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Saturday, August 26, 2006

Defense Over the Last Twenty Years - Part Four, AL Infield

Top Career Defensive Performances – American League Infield

Unlike the National League, the American League defensive stars aren’t full of surprises.  There is a good chance you could list the top three at each position.  These players were recognized for being good fielders during their playing days.  However, the AL has some outstanding performances – easily matching their NL counterparts.

That does sound odd, considering the NL had Ozzie Smith.  Oh, the AL have their own brilliant defensive players.

First Base

At first base there are several players considered to be very good.  Then there is one who wasn’t nearly as good of a hitter as people thought, but he got a handful of rings anyway.

The runner-up at first base for great defense was Tino Martinez.  The Yankees may have known what they were doing with Martinez, and he rewarded them.

YEAR	POS	NAME	LAST	TEAM	LG	GP	INN	RSpt	RS/150
1990	1B	Tino	Martinez	Sea	AL	23	163.0	0	-2
1991	1B	Tino	Martinez	Sea	AL	29	236.3	-1	-4
1992	1B	Tino	Martinez	Sea	AL	78	664.7	6	11
1993	1B	Tino	Martinez	Sea	AL	103	910.7	6	9
1994	1B	Tino	Martinez	Sea	AL	82	700.7	2	4
1995	1B	Tino	Martinez	Sea	AL	139	1196.7	7	8
1996	1B	Tino	Martinez	NYY	AL	151	1306.7	0	0
1997	1B	Tino	Martinez	NYY	AL	150	1309.3	-4	-4
1998	1B	Tino	Martinez	NYY	AL	142	1215.0	4	4
1999	1B	Tino	Martinez	NYY	AL	158	1342.0	7	7
2000	1B	Tino	Martinez	NYY	AL	154	1291.7	10	11
2001	1B	Tino	Martinez	NYY	AL	149	1293.3	7	7
2004	1B	Tino	Martinez	TB	AL	114	960.7	7	9
2005	1B	Tino	Martinez	NYY	AL	122	771.7	3	5
									
14 yrs	1B	Tino	Martinez	NYY	AL	1594	13362.3	53	5

Martinez’ OPS+ wasn’t anything to celebrate for a first baseman, but he was still adding value with his glove.  I am surprised at how often a player’s best offensive season coincides with his worst defensive season.

The best defensive first baseman over the last twenty years is smooth John Olerud.  That won’t surprise Mariner, Blue Jay or Met fans.  Olerud won three Gold Gloves, so he wasn’t a secret.

YEAR	POS	NAME	LAST	TEAM	LG	GP	INN	RSpt	RS/150
1989	1B	John	Olerud	Tor	AL	5	17.0	0	31
1990	1B	John	Olerud	Tor	AL	18	144.0	-1	-12
1991	1B	John	Olerud	Tor	AL	135	1126.3	7	9
1992	1B	John	Olerud	Tor	AL	133	1096.7	8	10
1993	1B	John	Olerud	Tor	AL	137	1205.3	5	6
1994	1B	John	Olerud	Tor	AL	104	900.0	6	10
1995	1B	John	Olerud	Tor	AL	133	1173.0	4	5
1996	1B	John	Olerud	Tor	AL	101	823.0	9	15
2000	1B	John	Olerud	Sea	AL	158	1359.7	7	7
2001	1B	John	Olerud	Sea	AL	158	1348.7	0	0
2002	1B	John	Olerud	Sea	AL	152	1318.7	2	2
2003	1B	John	Olerud	Sea	AL	152	1287.0	4	4
2004	1B	John	Olerud	NYY	AL	47	400.0	1	5
2004	1B	John	Olerud	Sea	AL	77	645.3	1	2
2005	1B	John	Olerud	Bos	AL	80	431.0	-1	-2
									
3 yrs	1B	John	Olerud	NYM	NL	463	3960	19	7
									
14 yrs	1B	John	Olerud	Tor/Sea	AL	1590	13275.7	55	6
17 yrs	1B	John	Olerud			2053	17235.7	74	6

While not tracked, Olerud was one of the first basemen you could tell saved runs with his handling of throws from infielders.  Whether it was scooping bounced throws, reaching high or wide for an errant throw, or smoothly coming off the bag on the stretch, Olerud was just who did everything right around the bag.

Second Base

Loooooouuuuuuuu!  They aren’t booing; they are saying “Lou”.  In an effort to point up the traveshamockery that was Lou Whitaker’s Hall of Fame ballot dismissal, Sweet Lou finished second in the last twenty years for RSpt at second base. 

YEAR	POS	NAME	Last	TEAM	LG	GP	INN	RSpt	RS/150
1987	2B	Lou	Whitaker	Det	AL	149	1266.7	5	5
1988	2B	Lou	Whitaker	Det	AL	110	904.7	7	11
1989	2B	Lou	Whitaker	Det	AL	146	1179.0	11	13
1990	2B	Lou	Whitaker	Det	AL	131	1037.3	13	17
1991	2B	Lou	Whitaker	Det	AL	135	1064.7	0	0
1992	2B	Lou	Whitaker	Det	AL	119	978.3	-8	-11
1993	2B	Lou	Whitaker	Det	AL	110	864.0	4	6
1994	2B	Lou	Whitaker	Det	AL	83	642.7	6	12
1995	2B	Lou	Whitaker	Det	AL	63	453.7	0	-1
									
9 yrs	2B	Lou	Whitaker	Det	AL	1046	8391.0	37	6

Like Sandberg in the NL, we only have Whitaker’s decline, and he was still an excellent fielder late in his career.  Given these numbers, Whitaker likely posted close to 100 RSpt over his career.

