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June 30, 2006

Zone Rating by Week - Jeter and Rodriguez
by SG

As has probably been painfully obvious to the regular readers here, I've been obsessed with defense lately. while I still think there is a long way to go with tracking defense and it is almost impossible to quantify a player's true defensive talent, that hasn't stopped many from trying, including yours truly.

One thing that really spurred my interested in defense was last season's performance by Alex Rodriguez. Rodriguez had a rough first half before improving greatly in the second half. Unfortunately, that Zone Rating statistic that is free and publically available is not recorded in splits, but as a year-to-date total.

I've talked a lot about Zone Rating in this space over the past few months, but I'm not sure I've ever really give a compete description of it and I am sure many of you are too lazy to click on the links I've provided that give more background on it.

Chris Dial over at Baseball Think Factory wrote the clearest and most understandable explanation of zone rating that I've seen. I encourage everyone to go take a look at it if you want to understand the next part of this post.

So, anyhow, I decided that I wanted to see how players performed defensively over the course of the season, and I wanted this information to be broken down on a weekly basis. Therefore, I've been recording the ZR of all the players in the majors at the end of every week of the season so far. I have no idea how useful this will end up being, but at least I'll have it.

After 12 weeks, I thought I'd look at a couple of Yankees, namely the left side of the infield. I've plotted their ZR by week below in comparison to the league average at their position at the same point.

I thought this was interesting. Jeter started off very poorly and has slowly improved defensively. He's still below average, but not nearly as bad as he started.

Much like his hitting, Rodriguez's defense has been somewhat inconsistent. Right now he's about average, which while better than last year is still a little disappointing.

If anyone finds this useful or wants to see any other players let me know.

Update: Added Melky in LF and Bernie in RF by request from Brent

The Yankees get the "Mighty" Mets now, who are fresh off getting their asses handed to them by the Red Sox. Way to step up Mets. The pitching matchups:

O. Hernandez (4-7, 5.82) vs. M. Mussina (9-3, 3.28)

S. Trachsel (6-4, 4.82) vs. R. Johnson (9-6, 4.84)

A. Soler (2-2, 4.68) vs.J. Wright (4-5, 4.18)

Those matchups seem to heavily favor the Yankees, which probably means they'll get swept. 2 out of 3 doesn't seem like enough to me, so let's hope for a sweep by the real Kings of New York.