Apr
24

Pitching problem? Don’t let the fielders off that easily

By

While the Yankees’ offense has gotten off to a roaring start, the starting pitching has yet to catch up. They’re allowing far too many hits to drop in, and then they’re allowing home runs on top of those hits. The result is an ERA, 5.72, that ranks third-worst in the majors. Their peripherals look a bit better, thanks to the third highest strikeout rate and a bottom-third walk rate, but they’re still getting plenty of runs dropped on them. Yet it might not be all their fault.

One pitching aspect that stands out is the starters’ BABIP. At .355 its not only worst in the league, but worst by more than 20 points. As I noted in this morning’s post on Freddy Garcia, the BABIP issue is not simply a matter of pure luck. There are other factors that play into this. While poor command is the likely culprit in Garcia’s high BABIP, that’s not necessarily true for the staff as a whole. In fact, part of that huge BABIP number isn’t the pitchers at all.

A quick look at Baseball Prospectus’s team defensive efficiency bears this out in a different way. The Yankees’ fielders in general fare worst in the majors in converting balls in play into outs. When BP adjusts for park effects and converts defensive efficiency into runs, the Yankees have allowed a half run more on defense than the next worst team. They are nearly 14 runs behind league-leading Toronto.

As you might imagine by this point, the infield plays a large role in in this defensive inadequacy. To wit, on ground balls Yankees pitchers have allowed a .309 BABIP against an AL average of .225. That’s not to say they’re any great shakes against fly balls. Against those they have a .196 BABIP vs. the league average of .136. The defensive woes stretch across the entire field. And it’s killing the pitching staff.

No, poor fielding isn’t the only culprit in these inflated BABIP numbers. As with Freddy, command in general is an issue. We saw CC Sabathia with little command of his fastball in his first two outings. Phil Hughes has left many hittable pitches right over the plate. Hiroki Kuroda struggled with his command in his last start against Minnesota. And there’s Garcia himself, of course. So some of the high BABIP is due to the pitchers leaving hittable pitches over the plate. After all, the bullpen BABIP is much lower, at .307, but that’s still well above league average.

(Other evidence for poor defense killing the Yankees includes a league-worst UZR and a fourth-worst DRS.)

The pitching staff has been rightly criticized through the season’s first month. The starters simply haven’t put it together yet. Unfortunately, their fielders are doing them no favors. Both the infielders and the outfielders are not converting balls in play into outs at an acceptable rate. Getting Brett Gardner back will help the outfield, but in the infield it’s tough to fathom a huge improvement. That could be something to watch as the staff regains its form. Can they overcome these fielding inadequacies?

NOTE: Say what you will about Nunez; I expect plenty of “infield defense will improve if they don’t play Nunez” comments. But the Yankees’ problem isn’t necessarily errors. In fact, according to UZR they’re actually in the positive in terms of errors. It’s in the range department that they’re getting killed.

Categories : Defense

114 Comments»

  1. Rich M says:

    Does range factor in all the shifting the infield has been doing in the early going?

  2. Hunz says:

    I’d say infield defense will improve if they don’t play Nunez.

    • Cris Pengiucci says:

      Not in terms of any range stats. Nunez has better range than Jeter. Not sure how he compares to ARod at 3rd. While his errors hurt, his range is good and as the article states, errors are not the issue.

      • Voice of Reason says:

        well errors will be an issue if the extra of errors Nunez makes significantly exceeds the extra grounders he reaches.

        • Ted Nelson says:

          Nunez has made 2 errors and has a positive FLD… a positive UZR at 3 positions.

          • jsbrendog says:

            ive seen him make mistakes that resulted in people not getting out at least 4 times so far this season. they were not official errors but are errors nonetheless because someone either advanced, or did not get out as they should have.

            proble with errors is they are up to the whimsy of the “official scorer”

            so yes, i seen it with my own eyes

            • Ted Nelson says:

              The same can be said for every player. Every player on a team deals with the same scorers.

              Unless you keep notes on every player, there’s no reason to cherry pick a couple of examples for one guy.

          • Voice of Reason says:

            I didn’t say his defense has been bad this season, I was explaining (as much as I butchered the wording of that reply) why it’s wrong to say that as long as his range is better his errors aren’t important.

            Also, I don’t think it needs to be pointed out that 7 games worth of UZR is a ridiculous means of judging Nunez’s defense. His career numbers are beyond hideous, largely because of errors.

