A quick post this morning on the defense from 2002-2008. Thanks to FanGraphs for making bUZR publicly available. I’ve really had a lot of fun looking through the data.
I decided to use bUZR from the years 2002-2008 to find the best and worst defender on each Giants team in each year. My criteria was fielders who played at least 600 innings in the field. It’s a small-ish sample size for one season, but not many players field over 1,000 innings in a season unless they are playing 150 games or more. I’m also using bUZR/150 or bUZR scores prorated to 150 games in a season. This will give you an idea of how good or bad a player would have fielded his position if given the chance to play 150 games.
First, let’s check out the best defenders.
Most shocking inclusion on this list has to be Deivi Cruz who played a +8.3 shortstop for the Giants in 2004. Cruz was really a nice little pick-up that season. He got 400+ AB’s with the Giants that year and hit: .292/.322/.421 while playing above average defense at shortstop. I remember his arm being pretty weak but bUZR thinks he did a better than average job. Randy Winn and Pedro Feliz both make the list twice, they’ve been some of the better defenders for the Giants in recent memory. Feliz was arguably the best defensive third baseman in the game for a couple of seasons and Randy Winn has been one of the best — if not the best — defenders in right.
In 2003 Bonds could still play LF quite well. He saved +15.3 runs over the average National League left fielder. It seems that 2003 was his last year as an outstanding defensive left fielder. In 2004 he dropped to a bUZR/150 of +4, he was hurt in 2005 and when he came back in 2006, he was a -1.9 defender in left. In 2007 he was a -8 defender. For all the flak that Bonds got for being “an immobile object” in left field by sportswriters, most of it wasn’t deserved. Even on one good leg Bonds was a much better defender at his position than present day lumps Carlos Lee, Pat Burrell, and Adam Dunn. Reggie Sanders was “a good Giant”. He hit well in 2002 and played very good defense in right field, but much like through his career, Sanders was gone after the season ended. From 1999-2003 Sanders played with 5 different teams. For a pretty good player, he moved around a lot.
You might have expected Omar Vizquel to show up on this list. He just barely missed the cut in 2007 when he scored a bUZR/150 of +20.2. In his four seasons with the Giants, Omar always could field. He had bUZR/150′s of: +10, +7.4, +20.2, and +13.8.
Now, let’s check out the worst defenders:
Most shocking member of team iron glove? I would say that Snow making the list might upset a few people. JT was always a fan favorite for his gold glove defense at first base. But, for whatever reason, he didn’t do well in bUZR for his 2002 season. It could have been something in the system that didn’t like Snow, because a bUZR/150 of -18.2 runs seems shockingly out of whack for his defensive reputation. He fielded over 1,000 innings at first in 2002 but bUZR says that Snow had terrible range. His scores from 2003-2005 seem more accurate. He had scores of: +8.9, +6.9, and +3.1.
Edgardo Alfonzo was a disappointment on both the offensive and defensive ends of his contract. After posting strong offensive seasons in New York, he lost a huge chunk of his power once coming to San Francisco. From 1998-2002 he never posted an ISO under .149, but with the Giants, his ISO’s fell to .132, .118, and finally .068. The final ISO looks like something Omar Vizquel could do. It also looks like he had trouble playing defense. His 2003 score of -3 runs isn’t terrible, it’s very close to being average, but in 2005 someone should have taken his glove away. Does anyone remember him being that bad? I’ve blocked out most of my memories of Fonzy.
I can’t say that I’m surprised to see Grissom pop up for his 2004 season in center field. I can’t tell you how many blooped singles I watched fall in front of Grissom while he was roaming CF for the Giants. He would always run in full steam but watch helplessly as the ball landed 4-5ft in front of him. Every-single-time. He was a pleasant surprise with the bat but he probably didn’t belong in center field at this stage of his career. The Giants picked up him up when he was 36-years-old. In 2001 and 2002 teams started to transition Grissom to LF but the Giants picked him up and played him in CF for 148 games in 2003. In 2004, at 37-years-old, he played 142 games in center. His 2003 bUZR/150 is actually respectable for a player on the last legs of his carer at a defensive position. In that year, Grissom was about average defensively with a score of -2.9 runs. It appears that there’s a fine line between being a useful defensive player and turning into a statue. Marquis crossed that line between 2003 and 2004.
Trying to play Dave Roberts in center was an ugly experiment in 2007. He really had no business playing that position. Rowand’s rating will scare the hell out of pessimists and other people concerned with how he’ll age. If he continues to post double-digit negative run scores in CF, the Giants will have a headache on their hands. He looked slow at times in 2008 and the less we talk about his throwing arm, the better.
Comment Starter: Your favorite all-time Giants defender? Your most hated all-time defender?