Who's on first? What's on second? ...Is that a nuclear bomb in center field?
Some of you may have realized that I like colors.
Bright, ridiculous, garish, jewel-tone colors. I can't avoid them. Like Dayton Moore loves on base guys with a lot of range that can neither get on base nor actually field, I like to sprinkle little Skittles-inspired rainbows into my charts and graphs where ever and whenever possible. With that in mind, I ask you to forgive me for assaulting your eyes with this attempt to visualize Ultimate Zone Rating.
Full assault after the jump.
The goal, as always, is to present known data in a form more easily understood when viewed and combined with other data. Some blessed individuals have the ability to look at a set of numbers and get an idea of the scope of what he or she is dealing with. I do not. Sad, I know.
One sabermetric stat least well presented, at least visually, is Ultimate Zone Rating. Most often we are given a small list of players and their positional UZR. For those with the ability to instantly know what a 1.2 UZR/150 really means in relation to a fielder's team, that's probably good enough. For visual creatures such as myself, though, I need a little help.
Questions I want to answer are, "how does one UZR compare with another?" and "just adding up a team's UZR can't possibly be the best way to see their defensive capabilities, can it?"
Pretty simple process actually. What I wanted to do is visually associate UZR with some portion of coverage of the field. Obviously, UZR is more than actual fielder range, but short of adding unicorns to represent arm/error/double play runs (which could actually be pretty sweet), we'll stick with "the bigger the circle, the better the zone rating for the fielder."
The Fun Part
I started with an individual look at first base in both leagues, and then expanded the idea to see how it might be applied for an entire team. Please note that in the latter, this merely measures the given starter's ability. The result is something that looks like Rainbow Brite meets the old DOS game, Scorched Earth. I present to you UZR TargetView:
Kevin Youkilis had himself a better-than-decent year at first. Butler "vastly improved."
Pujols is actually down from last year. Dunn's issues have already been noted in this column.
Pretty well-rounded defense for St. Louis, actually.
Opportunities for improvement:
This view may give the false impression of representing the physical range of a fielder, which may be unavoidable for this visual method. However, I think the visual is effective in showing that players with a lower rating are literally less capable of preventing runs than those with a higher rating. Other potential concerns are the color scale and the presentation, including whether or not the inside circles should be included for each player or not. On the team graph, note that every fielder with a rating above 7.0 (dark blue) would visually cover everything outside the baseline.
Other than those, and the issues some might associate with the stat itself, I think this might work.