The top fielder at second base in the AL over the last twenty years isn’t a big surprise.  It’s Adam Kennedy of the Angels.

YEAR	POS	NAME	Last	TEAM	LG	GP	INN	RSpt	RS/150
2000	2B	Adam	Kennedy	Ana	AL	155	1324.3	9	10
2001	2B	Adam	Kennedy	Ana	AL	131	1103.7	21	25
2002	2B	Adam	Kennedy	Ana	AL	139	1112.0	6	7
2003	2B	Adam	Kennedy	Ana	AL	140	1120.7	8	10
2004	2B	Adam	Kennedy	Ana	AL	144	1225.0	11	12
2005	2B	Adam	Kennedy	LAA	AL	127	1108.7	5	6
									
6 yrs	2B	Adam	Kennedy	LAA	AL	836	6994.3	61	12

Kennedy has been a very good fielder thus far.  He was struggling early in 2006, so we’ll see if he continues.  His RS/150 is also near the top of the list.  The lead he has over Whitaker in second place is tremendous.

Second base is the one position I would expect mainstream media and casual fans to miss the best fielder by a good margin, and moreover name a fielder that really wasn’t good at all.  More on that in a later column.

Third Base

The last couple of decades have been really blessed with some outstanding fielders at third.  The NL had three wonderful fielders and a couple of young guys that were very good as well.  The top three AL third basemen were known to be good fielders, and they saved a bunch of runs.  The active leader has won five straight Gold Gloves.

YEAR	POS	NAME	Last	TEAM	LG	GP	INN	RSpt	RS/150
1998	3B	Eric	Chavez	Oak	AL	13	95.0	3	37
1999	3B	Eric	Chavez	Oak	AL	105	847.3	8	13
2000	3B	Eric	Chavez	Oak	AL	146	1206.3	-4	-4
2001	3B	Eric	Chavez	Oak	AL	149	1301.7	23	24
2002	3B	Eric	Chavez	Oak	AL	143	1262.0	10	11
2003	3B	Eric	Chavez	Oak	AL	154	1333.3	4	4
2004	3B	Eric	Chavez	Oak	AL	125	1129.0	12	14
2005	3B	Eric	Chavez	Oak	AL	153	1348.3	14	14
									
TOT	3B	Eric	Chavez	Oak	AL	988	8523.0	70	11

Eric Chavez is a real MVP candidate when he hits because he fields at a high level.  I’m not sure I didn’t advocate him for MVP in 2001. 

There is some thought that one thing that causes Arod’s poor fielding stats is the NYY’s philosophy regarding positioning of the third baseman.  Does the 3B play too wide to cover up for Jeter?  Scott Brosius, our second best fielder here, didn’t suffer from that. 

YEAR	POS	NAME	Last	TEAM	LG	GP	INN	RSpt	RS/150
1991	3B	Scott	Brosius	Oak	AL	7	50.0	2	51
1992	3B	Scott	Brosius	Oak	AL	12	75.0	1	18
1993	3B	Scott	Brosius	Oak	AL	10	67.0	2	48
1994	3B	Scott	Brosius	Oak	AL	93	773.3	6	11
1995	3B	Scott	Brosius	Oak	AL	60	445.3	-4	-12
1996	3B	Scott	Brosius	Oak	AL	109	946.3	14	20
1997	3B	Scott	Brosius	Oak	AL	107	826.7	11	19
1998	3B	Scott	Brosius	NYY	AL	150	1313.7	22	23
1999	3B	Scott	Brosius	NYY	AL	132	1151.7	9	11
2000	3B	Scott	Brosius	NYY	AL	134	1150.3	7	8
2001	3B	Scott	Brosius	NYY	AL	120	1077.7	4	5
									
TOT	3B	Scott	Brosius	NYY	AL	934	7877.0	76	13

Note that in 1998, Brosius had his best fielding season.  That certainly was a big factor in winning all those games.  Brosius also won the Gold Glove in 1999, the year after everyone noticed how good he was in 1998.  I suspect there is a standard lag for that sort of thing.

The top 3B in the AL is not a surprise at all.  He’s a great fielder and won six Gold Gloves.  Five in the AL and one in the NL.  Reputation doesn’t hurt, but giving Robin Ventura a Gold Glove is a safe bet.  A Golden Glove, not so much.