            • Ted Nelson says:

              The point you responded to was that he’s not committing that many errors. The Yankees problem has been range more than errors.

              Entirely because of errors. His “career” is not even a whole season, though.

              • Voice of Reason says:

                The Yankees’ problem, allegedly, has been defense. Whether the defense costs teams runs by way of a lack of range or by making errors is immaterial.

                And obviously his career has been brief. Does that make citing 7 games of UZR less ridiculous somehow? And fwiw, considering his playing time, 2 errors is plenty.

                • Ted Nelson says:

                  Dude… Nunez is not making that many errors. How many ways can I explain that to you? Nunez is not costing them that many baserunners due to errors, because he’s not making that many.

                  “And obviously his career has been brief. Does that make citing 7 games of UZR less ridiculous somehow?”

                  The article describes what’s happened so far this season… so using his stats over that sample is in no way ridiculous.

                  • Ted Nelson says:

                    2 errors can only directly result in 2 of the guys who got on to increase that BABIP.

                  • Voice of Reason says:

                    You’re a piece of work Ted. All I said was that the range over errors argument was faulty, that 7 games of UZR data is probably not a wise citation, and that 2 errors in 7 games is kind of a lot – all of which are self-evidently true. I didn’t say Nunez’s errors are destroying the Yankees’ defense or anything close to what you seem to be responding to.

                    • Ted Nelson says:

                      It’s not faulty, though, because it’s not the theoretical argument you’re making it into. It’s an argument specifically about what has ailed the Yankees defense the last 16, or whatever, games. I’m trying to explain to you what the argument is.

                      All I’m saying is that you’re making points that aren’t relevant to the points you’re responding to.

                    • Voice of Reason says:

                      this whole thread followed from Hunz’s statement that the infield defense will improve if they don’t play Nunez. That is clearly forward-looking. Cris then said that they won’t improve in terms of range, and that errors are not the issue (not were not, but are not), and in doing so seemingly ignored the possibility that Nunez’s tendency to make errors could be more damaging than his improved range would be helpful. Somehow, I doubt he meant that because the Yankees have made relatively few errors, that the Yankees should not go back in time and remove Nunez from the defensive lineup over the last three weeks. I then responded specifically to that statement, and not to one that made any specific claim about Nunez’s defensive contributions thus far in 2012.

                      I don’t need the argument explained to me. You’re the one making irrelevant points.

                    • Ted Nelson says:

                      Irove compared to what?

                      The baseline is the first 16 games. You do seem to need this explained

    • LI Kevin says:

      Reading fail.

  3. David Ortizs Dealer says:

    It’s no secret the left side is old, but given the offense were getting so far I’ll take the trade off, and I wouldn’t want the pitchers to try to induce ground balls to the right and bring the short porch into play. I think once starters command improves this wont be so bad, not much even a young 3B can do about a frozen rope down the line.

  4. Jeremy Herniman says:

    I would say the opposite. Nunez has better range and gets to more balls than Jeter/ARod. If Nunez could just get his throwing under control. He can flat out hit as well. I see Nunez as the Yankees shortstop of the future. I hope he gets 350 ABs, at least.

  5. AJavierkei Pavagawnett says:

    I don’t agree with the premise of this post.

    First, BABIP is the result not just of pitching/defensive skill, but also luck or lack thereof.

    A high BABIP (starters .355) will “regress,” even if the Yankees are mediocre defensively.

    Also using UZR for 20 games? I’m pretty sure sample size is inadequate.

    In short, yes the Yankees are giving up a lot of runs. But given that we are only a few games into the season it is impossible to tease out exactly what role bad pitching, bad fielding, and bad luck are playing.

    That high BABIP suggests poor defense especially in a small sample size is another sabermetric fallacy.

    • Fin says:

      I agree with 100%. I have watched most of the Yankee games and they arent giving up runs becasue of bad luck or bad defense. They are giving up runs becasue of bad pitching.

    • Ted Nelson says:

      What are you talking about? You’re using sabermetrics to show a point, then bashing it. You might want to check up on what statistics are.

      • AJavierkei Pavagawnett says:

        Thanks, Ted. I’ll check up on what statistics are.

        • Ted Nelson says:

          What is your point in that comment? You’re misreading the article and misrepresenting what sabermetrics is.

          • Plank says:

            How do you get that from his comment?

            I await your personal insult with bated breath.

