The Mockingbird

Brown Glove for Wells?

with 29 comments

First the good news. In a recap of the advanced fielding stats for the season over at The Baseball Analysts, Scott Rolen comes up as the second-best fielder in the game, saving a whopping 23.8 runs over average to make his power outage seem a lot more palatable for the two years:

Utley, Phi      25.0
Rolen, Tor      23.8
Beltre, Sea     21.8
Ellis, Oak      18.3

It should also set up an interesting gold glove award – do they give it to the incumbent (as usual), or the guy with the amazing reputation? (as usual) At least for once the only two serious candidates are going to agree with reality and it’s a toss-up between the two.

Of course we already knew that about Rolen. He’s flat-out inhuman out there. But now for the bad news. According to the same way of looking at things that pegged that one, Vernon Wells has been the second worst defender in the league this season:

Abreu, NYA      -27.5
Wells, Tor      -21.9
Jacobs, Fla     -17.9
Encarnacion,Cin -15.9

And that’s despite playing way fewer innings than Bobby Abreu – if they were equal, Vernon would be at -33.9, and thus the worst defender of his position in the league. That seems a little strong, but these metrics aren’t totally out to lunch (if you look down the rest of the list most of the best and worst make sense). I think it’s more a mix of denial and good memories that make me distrust anything indicating he’s lost a step and is a below-average CF than anything he’s done out there this season. +/- (from also agrees that Vernon has been slowing down and then absolutely fallen off a cliff this season:

Year +/- Enhanced Rank
2006 +9 +14 4
2007 +5 +7 10
2008 -7 -12 36

Written by halejon

August 1, 2008 at 5:25 pm

Posted in Seriousness

29 Responses

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  1. So what’s the diagnosis? Move Vernon to left, Rios in centre, and Lind in right? Lind in left, Rios centre, Wells right? Lind left, Rios centre, Snider right, Wells DH? (They had Lind playing right a bit down in Syracuse, and Snider plays a lot of left in addition to right)


    August 1, 2008 at 5:41 pm

  2. And Rios forgets to hit when he’s playing CF. Glad we’ve got these two chuckleheads locked up for $200 million.

    johnny was

    August 1, 2008 at 5:58 pm

  3. i like the word “chuckleheads”


    August 1, 2008 at 6:02 pm

  4. If Chase Utley is the best, this system sucks. He might be a below average 2B, at least from what I’ve seen.


    August 1, 2008 at 6:34 pm

  5. I’ve always been kinda in favour of moving Rios to CF, at least eventually. This would seem to suggest speeding up the conversion. I think Vernon has (well, used to- wonder if it’s fading as well) a better arm than Lind though, so why not just swap him into RF and then Lind probably gets DH’ed when Snider gets here. Didn’t mention it, but the same fielding stats say Rios has been pretty amazing in centre.


    August 1, 2008 at 6:36 pm

  6. Well, why didn’t you say so, Ari! Forget this, then…I’m going to go call STATS and tell them to pull the guys marking every game out of the stands, too. Friggin’ waste of time.


    August 1, 2008 at 6:43 pm

  7. Obviously you value STATS Inc’s opinion more than mine, just throwing out my opinion. I just asked a hardcore Phils fan, and he described him as average at best. And he certainly makes plenty of errors (I know, a bad stat), but throwing errors are what they are. I think Polanco, Ellis, and Hudson are far superior 2B.


    August 1, 2008 at 6:51 pm

  8. I’ve had my differences with the STATS data in the past, but I’m pretty fed up with people categorically declaring that advanced fielding metrics “suck” because the results for some player differs from their (or their buddies) expert scouting ability/opinion. They’re pretty damn good and consistent in my book, with a few head scratchers now and again.

    It’s possible that for some reason Utley is inflated for some reason, and I certainly have never heard him called a GG candidate. But people do say that he’s improved greatly over the last few years, and that’s what STATS shows as well.

    THT says that Utley has committed just as many fielding errors as throwing errors. It’s on plays out of zone that he has really shone.


    August 1, 2008 at 7:11 pm

  9. Who did we trade for Cantu?

    There must be something wrong with the metric: the bottom list doesn’t have the worst-fielding shortstop of all time, Derek Jeter! Wells will move to left or right the day after Jeter moves to second.

    But seriously: I wonder how much the scoreboards on the wall have cut into Wells’s fielding numbers the last few years. He did say when they put those up that he wouldn’t be running into the wall anymore.

    Cincinnatus C.

    August 1, 2008 at 7:49 pm

  10. I read somewhere that you need twice as large a sample size for fielding statistics as you do for hitting statistics, and Wells has only played 64 games in centre this year. For a useful example, after 32 games Dioner Navarro was hitting .370.

    He may not be better than Alex Rios anymore, but he’s certainly not as bad as Andruw Jones.


