Baseball BeatJuly 09, 2009
The Defense Never Rests
By Rich Lederer

I returned as a guest last Friday evening on the St. Louis radio station 590 KFNS, also known as The Fan. The show was once again hosted by The Benchwarmers, Brendan Wiese and Nick Barrale. We discussed defensive metrics, including zone ratings, as well as Wins Above Replacement, and the traditional Triple Crown stats vs. rate stats such as AVG/OBP/SLG.

Nick, a former minor league play-by-play announcer, is a bit old school, expressing his skepticism over the more advanced defensive metrics and his preference for a batter who can hit as opposed to those who are proficient at drawing walks. Brendan, on the other hand, seems to appreciate the insights of these newer stats and measurements of player value.

Ozzie Smith, Franklin Gutierrez, Nyjer Morgan, Albert Pujols, and Jim Edmonds were all mentioned.

Speaking of defense, Morgan, who was recently traded from the Pirates to the Nationals, leads the majors in Ultimate Zone Rating. David DeJesus and Colby Rasmus rank second and third among outfielders in UZR. Morgan leads all LF, Gutierrez tops all CF, and Jay Bruce is No. 1 among RF.

Moving to the infield, Paul Konerko and Miguel Cabrera, much to my surprise, are first and second in UZR at first base. Brandon Phillips sits atop the defensive rankings at 2B, Jack Wilson ranks first at SS, and Joe Crede is the top-rated 3B (with a whopping 27.0 UZR/150 games). Fangraphs doesn't list UZRs for pitchers and catchers.


Awesome, Rich!

Geez, that segment about OBP sounded like it was recorded in the 80s...can't believe they couldn't grasp the importance of getting on-base vs. batting average.

Great interview, Rich!