Watching the internet grab hold of an idea, shaking it until death, really is a sight to behold. A current meme among Blue Jays fans which continuously irks is the "Move Aaron Hill to Third Base" movement. The arrival of the Langley Bard this week seems to say, to most people, that Aaron Hill should shuffle his out-making bones to the hot corner because, well, Brett Lawrie is shinier and newer.
Too many people in our Getting Blanked chats this week closed the book on Aaron Hill's time at
While UZR doesn't love Aaron Hill, nearly all other defensive systems and rankings do. Over the last three years, Hill ranks 4th among second baseman in Dewan's +/-, third in revised zone rating. He ranks 5th in Fangraphs fan scouting report runs in addition to winning two Fielding Bible awards (2007 & 2009). Hill ranks well again this year in the panel vote, picking up first place consideration from the Baseball Info Solutions video scouts a.k.a. guys who watch an insane amount of video.
In other words, Aaron Hill is really good defensively at second. Why take away from that? Why add variables to the defensive mix? Alex Anthopoulos doesn't think much of that idea either:
"Right now, [Hill] is our second baseman," Anthopoulos said. "The only scenario that we would talk about moving him is if we felt that it was someone that was a significant piece."If you'll permit me to read between the lines/graft my own opinion onto an Alex Anthopoulos quote; I take "significant piece" to mean:
- better than Hill or
- so bad at every other position as to present no alternative.
But this isn't (yet) about finding a defensive home for Brett Lawrie. This is about the value of having a plus defender on your club. As it stands, Aaron Hill is one of a select few. Moving Aaron Hill is silly, because Aaron Hill is good.
While We're On the Topic
With the real Age of Field F/X Enlightenment just over the horizon, I noticed a real uptick in debate over the merits of defensive stats in the darkest, nerdiest corners of the blogoverse. Discussions of range bias skewing video-based metrics and the vagaries in batted ball information punch increasingly large holes in UZR and the like.
It is my view that these numbers, all of them, have value if used correctly. For me, UZR/150 works only when taking a large number and making it small. It is not an accurate or fair way to extrapolate tiny numbers. If you say "over the past three years, Player X has a UZR/150 of Y", you'll get my attention. If you say "in 10 games, Player Z has a UZR/150 of 40", I'm clicking away.
You won't see me use decimals in UZR numbers as that indicates a level of precision the metric simply cannot support. These numbers of course work best when paired with observed skills by your lying eyes.
It is important for all of us to use these tools fairly and honestly if we expect buy-in from the greater baseballing population. Which, I hope, is the goal. For a lot of us, advanced stats aren't anything by themselves, they simply deepen our appreciation and understanding of the game. Which leads to more informed people having more entertaining and interesting debates. Which is what brings most of us here in the first place, right?
Image courtesy of flickr user mittsuniverse via Renaissance Man Matias.