How Well Might Miguel Tejada Transfer To Third-Base?

Inspired by a FanPost at Talking Chop which looked at how players did defensively when moving from third to first, I thought I’d take a similar look at guys who played both shortstop and third-base to get an idea of what we can expect from Miguel Tejada’s transition this coming season. So I took to FanGraphs to pull off data for players who had at least 100 games played at each position, and looked to have played predominantly at third before moving and playing predominantly at short. There was still some overlap, but I think it works out OK. Doing that, I came up with a list of 8 players: Bill Hall, Juan Uribe, Jhonny Peralta, Jeff Keppiner, Michael Young, Alex Rodriguez, Carlos Guillen, and Alex Gonzalez.

Bill Hall:

Pos Inn DPR RngR ErrR UZR DP Rt R Rt E Rt UZR Rt
3B 1975.4 0.5 13.4 -5.2 8.7 0.3 6.8 -2.6 4.4
SS 2132.4 -3 12.2 -7.1 2.3 -1.4 5.7 -3.3 1.1

DPR is the double play component of UZR; RngR is the range component; ErrR is the error component and the Rt columns are rates on a per 1,000 innings basis (which is a little less than a full season).

Hall seemed to do a little better across the board, with his overall UZR improving by 3.3 runs per 1,000 innings.

Juan Uribe:

Pos Inn DPR RngR ErrR UZR DP Rt R Rt E Rt UZR Rt
3B 964.3 -0.3 -3 1.7 -1.6 -0.3 -3.1 1.8 -1.7
SS 6262.6 0.1 5.2 11.9 17.4 0.0 0.8 1.9 2.8

Uribe was actually a pretty good shortstop, and even the relatively low -2.3 UZR/150 he posted in his last full season at the position (2007) was better than his work at the hot corner in limited time in the the years since (-8.0 UZR/150 in 57 games in ’08, and +4.8 UZR/150 in 44 games in ’09).

Jhonny Peralta:

Pos Inn DPR RngR ErrR UZR DP Rt R Rt E Rt UZR Rt
3B 952.2 -0.2 -1.1 -0.8 -2.1 -0.2 -1.2 -0.8 -2.2
SS 6140 4.9 -38.4 5.4 -28.1 0.8 -6.3 0.9 -4.6

Peralta was a full-time shortstop before making the move to third in 2009 (for the most part), and his range looks to have been a fair bit better compared to the average player at the latter position. The double play and error components both got a little worse though.

Jeff Keppinger:

Pos Inn DPR RngR ErrR UZR DP Rt R Rt E Rt UZR Rt
3B 761 0.4 -5.6 0.3 -4.9 0.5 -7.4 0.4 -6.4
SS 1310 -1 -18.5 2.7 -16.8 -0.8 -14.1 2.1 -12.8

His range went from terrible to just bad – but hey, improvement’s improvement.

Michael Young:

Pos Inn DPR RngR ErrR UZR DP Rt R Rt E Rt UZR Rt
3B 1173.2 1.3 -12.7 3.3 -8 1.1 -10.8 2.8 -6.8
SS 6721.1 -7.8 -84.5 17.8 -74.6 -1.2 -12.6 2.6 -11.1

Another pretty good parallel, since he was a not very good shortstop (though wore than Tejada) who had to move to third later in his career. Young’s range component looks to have improved a little bit, but there was also a good bump on turning the double play.

A-Rod:

Pos Inn DPR RngR ErrR UZR DP Rt R Rt E Rt UZR Rt
3B 7465.7 -2.8 -16.7 8.2 -11.5 -0.4 -2.2 1.1 -1.5
SS 2767.4 -1.6 13 12.2 23.6 -0.6 4.7 4.4 8.5

Rodriguez moved to third not because he couldn’t handle short – he was still a very good defender over there – but because the position was already taken on his new team by a far inferior defender (The Yankee Cap’n). The third-base numbers above contain his defensive decline, so it’s not a completely fair comparison. The first year after his transition, A-Rod actually put up similar DPR and RngR numbers so the shortstop ones, though the ErrR component got a bit worse – it’s that year that I use in the total changes.

Carlos Guillen:

Pos Inn DPR RngR ErrR UZR DP Rt R Rt E Rt UZR Rt
3B 1029.4 -1.5 -3 -0.3 -4.8 -1.5 -2.9 -0.3 -4.7
SS 5818 0 1.3 -9.7 -8.5 0.0 0.2 -1.7 -1.5

Guillen was terrible in his last year at short (2007), posting a -13.3 UZR/150. Before that he was a pretty decent defender, though and he didn’t exactly excel once moving over.