            • Ted Nelson says:

              If I wanted to talk to you, I would address my comment to you. Mind your own damn business.

              • Plank says:

                I didn’t realize this blog was by invite only with you as the gatekeeper.

                You’re making a ridiculous assertion and I’m asking you to back it up. I guess you can’t.

                • Ted Nelson says:

                  What ridiculous assertion?

                  • Plank says:

                    That he misread the article and misrepresented what sabermetrics is. I think it’s more likely that you misread what his post said.

                    Either way, I don’t understand your anger.

                    • Ted Nelson says:

                      What anger?

                    • Ted Nelson says:

                      My comments were in no way anger. The only thing causing me to be angry is you. Rather than discuss baseball, you like to get into little scuffles on here.

                    • Plank says:

                      You might want to check up on what statistics are.

                      If I wanted to talk to you, I would address my comment to you. Mind your own damn business.

                      To show you that I am right and you should leave me the hell alone because I have no interest in discussing anything at all with you:

                      That you’re too ignorant to understand what other people are saying is not a good reason to attack their points. Maybe try asking about things you don’t understand rather than arrogantly making an ass out of yourself by assuming.

                      That anger.

                    • Ted Nelson says:

                      It’s words on a page. You are reading tone into it. And, no, none of my words towards AP were angry. Yes, all of my words towards you were. I don’t like you. I would rather not exchange thoughts with you. We have had many back and forths, and I have left none of them smarter than I was before.

              • Ted Nelson says:

                To show you that I am right and you should leave me the hell alone because I have no interest in discussing anything at all with you:

                “You’re misreading the article”

                Joe specifically implies that luck does play a role in BABIP. “As I noted in this morning’s post on Freddy Garcia, the BABIP issue is not simply a matter of pure luck.”

                Joe specifically mentions all three of the factors AP does, and specifically says none of the three is the sole contributor to the high BABIP.

                “misrepresenting what sabermetrics is.”

                “That high BABIP suggests poor defense especially in a small sample size is another sabermetric fallacy.”

                What? I mean… where do I start?
                1. What person who knows anything about statistics as a science relies on small samples?
                2. Sabermetrics holds BABIP to be primarily luck. AP makes this point as if it is novel, and then bashes the people who made the point long before him.

                Now go back to being an idiot somewhere else. I have no patience for your stupidity anymore.

                • Ted Nelson says:

                  Hell, that sabermetrics holds BABIP fluctuations to be luck is part of why FIP is preferred by many sabermetrically inclined over ERA.

                  That you’re too ignorant to understand what other people are saying is not a good reason to attack their points. Maybe try asking about things you don’t understand rather than arrogantly making an ass out of yourself by assuming.

                  • Plank says:

                    Again, he can speak to his own comment, but I read his words to mean that at this point, it’s impossible to tell if the numbers are from good/bad D or luck, though it looks to be a fair bit of bad luck considering how bad the numbers are. That concluding that the team defense or team pitchingis bad based on the BABIP data so far is a fallacy.

                    That was my interpretation of what he said anyway, and I agree.

                    Why is that so objectionable to you?

                    • Ted Nelson says:

                      He can speak for himself, but you’d rather speak for him? Stop.

                    • Plank says:

                      I gave my interpretation of what he meant. I’d love to hear yours.

                    • Ted Nelson says:

                      To “hear” mine, simply read the comments I’ve made. It’s not that hard. I know you’re dumb, but come on.

                    • Plank says:

                      Anger.

                      You are accusing me of not talking baseball but only making personal attacks. I don’t think it’s a stretch to say the exact opposite is happening. I am trying to talk about baseball, all I am getting is rage.

                    • Javierkei Burnigavano says:

                      Sorry I missed the excitement.

                      Re “It’s impossible to tell if the numbers are from good/bad D or luck, though it looks to be a fair bit of bad luck considering how bad the numbers are”

                      Yes, that is exactly what I meant. You can’t tell from a high BIBAP how the defense is performing. The statistic doesn’t tell you that. Given how high the BABIP is, it seems like bad luck is to blame.

                • Plank says:

                  To show you that I am right and you should leave me the hell alone

                  Classic Ted Nelson right there.

                  Joe specifically mentions all three of the factors AP does, and specifically says none of the three is the sole contributor to the high BABIP.

                  So your problem is that he was reiterating and expanded on what the article was about? That certainly is worthy of rage.

