Aug 30, 2006

Best Defensive Players

To continue my examination of the free-agency era Yanks, I'll next look at who've been the stellar glove-men since 1974. Look further down to see the best hitters of the era.

Defense is a particularly tough one, because stats are not nearly as helpful in determining defense as they are for pitching and hitting. Since I was born in 1980, I wasn't able to watch - or at least remember watching the Yanks until the late '80s. I'll use fielding %, zone rating, range factor, comparisons to others at the position, and general reputation to determine the best.

Defense (min. 100 innings)
Fielding %: 1b Wilson, 2b Cairo, 3b Arod, SS Jeter, LF Melky, CF Bernie, RF Bernie, P Wang, Rivera, Mussina
Range Factor: 1b Phillips, 2b Cairo, 3b Arod, SS Jeter, LF Matsui - Melky, CF Bubba - Damon, RF Abreu, P Rivera - Wang
Zone Rating: 1b Phillips, 2b Cairo, 3b Arod, SS Jeter, LF Matsui - Melky, CF Bernie, RF Sheff - Abreu, P Mussina - Rivera - Wang
Rate 2: 1b Phillips, 2b Cairo, 3b Arod, SS Jeter, LF Matsui - Melky, CF Damon, RF Abreu, P Rivera
RAR 2: 1b Phillips, 2b Cano, 3b Arod, SS Jeter, LF Melky, CF Damon, RF Abreu, P Wang
RAA 2: 1b Wilson, 2b Cano, 3b Arod, SS Jeter, LF Melky, CF Bubba, RF Abreu, P Wang
My own Spectacular Play Reps: Phillips, Jeter, Cano, Melky, Damon, Posada

Arod is on these lists by default. No one else has played more than 44 innings at third. Bernie shouldn't be mentioned: he's slower now, and has no arm. Abreu has an arm but little range. Damon has very good range but no arm. Jeter has made many great plays, but also has 11 errors. Posada is having his best defensive season: he's gunned down 38% of would-be base stealers (2nd in the AL). Comparing a pitcher's D to position players' D is difficult, but the best is clearly Wang (who also has double the number of chances as any other pitcher), followed by Mussina and Rivera, and Lidle if he had more Yankee innings.

In order:
1. Melky, improving everyday, 12 assists! (leads league), several highlight grabs
2. Phillips, if only he could hit a bit more. He made some spectacular plays
3. Posada, beside gunning down thieves, has made several great blocks of home-plate

Remember, this is 2006, not career. I'm going to attempt that next.

Yankee Gold Gloves:
2004-05: SS Jeter
2001: P Mussina
1997-2000: OF Bernie
1994-95: 3b Boggs
1991-94: 1b Mattingly
1985-89: 1b Mattingly
1982-85, 1987: OF Winfield
1982-86: P Guidry
1977-78: 3b Nettles
1978: 1b Chambliss
1973-75: C Munson

Mattingly, 9
Guidry, 5
Winfield, 5
Bernie, 4
Munson, 3
Nettles, 2
Jeter, 2
Boggs, 2
Chambliss, 1
Mussina, 1

It's pretty clear Donnie is #1, but let's see who'll follow.

[Work in progress]

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