Last week, 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’ shortstops — past and present — stack up against league averages.
That about sums up Jeter’s defense — capable of handling balls hit right at him, but absolutely dismal range. In the last two years, the cap’n didn’t make a single play that the inside edge scouts deemed to be playable even 40% of the time. Overall, Jeter’s not very good at playing shortstop. Still, the fact that he hardly ever makes an error, has made him somewhat passable. Who knows if that’ll still be the case this year given his recurring leg issues.
Jeter may be a poor defensive shortstop, but Eduardo Nunez has been much worse. His .949 fielding percentage from the last two years was worse than any shortstop other than Dee Gordon — and his fielding was even more atrocious in 2011. Still, Nunie’s somehow managed to log 152 games at short with the bombers. Nunez’s range isn’t terrible, but frankly, it doesn’t matter how many balls you can get to if your just going to misplay over 5% of them. By now, you’d think the a Yankees would have moved him to the outfield or just cut him loose. But sadly, he figures to see a good chunk of playing time around the infield in 2014.
You probably don’t need any data to know that Brendan Ryan‘s an excellent fielder. Ryan is pretty much above average across the board at arguably the most premium position on the baseball diamond. Given the alternatives, Ryan may be our only hope of seeing a passable shortstop defense anytime soon. If only he could hit.