Recently, FanGraphs updated its UZR measurements for 2010 (for park factors, power of the batter, speed of the batter, etc.), which subsequently influenced player ratings in previous seasons. In most cases, even with the alteration to UZR’s formula, the fielding numbers for players did not change significantly to the point where one player went from an excellent fielder to a poor fielder and vice versa. However, I did notice that our former left fielder, Johnny Damon, did experience a noticeable shift in his 2009 rating, and it is a shift that seems worthy of discussion.
Prior to the UZR update, last season, Damon posted a -9.2 Ultimate Zone Rating. Though the rating was largely dependent upon the 36-year old’s poor arm rating at -4.1 runs, his range was also an issue at -3.7 runs (add his negative error runs total to the two measures and you get -9.2). After the UZR update though, Damon’s 2009 UZR now stands at a much more manageable -4.1 runs (-5.5 UZR/150). Damon was, essentially, a tick below average in 2009, according to UZR. And while his arm is still a problem even after the positive change – the measure went from -3.7 to -3.0 – Damon’s range rating is much better at 0.2. His range rating wasn’t all that bad to begin with a year ago (his arm was the main issue), but, now that UZR is updated, his overall number has markedly improved.
I wonder how analyses of Damon might have changed a season ago if we had access to Damon’s -4.1 UZR at the end of the year, rather than his -9.2 mark. Damon still wasn’t the greatest outfielder, even with the UZR update taken into account, however, maybe more fans would have wanted the Yankees to re-sign him had this data been available.