Originally written on Monkey with a Halo  |  Last updated 5/22/13
The Angels' outfield defense was supposed to be a many splendored thing. With Josh Hamilton supplanting Mark Trumbo in right field, Mike Trout shifting to left and Peter Bourjos returning to a starting role in center, the Halos had arguably the best defensive outfield in all of the land. We even joked how the Halos could play just Trout and Bourjos and still have nary a ball drop in the outfield. Ha! Ha! Ha! LOLZ. /fart sounds Intellectually, that all still makes sense. Mike Trout and, when healthy, Peter Bourjos have range on range on range. And that Josh Hamilton guy is no slouch either when playing in the corner rather than center where he just doesn't have the athleticism anymore. The problem is that our eyes thus far hath been deceived... or at least that is what the defensive metrics would have us believe. Just look at this table of how the Angels' preferred starting outfield grades out in the most popular advanced defensive metrics. SPOILER ALERT: Negative numbers are no bueno. NAME UZR/150 DRS FRAA Mike Trout -2.9 -5 -0.3 Peter Bourjos -22.5 -1 -0.9 Josh Hamilton -0.4 -4 -1.1 You get a negative UZR! You get a negative FRAA! You get a negative DRS! What in fresh hell is going on here? The obvious caveat here is that advanced defensive metrics for roughly a quarter of a season are full of noise and equine excrement, but it strikes me as weird that all three of main defensive rating systems rate all three outfielders between below average and Delmon Young-esque. Oh but the weirdness doesn't end there. Guess who has a UZR/150 of +12.7, DRS of +1 and FRAA of +0.1? Mark Trumbo because of course Mark Trumbo does. Nothing about this Angel season makes any damned sense, why should we expect the defensive metrics to be any different? I'm not even going to try and dissect each metric to explain how it is that the Angels' trio is being underrated compared to what the highlight reels suggest. Defensive metrics are weird and I am not nearly well versed enough in them to explain away their fluctuations. For all I know the Angels are doing something weird with their outfield shifts. Maybe it is just some odd bit of bad luck. Maybe it is somehow the result of the Angel pitchers being terrible because everything is this crappy pitching staff's fault. Or maybe Trout and Bourjos and Hamilton really are having a rough stretch on the defensive front. It is because of the weirdness of the defensive metrics that makes me think this is much ado about nothing. Trout is amazing and Bourjos is amaze balls. Both of them (and Hamilton too) are still making a ton of out of zone plays and still, when healthy, providing outfield defense porn on the regular. They'll be fine in the long run, but the metrics remain confusing in the short run. It is just another oddity of this already confounding season. [follow]
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