incredible, one of the best of the last little while (isn’t it awesome to have two of the best offensive SS’s ever on the same side of the IF?). His offense definitely makes up for his defense but that doesn’t mean we should ignore his defensive downside.

                • http://twitter.com/tsjc68 tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Ridiculous Upside

                  His offense definitely makes up for his defense but that doesn’t mean we should ignore his defensive downside.

                  Particularly as he enters the second half of his thirties, an age where most players’ defensive abilities fall of a cliff, Ortiz-style.

            • http://mantisfists.files.wordpress.com/2008/10/julius-carry-aka-shonuff.jpg The Honorable Congressman Mondesi

              Ok… But you said “I guess people need to complain about something,” which is not a statement that people “make too much” of his defensive shortcomings but a statement that the very criticism itself shouldn’t exist, and nobody is saying that Jeter’s defensive shortcomings are so bad that they come close to canceling out his offensive contributions – you’re kind of arguing against a ghost of your own creation. So, you’re kind of the one making too much of it, so that you can then knock that argument down.

              • mustang

                I guess your right in a way, but i have seen more then one thread ( this one does) here bring it up and many comments on game threads. I just don’t think it’s that big of a deal, but that’s me.

                • whozat

                  That’s because you don’t find it interesting to think about things that will be a problem in 2010 or 2011.

                  The rest of us do.

                • Chris

                  What evidence is there that this will be a problem next year or the year after? Jeter’s shown no decline in his fielding abilities (or lack thereof) or hitting. He also hasn’t started getting injured at a higher rate.

                • mustang

                  That’s because I’m living in 2009. Yes you can keep your eyes on the future, but you should let that take away from the current team.

                  If you take a little time away from the 2010 and 2011 yankees you might just realize that the 2009 yankees aren’t doing so bad.

                  No disrespect.

                • mustang

                  But you shouldn’t

                • http://mantisfists.files.wordpress.com/2008/10/julius-carry-aka-shonuff.jpg The Honorable Congressman Mondesi

                  “That’s because I’m living in 2009. Yes you can keep your eyes on the future, but you should let that take away from the current team.
                  If you take a little time away from the 2010 and 2011 yankees you might just realize that the 2009 yankees aren’t doing so bad.”

                  Dude… Again… NOBODY said they don’t want Jeter at shortstop in 2009.

                • http://mantisfists.files.wordpress.com/2008/10/julius-carry-aka-shonuff.jpg The Honorable Congressman Mondesi

                  “If you take a little time away from the 2010 and 2011 yankees you might just realize that the 2009 yankees aren’t doing so bad.”

                  F’ing Positive Posse. Ironhorse would like a word with you. (To anyone who wasn’t around, it’s a joke about last night’s game threads.)

                • http://www.riveraveblues.com Joseph Pawlikowski

                  Jokes usually don’t work well when you have to explain the punchline.

                • http://mantisfists.files.wordpress.com/2008/10/julius-carry-aka-shonuff.jpg The Honorable Congressman Mondesi

                  “Jokes usually don’t work well when you have to explain the punchline.”

                  Look, dude, I posted that joke for the intelligent fans. Figured I’d give the rest of you morons some help.

          • http://twitter.com/tsjc68 tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Ridiculous Upside

            If you order a pizza and half is covered in delicious pepperoni awhile the other half is covered in diarrhea, would you not acknowledge or be concerned with the diarrhea-covered half just because the pepperoni half was so delicious?

            When you’re sliding into first
            And your pants begin to burst
            diarrhea, diarrhea

            • http://mantisfists.files.wordpress.com/2008/10/julius-carry-aka-shonuff.jpg The Honorable Congressman Mondesi
    • http://bronxbaseballdaily.com Matt ACTY/BBD

      He’s at 3.0 UZR/150 right now. If that continues it’d be his first positive UZR season.

      • mustang

        Im sure that’s a very nice thing.

      • JP

        UZR Schmoooozeeearrrrr….can we have some data that actually reflect real things that happen on a diamond?

