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Playoff Teams Defense Analysis - How They Got There and What to Expect - National League Edition

With the increased emphasis on defense the last few years, I figured I would look at what playoff teams did statistically during the season and what can be expected of the teams in the playoffs. We will begin with the National League and look at the American League in a day or two once Minnesota and Detroit figure who is going.  For this analysis, I will be using UZR data from from Fangraphs updates their data on Mondays, so this article doesn't contain the most recent week's fielding data, but should still give a general idea of the teams' defensive strengths and weaknesses.

First, here is the totals of all the NL teams in the playoffs:


As it can be seen, the Phillies defense this season was the best of the four teams with them saving about 40 more runs than the Rockies with the Dodgers and Cardinals just a little better than the Rockies.

Besides the team totals, the UZR can be broken down to individual positions. Here is a comparison of each of the 4 teams by position totals.


The major point I got from this comparison is that most of the teams were rather even except for the holes in the Colorado outfield.

Even though these graphs show how a team did during the season, it doesn't show what to expect in the post season.  For example, the Cardinals picked up Matt Holiday at the trading deadline.  Matt will be for sure in the Cards lineup and the defense of the previous players shouldn't matter.  For each team, I went ahead and calculated the true UZR value of each player projected to start in the playoffs.

For those that need to know, it was a 5-4-3-2 weighted average of season values and regressed to 125 games with no final age adjustment. For example, Albert Pujols had a 1.8 UZR for 2009, but taking into account his previous seasons his true talent level is near 6.4 UZR.

So here is a look at each team's 2009 numbers and the weighted UZR values of the players expected to play during the post season (I will add more as needed - when injuries happen or if I happened to miss someone).  These values show the true talent of the fielders better than the small sample set of a single season.

Philadelphia Phillies (2009 UZR Results and Weighted UZR Values)


Pos Name UZR
1B Ryan Howard 1.8
2B Chase Utley 12.0
3B Pedro Feliz 8.8
SS Jimmy Rollins 6.1
LF Raul Ibanez -5.6
CF Shane Victorino 0.1
RF Jayson Werth 5.7


LA Dodgers (2009 UZR Results and Weighted UZR Values)


Pos Name UZR
1B James Loney -1.9
2B Orlando Hudson -2.3
3B Casey Blake -0.1
SS Rafael Furcal 0.3
LF Juan Pierre 1.7
LF Manny Ramirez -8.6
CF Matt Kemp 2.0
RF Andre Ethier -5.9


St. Louis Cardinals (2009 UZR Results and Weighted UZR Values)


Pos Name UZR
1B Albert Pujols 6.4
2B Joe Thurston 0.5
2B Skip Schumaker -4.1
3B Joe Thurston -0.1
3B Mark DeRosa -1.2
SS Khalil Greene -2.8
SS Brendan Ryan 5.3
LF Matt Holliday 5.1
CF Rick Ankiel -2.2
CF Colby Rasmus 4.5
RF Ryan Ludwick 1.6


Colorado Rockies (2009 UZR Results and Weighted UZR Values)


Pos Name UZR
1B Todd Helton 2.2
1B Garrett Atkins -1.3
2B Clint Barmes 3.5
3B Garrett Atkins -5.6
3B Ian Stewart 2.4
SS Troy Tulowitzki 3.1
LF Ryan Spilborghs 0.9
LF Seth Smith 2.8
LF Carlos Gonzalez 1.1
CF Dexter Fowler -6.1
CF Carlos Gonzalez 1.8
RF Brad Hawpe -18.1
RF Ryan Spilborghs 0.1


First, thanks to Justin for supplying the graphics and let me know if any players might be seeing playing time in the first 2 rounds.  I am not going to go through all possible lineups once the DH is added and removed in the World Series until two teams qualify.