                  “That high BABIP suggests poor defense especially in a small sample size is another sabermetric fallacy.”

                  I read that to mean him saying that using SSS BABIP data is the wrong way to use sabermetric numbers, not that he is doing so or that sabermetrics condones doing so. But he can speak for himself on that matter.

                  Now go back to being an idiot somewhere else. I have no patience for your stupidity anymore.

                  There’s the personal attack. Classic Ted.

                  • Ted Nelson says:

                    Classic Plank. Provoke someone online into arguing with you over a comment no addressed to you. Go get some real friends and stop trying to get me to pay attention to you. It’s pathetic.

                    He was not expanding on the point, he specifically said he was disagreeing with the points. Stop moving the goal posts. As I’ve said, I have no interest in discussing anything at all with you. If I must, it will be only personal attacks. There is no value in trying to discuss baseball with you.

                    • Plank says:

                      Again, I didn’t realize I could only comment on RiverAveBlues if I was specifically addressed or if you allow it. If I mis-posted against the rules, I apologize.

                      I wasn’t provoking an angry response from you per se. I was asking you a question about your post. You could have answered rationally or ignored it, or anything you want, but you decided to throw a hissy fit. I could have guessed you would respond with anger, all of your responses are angry all the time. And that’s certainly not a SSS.

                    • Ted Nelson says:

                      My responses to you are angry, because I don’t like you.

                      I responded my telling you I didn’t want to talk to you. You obviously really want to talk to me, though.

                    • Plank says:

                      Ted Nelson is Murray Chass.

      • Plank says:

        Such anger.

    • John says:

      I agree.
      1. small sample size
      2. It’ not clear at all that BABIP is due to pitching or defense and may well be luck. Perhaps the Yankees have been a bit unlucky and are due to a correction.
      3. Jeter and Arod are easy targets on range because of their age. How about Gardner, Granderson and Swisher? Are they that bad?

    • hogsmog says:

      If BABIP is a function of pitching, defensive skill, and luck, then a high BABIP will not necessarily regress if poor pitching and poor defensive skill are involved.
      Just because “stuff that depends on bad luck regresses” doesn’t mean that everything regresses to the same point.

      • Plank says:

        Good point, but to get a BABIP that high would take a historically bad combination of pitching and defense. I don’t think the players that comprise the 2012 Yankees are that bad.

      • Javierkei Burnigavano says:

        Re: “Just because “stuff that depends on bad luck regresses” doesn’t mean that everything regresses to the same point.”

        Absolutely. I agree.

        That said, when you have a BABIP that high over a short period, it screams bad luck. That’s the whole point of BABIP – it tells you if someone is particularly lucky or unlucky.

        Over the course of a few games it’s impossible to tease out statistically the effect that relatively good or bad defense had on runs given up by the Yankees. There simply are not good statistical metrics to be able to do that.

        That the BABIP is so high screams to luckiness on the part of the Yankees’ opponents. For the high BABIP to be significantly due to defense the Yankees would have to be spectacularly, historically bad as Plank points out.

        How the Yankees defense is actually performing and what that contribution is is a question that will take much more of the season to figure out. After the regression takes place maybe we find out the Yankees are better defensively than 2011 or worse than 2011 or the same as 2011.

        While sabermetrics can do some interesting things, they can’t answer certain questions. Like this one.

      • Plank says:

        Everything doesn’t regress to the same point. Everything regresses to its own actual talent level.

  6. Bo Knows says:

    Nunez, and Ibanez have done some horrid things in the field. Are they the only culprits…no, but they are a significant portion of the problem (along with overshifting)

  7. Typical MIT Nerd says:

    Is defensive efficiency well-enough understood to make claims on the team wide stats?

  8. LiterallyFigurative says:

    Before this turns into a “We Hate Nunez” fest, you have to look at the defense as a whole.

    Granderson has taken some interesting routes to get to the ball.
    Swisher is below average defensively.
    Gardner’s absence has been an issue, as Raul and Jones play more. Andruw had that bad game against Minnesota.
    Alex and Tiex have had some balls just elude them that turn into doubles.
    Cano has missed some grounders, even ones against Ortiz in the shift. Not saying it’s a huge issue, but just noticed it.

    So if we are going to ape-shit over Nunez errors, lets also remember the misplays and just missed plays that aren’t errors that cost runs and lead to runners taking extra bases.

