Friday, April 08, 2011

A Real Early Look at Fielding in MLB

A few days ago, there was a post in this space on how it appeared (at least early on) that offense had returned from a down year in 2010. One of the observations on how the error rate was up provoked a comment (thank you!) about fielding this year and how it appeared to be suffering around the league. Being of the curious sort anyway, a look was made to see how accurate that statement was. Again, it's early, but so far, it seems that fielding around baseball is pretty much the same as last year.

Last year, the accumulated MLB league average for fielding percentage was .983. So far this year, the league average is .983 (numbers culled from So nothing has changed there. Last year, the league average for defensive efficiency was .691. This year, the league average for fielding efficiency is .693. That shows a small increase in fielding efficiency in 2011's smaller sample size than what occurred a year ago. Fangraphs doesn't have their 2011 UZR or RngR posted yet, so we'll have to go with that.

A couple of interesting notes while looking at the early stats:

  • The Orioles rate on the top of the list so far this year in defensive efficiency after finishing slightly below league average last year.
  • The Yankees and Athletics came in second and third (respectively) in defensive efficiency last year. This year, the Yankees are in the middle of the pack and the Athletics are below average.
  • The Cardinals are pretty much where they were last year and perhaps a little better. That's a surprise.
  • The Mets are at the bottom of the list in fielding efficiency. The Astros are next to last.
  • Neither Chicago team is fielding very well as they rank 27th and 28th in the league in defensive efficiency.
  • You can't blame Boston's slow start to its defense. They are first in fielding percentage and sixth in efficiency.
  • The Giants' fielding efficiency was .707 last year. It's down to .669 this year.

Again, it's very early, but it may seem that the defense isn't as good around baseball as it was last year. But the numbers say otherwise.

1 comment:

Aaron said...

Really interesting post. I watched a lot of baseball opening weekend and both me and my girlfriend noticed that the Giants were just plain terrible at fielding the ball. They had so many bonehead errors in their series against the Dodgers - many of which led to runs. Not surprising to see them at the bottom of the NL West with that fielding %.