YEAR	POS	NAME	Last	TEAM	LG	GP	INN	RSpt	RS/150
1989	3B	Robin	Ventura	CWS	AL	16	136.7	3	30
1990	3B	Robin	Ventura	CWS	AL	147	1210.0	7	8
1991	3B	Robin	Ventura	CWS	AL	151	1276.7	8	9
1992	3B	Robin	Ventura	CWS	AL	157	1395.3	18	18
1993	3B	Robin	Ventura	CWS	AL	155	1367.0	16	16
1994	3B	Robin	Ventura	CWS	AL	108	930.0	-3	-4
1995	3B	Robin	Ventura	CWS	AL	122	1016.3	4	5
1996	3B	Robin	Ventura	CWS	AL	150	1274.3	2	2
1997	3B	Robin	Ventura	CWS	AL	54	461.7	3	9
1998	3B	Robin	Ventura	CWS	AL	161	1381.7	21	20
2002	3B	Robin	Ventura	NYY	AL	137	1129.3	14	17
2003	3B	Robin	Ventura	NYY	AL	80	667.7	3	6
									
5 yrs	3B	Robin	Ventura	NYM/LA	NL	450	3687	33	12
									
12 yrs	3B	Robin	Ventura	NYY	AL	1438	12246.7	97	11
15 yrs	3B	Robin	Ventura	All		1888	15933.7	130	11

Those third basemen and the ones in the NL, Rolen, Williams and Pendleton, and future top-five fielder, Adrian Beltre, make this quite a good era for glovemen at the cornerstone.

Shortstop

We opened with looking at Ozzie Smith and how great he was compared to his reputation, and given that we missed the first ten years of his career, he truly is a Wizard.  How do his mirrors in the AL match up?

The third best relied on his glove.  He was quoted once as saying something along the lines of “I hope I don’t walk the entire season.”  He simply didn’t understand the lumber side of his job.  The leather side he had no issues with.  He was very good, and known to be so – he had to be to keep his job.

YEAR	POS	NAME	Last	TEAM	LG	GP	INN	RSpt	RS/150
1989	SS	Gary	DiSarcina	Cal	AL	1	1.0	0	-327
1990	SS	Gary	DiSarcina	Cal	AL	14	125.0	0	0
1991	SS	Gary	DiSarcina	Cal	AL	10	89.0	2	27
1992	SS	Gary	DiSarcina	Cal	AL	157	1376.3	5	5
1993	SS	Gary	DiSarcina	Cal	AL	126	1072.3	6	7
1994	SS	Gary	DiSarcina	Cal	AL	110	982.0	18	25
1995	SS	Gary	DiSarcina	Cal	AL	98	864.0	6	9
1996	SS	Gary	DiSarcina	Cal	AL	150	1290.0	10	11
1997	SS	Gary	DiSarcina	Ana	AL	153	1330.3	15	16
1998	SS	Gary	DiSarcina	Ana	AL	157	1371.7	0	0
1999	SS	Gary	DiSarcina	Ana	AL	81	704.3	4	8
2000	SS	Gary	DiSarcina	Ana	AL	12	99.0	-4	-56
									
12 yrs	SS	Gary	DiSarcina	Ana	AL	1069	9305	62	9

Gary DiSarcina really irritated some Angels fans in his day.  He would swing at everything.  Ah, good times.  DiSar may have deserved the GG in 1994, but it was not to be.

The next best glover is Alex Rodriguez.  Why a team would take arguably , and now almost demonstrably, the best fielder at the toughest position and move him off is just loopy.  It’s the type of decision that makes me scratch my head.  Couldn’t Jeter play second base?  That’s a high profile spot.  He can still be captain over there. 

YEAR	POS	NAME	Last	TEAM	LG	GP	INN	RSpt	RS/150
1994	SS	Alex	Rodriguez	Sea	AL	17	142.0	-3	-25
1995	SS	Alex	Rodriguez	Sea	AL	46	342.0	-4	-15
1996	SS	Alex	Rodriguez	Sea	AL	146	1268.7	0	0
1997	SS	Alex	Rodriguez	Sea	AL	140	1234.7	1	2
1998	SS	Alex	Rodriguez	Sea	AL	160	1389.3	7	7
1999	SS	Alex	Rodriguez	Sea	AL	129	1115.7	3	4
2000	SS	Alex	Rodriguez	Sea	AL	148	1285.0	18	19
2001	SS	Alex	Rodriguez	Tex	AL	161	1395.3	7	7
2002	SS	Alex	Rodriguez	Tex	AL	162	1391.7	27	27
2003	SS	Alex	Rodriguez	Tex	AL	158	1370.7	6	6
2004	SS	Alex	Rodriguez	NYY	AL	2	2.0	0	-320
2005	SS	Alex	Rodriguez	NYY	AL	3	6.0	0	66
									
12 yrs	SS	Alex	Rodriguez		AL	1272	10943	64	8

ARod is having his ups and downs at third base, so we’ll see later how he ends up.

Speaking of taking the best fielder in the league at his position and moving him to third base.  The poster boy for that is Cal Ripken.  Ripken’s numbers are nearly on par with Ozzie’s.  He was so good in the field and at the batit is unbelievable.  I was genuinely surprised at how well Ripken did in this measure.  I knew he was good, but twice as many RS as the next SS?  That’s amazing.