        Yeah, I know, it’s a complex metric that filters out the crap blah blah blah….

        Does Jeter’s UZR reflect the contributions of Texiera? In other words, Tex scooping up and leaping for those crappy throws…the ones Giambi couldn’t get to? Do these successful plays end up improving Jeter’s UZR? I’m guessing 50 games is a small enough sample that even 2 or 3 good plays by Texiera could have a big effect on Jeter’s numbers, if in fact the UZR doesn’t factor out the 1b glove.

        • http://www.riveraveblues.com Benjamin Kabak

          UZR focuses on range. It’s concerned with how many batted balls a player gets to and not whether the first baseman is averting errors through nice scoops. Teixeira’s play would impact Jeter’s fielding percentage but not his range.

        • andrew

          I was under the impression that UZR was simply how many balls you got to in your zone as compared with the average fielder.

        • mustang

          Than you, but somehow somewhere after Mr. Bill James came into the fold everything on the baseball field has a number or scale or three letter word attached to it. Why even watch the game when you can just look at the score box in the morning.
          This like a lot things in life people take it too far.

          • http://deleted RollingWave

            because it’s still a chance thing, even if your true talent level is a .400 hitter there’s still as much of a chance of you going 0-4 than 3-4 .

            Expand that to the whole team and over 160+ games. and it’s why you watch the game. because a lot of times crazy things still happen.

            • http://www.riveraveblues.com Joseph Pawlikowski

              “because it’s still a chance thing, even if your true talent level is a .400 hitter there’s still as much of a chance of you going 0-4 than 3-4 .”

              Most people do not understand this concept. Thank you, thank you. I feel like I’m alone when making this argument.

              • mustang

                Your not alone, but the problem is that after game your numbers guys will point at the .400 hitter and you just saw that hitter go 0-4 with RISP.

                “it’s why you watch the game. because a lot of times crazy things still happen.”

                You mean those “X-factors that don’t mean shit on the field” and sometimes are so easily disregarded here.
                I agree.

                • whozat

                  No, we mean the vagaries of chance that so often affect the outcome of a single game. That’s why it’s exciting to watch games, but watching one game doesn’t really tell you much about the talent level of a given player. And that latter is what we’re interested in…figuring out how talented a guy is so that we can predict how good he’ll be going forward, instead of relying on anecdotal evidence and seeing him play a couple times and making a judgment about his past results.

                  This morning alone, you’ve managed to commit several logical fallacies…false dichotomies, using strawman arguments…it really is a skill.

                • http://deleted RollingWave

                  “Your not alone, but the problem is that after game your numbers guys will point at the .400 hitter and you just saw that hitter go 0-4 with RISP.”

                  It is certainly possible for Andy Phillips to go 4-4 with a HR and 3 RBI 3 run score in the same game that Albert Pujols went 0-4 with 2Ks and left 8 guys on base. that doesn’t mean you want Andy Phillips as your first baseman over Albert Pujols.

                  To construct a team, you obviously look for guys who’s done the best in the longer run. because god forbid even Bubba Crosby had a couple of games where he looked like a good hitter.

                • mustang

                  “This morning alone, you’ve managed to commit several logical fallacies…false dichotomies, using strawman arguments…it really is a skill.”

                  I don’t see any stat. evidence from you to support this statement all i see is criticism of my comments that seem to your skill.

                • JP

                  If a groundball was hit in the woods and nobody saw it, would Jeter get to it?

                • mustang

                  Depends on the year.
                  2009? yes
                  2010 or 2011 you have ask someone else i don’t think about those years.

                  LOL

        • Dave M

          I don’t think Giambi was that bad at scooping throws. Not as good as Tex obviously. The biggest differences between Tex and Giambi are Tex’s range and glove on batted balls, and this throwing is much better. Tex has made some plays that I haven’t seen any Yankee 1b make since Donnie Baseball was here. I’ve also seen him not scoop a few throws that an average 1b should make. Granted, I’ve only seen a handful of games this year, so maybe it’s a SSS for me.

