Friday, February 22, 2013
TAMPA, Fla. – Is Curtis Granderson a good center fielder?
If you consult defensive metrics, it depends on the year.
From 2006 to 2007, Granderson was considered one of the game’s best. He ranked second among center fielders in UZR with 27.5 runs saved above average. Only Andruw Jones, in his final days as a good player with Atlanta, was better.
In 2010, Granderson was still pretty good. He saved 6.4 runs above average with his glove, according to UZR, good for fifth in the majors among center fielders. He was 0.2 runs below Franklin Gutierrez, then acknowledged as a defensive wizard with Seattle.
Then again, look at 2008. Granderson cost Detroit 11.1 runs in the fielding, UZR said. The statistic said even worse things about Granderson in 2012. Granderson was the worst center fielder in baseball, worth -17.8 runs. That, we suppose, is not good.
So what happened? Did Granderson suddenly forget how to field his position in 2008 and 2012? Why was he so excellent in other years?
UZR isn’t the only fielding metric, but it’s likely the one with the widest acceptance. It’s also something of a work in progress. Year after year, we see the numbers fluctuate.
DRS and standard zone rating are basically in agreement with UZR over the years mentioned in the excerpt. Granderson’s defensive projections for 2012 as a CF in those three metrics are:
The position adjustment for moving from CF to LF is around 10 runs, and that’s largely because an average defensive CF would be about a +10 LF since he’ll be compared against lesser defensive players in general. So Granderson should probably be at least an average LF, although Granderson’s relative value doesn’t change with the move. The primary benefit is that a move would theoretically put the better defender in Brett Gardner in CF where he will see more chances.
There’s evidence the Yankees are going to try that this spring and while the impact doesn’t project to be huge, it does project to be an upgrade which is important for a team that doesn’t have the margin of error that it’s had in the past few years.
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