Checking in on the Yankees' Defense

Remember when the Yankees were projected as the 3rd best defense in baseball before the season began? Those were the days. Entering play on May 19th, the Yankees rank 7th-worst in the bigs in UZR. Fangraphs would categorize that as somewhere between "Below Average" and "Poor".



While it's difficult to measure defense with stats, and UZR is far from the perfect defensive metric, you can look just about anywhere and find the Yankees at the bottom of the rankings. They're 22nd in Fielding Percentage (.981), 6th in Errors (28), and 14th in Defensive Runs Saved (-14).

The additions of Didi Gregorius and Chase Headley were supposed to remedy some of the Yankees' defensive woes, but it hasn't quite worked out. Headley (8) and Gregorius (4) have combined to commit 12 errors, with Stephen Drew adding 4. While Gregorius is enjoying the highest UZR of his career (1.3), Headley (-2.9) is far from where he was last year (20.9 with SD & NYY). He's gone from 13 Defensive Runs Saved a year ago to -5 this season.

Drew has been notably better at Shortstop, though the sample size is still small. In 63 frames, compared to 223 at 2B, Drew is 3rd on the team with a UZR of 1 when he plays Short, and -1.6 on the other side of the bag.

What's to make of all of this? Well, Chase Headley simply must be better. Alex Rodriguez won't be taking many - if any - starts from him this season. It's all on him to improve play at the hot corner. Drew has under-performed a bit, but maybe he needs a bit more time to adjust to playing second base.

Or, maybe the Yankees need someone else. The knock on Rob Refsnyder has always been his glove. Well, Drew can't hit, and he hasn't sparkled in the field. Maybe you take the kid with the bat and hope he can be near average on the diamond.