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 9, we’re seeing two weeks worth of data at once.  When writing this feature, I am at the mercy of when FanGraphs updates their data.  Occasionally there are delays, and my schedule only allows for writing on certain days.  This week, the usual Thursday upload got delayed to Monday for various reasons on Fangraphs’ side, so I decided to just pull this data on the following Thursday and do a 2-week chunk.  I apologize for the missed week.

If you’d like to view the data for yourself, please click here.

The first thing that struck me this week was how well Lorenzo Cain has done. This two week spread saw Cain jump 7 points in DRS and he’s surged into the #2 spot in center field rankings. Kevin Pillar is still a mile ahead of the rest of the field, but it’s interesting to see Cain, generally regarded as an above-average fielder, finally start to see the stats catch up. It’s hard to know whether he had a bad first month or whether this is just an example of the numbers taking some time to normalize, but either way I expect Cain to stay near the top the rest of the year.

His teammate, Eric Hosmer, just continues to plummet down the rankings. He’s the second worst fielder at any position by DEF, and DRS doesn’t think he’s particularly great either. I’d love some input from royals fans about Hos to see whether he’s been really bad this year or if this requires investigation.

While we’re down in the dregs, Brad Miller is a second baseman, guys. He’s not a shortstop. The Rays really need to accept this fact. He’s the worst shortstop in the league by every metric, and DRS absolutely hates him. It was the second worst month of any shortstop. Alexei Ramirez had a worse month, but he remains simply a bad shortstop instead of the worst.

When it comes to good shortstop months, keep an eye on Freddy Galvis and Francisco Lindor. Both of them had really excellent 4-week stretches, and are among the top five shortstops in the league now. They have a ways before they can catch Brandon Crawford, but it’s nice to see these young fellas making progress.

Jason Kipnis has had a really awesome month, too, and now leads second basemen in UZR and DEF. Second Base is a position with a lot of plurality, so he’s not exactly blowing everyone away. DRS actually thinks he’s nothing special, so that may suggest he won’t hold on to the top spot for long. The top spot in DRS is our old friend Dustin Pedroia, and while he had a fringe/below-average week, he comfortably sits at third in my rankings. On the other hand, the normally sure-handed DJ LeMahieu is in the cellar at the keystone. What a strange season.

Third Base is a tale of three names; Adrian Beltre, Nolan Arenado, and Matt Duffy. This trifecta sits at the top of all three metrics as has been the case for most of the season. Of the three, Beltre had the best period since last report, but Duffy has had the best month. Justin Turner also is worth noting, as a +5 DRS month puts him within shouting distance of the rest of the pack. Maikel Franco had just an awful month at the hot corner, losing a whopping 7 points of DRS and 4.5 points of UZR. He’s gone from average to terrible in just four weeks, though Danny Valencia keeps him from being in the conversation for worst.

Adam Eaton bounced back from my last report and still ranks in right field somewhere around “transcendant.” He leads all fielders in DRS and UZR at any position, but playing right instead of center still puts him behind Kevin Pillar for the DEF title. Eaton, at this point, is almost certainly benefiting from a horrible crop at the bottom of the right field rankings. Jay Bruce and J.D. Martinez pace what is a miserable group at the bottom of the rankings. Right Field leads the league with seven different players with -5 DRS or worse; the aforementioned two, plus Carlos Beltran, Miguel Sano, Domingo Santana, Jose Bautista, and Matt Kemp. Maybe Eaton is just really good, but it’s likely these guys are so bad they are propping up Eaton’s ranking a bit. Kemp in particular capped a bad month these last two weeks; he lost more than five points in all three metrics this month.

Left Field is weird. We have three guys with +9 DRS, which is really, really good. Adam Duvall, Starling Marte, and Melvin Upton Jr. all look like elite fielders according to the metric. None of them are anywhere close to the top in DEF, though; Kiké Hernandez still owns that spot. Upton isn’t even break even at DEF. Meanwhile Ryan Braun, a +4 fielder by DRS, is the worst left fielder in the league by UZR and DEF. Weird!

Before I leave, I’ll just talk about Marcus Semien. There are a lot of articles about how bad the A’s defense is, and it has been, but it’s not Semien’s fault. He had a bad month by DRS, but a nice one by DEF and UZR. On the year, DEF and UZR actually quite like him. Way to go Marcus!

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