    • David Ortizs Dealer says:

      I think Swishers defense is average if not better, I am not going by numbers but in terms of route to the ball, arm, backing up et al, he plays smart. I know this phrase is used alot in terms of Jeter, but you never doubt Swish to make the play that he should, you never worry about a bloop single becoming a trickle down the line triple.

      Also lighter 2012 Swisher seems to cover more ground as well.

    • Jim Is Bored says:

      Swisher’s UZR over 7000 innings is ~10. He’s about the definition of average, definitely not below average.

      And I don’t see anyone going apeshit over Nunez, at least in this thread.

  9. Haven’t they also been getting poor results when employing the shift? That would enter into this too, no?

  10. Bonnie Parker says:

    Jeter is playing so well right now that you can’t mess with him. With a day off Sunday and another one Thursday he shouldn’t be DHing anytime soon. Alex will need to DH more and Chavez should be in the field, not Nunez. That will improve the infield defense with Gardner’s return improving the outfield defense.

  11. jsbrendog says:

    doooooomed?

  12. Robinson Tilapia says:

    So you mean we can’t just blame this all on keeping Freddy Garcia instead of Bartolo Colon?

    Joe “The Narrative Buster” Pawlikowski rides again.

  13. Voice of Reason says:

    I don’t like that people feel obligated to say something about “command” whenever a pitcher’s BABIP is obviously flukishly high. It goes without saying that no starter should be expected to sustain a .355 BABIP, let alone an entire staff, no matter how bad the defense behind them is. There is absolutely no chance of that continuing, and that’s something that really should have been said in Joe’s post. Yankee starters have combined to pitch 89 innings, that’s really not a representative sample.

    • Ted Nelson says:

      Do you think the Yankees starters have had command? It wasn’t just thrown out there, he pointed to specific innings where CC lacked command. I don’t see this as being “obligatory,” I see it as pointing out a trend of subpar command.

      • Voice of Reason says:

        Command is a pretty nebulous phrase, and I get the distinct impression that it is being used as a means of explaining results that don’t necessarily demand much explaining, rather than a problem that has been identified independent of results. Have Yankee starters lacked command as a whole relative to what we’d expect? Possibly. Would that in turn explain their less-than-ideal batted ball results? Probably in part. Regardless, a .355 BABIP in 89 innings is nothing other than a fluke and should be acknowledged as such.

        • Ted Nelson says:

          Throwing the ball where you want it to go isn’t all that nebulous. Command can be observed.

          The article is descriptive of what’s happened this season, not necessarily predictive of what’s going to happen going forward.

          He’s pointed to specific outings, specific pitches, leaving pitches over the plate… those read to me like specific problems that were identified.

  14. Voice of Reason says:

    I don’t like that people feel obligated to say something about “command” whenever a pitcher’s BABIP is obviously flukishly high. It goes without saying that no starter should be expected to sustain a .355 BABIP, let alone an entire staff, no matter how bad the defense behind them is. There is absolutely no chance of that continuing, and that’s something that really should have been said in Joe’s post.

  15. viridiana says:

    Just some wholly unscientific input based on what I’ve seen in seven or eight televised yankee games. Seems to me that beginning with first series in Tampa, Yanks have had trouble getting ball past infielders– rival defenses for whatever reason seemed uncannily well positioned. On the other hand, balls were constantly eluding Yankee fielders– really seemed like positioning was as much of a factor as range. Can’t say how much luck/randomness played in. My takeaway: Yanks infield defense may be subpar. But their scouting and positioning may also be lagging.

    • LarryM.,Fl. says:

      I went to the second game of the season at Tampa. Kiroda had nothing but as you mentioned the Girardi shifts were eluded with uncanny efficiency. Some of those shifts were as extreme as they looked. Shifts work when pitchers can pitch to spots as the Rays pitchers exhibited.

      • LK says:

        I just don’t really buy this. When a team decides to shift against a particular hitter, it is because that hitter’s batter balls show an extreme pattern in ALL situations – that is, against all pitchers, all pitch types, and all pitch locations. You don’t shift against a hitter because you intend to pitch him specifically to get him to hit into the shift; you shift against him because you don’t think he’s capable of beating the shift, no matter how he’s pitched.

  16. Ray says:

    Can someone do a BABIP comparison between the starters and the bullpen? It seems to me like almost all of the runs allowed this year have been by the starting pitchers and if the BABIP differs between the starters and the pitchers in the pen, then that would basically invalidate anything regarding the effect of the defense.

