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Thursday, January 17, 2008
The 2007 Calphalon Awards - Infielders
After seeing who the best fielders were, everyone wants to know who can’t field. I mean who stands out in the field with skillets instead of gloves. I am going to skip the part where I say Manny Ramirez was the worst fielder EVAR!1!11 because of the effects of the Green Monster.
So which players better hit a lot because they are playing with a frying pan for a glove? Let the razzing begin, “Lewww- Zerrrrs!”
When these runs are referenced, they are based on the specific player’s playing time. So a part time player that generates a negative defensive runs saved (DRS) mark may have generated a much worse mark, or come back toward average, with more playing time. However, sample sizes matter, so players with 300 innings may score well or poorly, but that could mean a fortunate, or unfortunate, array of chances.
You’d think it would be difficult to bad that bad at first base – I mean, you have the fewest chances to screw up in a general fielding sense, and you have the biggest glove. Somehow, these guys managed to play quite poorly.
In the American League, there were 79 men that played first base. Three managed to be more than five runs from average. That means, for those that hate math, 76 first basemen saved somewhere between 5 runs and –5 runs. We already know Casey Kotchman saved twelve runs and Sean Casey saved seven. I feel a little bad for mentioning Carlos Pena, who was the only –5 DRS player. The next lowest was –3 DRS. I feel bad because Pena wasn’t close to Richie Sexson, who posted a truly terrible –12 DRS. That’s terrible at first base. Why wasn’t he the DH?
The National League had the courtesy of going with “big lumbering guys, possibly out of shape”. If you had the guess the worst three fielders based on that, you wouldn’t struggle. The third runner-up was Prince “I’m a hitter; Not a” Fielder with –8 DRS. Next was Ryan Howard with –9 DRS. Both Fielder and Howard played about 400 more innings than the guy in last – Dmitri Young. Take note, all three of these guys can rake, or they wouldn’t be on the field much longer. Young had a –10 DRS, but he generated that in just 885 innings. In the same innings that Fielder played, Young could have pushed that up to –15. He’s not a good fielder.
The keystone sack is rarely burdened with someone who is just terrible. It’s too costly to have someone playing second base that can’t pick up the ball or turn a double play. The range of defensive skill isn’t broad.
In the AL, again, just five players ventured outside of +/- 5 runs. The two on the negative end played few innings, but they played them very poorly. In order to cost your team more than a couple of runs over a short span means you didn’t field anything. Danny Richar of the White Sox posted a –6 in just 500 innings and yet he was “bested” by Ty Wigginton at –7 DRS in only 300 innings. If Wigginton had continued that horrid pace for a full season, which he wouldn’t, he’d be about –30 runs. Of starters, Mark Grudzielanek was the worst at –4 DRS. That’s pretty close to average, but it would appear Grudz’ age is catching up to him.
The NL didn’t have the same tightness of data. They have the best fielding second baseman in baseball with Chase Utley, and conversely, the two worst fielding second basemen in baseball. Dan Uggla wasn’t a good fielder when he came up in 2006 (-4 DRS), and he got a lot worse in 2007, with a –16 DRS. He was ugly, but not the worst. The Skillet Award at second base winner posted –17 DRS in 2005, -9 DRS in 2006 and –17 DRS again in 2007. I’m going with: “shouldn’t be playing second base”. You ask for a player who cannot catch – I give you Rickie Weeks.
Well, it sometimes gets so ugly as to not be believable. The American League had three guys fielding with saucepans, and the worst was Toronto’s Russ Adams. What? He only played third base for 123 innings. Yes, and he had 23 GBs hit to him. And he fielded 11. That’s Michael Barrett bad. That’s good for a –8 DRS. It’s an amazingly poor performance. Really, Josh “Doesn’t” Fields of the White Sox had a fractionally worse score but still –8 in 690 IP. The Twins Brian “Plays like a” Buscher also posted a –8 in 243 IP. For full-time players, Casey Blake was a –6 DRS, which is fourth in the league.
There’s no secret in the NL for the biggest (pun intended) bad third baseman in the league. The former Marlin Miguel Cabrera is just not a good fielder scoring a -19 DRS. I hope the Tigers don’t drop Brandon Inge to play Cabrera at third. Of course, Miggy coming into his prime, and moving to the AL, can outhit Inge by 40-50 runs. I would be remiss if I didn’t mention Ryan Braun’s butcher-ness out there. He finished third at –15 DRS just behind Garrett Atkins at –15 (fractions and all). Braun, if he plays a full season, will take Miggy’s crown, and it looks like he’ll wear it proudly.
See if you can guess whom the worst fielding AL shortstop was? Here’s a hint: his number will be retired. Yes, Derek Jeter regained his slot as the worst fielding shortstop in the majors this year. It was bad too: -21 DRS. Okay, Jeter is good at pop-ups, but this rating was further from the second worst than all but three players (including Jeter) were from average. Did that make any sense? There were about 60 SS in the AL last year, and only Jeter, Brendan Harris in Tampa Bay (-13 DRS), Jhonny Peralta in Cleveland (-11 DRS) and the two good shortstops, McDonald and Crosby, weren’t within eight runs of average. Now, to be fair to Jeter, if Harris had played as many innings as Jeter had, he would have a worse mark (-22 DRS). So there’s that.
The Marlins’ DER was terrible. And they get to pick up another award! Hanley Ramirez, come on down and get your frying pan! Ramirez was simply terrible with –16 DRS. He was terrible in 2006 (-17 DRS). Hopefully, the Fish are considering him for third base (or something). Coming in second was Milwaukee’s J.J. Hardy at –12.
It’s tough to be truly awful at catcher, but it can be done. The AL didn’t have a singular really bad catcher, but Greg Zaun and Jason Phillips split time in Toronto and each posted a –6 DRS. That’s –12 DRS from those two in 1200 innings. Hmm, somebody was making up for all that good defensive play. They can share the award, or just cook the Toronto pitchers breakfast every day.
The NL had a godawful catcher – Josh Bard and his 121 SBs allowed while catching ten runners. He managed –14 DRS in his 927 innings. Bard should be moved. The collection of Cub/Padre catchers, the Cadre of catchers, including Rob Bowen, Michael Barrett, Jason Kendall and Bard caught 2400 innings and were -31 DRS. That’s just abominable. If you can’t catch, at least hit, gentlemen!
I am sure some of you were paying attention – the Brewers infield posted a total on -52 DRS from these guys. I wonder where those wins went with all that hitting? The Marlins were just as guilty, although first baseman Mike Jacobs was just average (-2 DRS). Their starting infielders dragged it in at -53 DRS. And that was with a decent 1B.
Pos AL NL 1B Sexson Young 2B Grudz Weeks 3B Blake Cabrera SS Jeter Ramirez C Zaun Bard
The outfields and some team summaries coming up next!
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