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The Rays Tank: Pick Six Update, And Defensive Stat Note

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Before we get into baseball news, I've been meaning for a couple days to provide a Pick Six update. Yes, the contest is still going on! We had two winners from last week: SandalsNoPants had the weekly high-score, while Concretepiggy had the best single-game score from the week. We'll be reaching out to you two shortly, but for everyone else -- get to it! We have two more shirts to give away this week, so don't miss out!

Since there are only three games going on today, the Pick Six crew has instituted a challenge: pick one player from each of the six teams playing. That adds a bit of extra strategy to the game, so pass along your lineups below. I'd love to see what people are playing.

And now, on to baseball news...

The biggest story from yesterday -- in my mind, at least -- was Colin Wyer's piece over at Baseball Prospectus about the defensive stat DRS and how it accounts for the shift. You'll have to read the piece to get the full picture, but basically, DRS doesn't accurately represent a player's defensive "skill" if they get shifted frequently. DRS includes shift data but doesn't adjust for the shift, making those players look exceptionally good by getting to balls that would otherwise be very difficult to reach. The other main defensive stat, UZR, gets around this by ignoring shift plays altogether, but to this point, DRS has included shift data.

This has led to all sorts of funky results so far. Brett Lawrie has a 7 UZR, but something like a 24 DRS so far this season (which is what led to this article). And for an example that hits closer to home, Ben Zobrist had a 23 DRS last season, but only a 7 UZR -- that's a huge difference. This also explains why on a team-level, the Rays looked spectacular last year via DRS and were in first place by around 20-30 runs, but actually came in #2 in team UZR.

I know there are a handful of people here at swear by DRS, and I'll admit, I really do like the way they use a timer to adjust play difficultly. It's one of the best defensive statistics out there, and prior to this, I was ready to start turning to it as my defensive stat of choice. But now, I'm back on the UZR bandwagon (if there is such a wagon). DRS may be great for measure team defense, and for dealing with players that don't get shifted terribly much or often, but it does appear like it's skewing the results for some players by a considerable amount. It's likely they do something to change this going forward, but for now, be careful.