In part five of my series on fielding metrics for 2010, I'll cover the center fielders. Other parts of the series can be seen at the following links:
Series intro and third basemen
The table below looks at four fielding measures and takes the average for each player. For a more detailed explanation, you can look at the Series intro and third basemen article.
Using one year of defensive metrics can be a problem, especially for outfielders who generally have less chances than infielders. Tigers center fielder Austin Jackson is a good example of how the metrics can disagree:
DRS = 21 runs saved better than average
UZR = 5
TZ = -4
FSR = 8
You can see that not only don't the metrics agree on how good Jackson was, they can't even agree whether he was good or not. The systems had him anywhere between saving the Tigers 21 runs and costing them 4 runs. That's the danger of small sample sizes. What can we do when that happens? In some cases, we can look back at past years to give us a bigger sample. In Jackson's case, he has no past data, so observation becomes more important.
The fans rated Jackson as an above average center fielder, but not necessarily elite. Perhaps, they noticed that, while he has outstanding range, he could stand to improve coming in on the ball.
The metrics agree that Astros center fielder Michael Bourn (+16) and Mariners center fielder Franklin Gutierrez (+12) were well above average. They were also the gold glove winners. Interestingly, the fans also chose them as the top two center fielders. So, the fans have agreed with the managers and coaches on every position so far except the infamous Jeter vote.
Table 1: Aggregating Fielding Measures for Center fielders in 2010