  • pat

    flying joba monster > flying spaghetti monster

    • http://www.puristbleedspinstripes.com Rebecca-Optimist Prime

      +1

    • OmgZombies

      All hail the hypno Joba

    • UWS

      +42

  • http://www.twitter.com/MatthewHarris84 Matt H

    I’m just impressed with Jeter’s better play to his glove side. Using the ‘eye test’ he is getting to a lot more balls up the middle.

    • JP

      I asked above…I’ll ask again. If a ground ball was hit in the woods, and nobody saw it, would Jeter get to it?

  • http://Youcan'tincreaseyourrange TLVP

    One of the explanations for Jeter’s poor range has been that he’s been playing very shallow historically.

    The reason was supposedly his weak arm forcing him to play shallow to get the ball to 1st base in time

    A theory could thus be that this year Jeter is playing deeper, either because

    1) he’s worked hard and succeeded in increasing his arm strength, which is difficult but not as difficult as increasing his range

    2) with Tex playing 1st he’s got a bigger target and can thus release earlier knowing that Tex can bail him out, thus enabling him to play deeper.

    In the later case you’d expect Tex to be asked to handle more difficult balls from SS, and you’d expect more runners to beat out the throw from SS. In fact Tex’s defensive numbers are not as good as some people expected, so there could be something in it

    Nice theories all but the question is if he plays deeper this year than last – does anyone know?

    • http://www.riveraveblues.com Benjamin Kabak

      Jeter’s never had a weak arm. He’s always had a very strong arm. Hence, that trademark throw from the short stop hole. Where did you hear the weak arm rumors?

      • http://www.riveraveblues.com Joseph Pawlikowski

        From The Fielding Bible:

        “Then there is the signature Jeter play, when he fields a backhander in the hole and makes his patented jump-throw. Jeter still excels at this play, but it disguises the fact that he does it because he lacks the arm strength to plant his feet and throw. His arm also causes him to play more shallow than other shortstops, cutting down on his range.”

        • http://www.riveraveblues.com Benjamin Kabak

          Huh. I had no idea.

          Watching Jeter air out the arm while long-tossing at 225 feet before games led me to think he had a strong arm. I guess the ability to throw for distance does not equate with a quick release and getting zip on the throws to first from short.

          • Ant

            long tossing at 225 feet does infact equate to a strong arm. I have noticed the same, no matter what it says in that book you cannot do that with a week arm. at the very least one could argue he has bad hands and that forces him to rush throws and not set himself but i have seen Jeter throw a pea with my own eys consistenly enough to say he has a good arm

            • http://eemack.blogspot.com Jackson

              You definitely can’t argue that Jeter has bad hands, in fact I believe RAB wrote an article a few weeks ago quoting some defensive metrics that establish that Jeter has the best hands amongst MLB shortstops.

              I might have read that somewhere else though

              • http://www.riveraveblues.com Joseph Pawlikowski

                It was here, in the Fielding Bible Review. Bill James devised what he calls an objective system (though it certainly falls short of that) determining who makes the most defensive misplays. Jeter has had the fewest among shortstops for a while.

        • A.D.

          I’ve seen that, but it doesn’t make complete sense to me, if he had a weak arm then he’d need to plant and throw more than the avg. SS as he’d need to get as much as he could on the ball.

          • http://www.riveraveblues.com Joseph Pawlikowski

            To address both you and El Duque below:

            It takes more arm strength to plant and throw, because that process takes longer. The advantage of the jump throw is the quick release. Notice how it’s not a strong throw (how could it be?). It sails. It definitely takes a degree of arm strength to perform, but it takes a TON of arm and leg strength to run to your right, get the ball, stop, pivot, and fire a throw to first.

            That said, it doesn’t appear his arm is weak. You always see him making strong throws from short.

            • JP

              I disagree. I think if you watch him and compare him to other shortstops, he has an average arm at best. I think he makes alot of poor throws…low, high, off the bag, etc.

              I don’t think the jump/throw is a demonstration of arm strength. Planting and throwing from deep in the hole is very difficult, and when you plant, you basically stop any momentum you have and are relying on your basic arm strength. When he does the jump throw, he is basically channeling his momentum into the throw, helping him cover the distance. It’s a very athletic move.

