Please click here for the full introduction/primer to this series.

The Semien Report is an experimental effort to provide advanced fielding splits. Every week, I’m going to pull UZR, DRS, and DEF from Fangraphs for each fielder with at least 10 IP at each position on the season. From there, I’ll compare those statistics to the previous week, and in time their numbers from four weeks prior, in an effort to find out who seems to be changing their course, defensively. There are, of course, some caveats:

  • I’m not going to bother with pitcher and catcher. Pitcher because it’s already a small sample size I don’t want to parse anymore, and catcher just isn’t evaluated very well by these statistics.
  • Advanced fielding metrics take a long time to start to mean anything, so take this with a whole salt lick. It’s very likely that any changes seen for the first few months are just noise, but it’s possible there’s something meaningful there.
  • Because I’m breaking down by position, I’ll miss out on utility guys or multi-position wonders. I’m not sure if there’s a great way around this.

Here in week 4, I found out that FanGraphs (bless them) occasionally will update their UZR numbers on Wednesday instead of Tuesday, hence the delay this week.  I feel relatively confident that I’m the only person in the world that cares about this delay, which makes for an interesting dynamic.  I apologize again to all FanGraphs writers I bugged to get this info, and a quick thank you to David Appleman for explaining the schedule to me.  Next week I should be able to provide my first run of 4 week deltas, so stay tuned if you’re into that sort of thing.  If you’d like to view the data for yourself, please click here.  This data was pulled from Fangraphs between Noon and 1 PM PDT on Wednesday, 5/4.

Shortstop

The Outliers:

Brandon Crawford has surged his way into the top spot in every metric on the sheet for shortstops. His 7 DRS and 5.6 UZR are tops in the league, while Andrelton Simmons continues to be the Best Man at the wedding. An ugly week unfortunately had the reverse effect for former rookie of the year Carlos Correa, who now sits at the bottom of the UZR and DRS leaderboards, at -4.6 and -6 respectively.

Best Week Ever:

Crawford’s great week was captured in the numbers, as his +3 was tied for best in DRS alongside Oriole J.J. Hardy. This may be Hardy’s swan song on this report as an injury will shelve him for four weeks as Manny Machado has taken his spot. His 2.2 UZR gains on the week are a nice memorial before the coming revolution.

Worst Week Ever:

Asdrubal Cabrera had a regrettable week, losing 3 DRS to put him down to -5 on the year. Jonathan Villar also has his coin up after dropping 2.3 UZR to ruin his otherwise unimpressive numbers.

Semien Special:

It wasn’t a great week for my boy. He lost points in all categories, and while he’s still hovering around breakeven, he’s now on the wrong side of that line.

Manny the Planny:

As mentioned, Manny Machado will be the Orioles’ fulltime shortstop for the foreseeable future. His first week isn’t anything special; DRS thinks he’s got room to grow, but UZR liked what it saw.

Center field

The Outliers:

I picked on Mallex Smith last week for his crazy name, but he’s looking to make himself a mainstay in this report. He now is in sole possession of the DRS crown at +6. Last week’s DRS leader, Kevin Pillar, surged in UZR this week all the way up to 5.8, which is nearly two points higher than anyone else. Tyler Naquin‘s freefall continues from the previous week while I’m here, as his -6 DRS is two points worse than the next-worst competitor. Jackie Bradley Jr. may be hitting a ton of triples, but he’s apparently giving up a ton too. His -5 UZR is at the bottom of the pit.

Best Week Ever:

Mallex Smith, unsurprisingly, saved the most defensive runs for his position at +3. The Braves rookie looked very impressive. On the flip side, it was Kevin Pillar‘s +3.1 that takes the UZR crown, which would be an impressive total for a season, much less a week.

Worst Week Ever:

JBJ can’t be pleased with what he did this week. He was at least 3 points in debt to the banks of DRS and UZR on the week, making him the worst this week by every metric.

Running Afowler:

Last week’s UZR darling, Dexter Fowler, crashed and burned a bit this week and put his numbers much more towards the middle of the pack on the year. Hopefully the Cubs center fielder can bounce back.

Second Base

The Outliers:

Ian Kinsler may not have done anything special this week, but in doing so he retains the top spot in DRS at +4, despite not impressing UZR. Like a good wine, Chase Utley‘s UZR apparently continues to improve with time, as he is sitting pretty with 2.2 UZR, which is the best from the keystone. On the other side, Brett Lawrie‘s DRS is a disastrous -6, giving him a two point gap separating him from not being mentioned next week. -0.2 points of UZR saves him from being definitively the worst in the league, as Jean Segura holds the worst spot at -2.4. His impressive DRS showing last week may have been a fluke.

Best Week Ever:

Postseason hero Daniel Murphy had a crazy week by DRS, gaining a massive +5 by the numbers. In doing so he reversed his trend, and he now looks to be a slightly above-average defender. His +1.6 UZR on the week is also the best such mark.

Worst Week Ever:

Brett Lawrie doubled down on my skepticism from last week. His -4 DRS on the week is easily the worst such score. Omar Infante lost 2.5 points of UZR last week, but as mentioned in the previous report, he’s falling from the top and now sits close to zero on the season. Enjoy the fall, near-All-Star.

Best Weeks Ever:

Jemile Weeks was once thought to be a franchise second baseman, and he’s showing some of that promise now. He’s played in just 13 games, but owns impressive marks across the board after a very strong week. I’m rooting for the former Oakland Athletic to keep it up.