YEAR	POS	NAME	Last	TEAM	LG	GP	INN	RSpt	RS/150
1987	SS	Cal	RipkenJr	Bal	AL	162	1431.7	4	4
1988	SS	Cal	RipkenJr	Bal	AL	161	1410.0	12	12
1989	SS	Cal	RipkenJr	Bal	AL	162	1433.3	13	12
1990	SS	Cal	RipkenJr	Bal	AL	161	1404.3	19	19
1991	SS	Cal	RipkenJr	Bal	AL	162	1428.7	25	24
1992	SS	Cal	RipkenJr	Bal	AL	162	1440.0	16	15
1993	SS	Cal	RipkenJr	Bal	AL	162	1426.7	7	7
1994	SS	Cal	RipkenJr	Bal	AL	112	987.7	7	10
1995	SS	Cal	RipkenJr	Bal	AL	144	1250.0	8	8
1996	SS	Cal	RipkenJr	Bal	AL	158	1380.7	11	10
1997	SS	Cal	RipkenJr	Bal	AL	3	5.0	-1	-322
									
11 yrs	SS	Cal	RipkenJr	Bal	AL	1549	13598	122	12
									
6 yrs	3B	Cal	RipkenJr	Bal	AL	598	5106.3	8	2
17 yrs	SS/3B	Cal	RipkenJr	Bal	AL	2147	18704.3	130	9

People that disparage Cal Ripken as a player that is about a streak just have no idea what they are talking about.  He is one of the all-time greats – an inner circle Hall of Famer.  The Streak is just icing on the cake.

So there is the infield for the last twenty years: Olerud, Kennedy, Ventura and Ripken.  Perhaps Kennedy is a surprise there.  What is most surprising is the absence of dominant Gold Glove winners from the 1990s. 

After we take a look at AL OF, we’ll look at the Missed and the Misunderstood.

 

Chris Dial Posted: August 26, 2006 at 05:00 PM | 51 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
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   1. Chris Dial Posted: August 26, 2006 at 05:24 PM (#2157574)
I fugred out what was wrong with the internal linking of tables - more than 10 referenced back to teh top - so there are only ten in this article.

<taps temple> kidneys...
   2. WillYoung Posted: August 26, 2006 at 05:48 PM (#2157583)
Hey Chris, how did Greg Gagne rate?

Also, I hate Adam Kennedy.
   3. E., Hinske Posted: August 26, 2006 at 05:50 PM (#2157585)
On the second base thing, the guy that people would think of who isn't the right answer - Robbie Alomar?
   4. rr Posted: August 26, 2006 at 05:54 PM (#2157587)
Speed thread already history?
   5. Los Angeles Waterloo of Black Hawk Posted: August 26, 2006 at 06:49 PM (#2157610)
In an era devoid of heroes, Adam Kennedy is a true one.

That said, a decline in his defense is pretty noticeable this year, which is only natural as he's getting older. I don't think it's quite as drastic as his ZR in the first half made it look, but we'll see. He'd have to fall off quite a cliff to come down to where Sweet Lou is -- makes me wonder how close Orlando Hudson is, which I'm sure will come up in the Missed & Misunderstood edition.

The value of Gary DiSarcina was hotly debated on the Angel newsgroup back in the day. As you might imagine, I was a fervent member of the "anti" side. Using BPro's BRAA for ease along with the RS values here (and I'm going in with the presumption that he was only above average in 1995 and around average in 1998):
YEAR    RSpt   BRAA   TOT   POS?
1989     0       0      0     0
1990     0      
-7     -7    -6
1991     2      
-4     -2    -1
1992     5     
-28    -23   -14
1993     6     
-27    -21   -14
1994    18     
-24     -6     0
1995     6       2      8    14
1996    10     
-31    -21   -13
1997    15     
-36    -21   -12
1998     0     
-14    -14    -
1999     4     
-23    -19   -14
2000    
-4       2     -2    -1
                                                                        
12 yrs  62    
-191   -129   -66 
The last column is an attempt at a positional adjustment; I'm guesstimating +9 for SS per 162 games, so that's prorated based on how many games he played each year.

Anyway, he sucked.
   6. RobertMachemer Posted: August 26, 2006 at 08:03 PM (#2157653)
How did John Valentin do?
   7. Chris Dial Posted: August 26, 2006 at 09:03 PM (#2157733)
TOT SS Greg Gagne KC AL 1224 9950.6 0 0

TOT SS John Valentin Bos AL 556 4810 -10 -3


Yes, everyone would expect Alomar.

Gagne is dead average, and Valentin seemed to fall off the map in 1994. Did he get injured that year?
   8. RobertMachemer Posted: August 26, 2006 at 09:32 PM (#2157769)
I don't remember Valentin's being injured that year. He was injured in later years, but I don't think his injury woes started that early.

I asked about Valentin because (as you may or may not remember) Sherri Nichols's defensive metrics around 1994-1995 suggested that Valentin was one of the top defensive shortstops in baseball. I was curious to see if he did as well by your methods of evaluating defense.
   9. Walt Davis Posted: August 26, 2006 at 10:04 PM (#2157802)
How about Jose Valentin?
   10. Srul Itza Posted: August 26, 2006 at 10:19 PM (#2157815)
Chris, thanks for the great work.

In your wrap up of missed and misunderstood, it would be nice to see your take on Omar Vizquel. I like him as a player because he has been doing this for so long, but I suspect his defense is overrated.
   11. Harold can be a fun sponge Posted: August 26, 2006 at 10:25 PM (#2157823)
I asked about Valentin because (as you may or may not remember) Sherri Nichols's defensive metrics around 1994-1995 suggested that Valentin was one of the top defensive shortstops in baseball.

