Looking Back at Burrell's Defense
I mentioned a couple of weeks ago how this offseason teams placed a greater emphasis on defense, and particularly outfield defense. Some teams went out of their way to create power-house outfield defenses, and on the other hand poor-fielding outfielders got much smaller contracts than expected. I have already checked in with an example of the former, now I want to look back at an example of the latter.
From 2005 to 2008 Pat Burrell cost the Phillies about 48 runs with his defense in left field--costing them almost 5 wins. I wanted to see if we could visualize this defensive ineptitude. I employed the run value by field location technique I first introduced here. This time I took all balls in play at Citizens Bank Park split up by when the Phillies were in the field and when the visitors were in the field. That way you can compare the defense of the Phillies's left fielders from 2005 to 2008 (mostly Pat Burrell) to all visiting left fielders in that time.
I had hoped that the results would be more dramatic, but you can definitely see that the red blob for the Phillies is smaller than the blob for the visitors. In addition there is much more deep green in left field for the Phillies than for the visitors. Good thing Burrell is now predominately a DH, too bad the Phillies replaced him with Raul Ibanez.
EDIT: In the comments LarryinLA suggested graphing the difference between the two images as a better way of displaying the information. In the image below positive areas (blue) are where the Phillies' defensive did better than the visitor's defense, and negative (red) where the Phillies' did worse.
I think this shows the difference even better. It looks like Burrell was particularly bad on balls hit down the foul line.