Third Base

The Outliers:

Nolan Arenado refuses to share his crown with any veterans. Despite being tied last week, his 7 DRS on the year are the only such score at the hot corner. His +4.6 UZR score is also the best in the league, as he easily looks like the man-to-beat at his position this year. David Wright, oh how you have fallen. His -8 DRS is the worst score of anyone at any position, and his -5.1 UZR is the worst of any infielder in the league. I liked him a lot better when he was awesome.

Best Week Ever:

The Giants Matt Duffy may still be struggling with his bat, but he’s really turning around his defense. He put up 3 DRS this week and now sits at a more-than-healthy +5 on the season. Meanwhile, Tommy La Stella gained himself 3 UZR on the week to make himself look league-average, which is just fine by the Cubs.

Worst Week Ever:

Evan Longoria‘s demise hasn’t been well documented, but he’s not exactly flying under the radar this week. His -3 DRS was tied for last with Eugenio Suarez of the Reds. Unfortunately Suarez can’t claim apathy from UZR like Longoria can, as his -4.4 UZR score on the week is impressively horrid. Nobody in the league can claim that bad a week by the metric.

Shawshank Redemption:

Travis Shaw was highlighted for a poor performance last week, but he really turned it around this week. Every metric likes him, and he’s looking much more respectable on the year after a nice little showing.

Right Field

The Outliers:

I should just call this the Adam Eaton section. His stranglehold on the rest of the league’s leaderboards continues, as his chokeslam looked Undertaker-esque this week. He has an unfathomable 13 DRS on the season with a 10.9 UZR. Both of those marks blow the rest of the league away. His 9.8 DEF score is also easily the best score, making him the best defender in Baseball so far. What’s probably helping his insane score, though, is the plethora of swamp monsters at the position elsewhere. Four different right fielders own a -6 score on the year, with Jay Bruce particularly mired in the muck with a -6.3 UZR. He’s appeared in this slot every week so far.

Best Week Ever:

It’s Adam Eaton, guys, He’s the best. At least this week he only won one category; his 5 DRS gained were unmatched. On the other hand, we do have a great week in UZR from Rangers rookie Nomar Mazara. Mazara’s 3.8 UZR is an elite week, and puts him at what would be a very impressive score if he weren’t dwarfed by Eaton.

Worst Week Ever:

Tiger J.D. Martinez had a rough go of it with -4 DRS. He plummets down to join Bruce, among others, in the -6 club on the year. Giant Hunter Pence‘s age and awkward routes may be combining to doom him, finally. He lost 2.9 points of UZR to put him at -4.9 on the season. If it weren’t for Bruce, we might all be talking about how bad Pence has been this year.

Advanced Divisive Metrics:

Right Field metrics don’t always agree on elite status. One one hand we have Steven Piscotty sitting at 6 DRS and 0.3 UZR on the season. We also have Gregory Polanco, who owns 7.2 UZR on the season but just one DRS. Stop fighting, children.

Left Field

The Outliers:

Colby Rasmus is still the best by DRS, but he must share his crown this week to the surging Starling Marte. They both own 5 DRS scores, but UZR darling Marte’s 3.8 makes him the best left fielder overall. He’s looked very impressive this season. Gerardo Parra makes his first showing, though not where the Rockies would like to see him. He’s the only -6 in left. Not everything is new this week, though, as Joey Rickard continues to be given failing grades by UZR, as he now sits at -5.8 on the season.

Best Week Ever:

Michael Conforto and Alex Gordon each earned themselves 3 DRS on the week. Both of them moved their stock from “meh” to “nice” on the season, and hope to retain their status as defensively strong left fielders. Gordon also shares the UZR title for the week with Ian Desmond, both gaining 1.8. Desmond, a converted shortstop, may prove to be a nice gamble for the Rangers.

Worst Week Ever:

Parra was pretty bad this week at -3, but so was Carl Crawford, who had the same score. They were both dwarfed on the week in UZR, though, by Rafael Ortega. You may remember Ortega from having the best UZR score last week at +2.5. He gave nearly all of that back this week, reminding us all to not take any of this as gospel yet.

Duv-man, Oh Yeah:

Adam Duvall was mostly a first baseman with the Giants before he went to the Reds in the Mike Leake deal. He’s had a nice little start to the year, and a big reason why is his defense. He owns impressive scores in all three metrics, and the Reds are hoping he can stick as a nice piece for the future while rebuilding.

First Base

The Outliers:

It’s a bit hard to stand out at first base, as a four-way tie for first with just 2 DRS on the season would indicate. I’ll give some time in the sun to Anthony Rizzo though who owns the second highest UZR score in addition to being among said quartet. Surprisingly, the man above him in UZR is Miguel Cabrera. If Cabrera can stick as a plus defender at first, that’s gravy for the Tigers. Justin Smoak has separated himself from the rest of the vultures with a -3 DRS score, while Eric Hosmer retains his status as the worst UZR first baseman with a -2.6 score.

Best Week Ever:

Mark Teixeira earned himself 2 DRS on the week to make himself the second member of the +2 club on the season along with Rizzo. It’s the former Triple Crown winner though, Cabrera, with his +1.6 UZR on the week, who holds the best week by zone rating.

Worst Week Ever:

The Smoak Monster is as scary as he sounds. His -3 DRS on the week is a breath of rotten air amongst the others. It’s Jose Abreu, though, who may be even worse. He lost 1.3 points of UZR on the season (as did Brandon Belt) to complement two points lost of DRS. These three guys seem to form a trifecta of poor performance at the position.

A Reputation Undeserved?

Adrian Gonzalez has always been known to stick it at first, but he’s been the second-worst in UZR so far this year with -1.7. It’s probably noise, but it could also mean that he may have finally lost a step on his defensive game.

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