Pedroia Defense Redux

I sparked off a little debate yesterday when I mentioned that Robby Cano was statistically as good defensively as Gold Glover Dustin Pedroia. According to Baseball-reference.com, which now tracks Runs Saved as a defensive stat, they are. I checked Baseball Prospectus, and their FRAA was similar. Then I went to Fangraphs, and looked at their UZRs (Ultimate Zone Rating), which is the currently popular defensive metric. In UZR, Pedroia does have a pretty big advantage. Last year, his rating was around 10, which means he was a very good defender. Chase Utley, for comparison, was around 20, so take that for what it’s worth. Cano was below zero, so by UZR, Pedroia was better than Cano. It’s also worth noting that in his early years, Cano’s defense was much, much better than it is now.

I love Dustin Pedroia. I think he’s the second best second baseman in the majors, after Utley. You don’t usually get the amount of production he gives, with an above average glove, at a premium defensive position. But I still think his defense has been overrated, and I still think Youkilis was more valuable to the Red Sox last year overall. But you can disagree, and that’s fine.

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4 Responses to “Pedroia Defense Redux”

  1. I begrudgingly agree that Youkilis is more valuable. Though, I was never a big “Pedroia for MVP” guy either. You know my initial feelings on Youk. Then again, it seems i’ve been proven wrong. Bill James (and by extension Billy Beane) would be proud of Youk’s near textbook improvement through his age 28 and 29 seasons. I never thought he was going to be more than a .850 OPS first baseman. At this rate, he’ll be a 1.400 OPS first baseman by his age 33 season!

    Back to Pedroia, his defense is overrated. But, I hate Robinson Cano hence why I support Pedroia in almost any category over Cano. My issue with defensive statistics is that they typically rely heavily (or only) on put outs per opportunity when there are many other factors which determine a players’ defensive ability. To me, this is a nuance which makes it much different than a player’s success as a pitcher or hitter.

    For example, how are the player’s routes to the ball? How does he adjust to different in-game situations or different batter tendencies? How accurate does he throw on the run? Is there such a thing as “defensive clutchness”? I would think that athleticism would increase the potential for “clutch-y” plays. For example, Kevin Millar in left field will never come up with the big run saving diving catch that Ichiro could. I realize that over a large sample size this should all smooth out and manifest through put outs in excess of league average, but I have difficulty connecting the two at times. Maybe this is because I don’t really know the intricacies of fielding stat calculations, but I definitely feel that this is an area where actual scouting may have an advantage over statistics. And, by scouting, I mean the following of actual outcomes in addition to just tools since a player like Cano is almost categorically more impressive than Pedroia on a “tools” basis.

  2. sportz iz bo-ring. write about comedy again.

  3. sara rose Says:

    You know I’ll never argue with youk being oustanding. I will however argue with shira that sports are boring. Shira, you’re boring. So there.

  4. Agreed. Shira, you’re the most boring.

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