Is the Tyniest outfielder as valuable as everyone's favorite homerun robber? According to some metrics, yes he is.
An article today at the sports blog Sportszilla made a claim that I thought you here at TwinkieTown would have some good, strong opinions on, one way or the other. The article started straightforward enough, discussing the underrated value of fielding when people propose trades, underpinned with quite a bit of statistical analysis (primarily Ultimate Zone Rating), before moving on to their central thesis, a discussion of a Fire Joe Morgan post that they thought was unjustly harsh toward the idea of a straight-up Hunter-for-A-Rod trade posited by Howard Sinker in his blog for the Star-Tribune.
This is where it gets interesting. According to Sportszilla, the trade would be great for the Twins not just because it's an upgrade at third base (duh), but because it would occur without a downgrade in center field. "What?!" I hear you all asking. "If Torii were gone, the Twins would have to put someone like Jason Tyner there!"
Exactly. According to their stats, Hunter's offense is pretty much average for centerfielders, and UZR has him at one win above average in the field. Tyner comes in at 1.5 wins below average at the plate, as we'd all expect, but UZR says that he is worth 2.5 wins above average as a centerfielder. Add that up, and either player is worth one extra win to his team over the average centerfielder.
What say you, TwinkieTown? Are these fielding metrics a load of hooey, skewed by sample size or pure unreliability? Have we been panicking about the centerfielder of the immediate future too much, ignoring a good one sitting just down the bench? What are everyone's personal observations of Tyner's defense, for those like me who don't get to see many games?