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Marlins think Adeiny Hechavarria is better with the glove than defensive metrics indicate

Nov 30, 2013, 4:15 PM EDT

Adeiny Hechavarria Getty Getty Images

Interesting story from Juan C. Rodriguez of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel about Marlins shortstop Adeiny Hechavarria and advanced defensive metrics.

The Marlins are confident that Hechavarria is one of the best defensive shortstops in the league — in fact, Marlins president of baseball operations Michael Hill was “befuddled” that he wasn’t one of the finalists for the Gold Glove Award — but advanced metrics don’t see it that way. The 24-year-old was second-to-last in UZR (Ultimate Zone Rating) this past season among shortstops with at least 935 innings played. Meanwhile, he was tied for 18th among regular shortstops in DRS (defensive runs saved).

How could there be such a difference of opinion between what the Marlins evaluate with the eye test and how he grades out by defensive metrics? According to Baseball Info Solutions (BIS) research and development associate Joe Rosales, poor positioning could be keeping Hechavarria from meeting his potential as a defender.

“On a physical level, [Hechavarria] matches up well with somebody like Simmons,” Rosales said. “When you see him out there he does compare favorably to some of the best shortstops. His objective metrics aren’t matching up and when we’re able to dig through it, it looks like it’s just a positioning thing.”

Based on BIS research, no shortstop in baseball was better at fielding balls to his left than Hechavarria (plus-15). Among the 35 players with most innings at shortstop, Hechavarria ranked 32nd with a minus-16 on balls to his right.

“When it comes to where he sets up versus right-handed batters, he doesn’t cheat over toward the hole as much as most shortstops do,” Rosales said. “He’s just not making those plays as much as other shortstops are on balls hit toward the hole. If he could focus on that one area of how he positions himself against right-handed batters, [objectively] he could be just as good as anybody else.”

Defensive metrics aren’t perfect and sometimes fluctuate from one season to the next, but Marlins infield coach Perry Hill seems to find them instructive in this case and holds himself accountable for getting Hechavarria in the right position moving forward.

“I guess the numbers don’t lie. I need to do a better job getting him in the right place, bottom line. I saw a lot of good shortstops. I didn’t see anyone that was any better than him.”

Good stuff by Rodriguez. Well worth reading on a slow Saturday in the baseball world.

  1. tfbuckfutter - Nov 30, 2013 at 4:30 PM

    It’s probably a case of comparing him to a specific AL shortstop who has a certain number of Gold Gloves in his trophy case, and assuming that’s the standard for being a Gold Glove contender.

  2. zackd2 - Nov 30, 2013 at 4:31 PM

    Why do people always feel the need to mention that defensive stats fluctuate? All stats fluctuate. Career .250 hitters can hit .280 or .315, SP with career ERA of 4.5 can throw to a 3.5 for a season, people have career highs/ lows in HR, OBP, W-L, WAR, wOBA. Every stat, saber metric or traditional.

    • paperlions - Nov 30, 2013 at 5:26 PM

      People started mentioning it because some people seem to think that defensive performance shouldn’t vary like base running or batting does, which is silly….but that perception exists. Those same people use inter-annual variation in advanced defensive metrics as “evidence” that they aren’t reliable or useful. Of course, those same people ignore the fact that traditional defensive metrics (e.g. errors, fielding %) also vary greatly as do all other metrics of baseball performance. Rare is the player who hits the same every year…..but some people act like all players should essentially field the same every year.

  3. NatsLady - Nov 30, 2013 at 4:43 PM

    Watched him play quite a bit. He was fantastic when he first came up, some real “Web gem” type plays. Then he seemed to settle into “normal.” Maybe he got fatigued or discouraged, or, as mentioned, wasn’t being positioned well.

    • proudlycanadian - Nov 30, 2013 at 5:26 PM

      You were watching him when he first came up with the Jays? He certainly is excellent with the glove. His hitting has been problematic.

      • NatsLady - Nov 30, 2013 at 6:50 PM

        Yeah, I meant with the Marlins. I admit, I don’t pay much mind to the Jays except every third year.

      • proudlycanadian - Nov 30, 2013 at 6:53 PM

        Nice picture.

    • Old Gator - Nov 30, 2013 at 6:48 PM

      He still produces web gems on a regular basis. In terms of his physical skills and reflexes, he’s capable of uncanny defensive exploits. Remember that supernatural leaping grab he made late this past season – can’t recall offhand against who (I have repressed most of last season, but then I have repressed most of the seasons since the franchise was accursed by Scrooge McLoria’s ownership)? It was embedded here on Circling the Bases – and I can still see it in my mind’s eye as if it were yesterday.

      If his problem has been positioning, and Perry Hill is now aware of it, I guarangoddamntee you that you’ll see some serious improvement next season.

      In Hechavarria’s defense, I mean. The team as a whole is still going to suck.

      • NatsLady - Nov 30, 2013 at 7:02 PM

        Well, there are several to choose from, but here’s one against the Fillies.

      • Old Gator - Nov 30, 2013 at 7:07 PM

        Thet thar is the one.

        Looking at it now, with the benefit of hindsight, it’s damned lucky he didn’t break one of his wrists when he came back down.

        Still, that’s what he’s capable of performing. As I say below, if Hill can get him to cheat to his right against right handed hitters, his stats ought to improve.

