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’ third basemen — past and present — stack up against league averages.
Unsurprisingly, Alex Rodriguez‘s range wasn’t all that impressive the last couple of years. Age and and multiple leg injuries really did a number on his mobility. Still, according to Inside Edge’s scouts, A-Rod graded out very well on balls hit near him. Who knows if A-Rod will ever man third for the Yankees, but considering the lack of range he showed the last couple of years, it’s doubtful he’d be very good if he does end up being in the Yankees’ third base picture in 2015.
Once one of the premiere defensive third basemen in the game, Eric Chavez was merely average across the board according to these data. He was probably a better fielder than A-Rod in his time in pinstripes, but that’s not saying all that much.
This year, the Yankees will hand the reigns over to Kelly Johnson, who’s made all of 12 starts at the position. Johnson appeared in yesterday’s post on second basemen. Although his range was pretty poor at second base, he handled most of the balls hit right to him. So he might be a good fit at third where reaction time and throwing strength matter a little more than pure range. He’ll probably be a similar, but slightly better version of A-Rod at third: Fields everything that’s hit to him, but won’t make very many spectacular plays.