Well, y'all haven't run me out yet, so it's time for another installment of team efficiency posts. This one, however, needs to be a little different, and that's for several reasons:
1. While I personally do subscribe to this era of advanced stats - including fielding stats - the pitching staff of a team is going to go a long way toward helping or hurting your defensive scores... often from one batter to the next. One would hope that these things would even out over time, but the fact is, there's a big difference between hitting line drives, weak grounders and lazy fly balls.
2. A fielder's individual defensive positioning can be influenced significantly by whether your own team has the philosophy of "shifting" players severely or not. Fielders might be personally inclined to 'cheat' a particular direction depending on the perceived strength of the position player adjacent to you. He might also be one to steal his own catcher's signs and thus be guessing on the direction of his first step. All of these things could either help (if good at the process) or hinder one's own fielding scores.
3. I appreciate the fact that defensive ratings are based on someone putting 'eyes on' a play and making a call as to whether a hit is a liner or a fly, a ball in a given zone or not, a routine play or an extraordinary play. These calls matter in the evaluations. However, they are are subjective by nature... they are indeed based on someone's opinion, and thus there are borderline calls that will be made one way or another. Because of this, there can be arguments in the same manner that we can argue about ball/strike calls.
4. Finally, it is difficult to evaluate a team's fielding prowess simply because players are so different. You can throw stats out there (and I will), but frankly, when you have gems like Andrelton Simmons out there in the midst of .... well, the entire rest of the infield..., then there's got to be some serious context included when you are giving these numbers.
But... we have what we have. So let's see about all that. Sorry that this is quite long.
>>> All of this data is gleaned from fangraphs.com. I can't tell you just how valuable this site is to fans. <<<
Team Fielding Rating by UZR/150 - the overarching WAR-equivalent number for fielding:
1. KC Royals - 12.8
2. DBacks - 12.2
3. Rangers - 7.5
8th - Atlanta - 4.4
Bringing up the rear: The Mets (-9.5) and the Astros (-10.3). Uggggly.
Total Errors Committed:
1. DBacks - 13
2. Orioles - 14
3. Cards - 16
18th - Atlanta - 21. Yes, this could be a little better. There are three guys propping that number up.
ErrR - Runs above/below average based on errors committed (in other words: how much do those errors hurt you?):
1. DBacks - 6.1
2. Tigers (!) - 4.4
3. Cards - 4.4
7th - Atlanta - 2.8
Notable bottom dwellers:
23rd: Royals (despite their UZR ranking). -2.8
26th: Blue Jays (they can't pitch or catch). -3.2
28th: A's. -5.5
30th: Nationals. -6.7. That explains a lot.
RangeRuns (RngR) - same concept, but this involves your ability to make plays on the balls in your range vs. runs allowed.
1. Giants 18.1. Note that they were 24th in that previous list.
2. Rangers 10.8
3. Rays 10.6
9. Atlanta - 6.6
I'm calling this "well balanced" between those last two categories. The DBacks excel at both metrics, but ATL is certainly holding its own here, a fact I give some credit to the pitchers for, as well.
Total Putouts... I would have thought this wasn't worth mentioning, since you figure that just about everybody would have the same number. Not so, however... this is actually kinda odd:
#1. Athletics: 1245 (terrible UZR numbers)
#2. DBacks: 1243 (second overall with UZR)
#30. Royals: 1085 (1st on the UZR board.... but 160 fewer POs than the A's???).
(OH, and ATL is 19th... whatever)
Okay, let's go for something a bit more personal: a positional breakdown
OUTFIELD UZR/150: I thought we'd do better here... but I think you'll see why we don't later on.
1. DBacks (18.2)
2. Brewers (13.3)
3. Indians (13.2)
7. Braves (8.0)
Worst: Mets/Twins/Astros (I sense a theme here)
OUTFIELD ASSISTS: Braves are 27th (only 4). The Twins are #1 (15), mostly thanks to Hicks and Parmalee.
DBacks are second (I'm getting real tired of putting them on these charts... apparently they field well everywhere), but don't run on the Twins (okay, we did last night, and lived to tell the tale), Brewers, Royals (Frenchy), and Marlins.
OUTFIELD ERRORS: Braves are 26th with 5... but Justin has four of these (no surprise, really, but this is what's dragging the numbers). The Twins are best with only one OF error (tied w/Rays/Indians).
OUTFIELD RngR: This involves avg. runs saved/allowed on balls in an outfielder's range. Think "gap-fillers". Braves 4th best.
OUTFIELD RZR% (percentage of plays made within the typical range): Braves are 5th (94.1%, and within shouting distance of the DBacks' #1 position at 95.0%).
The worst? Cards/Twins/Brewers... significantly worse, in fact. You can figure that these teams give up a lot of doubles, especially on line drives.
OUTFIELD ErrR: Braves 25th... yeah, that one's on Justin.
OUTFIELD OOZ (Out-of-zone plays made): Now seeing the previous stat, I would have expected this one to be pretty good. But it's not "top five" as I would have expected. Atlanta ranks 15th, with 79 such plays. #1 is Oakland (103), followed by MILW (100). But this is also based on the available opportunities - and I don't have a metric to gauge success in these attempts. Frankly, I'd hope for fewer opportunities!
OUTFIELD ARM: this involves ability to throw out and/or hold runners from the outfield.
