Steve Sommer of Play a Hard Nine posted 2010 defensive projections in November, so let’s look at how the Pirates stack up. Steve combined UZR numbers and the results from Tom Tango’s Fan Scouting Report to come up with his projections. Check out his post for details on the methodology.
In an attempt to give the projections a more visual appearance, I created a knock-off version of Justin Bopp’s TargetView graphs. Above average defenders are in green while below average defenders are in red. Each ring represents one run away from average. For example, Lastings Milledge is projected to be a +5 defender, so he is represented by five green rings. Ronny Cedeno, a -3 defender, is represented by three red rings. My photoshopping skills are very limited, so things look a bit choppy. You can probably tell that the rings are not drawn to scale.
I won’t go into a very detailed analysis, but the one thing that I wanted to touch on is Pedro Alvarez’s future position. The general expectation is that Alvarez will play third upon his arrival in Pittsburgh, with Andy LaRoche potentially moving to second base to make room. I would much rather see Alvarez plugged in at first base instead. Playing Alvarez at third weakens that position, and moving LaRoche to second would weaken another spot. On the other hand, Alvarez would be an upgrade over Clement at first and that would keep LaRoche’s above average glove at third and Akinori Iwamura on the field at second. That extra defensive value outweighs the minor offensive advantage that Clement is likely to hold over LaRoche or Iwamura.
I will finish with an encouraging thought. If we plug Alvarez in at first and Jose Tabata into right, there will likely be quite a bit of green on this picture in one year.