    • CP says:

      Starters: .355
      Relievers: .307
      Overall: .339

    • Jim Is Bored says:

      “if the BABIP differs between the starters and the pitchers in the pen, then that would basically invalidate anything regarding the effect of the defense.”

      Not necessarily, luck still plays a factor, especially since the relievers have pitched fewer innings than the starters. The sample size here is miniscule.

      But it does show just how damn good the pen has been since their BABIP is still higher than the league average.

  17. LarryM.,Fl. says:

    I don’t believe their is a fan of the Yankees on this blog who doesn’t believe the Yanks will have 92-97 wins by the end of the year. With the 6/7 starters presently and the makeup of the remainder of the 25 man roster. Interjecting range into the equation is a factor that to me is so subjective. Arod and Jeter will make the plays that they can get to. We know this and still know the Yanks will win 90+ games. As far as Nunez, I give the kid some slack. He’ll make his errors. This goes with the territory of playing 3 infield positions. Now, Girardi is looking to move him to CF or the corners.

    My main concern about this team is health and rest for all players over the course of the season. This is the factor that will keep us from making the playoffs. Not the range which seems to be fine when Mariano pitches. They are 10-6 with poor starting pitching and lousy range. This according to the stats.

    • Jim Is Bored says:

      “Not the range which seems to be fine when Mariano pitches.”

      What does that have to do with anything? Of course range seems better when all you get is weak ground balls and broken bat flares. MY range would look great if I were playing behind Mariano.

      And Nunez made his errors even in the minors when he wasn’t playing 3 positions. He’s wild, that’s all there is to it.

      I have no idea what your point is.

  18. What the Kruk? says:

    “To wit, on ground balls Yankees pitchers have allowed a .309 BABIP against an AL average of .225.”

    :shock:

    That’s way too many baserunners who should’ve been wiped out.

  19. Ted Nelson says:

    Just last night the last two runs allowed were scores as a result of balls that just got by A-Rod and Tex. Whether you want to call that bad luck or bad defense, those were two balls they could have gotten and didn’t that resulted in runs.

    • Jim Is Bored says:

      Back luck, bad defense, or bad managing, if you assume that positioning decisions come from the dugout.

    • Boomer's Boy says:

      I saw 2 balls hit over the fence. Must be bad luck and bad defense as well….

      • G says:

        Considering the difference between a fly ball and a homer is 1/8th of an inch (thank you 61*), yes a sudden, sharp jump in HR/9 can be a result of bad luck.

        For the record, the Rangers only hit one homer off of us. Unless your counting A-Rod’s which wouldn’t make sense in this context.

        • Boomer's Boy says:

          Counting Balls hit in General. Yes the A Bomb, shouldn’t of been included. This “stat” is a joke. I guess a bunt base hit would count negatively as well.

      • Ted Nelson says:

        Did you watch the game? The HR came in the 6th. I specifically said the last two runs. Snyder barely got one by A-Rod’s glove and then Gentry’s 2 RBI double was a ball Tex easily could have gotten.

  20. Boomer's Boy says:

    This article is a joke. They have numbers for everything these days. I’d rather watch the games and judge for myself, which I have. The PITCHING mainly Hughes and Garcia is killing them. The one bounce rocket through the hole counts as a ground ball as much as a 15 hopper to the pitcher. I can tell you that the BABIP for day games @ 1:15 is .000. The defense and pitching look magnificent with that stat.

  21. DJ4K says:

    When will we find out if Pineda is Pinada?

    But to stay on topic…CC fielded well last night. Give the man some credit.

  22. Rob in CT says:

    The Yankees are not a terrible defensive team. Over the course of the year, their DER and other such stats will rise.

    BABIP is certainly something fielders influence. But so do 85-mph cookies over the heart of the plate resulting in screaming line drives.

    Jeter has poor range, we know this. ARod usually is solid if unspectacular over at 3B. Cano has slightly below-average range. Tex is good at 1B. Nunez is rangey (but highly error prone). Martin is above-average, and the Yankees certainly think Stewart is a good defender.

    Swish is average to slightly above-average in RF. Granderson is apparently a hair below average. Gardner is ridiculously good, but Jones/Ibanez are bad.

    All in all, that should add up to a roughly average defensive team.

