Is Sheffield most negative defender?
In WAR which uses total zone I think, Sheffield is -177 defensive runs and also a net -95 for his position.
This is a greater net negative than if he had played a full time DH which gives about -14 positional runs per 162.
What players have the most negative defensive runs, and combined defensive runs with positional value?
Dick Allen has -110/-48 in a 15 year career(did not play much the last two of those seasons).
Originally Posted by brett
Dante Bichette's defensive numbers are pretty brutal if I remember correctly. It pretty much negated any offensive value he had. I'm not sure if he's the worst ever, though.
Sheffield has the most combined negative value. For rates, it's hard to beat Danny Tartabull, who had a -120/-82 in a 14 year career.
By my own metric, Gary Sheffield is a far cry from worst. In fact there are a few general observations that would argue he is a darn sight better than "decent," if one just looks at his beginnings and evolution as a defensive player:
1. He started out as an infielder, most play being at 3B, where he was about average in 1990, and slightly above average in 1992. In 1992, his defense performance line was Games [138.6, based upon innings]; Assists ; PO ; DP ; E  rating .959 against a League average of .951, or + 2 DR.
2. If he suffers in OF play, it would appears to be on evaluations rigidly constructed on Range Factor. Even at that, I have him as a decidedly sub-par RF in 1996 and 2001, when he was clearly in a seasonal range of -8 DR below average, to be adjusted for playing time].
3. In 2004 I have him well above average, on a par with say, J.D. Drew, about +8 DR above average [to be adjusted for playing time]. Other seasons in which I have run ratings for Sheffield would be 1997 and 1998 when he was solidly in or slightly above average for LF.
Where the monumental minus run are coming from is beyond me. Sheffield has also exhibited some explosive [good] moments with his arm, which should not be too surprising for a player who started out at 3B.
Am I calling Sheffield a premiere, top flight defender? No, I am saying he varies +/- average, a bit more to the + side in most seasons, with two notably poor seasons - in one of which he did rack up a pretty impressive number of OF assists.
What about 93 at third base. Total zone has that as one of the very worst defensive seasons ever at -32. Just his 34 errors would have cost him about 18-20 runs on an average third baseman.
Originally Posted by leewileyfan
Let's look at that 1993 season very closely and see how Sheffield fared at 3B against League 3B play, his own team at 3B and in the full context of how much good or harm a player can do over the course of a particular season at a particular position.
Originally Posted by brett
I ran ALL 3B play in the N.L  on a team basis to arrive at a League 3B defensive composite. I used innings played to determine games and did the standard inputs I use for my metric: PO, A, DP, E [which I believe is all you need, if the metric is otherwise properly set up to weigh the dynamics. What follows are the N.L. 3B defensive metrics, all teams, 1963. The League average at 3B turned out to be .949.
A rating, by my metric is not to be confused with fielding percentage. The metric is so constructed to produce a measure that is familiar to anyone interested in defense and looking for ease in converting a rating into "defense runs."
The +/- numbers after the ratings are the conversion of ratings into Defense Runs +/- average.
PHI .923 -6.16
MON .952 +0.71
STL .956 +1.66
CHI .958 +2.13
PGH .979 +7.11
FLA .944 -0.24
NYM .961 +2.84
ATL .959 +2.37
SFG .955 +1.44
HOU .947 -0.47
LAD .936 -3.08
CIN .937 -2.84
COL .951 +0.47
SDP .924 -5.93
Some initial observations:
The LOWEST rated team at 3B, PHI, won the N.L east division; then went on to defeat ATL [+2.37] in the playoff, eventually losing the Worls Series. They were very low in assists made, paltry in DP's turned and relatively high in errors, compared to other factors. It didn't seem too devastating to their pennant hopes].
Sheffield, whose personal, individual 1993 season at 3B gets a rating of .930, was by the metric -4.5 DR compared to League average. However, Sheffield's season was SPLIT between two teams, FLA and SDP, so his +/- DR are diluted by actual playing time. Yes, overall, he committed 34 errors on the season, divided between two teams; but there were other factors at play as well: put-outs [nothing to brag about, but more routine at third base; assists where FLA was competitive - SDP less so; and DP's turned where both clubs were about average.
1993 was a season in which I had not run a rating on Sheffield at any position. It wasn't avoidance. I was, at that point in my reasearch, trying to evaluate "the best" at each position; and Gary's numbers didn't fit the model. I had run 3B numbers in 1990 [.955]; 1992 [.959] when he was also at 3B. I was interested in 1994 because he seemed to have turned his game up a notch on increased playing time and reversing the DP-E tandem, involved in 25 DP's and committing only 16 errors.
My RF evaluations for Gary are for six seasons [with .940 being about average]: 1994 [.949]; 1996 [.917]; 1997 [.949]; 1998 [.943]; 2001 [.916]; 2004 [.973].
P.S. Regarding playing time at 3B , Sheffield played 39.2% of all FLA innings; 39.3% of all 3B SDP innings. His personal 1993 DR would then be -4.5 * .393 = -1.77 DR, net.
Last edited by leewileyfan; 04-16-2012 at 10:32 PM.