All this talk about Dan Uggla's defense vs Uribe's vs Freddy Sanchez, etc. got me to thinking about something. Do any stats take into account a player relative to his teammates (namely, a 2B's range relative to his 1B, an SS relative to his 3B, CF's relative to his COF's, etc.)? This is a pretty important issue, because from a team production standpoint, it's not really relevant how many runs your 2B can save you vs the rest of the 2B's, it's how much your right side of the infield can save you vs other right side's of the infield. The right side doesn't really affect the left side, and visa versa, but really team defensive production really needs to be broken down into 5 areas: right side of INF, left side of INF, OF, right side of INF relative to OF, left side of INF relative to OF.
I suppose if this is already done, I am wasting everyone's time and energy, but I wanted to find out more about this issue, or at least bring it to the table.
My understanding of most defensive stats is that they measure how many/what type of plays out of total chance a position players makes relative to his peers and then calculates that number into a run value. I.E. If Chase Utley makes 10 more plays out of 250 total chances than the average fielder, he might be worth 15 runs (or whatever the value would end up being depending on the plays) above average defensively.
However, does this take into account that Chase Utley shares the right side of the infield with Ryan Howard, who for arguments sake, let's just say he's a butcher in the field (he actually rates around average). If Howard doesn't have much range at all, that allows a broader area for Chase Utley and make plays on. For example, let's say Adrian Gonzalez hits a ground ball to the right side between Utley and Howard. Howard, having poor range cannot make a play on the ball whereas Chase, with excellent range is able to stretch his arm and make the play for an out. Now, let's say Adrian hits that same exact ball against the Giants, yet because the Giants play Ishikawa at 1st (excellent 1B defensively) Ishikawa is able to get to the ball and flip it to the pitcher for the out.
How is this taken into account? Now, presumably because Uribe never had a chance at the play, that isn't going to affect him at all, however had John Bowker been at 1B for that exact same play, Uribe is now given the opportunity to make a somewhat challenging play, and if he does it that would know doubt benefit his numbers.
Beyond that, having a good defensive 1B can even affect defensive positioning. Perhaps because the Giants (let's assume they are smart) know the type of range Ishikawa has at 1B, they have Uribe play a few steps more towards the middle to cover more ground. While this formation could prove to be more efficient for the team defense, couldn't it potentially hurt Uribe's numbers somewhat due to a number of variables? For one, Uribe's strength might be going to balls to his right, in which case that is now severely limited due to his positioning. Conversely, it could also boost Uribe's numbers if his strength is going to his right and this helps "protect" his left. For another mater, since the frequency of balls hit around the infield is more likely to be away from the middle of the diamond, plays that used to be routing for Uribe are now challenging and he likely makes them a lower rate.
Going even further, to what degree is a 1B's glove shown onto his infielders. Ishikawa can pick it very well, thus making it easier on his infielders to make plays because their throws do not have to be as perfect. They can make quicker throws in the dirt (or make harder throws that might sail if you have a lengthy 1B like D Lee). Let's say Dan Uggla makes a diving play to his right, knocks the ball down, gets up and throws a ball in the dirt that Mike Jacobs (last year) can't handle. How does that show up in his numbers? With a competent 1B, Uggla gets credit for a plus play there, now he does not.
These same ideas can be applied to the OF, where a CF with a poor LF has to shade more towards that side of the field putting him in a worse position to make plays to his left. Even 2B's and SS's have some relation to one another based on DP's and DP frequency.
I do believe pitcher's tendencies are sort of taken into account, but even then, I'm not sure. The Giants pitching staff probably give up less groundballs than any team in baseball (due to our high volume of K's and FB pitchers) so gaining value off of good infield defense means far less on our team than it does on say, the Rockies. In essence, we are more able to hide poor defenders (possibly Pablo at 3B) because of this fact. He can skate by closer to average because he won't be given the same volume of plays on this team as he would another team. Adrian Beltre might be able to save 5 runs per 100 than chances than Pablo, but if there are only 200 chances per year in SF vs 250 chances everywhere else, Beltre's value is worth 2.5 less runs on SF, and Pablo's is worth 2.5 more. Conversely, our OF defense is probably more important.
Essentially, my entire point/question is does it/to what degree is defense measured relatively to one another. Could Dan Uggla's defensive numbers be deflated by having a poor 1B (Jacobs) by his side for so many years? Maybe even inflated? The question these answers could inevitably beg is to find out what combination of players work best for the Giants need. Maybe Uggla would benefit more from playing next to a defensive stud like Ishikawa than a player like Sanchez would because he wouldn't need to cover as much ground. In fact, Sanchez could get hurt numerically by playign with Ishikawa because his range skills will now be hidden more on the Giants. Offense is generally not team oriented (unless you did RBI's) it is individual, but defense is absolutely team oriented as such it is vitally to important to see how defenders interact with each other to know a player's true defensive value. Maybe it's already taken into account, in which case this whole thing was a big waste of my and your time, but if it's not, it's worth putting too much stock into UZR rates when valuing certain players.
Player B might be worth 3.0 wins on his current team in that climate, but that same player might be worth 2.5 wins on our team due to our circumstances, so it's just something to think about before we go all gaga over certain players because they are currently worth X amount of runs defensively. I think most defensive ratings (to my limited understanding) are very good for deciphering how good a player is relative to his peers (i.e. how much better Utley is to Uggla defensively) but to the extent at which they are better, I still don't believe them to be as exact as they like (i.e. exactly 8.6 runs) whereas on offense, those values are far more stable and reliable.