This is an interesting article by Sky Kalkman at Beyond the Box Score. His idea is to understand defensive production on an RBI scale, "which even BBWAA members can understand." That's an excessive optimism, if you ask me, but commendable nonetheless. Kudos to you on your faith in your fellow humans, Sky Kalkman (and compliments on the killer name).
I came across it a couple weeks back, but for various reasons held off posting it. Obviously, it doesn't have the season's final stats, but I'm sure things haven't changed dramatically. You can read the details for how he comes about doing it in the post. He is not recommending RBI as a way to evaluate players. Here are some notes of interest for those who follow the Royals, particularly given the well-documented defensive struggles of the team this year.
No Royals are on the list of players who "gain" the most "RBI" from their fielding.
On the list of those whose RBI are impacted most negatively by their defense:
Alex Gordon: -23. The Smirk's defensive struggles have been much-discussed this year. UZR had him as the 3rd best defensive third baseman in the AL in 2007 (Gordon was at +4, Beltre +5, Inge +12). But the problems were real. Hopefully, he's at least somewhere between both seasons. I do think that Gordon will progress enough as a hitter that his bat will be an asset anywhere. Obviously, it would be best for the Royals if he could play 3rd.
Ross Gload.: -23. OMG this disproves defensive statistics OMFG!!!111 Just kidding. Fortunately, defense at first doesn't matter that much and G-Load's bat totally carries him.*
* Update by Pozterisk! To go along with Royals Review's acclaimed Andy Sisco and Mark Quinn Awards, I propose that Royals Review add a Gload Glove Award, given annually to the player whose primary reason for making the is ostensibly his great defense, but actually isn't good at that, or at the very least can’t possibly still be worth having around (let alone extending). Ross Gload would (naturally) win this year, although TPJ, from most reports, would have had a shot. In most organizations, and probably KC, too, the inevitable veteran catcher brought in will win (e.g., the Law of the Defensive Backup Catcher.), but every once in a while, an exceptional man like Ross Gload comes along and surprises us all. Thoughts?
Jose Guillen: -24. Note that neither Adam Dunn nor Pat Burrell make the list. Bobby Abreu, whom Rany thinks the Royals should pursue, leads this list at -47.
Kalkman also generates lists of players who, when defense is taken into consideration, are the most underrated and overrated by their RBI totals.
On the underrated list: Mike 'Avilanche' Aviles. Was there ever any doubt?
I realize that some people on here think that I "hate" Jose Guillen. He sometimes bugs me, but I think that I've also shown that I appreciate JoGui's (limited) offensive abilities and entertainment value.
I do think the signing was a mistake. What really gets me going, however, is not JoGui himself but people defending his alleged "leadership," or who say that he's one of the Royals better players this season. Um, no, he's not even close. Every decent stat shows that he's been, at best, the 4th or 5th best hitter on the Royals, and maybe not even one of KC's top 10 players.
But he leads the team in RBIs, so that must mean something! Sigh. Whatever. I'm not going to repeat the criticisms of RBI as a measure of offensive skill that go back to at least Branch Rickey. Most people do have at least an understanding of defense, though... With that said, the Royals can be proud that, when Kalkman posted this, one of their own did lead the majors in something.
Tied in first (with Ryan Howard) among "MLB Players Most Overrated by their RBI Totals" is the Pride of Kansas City: 2008 All-Star Final Vote Candidate Jose Guillen.