    August 1, 2008 at 8:03 pm

  11. +/- only has Jeter at -4 this year (22nd in Majors). He seems to have gotten better on balls right at him and to his left, though he’s still the same old Jeter to his right. Every year until now it has agreed he’s one of the worst of all time- last year he was a sickening -33.


    August 1, 2008 at 8:15 pm

  12. Yeah, the sample size is a little sketchy. But on the other hand, the results are particularly extreme. It’s like when a guy is hitting .100 through 100 at bats. It’s probably not a particularly good estimate of his true hitting ability in the long run, but it’s pretty safe to say he’s sucking.

    Jones? He may not be able to hit or be the fielder in the league any more, but I wouldn’t use him as an example of a terrible fielder…all the range stats have liked him a lot better than Wells consistently for years .


    August 1, 2008 at 8:20 pm

  13. Between Marcum looking visibly upset about the zone a few times and Carlson now getting ejected for arguing balls and strikes, I think we’re going to need a strike zone post for this game.


    August 1, 2008 at 10:13 pm

  14. I am going to echo the sample size sentiments. After Rios’ first stint as the CF, he and Wells had almost identical ZR & RF. Now Wells is way down. I don’t dispute he’s lost a step, but this does seem extreme.

    lloyd the ghostrunner

    August 1, 2008 at 11:33 pm

  15. “I’m pretty fed up with people categorically declaring that advanced fielding metrics “suck” because the results for some player differs from their (or their buddies) expert scouting ability/opinion.”

    Advanced fielding metrics suck.


    August 2, 2008 at 2:49 am

  16. Torgen: I’m not sure I can even look at this game ever again after I had to leave when it was 6-0 and assumed it was a wrap.

    Lloyd: Agreed. All I’m really trying to say is that he is clearly not an elite defender any more, and is probably below average, at least this season so far.

    Ari: What’s your point? If you take into account OOZ (as the above-mentioned study does), Jeter has managed to be (barely) middle of the pack for 2/3 of a season- it’s the exact same data that I mentioned had him at -4 and 22nd in the league so far. As many people have pointed out, there aren’t any good SS defenders in the AL any more: Michael Young is just as brutal as Jeter. Betancourt is being benched for his increasingly terrible defense. Peralta/Lugo are perennial jokes. It’s going to take a LOT more than Jeter scoring well on balls close to him to discredit RZR, etc – and linking to that as some sort of triumphant proof of how bad the professional organizations are at evaluating D is just plain weak.


    August 2, 2008 at 4:45 am

  17. I have no idea how someone could be -4 yet according to RZR be the best at fielding balls hit in his zone. Unless of course they are 2 completely different metrics, which is probably the case, and therefore proof that RZR completely sucks, and that it’s possible for advanced metrics to suck.


    August 2, 2008 at 2:22 pm

  18. So you don’t understand how stats that are designed to measure RANGE could show that a guy has been very good at getting balls hit close to him, but still below average overall. I don’t really know what to say to that. It’s kind of the whole point. Does everything that you don’t understand completely suck?

    Really, the two metrics completely agree with each other. +/- breaks it down as atrociously bad to his right (-12), but rather good right at him (+7) and not bad to his left (+3). RZR is a little less precise but says he’s been the best (of an exceedingly bad lot) at balls close to him but the third worst in the majors on balls out of his zone.


    August 2, 2008 at 2:51 pm

  19. “So you don’t understand how stats that are designed to measure RANGE could show that a guy has been very good at getting balls hit close to him, but still below average overall.”

    Precisely. RZR does not show that Jeter is “still below average overall”. Which is why I said that they are 2 completely different metrics, and yet above you linked to RZR as if it meant anything. I pointed to Jeter’s supremacy in that area to mean it doesn’t. That’s all. I understand all these defensive metrics perfectly, so honestly, fuck you. Not sure why you are making this into an argument.


    August 2, 2008 at 3:26 pm

  20. “RZR does not show that Jeter is “still below average overall”.”

    Yes, it absolutely does! The whole point of RZR is that it takes “balls out of zone” out of the equation and puts them in a separate column. If you don’t think about both of the columns together (as you did not) of course the results don’t make any sense. But when you do, RZR says that Jeter has been below average this year.

    I linked to the second part of RZR (balls OOZ) because it explains why Jeter being on top of the in-zone rankings you linked to isn’t a knock on advanced fielding metrics because it doesn’t mean that RZR is totally out to lunch and calling Jeter a good fielder. Lets compare Jeter to Cabrera: in zone, RZR says Jeter has been 0.009 better than Orlando on ~ 250 plays in their zones. So he’s gotten to ~2 more balls. But Cabrera has gotten to 17 more balls out of his zone, so who cares?

