Three years later, Yankees get outfield straight

Jim McIsaac

This feels like a tweet from The Year 2011, or rather a tweet that should have happened in The Year 2011. But hey, sometimes these things just take a little time for everyone to get used to the idea ...

The evidence strongly suggests that Brett Outfielder is (naturally) a better outfielder than Curtis Granderson. Gardner missed most of last season, of course. But looking at the previous two seasons (2010-2011), Gardner tops Granderson 58-6 in Defensive Runs Saved, and 51-1 in Ultimate Zone Rating.

I mean, that's a first-round KO in boxing, 7-0 in ping-pong, 222-0 in college football. Gardner's one of the greatest fielders who's never won a Gold Glove, while Granderson's just sort of hanging on (and will probably be cut loose after the season).

Gardner's better in the outfield. You want your best outfielder in center field. Ergo, it's a big win for the Yankees to switch them, right?

Well, yeah. But it won't make as much of a difference as you might think. That's my theory, anyway. I'm absolutely sure I've read something good about this, but I'll be damned if I can find it. Anyway, the idea (as I recall it) is that plenty of balls are hit to left field. So while you'll see a marginal improvement in your overall defense if you put a good fielder in center and a lesser fielder in left, the only way to really improve the defense is removing the lesser fielder altogether. Which in this case isn't an option.

My guess: Gardner will save the Yankees slightly more runs in center field than in left, and Granderson will cost them slightly fewer runs in left field than he did in center. It makes sense for the Yankees to take runs wherever they can get them, and this probably should have happened in 2010 or '11. But it probably never cost them anything important, and now it seems that logic will finally prevail.

For more about this and all other things Yankee, please visit SB Nation's Pinstriped Bible.

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