2013 D-backs: the case for the defense, part two

Gloves. They're VASTLY over-rated... - USA TODAY Sports

We continue our look at the Diamondbacks defense in the season just finished, with the left-side of the infield, and the outfield positions.

Shortstop

F%: .972, 11th, .985
UZR/150: +4.9, 3rd, -6.4
DRS: +4, 7th, -8

This is another area where the traditional and new metrics are sharply at odds. Our error total more than doubled, going from 10 to 21, with both Gregorius and Pennington proving vulnerable. But one of the truisms of defense is, you don't make errors on balls you can't reach, and Pennington in particular was impressive here. His UZR/150 was second only to Gold Glove shoo-in Andrelton Simmons among all SS (min 400 IP there). Gregorius and the other alternates were much of a muchness there, around expected, but even that was a significant improvement on last season, when Willie Bloomquists terrible glove was the main incumbent. Here's Cliff bailing out Matt Davidson:


Third base

F%: .980, 1st, .950
UZR/150: -1.2, 10th, -10.0
DRS: -10, 13th, 2

These numbers are all over the place. F% loved us: no team since the 2004 Rockies committed fewer errors at third. UZR/150 thought we were okay, but significantly better than last year, while DRS concluded the exact opposite: bad, and significantly worse. They did agree that our third-basemen did struggle with range: we made only 47 OOZ (out of zone) plays, 12th in the league. They also agree on the biggest culprit: Eric Chavez, who had a UZR/150 of -10.2 and a DRS of -10. They were, however, split on Martin Prado, who was quite liked by UZR/150, while DRS basically went "whatever". Here's Prado making a slick bare-handed play to avoid a walk-off.


Left field

F%: .984, =9th, .989
UZR/150: -5.5, 10th, -1.5
DRS: 6th, =4th, -2

F% is particularly useless for outfielders, because errors are rarely given - the entire NL last year committed 71, in over 21,000 innings of play. It was a revolving-door position for the D-backs: nine players appeared there, led by Jason Kubel, but even he was there less than 29% of the time. As a result, individual defense numbers are even more unreliable than usual for a full season. That may explain why, by UZR/150, Kubel was rated above Alfredo Marte, Adam Eaton and A.J. Pollock. Yep, I was surprised by that as well. Still he did make the occasional good play, such as this diving catch against the Nationals from June.


Center field

F%: .982, 12th, .987
UZR/150: +11.9, 4th, +12.9
DRS: +13, 3rd, +10

Despite a few more errors, you probably won't be surprised to learn that the advanced metrics continued to like Arizona's defense in center. This is one of those cases where the eye test definitely seems to agree with them. Most of that solidity this season was due to Pollock, who would appear to have been unjustly robbed of a Gold Glove nomination. Pollock has stats of UZR/150 28.6, DRS +15, while the nominated Andew McCutchen was rated all the way down at 8.4 and +7; it seems one of those cases where offensive production seems to have been factored in to his selection. Plenty of choices for highlight plays from Pollock though.


Right field

F%: .988, 5th, .986
UZR/150: +28.9, 1st, -0.4
DRS: +53, 1st, +8

Parra parra parra, parra parra? Parra parra parra-parra parra - parra! If there's any justice, tonight will see Gerardo Parra taking home his second Gold Glove, for putting up numbers that were flat-out insane. Our team totals were the highest for both UZR/150 and DRS since the stats were first calculated: the DRS of +53 was particularly impressive, since no team had even cracked thirty in right field previously. Parra's single-handed tally of +41 (across all three positions, but primarily in RF) was also the highest single-season runs saved total on record. What's that? You'd like to see Yasiel Puig be embarrassed on the basepaths some more? I think we have you covered...


Outfield

F%: .985, =8th, .987
UZR/150: +13.0, 1st, 3.6
DRS: +72, 1st, +16

It's worth wrapping all three positions together, and we see that the Diamondbacks had the best outfield in the National League this year, defensively. Their range was particularly strong, making a league-leading 346 OOZ plays, but they also showed off some excellent arms, their 34 assists also leading the National League. Credited with saving 72 runs by DRS, there can be little doubt that the season would have been a lot tougher to endure without the good defensive play in the outfield. And the scary thing is, next year, we'll have more Eaton and no Kubel, so it could conceivably be even better. Of course, this is just an excuse to show another firing of the Parrazooka.



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