Alex Gonzalez:

Pos Inn DPR RngR ErrR UZR DP Rt R Rt E Rt UZR Rt
3B 787.4 0.1 8.2 -4.2 4 0.1 10.4 -5.3 5.1
SS 3232.3 3.5 -3.1 -1.6 -1.4 1.1 -1.0 -0.5 -0.4

He was a shortstop almost his entire career, and only really played third-base in his last couple seasons. He  saw a pretty big improvement in his range component, though the regression in error component wiped away about half those gain.

Here are the improvements for the eight players for each component when going from shortstop to third-base:

DPR Rt RngR Rt ErrR Rt UZR Rt
Bill Hall 1.7 1.1 0.7 3.3
Juan Uribe -0.3 -3.9 -0.1 -4.4
Jhonny Peralta -1.0 5.1 -1.7 2.4
Jeff Keppiner 1.3 6.8 -1.7 6.4
Michael Young 2.3 1.7 0.2 4.3
Alex Rodriguez -0.5 0.4 -1.7 -1.7
Carlos Guillen -1.5 -3.1 1.4 -3.2
Carlos Guillen -1.0 11.4 -4.8 5.5
Average 0.1 2.4 -1.0 1.6

After moving, the players were about the same when it came to turning the double play; showed better range relative to position by about 2.4 runs; and had the error component get worse by about a run (possibly due to the adjustment to a new position). Overall, there was an improvement of about 1.6 runs per 1,000 innings on average.

Tejada, for his career, is at:

Pos Inn DPR RngR ErrR UZR DP Rt R Rt E Rt UZR Rt
SS 16097.2 -0.9 -44.4 6.2 -39.1 -0.1 -2.8 0.4 -2.4

And for just the last three years it’s:

Pos Inn DPR RngR ErrR UZR DP Rt R Rt E Rt UZR Rt
SS 3793.4 0.6 -16.1 3.8 -11.7 0.2 -4.2 1.0 -3.1

So based on the 8 above players, we’d expect Tejada to be about average (+0 runs for the reason) on double plays and on errors, with still below average range at around -1.8 runs per 1,000 innings. Over the course of a full season, that would make Tejada a -2 to -2.5 run third-baseman.

While looking at this, I also though to check out the Fan Scouting Reports over at The Book blog. The 2009 numbers aren’t finalized yet, but thus far Tejada’s rating seem pretty close to these from 2008:

Overall
Position-Neutral
Reaction/ Instincts First Few Steps Sprint Speed Hands Release/ Footwork Throwing Strength Throwing Accuracy
56 60 50 45 56 64 64 65

The league average for each of the traits is 50, so the Fans thought Tejada was average or above in every respect but speed, which – along with instincts and first step – is one of the main components of range. The 2007 report was a little worse in every respect but arm strength, though that was the year he was hurt for part of that season.

There’s also a handy Similarity Score section, which compares the various components to players at all positions. Interestingly, there was only one shortstop in the top 20 similar players, and that was Jed Lowrie down at #18. On the other hand, there were six third-basemen: Andy LaRoche, Blake DeWitt, Jack Hannahan, Andy Marte, Wes Helms, and Aramis Ramirez. I’m not including Hannahan, since he’s actually a very good defender according to the stats (+16.8 UZR/150) and the Fans not seeming to agree throws things off. Here are the numbers for the remaining five, for their careers at third-base.


Inn DPR RngR ErrR UZR DPR Rt RngR Rt ErrR Rt UZR Rt
Andy LaRoche 1985.1 0.5 3.7 2.4 6.5 0.3 1.9 1.2 3.3
Blake DeWitt 795.2 -0.2 4 0.7 4.6 -0.3 5.0 0.9 5.8
Andy Marte 1275.2 0.4 -0.3 -2 -1.9 0.3 -0.2 -1.6 -1.5
Wes Helms 3313.1 -3 -6.7 -11.6 -21.3 -0.9 -2.0 -3.5 -6.4
Aramis Ramirez 11804 -2.3 -5.1 -2.6 -9.9 -0.2 -0.4 -0.2 -0.8
Average
-0.9 -0.9 -2.6 -4.4 -0.2 0.8 -0.6 0.1

This is probably around the upper-bound for what I’d expect overall from Tejada (about average). Jeff Zimmerman’s UZR projections have Tejada at -4 UZR/150 so that jives pretty well with a projection at third-base of about +0 to +1 if you just use the difference in positional adjustment between the two positions (+7.5 for SS and +2.5 for 3B  – a difference of 5 runs).

Anything’s possible of course, but I’d probably be more comfortable taking the under on him being league average at the hot corner next year. Still, I don’t think Tejada will be quite as bad as some people are expecting.