A couple of weeks ago, Fangraphs added fielding data from Inside Edge to their site for the 2012 and 2013 seasons. Inside Edge is a company that employs scouts who measure the difficulty of fielding each ball in play. For each player, we now have a percentage for plays he made by degree of difficulty — from “almost certain” to “remote.” Any data based purely on scouting is subjective in nature, but it is still likely gives us some useful insight.
Here’s how Yankees’ past Yankees’ right fielders stack up against league averages.
Although he never really looked the part, Nick Swisher was actually a pretty decent right fielder, putting up a +12 UZR over his four years in the Bronx. Swish generated most of his value with his bat, but his defense was an underrated part of his game.
Ichiro Suzuki may not be much of a hitter anymore, but he’s still capable of playing an above-average right field. Despite pushing 40, Ichiro graded out very well the last couple of years, especially with regard to the more difficult plays. He figures to play a much lesser role with the team this year, but should come in handy as a pinch-runner and defensive replacement.
The newly-aquired Carlos Beltran figures to get the majority of starts in right field this year with a little bit of Ichiro and Alfonso Soriano sprinkled in as well. Once a top-flight center fielder, Beltran’s defensive prowess has been sapped by recurring knee problems. Even as a corner outfielder, the Inside Edge data and the advanced metrics agree that Beltran’s below average at this point. He’s probably still passable right, but plus defense just isn’t part of his game anymore.