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Iwamura and Bartlett - Defensive Vacuums or Merely Average?

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Inspired by Eric Seidman's article over at FanGraphs, I decided to break down both Aki's and Bartlett's UZR rates to see what we found out about the specifics of their defense.  We know from past discussions that Barty wasn't quite as range-y last year as he has been in the past, while Aki was solid at second base, but do their specific breakdowns tell us anything interesting?

Here's what we're looking at:

Just for clarification, DPR is double-play rate, RngR measures a player's range, and ErrR measures a player's error rate - all of these are measured in runs above or below average for that position.  For a more technical and probably more accurate description, see here. 



2008 2.4 -1 0.6


Since we only have one year of data to go by for Aki, it's really tough to draw any conclusions at all from this.  However, his numbers at second look very similar to his numbers at third, so one could probably safely assume that Aki is about a league average defender at second.  At least last year, he didn't appear to be overly great or horrible at any aspect of the job, but just solid all around.  Nothing all too interesting here, in other words.


2006 -3.8 14.2 0.4
2007 -0.1 12.1 -3.8
2008 0.0 4.1 -2.2


Ahh, now this is a bit interesting.  So "defensive wizard" Bartlett has only ever been around average at turning the double-play, while actually being ever so slightly below average in terms of his error rate.  This is slightly troubling because it appears his real defensive value has always come in his range, but that dropped dramatically this past year.  Now, we could easily assume, looking back over the past couple years, that 2008 was the outlier and Bartlett is likely to rebound this year.  But then again, the fact that his range has been decreasing each of the past few years and dropped off sharply this past year is a cause for concern...maybe last year wasn't an outlier, but an indication of what's to come.  Was there an injury slowing Bartlett down?  Could he not adjust as well to the Trop?  There are a million and one variables that could possibly explain it, but in short, we're just going to have to wait and see which Bartlett decides to show up this year - the average defender or the human vacuum.

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And just because I thought it was funny, here's the same breakdown for the Yankees' bumbling infield duo...


2005 -2 -18.4 4.8
2006 -0.2 -6.2 0.3
2007 1.1 -17.1 -0.5
2008 -1.6 -3.5 4.7


2005 -2.6 -17.4 -3.3
2006 0 --3.1 -0.2
2007 2.4 10.5 -2.2
2008 -0.8 -5.0 -1.4


Interesting thing to note - if you look at Jeter's RngR and ErrR columns, you'll see the reason why announcers and regular fans sing his defensive praises (an above average error when he gets to a ball, he's good at making the play), but why stat heads deride his defense as atrocious (what, move? They're supposed to hit it right to me!).  Also, wow...2005 sucked.