Friday, June 3, 2011

Just How Bad is Ludwick's Defense?

Actually he usually catches these.
You've heard it.  You may have said it:  Ryan Ludwick is a lousy defensive outfielder.  Well with 35% of this season's games played, we have enough data to ask:  just how bad is Ludwick defensively?

Let's use Dewan's plus/minus metric as our measuring stick.  Ever wondered how that stat is calculated?  Here you go:
A player gets credit (a "plus" number) if he makes a play that at least one other player at his position missed during the season, and he loses credit (a "minus" number) if he misses a play that at least one player made.
Simple, and effective.  Here's the leaderboard through last night:

Thirteen names on the list.  Ryan Ludwick is not oe of them.  Oh gee whiz he really does suck, I mean he's not even in the top 13! 

Well maybe not.  Ludwick is actually fourteenth at +4.  Thirty teams in the league, he sits in 14th, that means he's spectacularly average in left.  Let's take it one step further:  how does he stack up against the rest of the NL West?
  1. Parra (AZ) +23.  Statistically he's the best defensive LF in the game today.
  2. Ludwick (SD) +4.  Surprised?  He ranks 14th overall as we mentioned previously.
  3. Sands (LA) 0.  He's a rookie; ranks 25th at the moment.
  4. C. Gonzalez (COL) -2.  This surprised me a bit.  Everyone knows CarGo (probably the stupidest nickname I've seen recently) has blossomed into a force at the plate, but I had no idea he was inept in the field.  Gonzalez is ranked 27th.
  5. Ross (SF) 0.  He spent a month hurt and is still rounding into shape.  Dewan assigns him no rank based on a lack of data.
We will revisit this again as the season wears on, but I think complaints about Ludwick's poor defense are overblown a lot.  He may not be exceptional, but he's good enough.


  1. So howcome you didn't list Tony Gwynn as a NL left fielder at +6? He certainly gets a fair amount of playing time.

  2. Two reasons: (1) lists Sands as the LF on the depth chart. (2) My understanding is Mattingly uses Gwynn more as a 4th outfielder.

    Thanks for the comment. I'll take a look at the Dodger OF inning numbers and adjust as needed.

  3. Yeah checked Baseball-Reference and Fangraphs. Through Sunday's games Sands had 79 more innings in left than Gwynn. I was looking to make comparisons between everyday fielders. So I'll leave Gwynn out of the post.

    Gwynn's a better defensive OF than Ludwick but Gwynn is not playing every day.