After last night's frustrating loss in which the Royals left 300 men on-base, the less said the better. Instead, lets talk defense for awhile, shall we? Particularly, infield defense.
Marc Normandin at Beyond the Boxscore ran the defensive numbers for all Major League players with at least 300 innings in the field. Normandin computes the "Runs Above Average" saved by each player. As you know, an important part of defensive play isn't just avoiding errors, but also making plays. This is a major factor in the ongoing debates about Jeter, he avoids errors, but generally doesn't have much range at short either. As with all defensive metrics, the numbers are far from perfect, but as we amass more and more data, there starts to be some grain of truth revealed. You can find the link here, which contains the full rankings.
Doug Mientkiewicz (1b): .27 RAA (18th): I'm a little shocked that Dougie is this far down the list. By way of contrast, Albert Pujols has saved 11.2 runs at first according to this measure. I think the Royals lack of ground-ball pitchers may be effecting the numbers, in fact, I know it is. Still, guys like Lance Niekro, Kendry Morales and Mike Lamb have all saved more runs in fewer chances. Perhaps Minky hasn't been as good as we've thought, either.
Mark Grudzielanek (2b): 10.48 RAA (tie 2nd): Its good to see Grudz this high, especially after the nice plays he made last night. Grudz has played a big role in stabilizing our infield, and teamed with Minky, gives the Royals a solid side. Of course, I should probably start referring to that tandem in the past-tense.
Mark Teahen (3b): -7.47 RAA (25th): Now only 28 third baseman have played 300 innings, so Mark's 25th ranking isn't exactly stellar. Third base is a weird position this year, with supposedly good glovemen like Eric Chavez and David Wright have weak, run costing years. Ohh, and some guy named Alex Rodriguez is also struggling. Number one? The undead Mike Lowell, one of the most boring human beings on the planet.
Angel Berroa (SS): -10.71 RAA (28th): Finally, the ranking we've all been waiting for. Well, what if I told you that Berroa is playing a better defensive SS than Derek Jeter? Would that make you feel better? Jeter's lost the Yankees about 8.17 runs, while Berroa's only cost the Royals 8.06. Plus, Jeter's missed more time with an injury, so he's done more damage in less time. Number one? Adam Everett of the Astros (19.10) followed by Juan Uribe of the Sox.
So in total, the non-catcher infield was strong on one side (Grudz & Minky about 11 runs above average) and weak as hell on the other (Teahen & Berroa losing about 18.5 runs). As for the other guys: Graffy, German, Stairs, etc. its a little difficult to say because they just haven't seen enough plays. We know Stairs is below average, but I wouldn't say he's "awful" and I suspect Graffy is about average, if not slightly below. German, I have no idea. I think its plain to see that the Royals would benefit from playing Blanco some at SS for starters, perhaps much more on the road, where Berroa simply doesn't hit.
(Two hours later)
Are the Rangers interested in Mark Redman? Matt Stairs? Minky? Well, possibly they are. Can you say A-ball prospects???
And I just saw this on Twinkie Town:
Since June 8
Team W L PCT
Minnesota- 34-8 (.810)
Detroit- 31-11 (.738)
Chicago- 23-19 (.548)
Kansas City- 21-22 (.488)
Cleveland- 15-27 (.357)