DRS, UZR, WAR. These are all merely fancy acronyms representing numbers that Pedroia doesn’t put much stock into.
"“To be honest with you, I don’t read into defensive metric stuff because that’s not what I believe in defensively,” Pedroia told WEEI’s Rob Bradford in an appearance on the Bradfo Show podcast. “If you’re in the middle of the field, you have to know what pitch is going to try and be executed and it’s my job to try and position myself. If the hitter stays inside the ball, and I’m playing him to pull, if our guy executes his pitch and he takes a good swing and shoots it up the middle and I don’t get to it, that’s good hitting. There are times our pitcher makes his pitch and the guy smashes one into the 3-4 hole and I’m standing right there and I don’t have to move one foot, does that mean I don’t have any range? No, that means I’m smart and I position myself in the right area to make a play. Defensive metrics, I don’t think they hold that (into account). That’s why you go back to the eye test.”"
Simply watching the game to determine which players are great defensively isn’t as easy as Pedroia suggests, as the eye test can fool you. Then again, so can advanced metrics. Pedroia delivers an important point regarding how we analyze this data. Take UZR for example, which measures the rate at which a fielder is able to make a play on a ball hit into his zone, which is a predetermined section of the field that a player is responsible for based on the position he plays. The problem is that the increasing usage of shifts around the league throws those zones out of whack.
Next: Effects of the shift