Right, and his bat was good enough in those days that the total package made him one of the top ~5 overall players in the AL those years.
   12. Tom was totally clowned by CW Posted: August 27, 2006 at 12:49 AM (#2158060)
Chris, I seem to remember there was a touted wave of Domincan SS's all over the place (Fernandez, Griffin, Santana, Ramirez, Franco, Uribe...etc.) in the 80's that all had slick glove rep's. How were they as a group and who was the best of them?
   13. Walt Davis Posted: August 27, 2006 at 01:32 AM (#2158129)
I'll be interested to see the worst lists. An interesting thing here is that even the best defensive players are worth about 1 win over average a year on the IF, generally less in the OF (except for Jenkins). You occasionally see really scary numbers on the downside, especially in the OF, and usually attached to Manny, Griffey or Bernie, but I suspect most are within 1 win of average as well.

It's also interesting how many of these defensive whizzes have been average or better with the bat (especially for position). Not Brosius or DiSarcina or Rey Sanchez, but there don't appear to be a lot of no-hit, great glove guys over the last 20 years. Of course Chris at this point is mainly focussing on the counting stat and maybe a focus on RS/150 would turn up more of those guys (assuming they had insufficient playing time to put up impressive counting stats).
   14. Walt Davis Posted: August 27, 2006 at 01:57 AM (#2158141)
Martinez’ OPS+ wasn’t anything to celebrate for a first baseman, but he was still adding value with his glove.

This is a smidgen unfair. In his main run in NY, Martinez had one awful season (86), 2 average seasons (107, 110), one very good (123) and one excellent (142).
   15. Chris Dial Posted: August 27, 2006 at 02:44 AM (#2158218)
Omar Vizquel.

He's specifically on the list.

This is a smidgen unfair.

Are you sure? Isn't 123 "nothing to celebrate" for a 1B? Certainly a 107/110 isn't. I don't think that is 1B average.
   16. Los Angeles Waterloo of Black Hawk Posted: August 27, 2006 at 03:35 AM (#2158281)
Tino ranked 8th amongst AL starting 1B in OPS+ the year he was at 123, just a bit behind Tony Clark (125) and Will Clark (126).

So it depends on how much you like to celebrate. The Angels, for instance, haven't had an OPS+ above 120 for a regular 1B since Wally Joyner left.
   17. Walt Davis Posted: August 27, 2006 at 06:01 AM (#2158328)
Are you sure? Isn't 123 "nothing to celebrate" for a 1B? Certainly a 107/110 isn't. I don't think that is 1B average.

I'm pretty sure 1B average is usually around a 110-115 OPS+. But fair enough.

Now, will you please answer how Jose Valentin has been as a fielder?
   18. Walt Davis Posted: August 27, 2006 at 06:01 AM (#2158330)
Sorry, there was supposed to be a smiley on the end of that.
   19. DCW3 Posted: August 27, 2006 at 06:22 AM (#2158337)
When Martinez put up his 123 OPS+ in 1998, he had an RCAP of 0.5. Dead average, essentially. In 1996 (107 OPS+), he was at -13.2, and in 1999 (110 OPS+), he was at -4.5. Really, even his career year in 1997 wasn't really anything to crow about--he had an 18.7 RCAP, which is good, but no better than about 25th in the league that year.
   20. DCW3 Posted: August 27, 2006 at 06:23 AM (#2158338)
Really.
   21. Raskolnikov Posted: August 27, 2006 at 06:49 AM (#2158343)
The value of Gary DiSarcina was hotly debated on the Angel newsgroup back in the day. As you might imagine, I was a fervent member of the "anti" side. Using BPro's BRAA for ease along with the RS values here (and I'm going in with the presumption that he was only above average in 1995 and around average in 1998):


Yeah, DiSarcina was ripped on pretty harshly by the statheads back in his playing days. Lousy hitter and, many felt, a lousy fielder to boot. Hacking Mass favorite. Frequently brought up to discussions of "worst current player in the majors" and "Anti-Christ." Would be funny if it turned out that he was a pretty decent fielder after all.

Gary DiSarcina was the Neifi Perez of his day.
   22. ERROR---Jolly Old St. Nick Posted: August 27, 2006 at 11:07 AM (#2158369)
Chris, I'm just now reading through your work here, and I'm almost ready to forgive you for your other sins. Give me one quick cheat sheet answer about your methodology, though: How much are Cal's numbers affected by his positioning skills? I used to get into huge arguments with people who dwelled on how "slow" he was on his feet, etc., and I would always counter with the length of his stride, his quick release time, the fluidity of his throwing motion, and his knowledge of the game situation which enabled him to anticipate the likely direction of the ball, by positioning the specific batter's tendencies and by knowing what and where the pitch was going to be. Do these numbers reflect that knowledge?

IOW if Cal had been blessed with the same physical skills (reaction time, release time, arm, etc.), but had not had his positioning knowledge, would his numbers be the same? Or, is positioning knowledge considered as a talent, one which would be reflected in your stats? This is obviously a stupid question for someone who's been keeping up with what you're doing here, but since this is about my first time going through your numbers I have to ask. They certainly confirm my long-standing view about Cal as a great defensive SS, and Brosius as a top defensive 3B.
   23. Yeaarrgghhhh Posted: August 27, 2006 at 12:09 PM (#2158374)
Or, is positioning knowledge considered as a talent, one which would be reflected in your stats?

