Sunday, December 27, 2009

Best Defense Middle Infield

For those of you who missed the first couple of entries, you can find them here. Today I'm bringing you a little Middle Infield. You can not have a middle infield discussion without watching this clip. Now that I have your attention, lets get to the good stuff:

Second Base

What makes a great second baseman? Quickness. Range. Great hands. And Amazing footwork. Quickness and range go hand in hand here. Range is crucial because of the limited range the first baseman is allowed. The second baseman must go deep into holes and stop slow ground balls as well as field screaming grounders hit by the middle of the order lefties.

Great hands are vital to a great double play combination. The second baseman is responsible for throws from third and short on the double plays, and these throws range anywhere from missiles leading second into the runner to soft tosses which force quick throws. A great second baseman must have quick hands and a plethora of double play moves. These moves must include stepping to the inside of the bag, the step back, using the bag as protection, and the I'm going to get killed move.

The way to master each of these moves is to work tirelessly on footwork around second base. A second baseman must be quick enough to move his feet away from a lumbering runner, and that is only focusing on the footwork required for double plays. Virtually every throw a second baseman makes is unnatural. This is why you often see second baseman make quick sidearm throws; these cut down on the release time. Throwing to first is across the body at a difficult angle. Throwing to second requires equally difficult footwork and quickness, and throwing from the hole requires arm strength and balance. Second base is definitely one of the more underrated difficult to play positions (if that makes any sense). On to Neyer's thoughts:

2B -- Chase Utley

I thought this was best defensive player, not best offensive player? This one may actually be right on the money, however.

Utley still hasn't won a Gold Glove, but that's the voters' fault because he's deserved three or four of them already.

While he doesn't have the prototypical quickness that I talked about in earlier paragraphs, Utley has shown remarkable skill at 2nd base. Lets let Rob explain.

And what a strange trip it's been.

Where did that sentence come from?????? Just talk about his playing second base.

He began his college career as a shortstop, then spent some time at DH before finally shifting to second base.

How does this have anything to do with how well he played second base? Craig Biggio played catcher, meaning he is shit awful at second base. See how my logic works. Wait, you don't? Rob would understand.

In the minors, the Phillies turned him into a third baseman, but that shift was reversed when third baseman David Bell joined the franchise.

Did Chase even play 2nd base?

Finally, Utley was back at second base, where he belonged.

How does he not mention his time at 1st base? Utley actually played Major League games there. If you are going to waste our time making irrelevant points at least see them through to completion.

Frankly, Utley doesn't have the arm to play third base, and his relatively weak arm does hurt him when trying to turn double plays.

5 sentences. 0 support for his claim.

But he still has the range of a shortstop, and makes an immense number of plays to both his left and his right that most second basemen simply don't make.

Since Rob didn't make his point, allow me. Chase Utley has finished in the top 3 in UZR/150 each of the last 5 years. He even put up an astonishing 21+ in 2007 and 2008. While guys like Orlando Hudson have been heralded more for their spectacular plays, Utley simply gets to more ground balls than every other second baseman. When I initially saw this, I thought "no way" (It was a highly dignified moment). Utley is not exceptionally quick, and he doesn't remind you of a typical second baseman. However, Utley's numbers speak volumes. His 5 year stretch from 2005-2009 is simply much better than every other second baseman.


Shortstops need to be the captain of the infield. They are the focal point of the defense. They are the athletes which can make a defense superb or tear a defense to shreds. The shorstop needs to be one of the most talented, athletic players on the defense. Unlike the positions we have talked about previously, technique takes a backseat to talent at this position. Superior range and arm strength are not things that can be taught, they are inherent traits that a player has. The player with the smoothest, best glove at the position, Adam Everett. Take it away Rob:

SS -- Adam Everett

No arguments here.

Everett has never started 150 games in a season.

That is a bad way to start your point. Good ways include: Everett has topped 15.0 UZR/150 5 times in his career. He leads the past decade in +/- and over the span of 2005-2007 finished with a +/- of +92. The next highest total, +45.

He's started more than 120 games in a season just twice.

Rob, do you know how making points works?

That's the best explanation for Everett's failure to win even a single Gold Glove: The voters prefer every-day players.

And players that hit better than a career .245. Another cool stat on Everett, even though he has never been able to hit, his WAR dipped into the negatives only in his rookie season. He even peaked as a 2.0+ WAR player from 2003-2006. Remember, he could not hit for shit.

And they particularly like every-day players who can hit at least a little. That's just not Adam Everett. But despite his general lack of playing time, he has easily saved more runs in this decade than any other shortstop: 87 runs, to be (approximately) precise, and 18 runs per 150 games.

Congratulations, Rob's first stat in two paragraphs, after he announced he would be using stats.

Everett turns 33 this winter, and he's not the fielder he once was. But for five or six years, there simply wasn't a shortstop who could make more plays than Adam Everett.

However, everyone would have just had to take your word for it because you never backed this statement up. Good work Rob.

1 comment:

  1. From what I've seen, Cesar Salad has the best hands in the game. How can he not be mentioned in this post?