Everyone expects our outfield defense to be pretty horrible. Even though we have a bunch of total homers in this community, we've all come together on this point. So........ I'm going to politely disagree. Ok only a little.
First, I think our defense is going to be bad, as in below average. But, I think our predictions might be a bit too dire. First, as someone pointed out, corner outfield is just low on most priority lists (not negligible, just not a top concern). As Joe Posnanski said "He plays good defense in left field which is a bit like being a punter who who can tackle — handy, but mostly beside the point".
Secondly, I'm going with my guy, and saying that the stats are missing something. I don't use a stopwatch to clock Span, and I don't have the playing/coaching experience to be able to read the quality of his positioning and jumps. But he looks fast (really fast). He hit a triple at yankee stadium a couple of years ago, and the people around me couldn't believe how quickly he got around the bases. I have the same reaction watching him run in the outfield.Delmon - the guy looks like he needs a hip transplant. Seriously, the average 75 year old is as flexible. But, I don't understand how his numbers slid so far from Tampa. Baseball players help me out - either his stats were inflated in TB, are deflated here, or shifting from right to left is harder than it seems. Also, he's fast, even if he doesn't change direction well. And the putouts have to be worth something (less than range, obviously).
Cuddyer - not fast (very not fast). But, he looks like he gets to a good number of balls, and people do seem to hold up on him. I just don't understand why his numbers cratered from before.
Kubel - ok, Kubel just does not look like an outfielder. He looks slow, and awkward. They used to say he had a great arm in the minors, but it doesn't look like it to me.
Ok, so now I've covered my gut reaction, but this site demands analysis. So, how can I support my claim. Alright, here goes. I think that Gomez ruined our outfield. ....No, that's not quite right.... How about this: Gomez stole the stats. Yeah, that sounds better.
If I understand UZR (I might not), then players get credit for every ball in their zone they get to, compared to the expected number for that position, plus they get credit for balls out of their zone. So, Gomez's ridiculous stats mean that he got all of the balls in his zone, and lots of them out of his zone. The question is, if Gomez didn't get the balls out of his zone, who would? I think that a lot of these would have gone to the other guys (some would have been hits). Every out of zone ball he caught, was in someone else's zone. In this respect, you almost have to look at the OF as a whole, and compare them to average.
As a whole, the OF defense was still bad (if you can just add up UZRs, I don't know if that works, but I get like - 30). But I'm wondering if they'll look better individually without Gomez, if everyone only puts up a -5, or something, for an aggregate -20 for the year, with good to great offense.
Lastly, if I'm wrong, and this isn't it, then Young needs to go to RF, and Cuddyer to LF. But, I dont' think that's the problem. Any amateur scouts want to tell me if there's a real difference?