Why wouldn't positioning be considered a talent? If he made the plays he made the plays. Doesn't matter whether he did it through superior positioning or superior physical skills.
   24. ERROR---Jolly Old St. Nick Posted: August 27, 2006 at 02:40 PM (#2158418)
Or, is positioning knowledge considered as a talent, one which would be reflected in your stats?

Why wouldn't positioning be considered a talent? If he made the plays he made the plays. Doesn't matter whether he did it through superior positioning or superior physical skills.


I've always considered it a talent, and I agree completely with your post. I was only inquiring whether or not such a talent would show up in Chris's numbers. I would imagine it does, but I just wanted to be sure.
   25. John DiFool2 Posted: August 27, 2006 at 03:32 PM (#2158455)
Yes been discussed before but I'm still hopelessly puzzled that Whitaker dropped off the ballot.
Were the writers avoiding first year votes (for the usual dumb reason)? He had 1386 runs scored
and over 1000 RBI, 244 homers, excellent defense. Why is Steve ^*%&*$ Garvey a better candidate?
You'd think Lou wouldn't get anything less than Trammell-are 9 points of BA really that significant
to the writers? I'd hate to see Lou have to wait 20 years before the VA elects him (assuming they
too don't suffer from Cephalitus Bungholeitis)
   26. Chris Dial Posted: August 27, 2006 at 04:59 PM (#2158499)
How much are Cal's numbers affected by his positioning skills? I used to get into huge arguments with people who dwelled on how "slow" he was on his feet, etc., and I would always counter with the length of his stride, his quick release time, the fluidity of his throwing motion, and his knowledge of the game situation which enabled him to anticipate the likely direction of the ball, by positioning the specific batter's tendencies and by knowing what and where the pitch was going to be. Do these numbers reflect that knowledge?

In the realm of stathead groupthink, this is one of the areas people disagree. And I don't think we know who is right - Mike Emeigh, an esteemed defensive analyst, believes in the effect of positioning. I personally think the difference in where shortstops stand on the pitch is barely different, and guessing one way or the other isn't likely to help. Cal probably most likely benefitted from being big and quick, and large number of reps and experience. I always considered Cal smart. In the mid-late 90s, all teh USENET crowd explained Cal's high ZR on his positioning - I think that is true, but I think of it somewhat differently. He stood further in the hole and had great range to teh glove side. This allowed him to cover , with his stride and reactions, just everything. He was just a great defender.

I think similar things made ARod a great defensive shortstop.

Based on Ripken's stolen base numbers and his incredible defense, I think your response is exactly what made Cal dominant at his position, both in quantity and rate.
   27. Chris Dial Posted: August 27, 2006 at 05:00 PM (#2158500)
Walt,
my bad.

TOT SS Jose Valentin CWS AL 991 8337.6 36 6

He was a very good SS.
   28. ERROR---Jolly Old St. Nick Posted: August 27, 2006 at 05:18 PM (#2158509)
Thanks, Chris. Cal at short always reminded me of Magic Johnson at point guard. It almost seemed unfair to the competition to put that much size, athletic ability, durability and baseball brains into one shortstop. And of course you're right about the advantage he had of being able to play so deep, given his stride and his arm---I guess that would come under the realm of positioning.

Your numbers also confirm the consensus here that it was beyond crazy not to move Jeter and keep ARod at short. Lots of good political reasons for that, I'm sure, but it still would've made more sense to move The Captain. Maybe if they'd showed him repeated videos of Larsen's perfect game and then offered him #7 or something.
   29. Banana, the Athiest Nightmare Posted: August 27, 2006 at 07:37 PM (#2158553)
I've always been of the mind that:

shortstops = long strides + good speed

third basemen = quick reflexes + strong arms


I rarely see a third baseman have to cover nearly the range of a shortstop. However, I rarely see a shorstop have to handle nearly the number of hard-hit balls (over a shorter distance, I might add). IMHO, Eric Chavez would make an average shortstop. He doesn't seem to range well (granted, he doesn't have many opportunities to actually show his range). What he does do, however, is handle hard-hit balls extremely well. Anything within 5 feet of him is pretty much guaranteed to be stopped, if not caught outright.

A-Rod never struck me as a particularly quick-footed player. His reflexes are decent, but they aren't quite up to par for what you'd expect from an excellent third baseman. Most of what make him a great shortstop are his ability to cover a lot of ground in a relatively short period of time (that and his positioning). But if you shoot something near him at a very high velocity (particularly grounders) he probably won't do as well as you'd expect.

FWIW, Jeter would make an even worse third baseman than A-Rod. That's why I've always advocated moving him to second, where his piss-poor reflexes and mediocre foot-speed wouldn't be as much of a handicap.
   30. Los Angeles Waterloo of Black Hawk Posted: August 27, 2006 at 11:51 PM (#2158855)
Moving Jeter to 2B would really underutilize his arm, though.

Yeah, DiSarcina was ripped on pretty harshly by the statheads back in his playing days. Lousy hitter and, many felt, a lousy fielder to boot. Hacking Mass favorite. Frequently brought up to discussions of "worst current player in the majors" and "Anti-Christ." Would be funny if it turned out that he was a pretty decent fielder after all.

