Aging Curves and UZR
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Stat of the Week
by Peter Liubicich
Aging Curves and UZR
This post was written by Peter Liubicich on December 20, 2012
Posted Under: Stat of the Week

Last week we took a look at Aging Curves and its effects on a player’s offensive skills through different statistics and looked at what the Angels can expect out of Josh Hamilton and his 5 year, $125 million contract.  This week we’ll look at the other side of a position player’s responsibilities and how age affects their defensive abilities.

When we think about defensive abilities, Ultimate Zone Rating is the statistic that is most often used to describe a player’s range or lack thereof.  For a player’s batting skills, they often peak at 29 or 30, but with defensive skills, according to FanGraphs, a player often peaks when they are youngest and begins to decline in their early to mid-20’s.  This is because “That is because speed, agility, and
the willingness to put one’s body in harm’s way tend to be fleeting
skills for most professional athletes. And all three of those skills
are what correlate best with defensive ability.”  First let’s remind you of what a good UZR looks like:

Defensive Ability

UZR

Gold Glove Caliber

+15

Great

+10

Above Average

+5

Average

0

Below  Average

-5

Poor

-10

Awful

-15

And now let’s look at Elvis Andrus and Dustin Pedroia, two players who are considered among the best defensively at their positions and see if they are beginning to regress defensively.

Elvis Andrus

Year

UZR/150

2009

13.5

2010

0.3

2011

6.9

2012

9.1

Andrus at his youngest was an outstanding shortstop but regressed mightily in 2010 but has returned to great form recently.  As he gets older his numbers will gravitate towards being above average but any team looking for a strong defensive shortstop should definitely look at the young Ranger.

Dustin Pedroia

Year

UZR/150

2007

4.2

2008

10.3

2009

9.1

2010

9.6

2011

19.4

2012

10.8

Pedroia is often known for being gritty and tough nosed and his UZR actually got significantly better in 2011.  He returned to “Great” form last year and he should continue to be one of the top defensive second basemen in the next 5-7 years.

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