              Most people say “no way…he’s moving away from first, his momentum hurts the throw.” I used to think this, until I thought about golf. Make a regular golf swing…make 10, actually, and see how far you hit the ball. Now, make 10 more, but this time, pause at the top of your backswing. Come to a complete stop, and sort of “plant” yourself, then make the downswing. You will never hit the ball as far as with your regular swing. Even though the backswing is, well, backwards, the momentum is stored in the club and eventually transfered forward. As long as Jeter keeps moving, the momentum in his arm/hand eventually gets channeled into the throw.

              Jump throw >> plant and throw.

              • tim randle

                his linear momentum is converted to rotational momentum (his moving body begins to rotate).

                with this rotational momentum, he has essentially ‘planted’ his lower body (so its rotating as fast as he is continuing to move forward…imagine he’s rotating his body so fast that his belt buckle doesnt move for a second even though his entire body is still traveling in the same direction he was originally moving), so he now has leverage against his core–so his shoulder girdle, torso, and arm are all propelling the ball forward while his body spins in opposition to that force (instead of his rear leg ‘pushing’ against the ground to get that very same leverage).

                i would have to see a ton more data to make an arm-strength decision, but i can tell you now–way more athletic requirement to make that throw ACCURATELY than it is to plant and deliver that same throw.

                i think this is a result of his lack of quickness…he’s slower to get to the ball, so he needs to use his athleticism to make the transition from fielding the ball to delivering the ball faster…any data on time from hit to release, or field to release out there? that would be your evidence.

        • Trapped In El Duque’s Glove

          Does this make sense? Surely you’d need a stronger arm to make a jump throw as you can’t leverage any power from your lower body?

          • http://Youcan'tincreaseyourrange TLVP

            What you lose on strength you make up by releasing the ball earlier

          • JP

            Seems that way, but it isn’t. Read my comment above.

        • http://Youcan'tincreaseyourrange TLVP

          So how do we find out if his improved range (small sample aside an all that)is really a function of playing deeper – who’d have the data to support of reject that?

          • http://eemack.blogspot.com Jackson

            I played shortstop in college and I disagree with your analysis. It takes a fairly strong arm to do both moves, but when your momentum is carrying you to the right and you have to stop, plant, load up on your right foot and shift your momentum the other direction to make a throw it takes tremendous arm strength.

        • JP

          So has anyone questioned this? Is it correct?

          My reckoning from watching tv is that if you look at the difference between A-Rods throws and Jeters, it seems that Jeter doesn’t have more than an average arm.

      • Dave M

        I was just going to say the same thing Ben. He’s never had a weak arm. Only poor range to his left. Which has always been the case.

    • BklynJT

      +1

      X% of getting to a ball in your UZR zone has to do with where you are positioned at the start of the pitch, and X is NOT negligible.

  • http://deleted RollingWave

    “and some excellent outfield defense after a few years of Matsui-Damon-Abreu, ”

    To be fair, the Matsui-Damon-Abreu outfield was already a mega upgrade over the Matsui-Bernie-Sheffield outfield defensively. though that really says a lot more about how epically bad the later was. (in 2006, they combined to be a unfathomable 60 runs + below average. and the scary thing was that Matsui was almost average that year.)

    • http://deleted RollingWave

      2005 I mean

    • http://twitter.com/tsjc68 tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Ridiculous Upside

      Minimum innings played, per player per postion: 50 (except for 2009, in progress)

      2004 Yankee outfield, UZR:
      LF
      Matsui 1388 inn, -24.8
      CF
      Williams 830 inn, -26.5 || Lofton 539.1 inn, -1.8 || Crosby 59 inn, -0.6
      RF
      Sheffield 1178.2 inn, -16.8 || Sierra 159 inn, -0.1 || Crosby 54 inn, -0.9 || Lofton 52 inn, -4.6
      Aggregate Outfield UZR, 2004: -76.1