Were people really crticizising his defense? His glove was obviously superb, at the time, to the eye and by PBP numbers.

But it's true that he couldn't hit his way from here to ... somewhere close to here.
   31. Шĥy Posted: August 28, 2006 at 12:00 AM (#2158860)
FWIW, Jeter would make an even worse third baseman than A-Rod.

That's just because Jeter is a bad fielder overall. However, switching the two would make a lot of sense. According to the Fielding Bible, Arod is terrible at fielding bunts while fielding slow grounders is his strength. Their strengths and weakness are so poorly utilized by their current positions that the Fielding Bible said that switching the two could produce 20 more runs for the Yankees over a whole year.
   32. Chris Dial Posted: August 28, 2006 at 12:27 AM (#2158872)
I rarely see a third baseman have to cover nearly the range of a shortstop.

that's because these guys are already selected. Most 3B were SS earlier in their career, and at least HS. They were moved for the range limitations, and developed the reflexes through repitition..
   33. Walt Davis Posted: August 28, 2006 at 06:11 AM (#2159112)
thanks for the Jose Valentin numbers. I'm guessing that doesn't include his NL games (based on the gp numbers you report), not that those games are gonna add too much to the resume.
   34. Harold can be a fun sponge Posted: August 28, 2006 at 06:34 AM (#2159118)
IOW if Cal had been blessed with the same physical skills (reaction time, release time, arm, etc.), but had not had his positioning knowledge, would his numbers be the same?


I think Chris answered the question implicitly, but I'll make it explicit: yes, positioning is included. It's all about plays made. The zone doesn't move if the fielder does; if Cal (or ARod) positioned himself better, and that led to making more plays, that'll show up here.

Chris, thanks for posting this stuff, it's really great. Any chance on getting John Valentin year-by-year (or is that coming up later?)? Like I said, he was quietly one of the best players in baseball for a couple years.
   35. Foghorn Leghorn Posted: August 28, 2006 at 01:20 PM (#2159187)
thanks for the Jose Valentin numbers. I'm guessing that doesn't include his NL games (based on the gp numbers you report), not that those games are gonna add too much to the resume.

It doesn't. I'll have to look at them later.

I'll post John Valentin's numbers later as there seems to be demand (3B and SS).
   36. DCA Posted: August 28, 2006 at 02:55 PM (#2159235)
Ripken moved to 3B for Mike Bordick, who was by reputation a great fielder. Do you have his numbers? So we can see if this is a Jeter-like thing or just a deploying of two plus fielding SS at the same time.
   37. Slinger Francisco Barrios (Dr. Memory) Posted: August 28, 2006 at 03:55 PM (#2159287)
Any chance on getting John Valentin year-by-year (or is that coming up later?)? Like I said, he was quietly one of the best players in baseball for a couple years.

*gasp choke* Non-consecutive years, maybe. But they couldn't wait to move him off SS. Nomar's numbers--that's what I want to see. Was he a leadfoot like I hear?
   38. Rally Posted: August 28, 2006 at 04:05 PM (#2159294)
That's why I've always advocated moving him to second, where his piss-poor reflexes and mediocre foot-speed wouldn't be as much of a handicap.

Jeter's got much better than mediocre foot speed, at least from watching him run the bases. His problem at short is he doesn't get any kind of jump.

Its funny to listen to even the opposition announcers (Rex & Steve) not say a word about Jeter not getting to a half dozen groundballs, but then when he goes into the hole and makes his jump-throw to nail a runner at first (admittedly a nice play - he threw out Figgins) they start talking about "best ever" and "gold glove".
   39. Los Angeles Waterloo of Black Hawk Posted: August 28, 2006 at 06:00 PM (#2159472)
There was a groundball up the middle for a hit against The Jeter this past series -- I think it was on Friday, but I can't remember who hit it -- and replays indicated he got his customary late start on the ball. The announcers were reviewing the play, and Jose Mota said, "Jeter actually got a late start there," but he said it as though he were surprised to discover this.

Every time I watch us play against the Yankees, over the course of a three-game series I'll see Jeter not make 2-3 plays that a typical SS would make, and maybe one or two where a typical SS would have made the play more easily. Why announcers can't see this is completely beyond me. As much as I can't stand the guy, he has a plethora of attributes that are worthy of praise, so I don't know why he has to be so fervently praised for the one thing he can't actually do.
   40. Cowboy Popup Posted: August 28, 2006 at 06:15 PM (#2159489)
"Every time I watch us play against the Yankees, over the course of a three-game series I'll see Jeter not make 2-3 plays that a typical SS would make, and maybe one or two where a typical SS would have made the play more easily. Why announcers can't see this is completely beyond me."

I know why. Because the plays you think a normal SS should make obviously aren't plays a normal SS would make. Otherwise, if Jeter were missing 2-3 plays every three games, he would be what, -100 on defense.
   41. Foghorn Leghorn Posted: August 28, 2006 at 06:54 PM (#2159529)
Ripken moved to 3B for Mike Bordick, who was by reputation a great fielder. Do you have his numbers? So we can see if this is a Jeter-like thing or just a deploying of two plus fielding SS at the same time.