    So, if you understand RZR (and its OOZ component), you understand that it is actually consistent with the rest of the advanced fielding metrics in saying that Jeter has been VERY MUCH worse than Cabrera this season even though he’s “on top” of the first column of RZR. Now do that with every SS in the AL and you will see that RZR shows that Jeter has been below average in 2008.

    I’m not sure what you’re calling “different metrics” now. If you mean +/- and RZR, then duh they’re different metrics, that agree with each other. If you mean RZR and OOZ, then they are the exact same metric broken into two parts.

    I’m being hostile because you only ever spew out these arrogant, combative statements and think you know your shit way better than you do. It’s so tiring to argue with people who aren’t just ignorant, but have an attitude about it.


    August 2, 2008 at 4:18 pm

  21. Please be civil in your arguments (it’s not Drunk Jays Fans responding to anon posters). This is a great site for insightful Jays fans.


    August 2, 2008 at 6:03 pm

  22. You know I really try, and I think for the most part succeed, to be nice to anyone who is really here to contribute and/or learn no matter how daffy what I think they’re saying is (*cough* John Brattain *cough* :)) This guy just rubs me the wrong way – not for the first time.


    August 2, 2008 at 7:20 pm

  23. I rub you the wrong way because I don’t believe in the infallibility of your fielding metrics? Holy fuck. Read my first comment, your response, and how it went from there. If I had rubbed you prior to this post, I’m not sure how, and apologize for that.

    Zone ratings suck because they fail to take into consideration so many things. Sure, OOZ tells you the plays out of his zone that the player is making, but do they really? What if a positional shift was on for Ortiz, and Rolen fields a ball in the SS’s normal zone. Boom! OOZ credit. RZR sucks because it doesn’t factor at all where the ball is being hit, the degree of difficulty for the play. Each zone within a zone is considered the same play, despite it so obviously not being true. So one fielder can have 100 hits hit right at him with no movement required, the other have the same 100 hits hit at the edge of his zones – if they field the same amount of balls, they have an equal RZR, but clearly the latter player showed more range (that won’t show up in OOZ). Also, doesn’t this only count groundballs for infielders? And does it factor in any which way how hard these grounders are being hit? I can go on and on, but I really don’t want to get into a defensive metrics argument with you, because you are clearly married to them. I will continue to trust the eyes of a fan who watches his team play 162 times a year over any stats out there.


    August 3, 2008 at 5:49 pm

  24. Well, ever since you decided to introduce yourself to the site by calling my use of a small sample size “ridiculous” and “nitpicking” (welcome!), I have never read anything from you that’s constructive. Anyway, I was in a shitty mood and I guess waiting to pounce on the first person who just dismissed the results with a wave of their hand and I’m sorry that was you.

    Moving right along- I am anything but married to fielding stats. In fact I usually get taken down for being too critical of them. (See my aptly-named posts: “Fielding stats are pretty useless“, and, Fielding Stats are Totally Useless“. I just think there are better arguments against them and although obviously not perfect, they’re too good to be dismissed.

    Now THOSE are some much better criticisms of fielding stats – which, however the brains behind them are too smart to have ignored. ZR (don’t know about +/-) just ignores the data when a shift is on, which isn’t perfect but isn’t going to kill the rest of the data. They also try to get at the determine degree of difficulty by the type of hit (even have “fliners” now) and, yep, how hard it was hit. The size of the zones has also gotten smaller and smaller to reduce the chance of one fielder getting them badly distributed (there’s an article out there somewhere about how small they probably need to go). And +/- now includes separate columns for balls on the ground/in the air.

    Anyway, in Vernon’s case- yes, it’s possible that he has been getting a ton of balls with crazy spins and/or right on the edge of his zones (pitchers don’t seem to have much of an effect over that though, so that would be the sample size issue that Handknit and Lloyd pointed out). That would make for a much better discussion. I think it’s a really bad sign – and the more I think about it, agrees with what my eyes are telling me every time there’s a ball hit in the gap.


    August 3, 2008 at 7:07 pm

  25. “You know I really try, and I think for the most part succeed, to be nice to anyone who is really here to contribute and/or learn no matter how daffy what I think they’re saying is (*cough* John Brattain *cough* :)) This guy just rubs me the wrong way – not for the first time.”

    My ears are a-burnin’ again!

    Best Regards


    John Brattain

    August 5, 2008 at 12:49 pm

  26. […] There’s more on Wells’ struggles here. […]

  27. Vernon Wells is mediocrity personified…Jays fans are in denial….


    October 5, 2008 at 11:41 pm

  28. Way to troll two months late.


    October 9, 2008 at 5:51 pm

  29. […] Center fielders don’t get a lot of kills so Wells’ rate is actually above average over the last three years, but runners have been taking the extra base more and more often since 2007. His range has also gone from 4th to 10th to 32nd, but that’s another story… […]

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