      2005 Yankee outfield, UZR:
      LF
      Matsui 977.1 inn, -1.6 || Womack 326 inn, -8.7 || Sierra 54 inn, -2.1
      CF
      Williams 862.2 inn, -29.0 || Matsui 222.1 inn, -8.4 || Womack 150 inn, -4.3 || Crosby 144.2 inn, +2.8
      RF
      Sheffield 1099.1 inn, -26.1 || Crosby 100 inn, 0.0 || Lawton 92.2 inn, -6.0 || Sierra 64 inn, -2.4
      Aggregate Outfield UZR, 2005: -85.8

      2006 Yankee outfield, UZR:
      LF
      Cabrera 998.2 inn, +4.7 || Matsui 289 inn, -3.8
      CF
      Damon 1086.2 inn, -11.6 || Williams 200 inn, +0.3 || Crosby 117 inn, -3.5
      RF
      Abreu 447 inn, -6.3 || Williams 425.1 inn, -19.5 || Sheffield 165 inn, -0.9 || Guiel 109 inn, +0.2 || Cabrera 69.2 inn, +0.7 || Thompson 64 inn, +0.5
      Aggregate Outfield UZR, 2006: -39.2

      2007 Yankee outfield, UZR:
      LF
      Matsui 980 inn, -7.6 || Damon 271 inn, +7.5 || Cabrera 142.0 inn, +1.8
      CF
      Cabrera 1072 inn, -10.4 || Damon 377 inn, -2.1
      RF
      Abreu 1333 inn, -2.8
      Aggregate Outfield UZR, 2007: -13.6

      2008 Yankee outfield, UZR:
      LF
      Damon 659.1 inn, +6.7 || Nady 389.2 inn, +1.4 || Matsui 176.1 inn, -2.3 || Gardner 145.1, +3.2 || Christian 53 inn, -2.1
      CF
      Cabrera 973.2 inn, +0.6 || Damon 285 inn, -7.8 || Gardner 160.2 inn, +9.5
      RF
      Abreu 1310 inn, -25.6 || Nady 50 inn, -1.0
      Aggregate Outfield UZR, 2008: -17.4 (all Bobby Abreu’s fault)

      2009 Yankee outfield, UZR:
      LF
      Damon 383.2 inn, -1.0 || Cabrera 59 inn, +1.0 || Swisher 18 inn, -0.2
      CF
      Gardner 276.2 inn, +7.0 || Cabrera 184.0 inn, +0.6
      RF
      Swisher 330.1 inn, -0.7 || Cabrera 84.1 inn, +0.6 || Nady 46 inn, -1.0
      Aggregate Outfield UZR, 2009: +6.3

      • kimonizer

        wow, memories of Womack in centerfield. did that really happen?

        chills go down spine

  • JoeSit.(ragman)

    Jetes range, arm, going to his left, spitting or chewing, he is still the captain. A-rod failing in the crunch. Godzillas knees.Teix’s April. The list goes on and on, if you want to look.HOWEVER, our beloved Yankees are once again sitting atop the AL East and are fun to watch. Moving forward in 09, help the pen and bench and this can run its course. Street and Sherrill, DeRosa, done deal

    • http://deleted RollingWave

      O’s unlikely to trade their closer to a divison rival. Street cost a ton, was actually pretty bad last year, looks better this year, but really, he’s kinda overrated.

      Derosa’s nice player. though I don’t think with the current composition of the team we really need him. at least not in the sense of trading a actually quality prospect for him.

      • JoeSit.(ragman)

        RollingWave

        I understand your thoughts and reasonings, yet Street is young and better than most and Sherrill has a decent track record (lefty). True not cheap, yet what are prospects for? You develop and use or chips! Most fail or not as good as we think. Proven “young” are the keepers we should pursue. I was even thinking a super package including Ajax for Sizemore until prognosis or (rumored) elbow surgery. Sherrill I think can be had or are the O’s so lost that they don’t want to help their club that is just a few years off?