Yes, I have Bordick. He's above average, but nothing worth moving Cal, IMO. I'll post his later.
   42. WalkOffIBB Posted: August 28, 2006 at 07:27 PM (#2159549)
Yes been discussed before but I'm still hopelessly puzzled that Whitaker dropped off the ballot. Were the writers avoiding first year votes (for the usual dumb reason)? He had 1386 runs scored and over 1000 RBI, 244 homers, excellent defense. Why is Steve ^*%&*$ Garvey a better candidate? You'd think Lou wouldn't get anything less than Trammell-are 9 points of BA really that significant to the writers? I'd hate to see Lou have to wait 20 years before the VA elects him (assuming they too don't suffer from Cephalitus Bungholeitis)

One of the arguments against Whitaker (especially with respect to Sandberg) was that he was not a great defender. It is nice to see that he was comperable.

Chris - If you have the time, I would love to see Trammell's numbers.
   43. Los Angeles Waterloo of Black Hawk Posted: August 28, 2006 at 08:06 PM (#2159585)
I know why. Because the plays you think a normal SS should make obviously aren't plays a normal SS would make. Otherwise, if Jeter were missing 2-3 plays every three games, he would be what, -100 on defense.

It is definitely possible that he's been worse against the Angels this season than he has been against other teams. I would imagine that there is quite a bit of random variation in how players perform defensively against various opponents.
   44. Rally Posted: August 28, 2006 at 08:29 PM (#2159603)
If Jeter plays worse against the Angels than he does against other teams, he's certainly not the only Yankee. The Yankees are our beeyatch.
   45. Chris Dial Posted: August 29, 2006 at 01:15 AM (#2159791)
Bordick
1990    SS    Mike    Bordick    Oak    AL    9    18.0    1    54
1991    SS    Mike    Bordick    Oak    AL    84    684.7    2    5
1992    SS    Mike    Bordick    Oak    AL    70    578.7    4    10
1993    SS    Mike    Bordick    Oak    AL    159    1375.7    -3    -3
1994    SS    Mike    Bordick    Oak    AL    112    959.3    2    3
1995    SS    Mike    Bordick    Oak    AL    126    1073.3    6    8
1996    SS    Mike    Bordick    Oak    AL    155    1338.0    -3    -3
1997    SS    Mike    Bordick    Bal    AL    153    1335.3    10    10
1998    SS    Mike    Bordick    Bal    AL    150    1238.3    10    11
1999    SS    Mike    Bordick    Bal    AL    159    1355.0    13    13
2000    SS    Mike    Bordick    Bal    AL    100    865.0    0    0
2001    SS    Mike    Bordick    Bal    AL    58    509.7    -7    -18
2002    SS    Mike    Bordick    Bal    AL    117    1008.7    16    21
2003    SS    Mike    Bordick    Tor    AL    69    562.0    6    15
TOT    SS    Mike    Bordick    Tor    AL    1521    12901.66662    57    6
   46. Chris Dial Posted: August 29, 2006 at 01:16 AM (#2159793)
Trammell
YEAR    POS    NAME    Last    TEAM    LG    GP    INN    RSpt    RS/150
1987    SS    Alan    Trammell    Det    AL    149    1304.0    -6    -6
1988    SS    Alan    Trammell    Det    AL    126    1064.7    11    14
1989    SS    Alan    Trammell    Det    AL    118    1011.7    15    20
1990    SS    Alan    Trammell    Det    AL    142    1213.3    3    3
1991    SS    Alan    Trammell    Det    AL    92    771.0    2    4
1992    SS    Alan    Trammell    Det    AL    28    229.0    0    -1
1993    SS    Alan    Trammell    Det    AL    63    509.7    5    13
1994    SS    Alan    Trammell    Det    AL    63    540.0    0    1
1995    SS    Alan    Trammell    Det    AL    60    470.0    -2    -6
1996    SS    Alan    Trammell    Det    AL    43    326.7    -2    -8
TOT    SS    Alan    Trammell    Det    AL    884    7440    26    5
   47. Srul Itza Posted: August 29, 2006 at 01:51 AM (#2159806)
He stood further in the hole and had great range to teh glove side. This allowed him to cover , with his stride and reactions, just everything. He was just a great defender.

Agreed. I think a lot of it related to having a very powerful arm, which is one of the reasons he was able to make the transition to third base. Bill James made a comment about his arm in the NBJHBA, I think. I may be misremembering the source, but it was something to the effect that he had been told so-and-so had a powerful arm; but when he saw him in the same game as Ripken, he saw that Ripken routinely set up deeper, made the throws from farther away, and made them with greater ease and accuracy than the other guy.
   48. Harveys Wallbangers Posted: August 29, 2006 at 02:29 AM (#2159849)
Srul:

The player with the so-called powerful arm was Kurt Stillwell. Yes, THAT Kurt Stillwell.
   49. Srul Itza Posted: August 29, 2006 at 02:48 AM (#2159872)
Thanks for the reminder, Harveys.
   50. WalkOffIBB Posted: August 29, 2006 at 01:42 PM (#2160091)
Trammell

Thank you.
   51. shaftr Posted: August 29, 2006 at 07:02 PM (#2160542)
Ventura was my favorite player growing up. That is a big reason I am a huge Joe Crede fan now. I love to watch a good fieldling 3b who is handy with the bat and always seems to come up big.

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