  4. jimmymarlinsfan - Nov 30, 2013 at 5:59 PM

    Advanced defensive metrics…code for, I don’t watch the game but feel like I know every goddamn thing about it

    • zackd2 - Nov 30, 2013 at 6:07 PM

      Very similar to the, “screw stats, Player X is a winner!” Crowd

      • jimmymarlinsfan - Nov 30, 2013 at 7:19 PM

        Except I give give a lot more credence to those who watch the game day in, day out then those who do not. You know, like how scouts used to

    • Ryan Lansing - Nov 30, 2013 at 6:10 PM

      Some of the advanced defensive stats are actually based on guys watching every play on video. No normal person has the time to watch enough baseball to accurately evaluate a player. You’d have to watch every single inning he played, and watch every inning every other shortstop played to have something to compare him to, and you’d have to actually know what you’re looking for. Normal fans can get an idea of whether a guy is or bad or average but that’s about it.

      If you watched every at-bat by a player but never looked at stats and didn’t keep your own, you’d be lucky to guess his batting average within 50 points.

    • tfbuckfutter - Nov 30, 2013 at 6:16 PM

      I don’t know anything about you but I can use a formula to determine a few things about you:

      Personality = (Attitude x knowledge) / (Jokes x humor)’

      My calculations say you’re a dick.

      • jimmymarlinsfan - Nov 30, 2013 at 7:14 PM

        Sure takes a big man to talk tough on the internet. Or would you like some calculations for that?

      • tfbuckfutter - Nov 30, 2013 at 7:19 PM

        I would love to see what you can draw up.

      • jimmymarlinsfan - Nov 30, 2013 at 9:15 PM

        X x Y= XY.

        U + Gator= waste of oxygen.

        After all, there are fish in the sea who could use that oxygen more productively

      • Old Gator - Nov 30, 2013 at 11:38 PM

        It’s fortunate that jimmythemarlinsgull only needed two integers to perform his calculations. That involved just two fingers. He’d’ve been up fecal creek if he had needed eleven.

      • tfbuckfutter - Dec 1, 2013 at 12:40 AM

        Dude, I asked you for original calculations.

        I didn’t ask you to reinforce my original findings.

      • jimmymarlinsfan - Dec 1, 2013 at 7:21 PM

        My calculations are original. It’s not my fault you and gator are idiots

    • Old Gator - Nov 30, 2013 at 6:43 PM

      jimmythemarlinsfan, code for “blinkered shill.”

      • proudlycanadian - Nov 30, 2013 at 6:52 PM

        Hi Gator. The white stuff on the ground in the Toronto area is almost gone. It will not last for long.

      • Old Gator - Nov 30, 2013 at 6:58 PM

        Perhaps not, but like the Terminator, it will be back.

      • jimmymarlinsfan - Nov 30, 2013 at 7:17 PM

        Old gator, code for I hate the local teams, people, politicians, and anyone who actually likes the Marlins. Is obviously old, out of touch and spends entirely too much time going through Jeff Loria’s trash

      • Reflex - Nov 30, 2013 at 9:45 PM

        Based on attendance this past season, OG is not the one who is out of touch.

        Fact: The Marlins owner is the absolute worst in baseball, behind even the Wilpons
        Fact: The local politicians who approved the new stadium committed illegal acts to get it approved and multiple ongoing federal investigations are ongoing as a result
        Fact: The Marlins, as a team, suck right now

        Based on the facts, it seems OG is accurate in his appraisal. It also seems you are somehow on the Marlins payroll given your behavior and how much it does NOT reflect local Miami sentiment.

      • jimmymarlinsfan - Nov 30, 2013 at 10:18 PM

        Reflex, I detect an awful lot of opinion in your “facts”

        And you don’t know what the hell you are talking about. Go watch more ESPN for your amazing baseball knowledge

      • Old Gator - Nov 30, 2013 at 11:03 PM

        Reflex: jimmythemarlinsgull isn’t even local. Living somewhere in Massachusetts, he is blissfully untouched by the long term financial damage the corrupt backroom arrangements and incompetent financing structure set up by Scrooge McLoria and the local politicos have done to this community. Ergo, he can afford to inhabit his shill fantasyland and go on belching witless paens to an ownership that has proven itself many times over a blight on this polity.

        The local voters, you will recall, held a recall election last year which booted out the mayor who supported building the stadium by the largest plurality in Macondo’s electoral history. Poll after poll affirmed that one of the biggest sources of voter dissatisfaction was the stadium deal. Here ya go:

        You are of course quite correct that there are ongoing federal and local investigations into the arrangements behind the financing of Macondo Banana Massacre Field:

        Jimmy apparently spends a great deal of time with his head up his ass (which he prefers to burying it in the sand to avoid contracting toxoplasmosis from cat scat) so he doesn’t hear much about it. If he did, he’d pretend he hadn’t anyway. These investigations have been reported here periodically and even the Macondo Feeshwrapper occasionally stirs from its millennial slumber to report on their progress:

        And as you can see, jimmy is also, to quote Evil in Time Bandits, blissfully unassaulted by the ravages of intelligence.

      • jimmymarlinsfan - Dec 1, 2013 at 7:25 PM

        Gator, how can someone as happily stupid AND ignorant have lived this long? Trying to disprove Darwin or do you just have a grudge against rationality and how things get done?

        Those investigations are going to go nowhere and guess what? The deal is done and he stadium stays no matter how much you hate the good people of Miami.

        But hey, you continue to go through Loria’s trash, looking for that magic bullet. Idiot

  5. Old Gator - Dec 1, 2013 at 9:38 PM

    Jimmy, you are Scrooge McLoria’s trash.

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