Monday, August 31, 2009
This Just In: Defense Wins Championships
As if there weren't enough stats in baseball already, I am proposing that another one be created. If it doesn't exist already, I would like to see baseball institute some sort of a crude plus/minus system for players. In my opinion, defense is one of the most underrated skills in baseball. The amount of runs a players saves from scoring is far less valued than the amount of runs that he can produce. This is where the plus/minus system would come in. It could determine a player's true value both at bat and in the field.
This stat might actually already exist somewhere, but I promise I have never seen it. If it does exist I would be very interested in seeing it. The thought came to me when I was watching Adam Dunn patrolling right field for the Nats this year. Several misplays and an error on his part had staked the Phillies to a pretty big lead in one particular game. I thought to myself, "My god, they are paying this guy $10 million a year for this?". Obviously Adam Dunn was signed for his bat, and he hasn't disappointed hitting 35 homers and driving in 91 so far. However, he made 13 errors in right field and I don't want to know how many balls fell in front of him or went over his head. When you take into account all of that, I wonder just how much he has helped the Nats this year. Something to think about for sure.
Since that game, the Nats have traded Nick Johnson and moved Dunn to first base, so I'm sure they realized just how much he was hurting them in the outfield. If this stat could be calculated (or is already) there are a group of guys in my mind who would jump to the front of the line as the most valuable all around players in baseball. In no particular order, here they are:
C: Joe Mauer
1B: Albert Pujols, Big Tex, Justin Morneau
2B: Chase Utley
SS: Hanley Ramirez, Jimmy Rollins
3B: David Wright, Evan Longoria, Kevin Youkilis
OF: Carlos Beltran, Torii Hunter, Carl Crawford, Matt Kemp, Grady Sizemore
And as for some of the guys who would be the worst, or at least would be considered overrated:
C: Brian McCann
1B: Ryan Howard (not as much anymore), Adam Dunn
2B: Dan Uggla, Alexei Ramirez
SS: Miguel Tejada, Christian Guzman
3B: Mark Reynolds, Chipper Jones, Aramis Ramirez
OF: Manny Ramirez, Alfonso Soriano, Hideki Matsui
Basically, if you have a big, old, slow dude playing in the field somewhere, that player might not be helping your team as much as you think. A plus/minus for players would give a pretty good indication of how strong that player is on both offense and defense. Obviously, some things would come down to judgement calls, but I think it would be a really interesting stat to keep in baseball. Holler if you hear me.