Posted by GregNLFan on 12/29/2012 4:10:00 PM (view original):
How can so many OFs with good speed have poor/bad defensive range?
Range numbers are strictly based on actual range factor (basically PO+A divided by the number of games) scaled to account for K rates. WIS calls this relative range factor (RRF).
Obviously fielders have no control over where balls are hit. You may think over time there would be a somewhat predictable distribution of where balls are hit. However, pitchers (and pitching coaches) have a lot of control of ground ball to fly ball ratios. A gold glove CF playing on a groundball heavy team won't have a great RRF.
Additionally, while speed is important to OF defense, being fast doesn't necesarily make a defender good or great. Positioing, getting a jump on a ball, routes and glove work are all very important. Lou Brock and Lonnie Smith were poor fielders despite their speed because they took too long to read the ball and took poor routes. Willie McGee might have been the fastest man ever to play the OF, but he played too deep (though he still won 3 gold gloves). Jim Edmonds was a great fielder because he got great jumps and took great routes despite not being very fast.