Top Fielders of 2009

At least according to TotalZone. I ran these ratings from a different datasource than usual. Specifically, someone sent me files with data from MLBAM. Later in the offseason I’ll compare it to the results from the source of all the other TotalZone ratings, the retrosheet files. Anyway, the top 15 runs saved for 2009:

1. Franklin Gutierrez, CF, +28
2. Nelson Cruz, RF, +23
3. Chone Figgins, 3B, +20
4. Evan Longoria, 3B, +18
5. Yunel Escobar, SS, +18
6. Casey Blake, 3B +17
7. Ichiro Suzuki, RF, +17
8. Brendan Ryan, SS, +17
9. Pedro Feliz, 3B, +16
10. Carlos Beltran, CF, +15
11. Willy Tavares, CF, +14
12. Carl Crawford, LF, +13
13. Brett Carroll, RF, +13
14. Colby Rasmus, CF, +13
15. Torii Hunter, CF, +13

To me Escobar is the biggest surprise on the list. UZR gives him a slight negative rating. The Fans scouting report looks like it rates him just above average. I would have expected Erick Aybar or Elvis Andrus to be on the list. They rated just a bit above average. I’m quite happy to see Figgins and Hunter on the list, though not as happy to see them continue playing baseball this weekend. Hunter has not rated highly in the last few years by the stats, it’s nice to see the numbers confirm what the eyes can see for once.

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  1. Kelly F. said...

    Wow! Pedro Feliz. I did not expect that. I’ve seen a fair amount of Giant games over the years, but less Phillies games recently, so maybe he has improved his defense.

  2. Sean Smith said...

    I thought Feliz was regarded as a good fielder.  UZR has him at +75 career.  When you hit like he does, don’t you have to be a great fielder?

  3. bob b said...

    re: pedro feliz. my memory of him with the giants is that, yes, he was supposed to be a really solid fielder. and i agree with the last post, when you hit like that you pretty much have to be a great fielder to keep playing. although, speaking of the giants, i still don’t understand how johnny lemaster had a career as long as he did! any ideas out there?

  4. Keith G said...

    Am I the only one who had never heard of Brett Carroll prior to this post?  That is pretty intense that he could be +13 in 319 defensive innings at a position like RF.

  5. BenJ said...

    Runs Saved from John Dewan/Baseball Info Solutions has Yunel Escobar at 12 RS last year and 13 RS this year.  He’s not quite the top shortstop (as you have him), but he’s in the discussion.

    Your rankings seem to gel pretty well overall.  (Good to see more consensus!)  Feliz and Blake seem a little high to me, but both are still above-average fielders. 

    I’m a little surprised not to see Jack Wilson up there.  Any chance you left his total split between the Pirates and the Mariners?

  6. JL said...

    kouzmanoff didn’t make the cut?  how does the all-time NL record holder for fielding percentage among 3rd baseman, .990, not make the list? he made 3 errors all year at 3rd!  hmmmmm….padres prejudice, again.  sigh.

  7. Nick Steiner said...

    <blockquote>Specifically, someone sent me files with data from MLBAM.</blockqoute>

    So is this generated using Gameday, or something else?

  8. Wade said...

    As a Bravos fan, I saw Escobar play almost nightly.  His occasional mental lapses have essentially dissappeared, and were never really evident in his defense.  He covers a ton of ground, and has an exceptionally strong/accurate arm to allow him an extra plant step before releasing.  A long (80+ games?) error-free streak didn’t hurt either.

    If this season is any indicator of things to come, I’d like to think that he’ll be appearing on similar lists for years to come (hopefully in a Braves uni).

    Thanks for validating what many NL East fans saw this season.

  9. Kelly F. said...

    My impression was Feliz was always kept in the lineup because of his bat and his fielding was adequate enough. That impression probably stems from when he first came up. I guess his hitting never developed as much as his potential, at least as far as average goes. But his fielding has improved over the years, it seems.

  10. Keith G said...

    No, Feliz was always a no-bat, excellent field third baseman. His runs saved from 2003-2008 courtesy of John Dewan/Fielding Bible: +7, +11, +16, +17, +26, +4.

  11. David said...

    No Ryan Zimmerman? Would his early season throwing errors affect his runs saved statistic? clearly more range than a number of 3Bs on this list.

  12. Diamond Research said...

    Thanks Mike, it is my understanding that these records are vague expressions like Line Drive without objective perameters or accurate measurements (a la Hittracker or Al Nathan’s work), correct?

  13. Mike Fast said...

    Diamond, yes that’s true, but it’s also true of the BIS and STATS records that UZR is based on. 

    Using HITf/x data to measure fielding would be a huge step up, but nobody’s doing that with the HITf/x data yet.

  14. Peter Jensen said...

    As for hitf/x, how many games is that available for?  Are they including that for all games or just selected stadiums?

    It is my understanding that Sportvision has been calculating Hit f/x for all stadiums this year.  the data has been available to the teams.  Only April has been made publicly available.  Whether the Hit f/x data will ever become publicly available is now in question.  Sportvision has the ability to give us Hit f/x data on all hit balls where they have collected Pitch f/x data.

  15. Sean Smith said...

    What these are based on is simply batted ball category, FB/LD/GB/Pop, and which player fielded the ball.  Plus the batter and pitcher handedness.  So I’m comparing the number of catches vs hits allowed for Torii Hunter, for example, on flyballs hit by lefthanded batters off righthanded pitchers.

    It’s that simple.  A park adjustment is applied as well.  MLB does have some information on batted ball locations, I understand this represents where a ball was fielded, not necessarily where it landed.  I don’t use that information, it’s not in the file I was sent.

    As for hitf/x, how many games is that available for?  Are they including that for all games or just selected stadiums? 

    Zimmerman was +2.  I can do a worst fielders list as my next blogpost.

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