Sunday, December 01, 2013

Hobbled Cabrera Ranked Last Defensively Among Third Basemen

In previous posts, I looked at the Revised Zone Rating (RZR) and Out-of-Zone Plays (OOZ) metrics listed at FanGraphs.  Links to these posts are provided below:
Now, I'm going to to do the above conversion for third basemen.  Table 1 below contains the following information for 24 MLB third basemen with 800 or more innings in 2013:
  • Inn = Innings
  • RZR = Revised Zone Rating
  • OOZ = Out-of-Zone Plays
  • PIZAA =  Plays in Zone Above Average
  • OOZAA = Out-of-Zone Plays Above Average
  • PMAA = Total Plays Above Average
  • RSAA = Runs Saved Above Average
Orioles third baseman Manny Machado was the MLB leader in RSAA (+42) followed by Nolan Arenado of the Rockies (+39).

Tigers third baseman Miguel Cabrera finished dead last with -27 RSAA which means he cost the Tigers an estimated 27 runs compared to an average third baseman given the same opportunities.  Cabrera was about equally as bad making plays in the zone (-16 plays below average) as out of zone (-18).  There is no doubt that part of that was due to his second-half injuries, but he also finished last in 2012 when he -18 runs worse than average.

Cabrera fared a little worse on this measure than an other advanced metrics, but there was universal agreement that he was well below average in 2013: -12 according to Baseball Prospectus' FRAA,  -17 on Total Zone and -18 on Defensive Runs Saved. 

With Prince Fielder traded to the Rangers, it is likely that Cabrera will go to first base in 2014, a move that should help the Tigers defensively at two positions.  At the moment, it appears that rookie Nick Castellanos is the leading candidate to replace Cabrera at third.  I've heard mixed reviews on Castellanos and he may be no better than a healthy Cabrera defensively, but should be better than the 2013 version.  Meanwhile, Cabrera should do significantly better as a first baseman than Fielder, but that's the topic of a later post in this series.

Table 1: Runs Saved by MLB Third Basemen According to RZR, OOZ, 2013

Player
Team
Inn
RZR
OOZ
PIZ AA
OOZ AA
PMAA
RSAA
Manny Machado
BAL
1,390
.818
73
29
24
53
42
Nolan Arenado
COL
1,110
.799
67
21
28
49
39
Pedro Alvarez
PIT
1,328
.754
74
10
27
37
30
Juan Uribe
LAD
900
.830
46
23
14
37
30
David Wright
NYM
1,003
.747
47
5
11
16
13
Martin Prado
ARI
881
.789
34
13
3
16
13
Matt Dominguez
HOU
1,312
.730
55
2
9
10
8
Brett Lawrie
TOR
888
.764
31
8
-0
7
6
Todd Frazier
CIN
1,256
.730
49
1
4
5
4
Placido Polanco
MIA
849
.734
30
1
-0
1
1
Evan Longoria
TBR
1,289
.742
42
5
-4
1
1
Josh Donaldson
OAK
1,373
.738
40
3
-9
-5
-4
Conor Gillaspie
CHW
940
.699
34
-6
1
-5
-4
Chase Headley
SDP
1,235
.738
33
3
-11
-7
-6
Chris Johnson
ATL
1,020
.714
28
-3
-8
-11
-9
Adrian Beltre
TEX
1,289
.704
37
-6
-9
-15
-12
Trevor Plouffe
MIN
1,035
.727
21
0
-16
-15
-12
Ryan Zimmerman
WSN
1,245
.668
45
-17
1
-16
-13
David Freese
STL
1,050
.658
36
-15
-1
-16
-13
Michael Young
- -
890
.662
29
-14
-3
-16
-13
Pablo Sandoval
SFG
1,152
.665
38
-14
-3
-17
-14
Mike Moustakas
KCR
1,129
.724
22
-0
-18
-18
-15
Kyle Seager
SEA
1,425
.697
39
-10
-11
-22
-17
Miguel Cabrera
DET
1,234
.656
26
-16
-18
-33
-27

Data source: FanGraphs.com

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