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KC's Outfield Defense

The Baltimore series couldn't end soon enough. Without Mark Teahen in the first game, the Royals would have likely been swept by a very lifeless Orioles team with nothing to play for. As mentioned earlier here at Royals Review our team hasn't actually been that bad in close games. Well, "bad" is relative, but it isn't like they're 2-14 or something in one-run games. This is a poor team that isn't really good at anything, and the results show it. In one-run games the Royals are 10-18 about what you'd expect from a .350 team with a shaky bullpen. In two-run games the Royals are 7-12, which is almost kinda good. Last night's game was a soul-draining spectacle: the Royals never had the big inning they needed, the Orioles threatened constantly, kept adding runs, yet never really finished off the game.

It would help if the Royals did anything other than hit singles: 2 doubles, 3 walks and 12 singles last night. Thats alot of baserunners for only 4 runs.


Yesterday we looked at the Royals' defensive numbers in the infield. All in all, Marc Normandin's data seemed to suggest a below-average fielding tandem. Sure, Grudz was one of the best in the game at 2nd, but Minky was only just average and Berroa and Teahen were both pretty bad. I've been taken to task for criticizing Moore's fairly generic "power at the corners, speed up the middle, power arms" formula for success, but if we're already going to field a bad hitting team, we might as well go all out and be good defensively.

This is actually something I've thought about for the last few years, and its made more and more sense with defense emerging as the new OBP, an untapped resource thats little-understood by the traditional metrics and their celebrants. Couldn't you field a "all-field, no-hit" team of AAA guys who've never hit enough to be called up but are great with the glove? I honestly think that team would beat what the Royals have now, considering that the Royals don't hit anyway...

Anyway, onto the defensive numbers for the outfield. Again, these rankings are only for players who've appeared in the field for 300 innings. You can read the full rankings and the methodology here. Its worth checking out.

Emil Brown (LF): 4.36 RAA (7th): This number stuns me, as I've generally considered Brown a poor defensive player. As with all defensive stats, theres so much noise in the data (the Royals flyball staff, the K's dimensions, etc) its hard to hear the music, but overall, this is very encouraging. The guys at the top of the LF list make sense: Crawford (9.51 RAA), Langerhans (9.42 RAA), Roberts (9.25 RAA) although Cliff Floyd stands out like a sore thumb at 4th. Then again, he was good once and is a good athlete, just old and injury-prone. Manny Ramirez has been predictably awful, clocking in at -20.25 RAA, which is about two wins. Those who praise David Ortiz should remember that his immobility and inability to play even first base forces Manny to be on the field, which cuts into his prodigious life-giving talent at the plate... Just something to keep in mind. Surprisingly, the much hated Barry Bonds is middle-of-the-pack.

David DeJesus (CF): .83 RAA (18th): David comes in just above average here. It seems a tad low, but considering that he played the beginning of the year hurt, there may be something to it. Plus, theres the re-acclamation process to account for. Hey, at least he isn't below-average. Sadly, Ken Griffey JR. comes in last at -8.44. Griffey, even in his prime was Jeter-esque, as there was significant dispute between the stats and the perception. If you came of age in the 1990s you probably got dressed for school each day watching Griffey make great catches every morning on the endless SportsCenter reruns. The getting-fatter-each-day Andruw Jones is also slipping, badly, to 28th.

Joey Gathright (CF): .93 (17th): There have been whispers about Gathright's routes to the ball, even in Kansas City. While speed is generally overrated, it makes sense that he'd be a good CF in the classic sense. Ideally he'd continue to improve and the Royals could play the corner guys closer to the line and it'd have a ripple effect. We'll see. Still, both Gator and David have been solid, average defenders.

Reggie Sanders (RF): 2.86 (9th): Another mild surprise, as the old as hell Sanders mixed in a good defensive season... well, before he got mysteriously hurt and hidden somewhere. As with Emil, this goes against my perceptions, but not as strongly. Sanders has a good reputation in the field, and probably got by on guile and memory as much as his legs in 2006. Other notables include the totally-square Brian Giles coming in at 2nd, and the famous Ichiro! coming in at 5th. Despite what Hawk says, Jermaine Dye appears to be falling, as he's costing the Sox runs in right (-4.81, 29th).

So can it be true? Every regular OF for the Royals was above average? Even Emil and Reggie? Really?

What do you think, dear readers?

Again, you can find the rest of the rankings at Beyond the Boxscore.