May 25, 2007


Can Adam Everett lead MLB for the fifth straight season? (John Dewan, May 23, 2007, ACTA Sports)

Here are the top shortstops in 2007 thus far:
Adam Everett, Hou +11
Tony Pena, KC +9
John McDonald, Tor +7
Julio Lugo, Bos +5
Troy Tulowitzki, Col +5
J.J. Hardy, Mil +5

Vizquel is at a respectable +2 so far while last year's American League Gold Glover, Derek Jeter, is at -9, second worst in MLB at shortstop to Hanley Ramirez at -10.

Posted by Orrin Judd at May 25, 2007 2:30 PM

Baseball Prospectus:

Jeter's fielding RATE -- 114. Well above avg.

Yankees, 3rd in the AL, 5th in baseball in fielding efficiency.

(Would be tough to do that with the worst ss in baseball, you'd think)

Once again, Jeter was one of the worst ss from 1996 through 2004.

Since then he's been well above avg.

Posted by: Jim in Chicago at May 25, 2007 7:15 PM

Their awful defense is particularly problematic because their pitching is too rotten to cover for the mistakes. It's a vicious cycle.

Posted by: oj at May 25, 2007 8:54 PM

Awful defense? Huh? Only 4 teams in baseball turn a higher percentage of batted balls in play into outs than the Yankees.

It's absurd to believe they have a poor defense in the face of that overwhelming statistic.

Posted by: Jim in Chicago at May 25, 2007 9:02 PM

BABIP is notoriously fluky, but if that's all you've got, cling to it.

Posted by: oj at May 25, 2007 10:07 PM

Jim - I just looked at ESPN's stats, ranking the teams by put outs / total chances puts the Yankees at #11 (Boston at #13). But there's very little variation across teams -- nearly all teams are between .702 and .718. Also, the statistic doesn't seem to correlate well with runs against. For instance, Oakland is #28; the Padres, with the fewest runs allowed in MLB, are #18. No doubt walks and strikeouts significantly affect runs allowed, as does control over when you can get outs. Nothing here suggests that the Yankees are a good team, though perhaps their defense is average.

Posted by: pj at May 25, 2007 10:08 PM

Johnny Damon-OF-Yankees May. 25 - 11:13 pm et

Johnny Damon went 0-for-3 and had a miserable night in center field before being removed from Friday's game for a pinch-hitter.
Damon has three doubles go over his head, two of which he probably would have caught had be been 100 percent. He later dropped Casey Kotchman's sinking liner for an RBI single, leading to a "Ber-nie" chant at Yankee Stadium. We wonder if the Yankees wouldn't be better off giving Damon 15 days off to get him closer to full strength. He's swinging the bat fine lately, but he's not the overall player he was last year.

Posted by: Rotoworld at May 25, 2007 10:26 PM

If you want to know why the Yankees are failing, here's two reasons: (1) Their BB/SO ratio is worst in the league, .75; average is .52, the Red Sox are at .44, Padres at .40., Oakland .43, Angels .45, Cleveland .42, Milwaukee .41. It really pays to cut down walks. (2) The Yankees W-L record is radically underperforming their Pythagorean estimate (based on RS/RA). This shows they don't improve in high-leverage situations. The lack of a quality closer & setup man really kills them here. Note they have only 3 saves on the year. It may be that the players just don't have the heart to bear down in critical situations any more.

Posted by: pj at May 26, 2007 8:02 AM

oj -- surely the percentage of balls in play relates to the team's defense? Of course it's fluky as relates to a particularl pitcher or hitter, but for a team, over the course of a season? C'mon. Defensive efficiency is much better than the other defensive stats, which are all pretty darn subjective from what I can tell.

And of course BP's RATE does a much better job of explaining why the Yanks are so good at turning batted balls into outs. And BP has Jeter going from someone who was surely one of the worst ss in the history of the game to a pretty darn good one the past 3 seasons.

If you look over at Baseball Prospectus's defensive efficiency chart the teams considered top defensive teams are in general up at the top. An exception perhaps is Oakland (their enormous foul territory?) and Detriot, who was one of the top 2 or 3 last season, is way down this year.

pj -- (1) not sure what the difference is btwn ESPN and BP, but the latter has much larger differences, and places the Yanks much higher.

(2) You're absolutely spot on re the lack of strikeouts for the Yankees pitchers. B/c it's not so much the walks, but the fact that their pitchers don't strike out enough guys. Hopefully this will change with Clemens and Hughes. Desalvo and Clippard, who will at best wind up as long relief by 2008-9, are not the answer.

Re their Pythag, one hopes that will turn around, but look at the Indians last season. Their underperformance kept up the whole season. Altho now they've turned the corner it seems.

Posted by: Jim in Chicago at May 26, 2007 10:30 AM

For whatever reason, Jeter had a good year two years ago. He reverted to form.

Posted by: oj at May 26, 2007 12:04 PM