A Simple Kind of Fan. Yuni Watch – 7.20.11
The Milwaukee Brewers have achieved a 3-3 record on this critical road trip thus far. Yuni has started at SS four times this week and Milwaukee has only managed to win one of those games. Of course, the team won both games this week Yuni didn’t start and instead went with Josh Wilson. Wilson indeed displays more range and appears to have the more capable bat. It is my belief that the team is better when Yuni Betancourt is not in the lineup. It seems as if that is an easy conclusion to draw.
Looking at the surface numbers, they would suggest that Yuni had a great week. He was 6 x 15 with a pair of home runs, a double, and five of runs scored. However, out of those six hits, three were infield singles with no runners on base, and the double was also with no runners on base.
In fact, three times this week Yuni indeed came up with runners on base. The first time he promptly grounded into a double play to end the inning. Tuesday night Yuni took another approach as he clubbed two homers in his other opportunities. By the way, Tuesday night was also his only four RBIs of the week. Obviously it was a huge game for Yuni, as 3 x 5 with two home runs is great for any player. I suppose it would be nice to see those home runs in a situation where the team really would need them, as both were hit with a solid lead already established (Sammy Sosa anyone?). The point I am trying to make is that even though Yuni had six hits, he really didn’t make a difference offensively for most of the week, as almost all of his damage was concentrated into one game that Milwaukee handily led from the onset.
Currently, not even Jose Baez could convince me that Yuni is a better option than Josh Wilson. His slash line remains in large part unchanged at 245/.262/.367. Obviously, we all know Yuni is bad. How bad is Yuni? When taking into account a minimum of 250 plate appearances, here are Yuni’s current ranks for all MLB Shortstops in the following categories (please excuse the minor formatting flaw) :
|Yuni’s MLB Rank|
|2nd to Last (Theriot)|
|2nd to Last (Theriot)|
|2nd to Last (Gonzalez)
To sum up this chart, he is at least the second worst defensive shortstop in baseball and he also gets on base the least among all shortstops. In Theriot’s defense, at least he is productive offensively. Yuni might be the worst offensive and defensive shortstop in baseball. That is hard to do as a player who get s 4-5 starts a week. You can image where Yuni’s ranks would be situated if he didn’t have a career week offensively. Since we have been discussing UZR, I thought I might take this opportunity to further explain UZR, and in particular, why it says Yuni Betancourt is so terrible, and why it is an effective measuring tool.
The “What the F*&# Does That Stat Mean” Stat of theWeek.
On January 25th of this year, I devoted an entire edition to the defense and the possibility that it could historically awful. Well, it didn’t take being Nostradamus to see this problem coming. I thought since Yuni is probably the worst defensive shortstop in the league, we would re-examine this statistic and make sure everyone is on the same page with how truly bad Yuni is defensively.
Today we are going to be discussing the statistic UZR. UZR (Ultimate Zone Rating) is essentially a defensive metric that measures how much above or below average a player is defensively. It is based upon play by-play data that is tallied using several categories (range runs, outfield arm runs, double play runs and error runs combined). The idea is that a player with a UZR of zero is exactly average. If a player has a plus UZR, he is an above average defender, and if it is minus, he is a below average fielder. Please click on the links if you would like to delve deep into UZR math. I don’t want to get too technical (boring!) discussing how the data is acquired, but each play a player is involved in defensively is analyzed and tracked throughout the season. Now that you have gotten as deep into UZR as you choose and have an understanding of what we are talking about, let’s take a look at some of the downsides of using UZR as a defensive metric.
There are some reasonable objections to the use of UZR. First, UZR can have wild fluctuations in data from month to month, causing a lack of consistency at times. Second, the sample size from year to year can often be too small to attain an accurate portrayal of a player’s true defensive ability. Also, because UZR is a new statistic, the criteria used to judge defense has gotten adjusted from time to time. Fourth, this statistic does not take Catcher defense into account. Finally, this statistic is cumulative based, so playing time does get taken into consideration and can make it hard to compare players with different amounts of playing time. Because of these factors, UZR seems to lack as much credibility as some of the other statistics out there. However, I am convinced it has merit and can be used, in combination with other statistics, to create an overall evaluation of a player.
There are a couple of things we can do to handle a few of these objections. UZR/150 (ultimate zone rate per 150 games) is a statistic that tries to measure the number of runs above or below average a fielder is per 150 defensive games. This metric allows us to compare players with different amounts of games played. Moreover, the UZR stat should be reviewed for three years before making any conclusive determination on the prowess of a fielder. Like any stat, it isn’t the cure-all and it isn’t the only thing to look at, but it gives another perspective on what type of value a player brings to the team.
In conclusion, based on UZR, Yuni has the worst range in baseball. Of course, you knew that already if you read this blog. I could understand Yuni Betancourt staying in the lineup when producing offensively like Ryan Theriot (.279/.326/.339). I could also understand Yuni staying in the lineup if he was a defensive wizard. However, he is neither and as such, he hurts the chances of the Milwaukee Brewers advancing into the postseason each day he starts at shortstop. For the sake of all Brewer fans, I hope it has not already been too late.
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