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’ left fielders stack up against league averages.
It’s no secret that Raul Ibanez and Vernon Wells were no great shakes on defense. The last two Yankees left fielders were ok on balls hit right at them, but were rarely made the tough plays — not surprising, since neither seemed to be very fleet of foot. Ibanez was especially poor, not making a single catch deemed to be playable even 40% of the time.
This year, Brett Gardner will take over in left and will be leaps and bounds better than Ibanez and Wells. We don’t have Inside Edge stats from the 2011 season, but I’d imagine Gardy would have been above average across the board. He put up UZR’s north of 25 (!) as a left fielder in both 2010 and 2011 and other defensive metrics adored him as well, so he was clearly making more than his share of plays out there.