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’ center fielders stack up against league averages.
According to Inside Edge, Curtis Granderson looks like a plus center fielder. This doesn’t exactly jive with the advanced metrics, which pegged him as well below-average in his final days in center. I trust those metrics a little more than the Inside Edge scouts, but it’s interesting to see them disagree so fervently. Grandy’s definitely lost a step or two, but I’d say he looked a little better than his -18 UZR from 2012 suggests.
Like his defensive metrics, Brett Gardner‘s Inside Edge graph leaves a little to be desired considering he’s one of the fastest players in baseball. There are signs that Gardner may not be the super-elite defender he was a couple of years ago, but he’s still plenty fast — and it’s probably safe to say he’ll be one of the rangiest left fielders in baseball this year.
The Yankees’ newest center fielder, Jacoby Ellsbury, has also graded out well over the last couple of years and has even shown that he can make the nearly-impossible play. The Yankees should have an excellent defensive outfield this year with Ellsbury and Gardner playing side-by-side.