While the Braves can 'go get it', the runners are still advancing. This would probably be
even worse if (for instance) Gattis hadn't nailed Phillips at the plate from LF.
But... we are 15th on that chart.
Overall: Justin needs to make sure of his plays, and the outfielders could probably do well in getting the ball back in as quickly as possible. However, I do recall a bunch of Warning Track Power fly balls... and nobody can keep runners from advancing on those.
This is mostly on Freddie, of course, but please realize that UZR is not his friend. Freddie is content to play his area, and play it well. Unfortunately, that generally means that he doesn't venture far from the first base bag, since... okay, so he has the range of a parked car. As a consequence, he has a UZR/150 so far (note that he was out for 2 weeks) of -11.3. You might cry "SSS" on this, but it does track with his history, so just stop it. Lateral motion just isn't his thang.
Freddie does have just two errors so far - that's under his 12 for 2012, though pacing higher than the 6 from 2011.
Scoops: Fangraphs tracks "scoops" for first basemen. We like how Freddie does this. But one criteria, of course, is that his teammates have to "help" him with bad throws. Freddie has 14 scoops this year (Johnson 2, Gattis 1). That's 10th overall. The team leader is the DBacks with 27 (have a season, Paul Goldschmidt!). But as I say, I think we can credit this tenth position to better throws from the left side of the diamond... not by anything Freddie is or isn't doing.
You would expect this to be pretty Uggly. Yes... yes, it is. I won't dwell on this for long.
Of the team's 21 overall errors, Dan has six of them. The team 2B UZR is -11. Uggla himself is actually slightly better, at -9.8. This is kind of important, since we do have some pitchers that thrive on ground balls... and the second base position has amassed 123 assists - tied for 15th position in the majors... only 8 assists below the top ten. Worst? Dodgers at a scant 85. Best? Astros at 153. Go figure.
Out of zone plays: tied for fourth worst - only 7. SEA is #1 here with 24. Yes, we know Dan has the range of a Chevy Volt.
Here's the good stuff. UZR may hate Freeman, but it loves Simmons. But his 21.8 rating is actually not #1(!). That honor goes to Elvis Andrus, with 24.3. In team numbers, the Rangers are at 23.5 with Atlanta second (19.4). The DBacks are a distant third (13.4), but with Didi now roaming the area for them, that number is actually trending downward, believe it or not.
Defensive Runs saved: 12. Not only is this first in the majors, it's DOUBLE the 2nd place guy (Andrus).
Out of zone plays: 17. Okay, he's 15th here. That may also be partly because there are two Uptons behind him.
%Plays made in zone: .872 (4th)
Errors: ZERO (No other qualified SS in the majors can say this). He makes the plays.
The only knock is in the Double Play Runs metric - basically turning the DP vs. Runs allowed. On that, the Braves are decidedly average: -0.1, good for 16th place. Whatever.
This surprised me. In a good way. Our two-headed hot-sacker (Juan Juanson) ranks 7th in UZR/150 with a 2.4. #1 is the Orioles (Machado, 8.5). Dodgers #2 (cast of several; 8.1). Okay, so there is a big drop off to #7, but they aren't being total butchers out there, committing only 4 errors combined in the process.
I suppose the biggest surprise (no, I don't mean Juan) is the 18 out-of-zone plays made. This ties 3 other teams for second place overall so far. I suppose I should do a shout out to Ramiro Pena at this point, since he is responsible for 3 of those plays, plus has contributed to the positive 3B UZR number.
But overall, that tandem (or trio, perhaps) has combined to make 79.4% of the expected plays - good enough for third place in the majors, despite Juan's 3 errors in 190 innings. Whew... though this could be pretty bad, but they are actually doing better than Chipper's 2012.
Catchers get different metrics from everyone else. And these numbers are definitely gonna change as we go along, because as of this morning, Gattis has 190 innings, Laird 113, and McCann 86 and counting.
But combined, there's only 1 error for all of them. That's actually pretty shocking. Eight other teams match this, and only one (the Pirates) beats it. Given our concerns about Gattis' on defense to start the year, this fact alone has to be one of the best surprises of the season thus far.
More catcher rankings:
Passed Balls. Another surprise. ONE. Ties for 3rd with four other teams.
Stolen Bases. ATL ranks 11th in fewest allowed (20). #1 is Baltimore with 10.
Caught Stealing %. Nine runners have been caught in the act (tie for 13th). However, they are 9th in CS% (31% of attempts foiled). Do not run on the Orioles (54.5%), Dodgers, Marlins, Yankees, or Twins. All ~40%+.
Finally, I don't really know how you measure Defensive Runs Saved for a catcher, but ATL ranks in a tie for 1st with 4... there have been a bunch of guys thrown out at home... that's good too, I suppose!
Real quick: Braves' hurlers are tied for 4th in fielding assists, average in stolen base/runs allowed, and 7th (tie) in defensive runs saved. They are athletic enough to handle their position, and it does show.
Given the nature of this team' offense, I don't think there's a case to be made for trying to upgrade any position defensively. For Atlanta, second base clearly has the worst fielding, but let's put this into context: the worst thing caused here is that the pitchers have to work a little harder... but only about twice a week whenever Dan kicks one, or allows a hit that someone else would have reached. But for certain, the outfield is able to cut off a lot of hits, and Simmons shortens innings. These are good things.