Monday, September 07, 2009

How good is Kouzmanoff's defense?

Monday September 7, 2009

I have been hearing alot about Kevin Kouzmanoff's defense and I wondered how he compared to the greats of my youth and more recent years. The guys that are enshrined in the Hall of Fame and others that simply known as great defenders.

I started with THE greatest defensive Third Baseman the game has ever known.

Brooks Robinson.

He won 18 Gold Gloves and is in the HOF today primarily because of his glove. Well, some might argue that last point since he got 2848 hits in 23 seasons in the majors, but lets just say he was KNOWN for his glove, not his bat.

Brooks Robinson's best season was 1967. He had a .980 fielding percentage and a 3.52 RF/9 with 11 errors.

The second player I wanted to see how Kouzmanoff compared to was my personal favorite, Mike Schmidt.

Schmidt won 10 Gold Gloves and some argue that he was the best NL 3B ever.

His best defensive year was 1986 when he had a .980 fielding percentage and a 2.59 RF/9 with 6 errors, although his best year for range was 1977 when he had a 3.49 RF/9.

I also looked up a couple of more recent 3B are known as great defenders, Eric Chavez for the A's, and Scott Rolen of the Phillies and Cardinals.

In Padres past we had one player that most people think of as a great 3B, Ken Caminiti.

Eric Chavez's best year defensively was 2006 when he had a .987 fFielding percentage and a 2.98 RF/9 with 5 errors.

Scott Rolen's best season defensively was 2004 when he had a .977 fielding percentage and a 3.06 RF/9 with 10 errors.

And Caminiti's best season, although it was not the one for which he won the Gold Glove for the Padres, was 1994 as an Astro when he had a .969 fielding percentage and a 2.72 RF/9 with 9 errors. Caminiti's best season for range was 1997 as a Padre when he had a 3.07 RF/9 but a .941 fielding percentage and 24 errors.

So there are the other commonly accepted greats with the glove at 3B.

How does Kouzmanoff's season in 2009 compare?

Fielding Percentage - .990 Best in MLB History.
RF/9 - 2.34 (Last season he had a 2.64 RF/9)
Errors - 3

In other words he is Schmidt like in his range and better once he touches the ball.

So he may not get to as many balls as some players like Robinson, but when he does, he gets an out.

Some people are saying that Ryan Zimmerman of the Nationals should win the Gold Glove because he has so much better range than Kouzmanoff, but his RF/9 is only 3.06. That type of range certainly does not place him among the greats of the game like Robinson.

And when Zimmerman gets to the ball he is only converting that chance to an out in .963 percent of the time.

By a combination of his range and the pitchers he is playing behind, Zimmerman has 404 TC to Kouzmanoff's 298 TC to date, and yet he has just one more double play turned. In other words Kouzmanoff has been much more efficient at turning the double play.

Both Kouzmanoff and Zimmerman have the same number of fielding errors - 3, but Kouzmanoff has ZERO throwing errors while Zimmerman has 12 throwing errors.

All in all, if the question is who should win the Gold Glove, in my way of thinking Kouzmanoff wins.


  1. Swingingfriar199/07/2009 11:31 PM

    Nice post.

    I've grown very tired of hearing arguements against Kouz's range factor. That stat is so dependant on who is pitching that it's ridiculous to make that the only argument for who is a gold glove and who is not.

  2. I don't know - from this coast, I think Zimmerman's chances are better. Zimmerman has 404 chances to Kouz's 298. He's got 284 assists to Kouz's 204. At the end of the day, Zimmerman's range is a lot better, and he gets a lot more guys out. Fielding percentage is just a function of errors. Not sure if you look at some of the more advanced defensive stats, but Ultimate Zone Rating has Zimmerman as 10 runs better than Kouz.

  3. For the guy who commented that Zimmerman had a better DP percentage, here are the stats:

    Zimmerman 24 DP in 74 chances with runners on base. 32.4%

    Kouzmanoff 23 double plays in 59 chances with runners on base. 38.9%

    The 6.5% difference means 38.9% DP conversion rate 20.006% better than 32.4% DP conversion rate.

    I actually had to go game by game, inning by inning, and situation by situation to add up the numbers, so you are not going to be able to be lazy if you want to see those stats.

    They just are not available on Fangraphs or THT.

    Stangely enough, they are not part of the UZR rating nor is the number/% of RHB faced or the % of ground balls induced.