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.
In week 6, we’re starting to see some neat per-month data. I’ve begun recoloring my spreadsheet to reflect scales per-column; red is bad, green is good, white is neutral. The more green you see on somebody’s row, the better they are, etc. With this change, I’m also going to begin cutting down on the per-position breakdowns in favor of just highlighting players worth mentioning. If you’d like to view the data for yourself, please click here. Any sorting data from previous weeks is still available, and you should be able to glean for yourself who had the best weeks, etc. This data was pulled from Fangraphs between Noon PDT and 11 PM PDT on Thursday, 5/18/16 (busy day!)
For shortstops, we have a very interesting 1-2 in Brandon Crawford and Corey Seager. Both had rather strong weeks, and paint an interesting debate, being rivals and all. For the moment, Crawford leads the world for shortstops, but other than some skepticism from DRS, Seager looks to be as advertised as a rookie. They’re #1 and #2 in DEF for the position, and it’s not close. Carlos Correa finally had a good week, though it’s only DRS that would strongly agree with me. He’s still in the pits, but he is at least possibly on the up-and-up. Unequivocally, the worst week was by Alexei Ramirez for shortstops, though. He was looking halfway decent this year, but the last seven days have thrown him back closer to zero.
In center, Kevin Pillar is blowing everyone away in DEF, despite a bad week in DRS. His closest competitor, Mallex Smith, had a relatively unassuming week, which doesn’t help him in the race to the top. Chris Owings has a great DRS rating, but then again so does Randal Grichuk, and UZR really hates him. Meanwhile, Tyler Naquin and Denard Span sure are bad. Span actually gained a point in DRS, but otherwise it’s an Okkervil River of Red.
Over at the keystone, Dustin Pedroia still sits atop his throne of feistiness. Jason Kipnis also has thrust himself into the conversation of best second baseman with a huge week, which answered a lot of questions about a DRS metric which used to hate him. He’s #1 in DEF at the position, which says something. Kelly Johnson is also a symbol of the Braves’ incompetence as the worst defender in his tab. The stats don’t really know what to do with Scooter Gennett, who is elite by DRS but below-average otherwise. He had a heck of a week, maybe? Cesar Hernandez of the Phillies is confusing in the opposite way.
At third, Nolan Arenado is way ahead of the field. That’s a whole lot of dark green for the face of the Rockies at this point. The NL West in general looks pretty great, with Matt Duffy and Justin Turner also in the top 4, while Jake Lamb isn’t far behind. The clown car that makes up the Padres’ crew, though, isn’t close. Brett Wallace, in particular, isn’t looking like a third baseman any more than when he was actually a prospect. Poor David Wright is still horrid, though he came close to a decent week. Travis Shaw (we’ll talk again about him later) and Matt Carpenter are the two head scratchers here.
We’ve reached the part of the show where you learn about how amazing Adam Eaton is. His DEF is 10.6, which is especially ridiculous considering second place from right field is 3.6. That means he’s nearly three times defender anyone else is. As usual, there are some serious disappointments in this category, too. Jay Bruce and Domingo Santana are probably the worst, with Santana having the worst week of the bunch. Mookie Betts is worth noting as having a crazy week, thrusting himself into top five status. Stephen Piscotty is an anomaly; 8 DRS but sub-zero scores elsewhere. His counterpart is Gregory Polanco, whom UZR and DEF love but DRS just shrugs at.
In left, Kike Hernandez is a diamond in the rough. The Dodgers are having themselves a nice little week, and Hernandez providing such elite defense in left makes for good sleep. Adam Duvall also continues to acquit himself well. Joey Rickard is still the nut low in this hand, with an apocalyptic river of blood running his stat line. Ryan Braun looks just as bad by DEF, but DRS continues to raise his banner. The NL West and the NL Central make up six of the top eight, with Melvin Upton Jr. in particular owning the DRS crown. If you’re looking for a weird story here, check out Desmond Jennings or Brock Holt. They’re rather divisive, even among otherwise friendly statistics.
Miguel Cabrera went right back to first base after interleague play ended, and he is probably the best first baseman of the bunch. That said, Travis Shaw and Paul Goldschmidt might also be the best depending on which metric you’d like to cherrypick. First base defense is weird. Joe Mauer had an excellent week and has pretty nice numbers on the year now, which is nice to see. Eric Hosmer may know when to challenge a first baseman’s arm, but maybe defenses should start challenging his arm, as he’s the bottom of the barrel. Mike Napoli and C.J. Cron are also pretty miserable, proving once again, that the Angels are a curse upon the league.
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