The Yankees have been playing much better baseball lately, and part of that has been because of the outfield defense. Let’s take a look at what the advanced metrics think of the outfield defense so far in 2018.
Since our outfielders play multiple positions, I have listed the meaningful stats for each position. For this exercise, we are going to be looking at Ultimate Zone Rating (UZR) and Defensive Runs Saved (DRS). You can read more about these two defensive metrics and how they are calculated here.
These values can fluctuate from season to season, but this is just a “defensive check in” so let’s look at the data. (Insert small sample size disclaimer here).
The narrative of “giant slugger, poor defender” doesn’t work for our large adult son. Aaron Judge is a more than competent outfielder, and is probably one of the best in the American League. He has the range, arm, and the height to make plays like this on a regular basis.
However, let’s not forget Giancarlo Stanton. He’s also extremely athletic and is no slouch in the field either. Stanton has played a little RF this season with the Yankees, so his numbers are listed below as well.
I remember when the Yankees traded for Aaron Hicks, I was upset. I was a big John Ryan Murphy fan at the time, and Hicks hadn’t really shown enough at the MLB level to be an everyday guy on a top tier team. Boy was I wrong. Hicks brought his stellar defensive reputation over to the Yankees and has shined in center field the last few seasons. Here are his numbers below, along with Brett Gardner, who can still fill in at CF admirably.
Gardner has gotten off to a slow start with the bat this season, but his defensive skills are on display on a daily basis. He still has plus speed and an accurate throwing arm which makes him an asset in left field. Perhaps the days of a +20 DRS are over for him, but I still expect him to be one of the best in the league when the season concludes. The bigger surprise here is how well Stanton has adjusted to left field. In spring training he looked lost at times at the new position, but during the regular season he has acclimated himself well, and has even shined at times. The numbers below for him seems to match up with the eye test. Remember this game?
This concludes the outfield defensive check in. We’ll come back a little later in the season and update you all on what the numbers look like.