        • http://twitter.com/tsjc68 tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Ridiculous Upside

          I was even thinking a super package including Ajax for Sizemore until prognosis or (rumored) elbow surgery.

          Cleveland is not giving us Sizemore for anything less than Joba AND Montero. And even that’s probably not enough.

  • Bo

    Most of the credit should go to the new 1b. He has made a huge difference on the def side.

    • http://eemack.blogspot.com Jackson

      They actually threw out an interesting theory on baseball tonight last night (shockingly enough) that because Teixeira has such better range to his right it allows Cano and in turn Jeter to position themselves differently and reach more balls. I have no idea if this theory is valid in any way, but it was interesting.

      • BklynJT

        I said the same thing three weeks ago regarding Cano’s increased defensive UZR rating this year, as opposed to last year with Giambi at 1b. Of course that was shot down and people jump to the fact that Cano’s poor defensive last year was based on the fact that he was bringing his offensive woes on to the field…. sorry but defense does not slump, and a hitting slump should not drastically affect your defensive play.

        • http://mantisfists.files.wordpress.com/2008/10/julius-carry-aka-shonuff.jpg The Honorable Congressman Mondesi

          “Of course that was shot down and people jump to the fact that Cano’s poor defensive last year was based on the fact that he was bringing his offensive woes on to the field…”

          I’m always amazed at how sensitive people are when they’re disagreed with.

          “sorry but defense does not slump, and a hitting slump should not drastically affect your defensive play.”

          Says you. I say a player can slump defensively. How can you say a player can’t go through a bad defensive stretch? That’s ridiculous, of course they can. And of course a player’s offensive struggles can affect his defensive play. These guys are people, they deal with the mental/emotional side of the game. I think there’s probably a bit of truth in the Tex helping Cano’s range thing, but that doesn’t mean Cano didn’t go through a defensive slump last year and it also doesn’t mean Cano’s poor defensive play last year was caused by Giambi.

          • kimonizer

            Remember A-Rod’s stretch with five or six errors in a few games a while back. I think you can get in your head so much about everything that it can affect your positioning and performance on the defensive side of the ball.

    • Dave M

      One of the channels, MLB Network or ESPN, showed how Tex has enabled the Yanks to play Cano a little more up the middle, because of Tex’s range.

    • whozat

      This in no way explains why Jeter is getting to more balls at SS.

      • BklynJT

        Has anyone noticed if Jeters has been playing back more in the field as opposed to previous years?

  • Carl

    Having Tex is huge for our defense. He grabs just about anything out of the dirt. Having Pena to allow Jeter to DH is also nice.

  • Rob in CT

    SG has a post up at RLYW on this as well, using Zone Rating. It tells a very similar story: overall they’re averageish, and it really is a team-wide thing in that there are no particular standouts for good or ill.

  • ChrisS

    Having an OF that can get to balls in the gap versus having them drop in for doubles certainly helps team D.

    That, and at home, most of the former groundballs up the middle pasta-diving-jeter are now home runs.

  • GG

    The errorless streak should be named “The streak that Tex built”

    • http://twitter.com/tsjc68 tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Ridiculous Upside

      I think we’re all falling victim to the confirmation bias here pretty quickly.

      Is Tex a better fielder than Giambi? No doubt. Does Tex at 1B prevent our LF, CF, RF, 3B, SS, 2B, P, and C from dropping the ball and committing an error on a play where no throw is made to first base? No.

      Having Gardner-Melky-Swisher outfields is contributing mightily to this errorless streak. Robinson Cano not taking his struggles at the plate to the field is contributing mightily to this errorless streak. Derek Jeter having two fully functioning wrists is contributing mightily to this errorless streak.

      Tex at 1B is good, but let’s not make him out to be some sort of flawless Melvin Croussett capable of making others actually play better independently.

      • BklynJT

        Cano was hitting .307 for the second half of the season last year. Let’s stop spreading the egregious rumor that Cano’s “hitting struggles” affected his defensive play last year!!!

      • GG

        Your absolutely correct, Tex has no impact on the outfield defense, but is he not the single biggest contributor to the streak?