Jeff Sullivan at Fangraphs examined the impact of weight on fielding on Friday, and found some interesting results:
You could say there might be something there. All the same caveats apply, though. It’s UZR, the sample is even smaller, the players got a year older, and the whole sample might be thrown off by Franklin Gutierrez, who didn’t play that many innings in 2012. Gutierrez was also recovering from an illness, although he was more ill in 2011, when his defense was great. If you don’t trust the Gutierrez numbers, and you remove them, the average numbers balance out.
Generalizing the article, Sullivan mostly found that there was little-to-no effect. A lot of other factors of course come into play here, including age, the fluctuation of defensive statistics, and things like position. Obviously athleticism (and therefore weight) is more important at positions such as shortstop and centerfield, as opposed to first base.
I would say that it would be interesting to look at the effect of weight on different positions, but I'm not sure how practical that may be. For a first baseman the difference between 230 and 240 wouldn't be the same amount of value as the difference between 210 and 220 for a shortstop.
For catchers I'd find it interesting as well because there are some pretty good defensive catchers that are not athletic in any sense of the word. For pitchers it is something that has fascinated me in the past, but I have failed to do anything too-revealing on.
Questions for Communtiy:
1.) What effect do you think weight has on defense?
2.) Do you think certain positions place a higher importance on weight/athleticism?