    Though in 2011, they were 10th in the AL with a .703 DER, and it’s worse when you consider the top team (Tampa) was at .735 and the worst team (Minny) was at .693. That’s solidly below average for NYY.

    UZR has the 2011 Yankees 5th in the AL, with an above-average number (+23.2 UZR). Tampa also rates out well again, but the Twinkies come out dead average in contrast to being dead last in DER.

    Long story short, I think the Yankees are an average defensive team and by the end of the year (barring more injuries to their good defensive players) most of the defensive metrics available will bear that out.

    • G says:

      How is Andruw’s defense bad? He’s not getting 30 UZR year in and year out like he used to, but he’s still slightly positive every year. 6.0 from 2009 to 2011

    • Plank says:

      You think Cano has below average range? I don’t. He routinely makes plays on grounders on the SS side of 2B as well as manning his own position.

  23. michael says:

    Much of the increased run allowance by yankees pitching is tied to high HR rates (1.25HR/9IP). There is a massive disparity between FIP and xFIP (which happens to be among the league’s best) for the Yankees staff. This is why xFIP is a great metric, particularly with smaller sample sizes. Yankees’ FIP will decrease and mimic xFIP after a greater part of the season is played and HR rates are less noise-y.

  24. jg233 says:

    Infield range has nothing to do with Hughes and Garcia giving up line drives and fly balls all over the yard. The starters have just been flat out too easy to hit.

  25. marechal says:

    It would be interesting to look at what their estimated BABIP should be given the batted ball profile. Anyone?

    • Plank says:

      Any BABIP study at this point in the season (including this one) is close to meaningless. The strongest conclusion that can be drawn at this point is if a new level of play seems to be emerging, it would be worth monitoring going forward.

      That said, I don’t know how that would be done. Is there a way to find ‘team batted balls against’ data?

      • Plank says:

        Just to expand on why it’s meaningless and not a direct response to you, marechal, batted balls in play aren’t all the same. Sometimes it’s a hot shot down the line that no one would be able to get, sometimes it’s a dribbler to SS. Over the course of a season, those inconsistencies even out. Over the course of 16 games, a few dribblers or a few balls that are smokes can sway BABIP data too much to glean anything substantial regarding team defense from them.

        • Ted Nelson says:

          This is exactly why marechal asked about a BABIP estimate for the batted ball profile, genius.

          • Plank says:

            If only I had said something about my post not being a response to Marichal. Oh, wait.

            Just to expand on why it’s meaningless and not a direct response to you, marechal

            There it is. Right in the front. The very first thing I said.

            The point remains, though, that even if the Yankees actual vs. theoretical BABIP based on batted balls was found, the number would be meaningless because it is such a SSS.

            • Plank says:

              Besides, I thought you weren’t supposed to comment on this blog unless you are specifically addressed. Or does that only apply to me?

            • Ted Nelson says:

              Saying “I’m not talking to you” does make what you said any less ridiculous. He asked about batted ball profile, you said it’s meaningless (more on that later), and then in another condescending comment proceeded to explain what a batted ball profile is when marechel clearly already knows.

              You don’t seem to understand prescriptive vs descriptive analysis. This piece in descriptive.

              • Plank says:

                So angry.

              • Plank says:

                I thought I made it clear I wasn’t saying it to marechel when I wrote “Just to expand on why it’s meaningless and not a direct response to you, marechal”

                To me that’s pretty clear, but apparently you can’t see it. I also clarified that I wasn’t replying to him in my followup.

                I explained why it’s meaningless because there are certainly people who don’t understand how to put the data into the proper context, yourself included, judging by your “conversations” with Voice of Reason and myself above.

                I thought some people would like to know why it doesn’t make much sense to analyze the numbers yet.

                I don’t want to get into a discussion of prescriptive analysis and descriptive analysis, and certainly not with you. You are the only one bringing it up. But, you could certainly look at the 16 game sample and describe the events that have unfolded so far, but that information would have no value in terms of anything except what happened in the 16 games so far. At that point, you are better off looking at the individual plays and letting them stand on their own merits, though. It would say nothing about the skill level of the team.

                Also, doing so would inevitably lead to people making prognostications for the skill level of the defense and the team going forward. People are already doing that for Jeter’s 16 game sample.

  26. Eddie says:

    With the yankees bats as they are now this team will be in good shape.. well for ever how long it lastS! i have more on this as well as the other top 7 teams in the league! http://baseballpitboss.com/201.....l-23-2012/

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