It’s official: Manny’s the worst in left
August 28, 2006 2 Comments
I haven’t seen that much press about John Dewan’s The Fielding Bible. Kudos to The Sporting News for their article on this new book.
Dewan’s team went to the film archives over the past three years and gave players a plus or minus for every defensive play. For players who played at least 1500 innings over the past three seasons, they listed the best and worst at each position. This system is not perfect, of course, but it’s a much better way of gauging defensive prowess than just fielding percentage or “range factor”, whatever that is. The main disadvantage is that the system has no way of evaluating bench players’ defensive performance. Maybe you could divide by innings played, to get an average value. This could also be a more representative rating for starters who have played very different amounts of innings as well.
Well, there’s been a lot of debate over the years as to what kind of fielder Manny Ramirez is in left. His many embarrassing gaffes have led many to dismiss him as awful, but his many diving grabs and outfield assist totals suggest that he might not be that bad after all. I’ve always thought of him as an average fielder at best, who often has to dive to make up for his bad jumps on balls. He does have a decent arm, but playing shallow in Fenway Park because of the Green Monster gives him a distinct advantage in throwing out baserunners unfamiliar with the deflections and caroms out in left.
Dewan’s team gave Manny a score of -69 over the past three years, worst among major league starting left fielders. The best at the position? Tampa Bay’s Carl Crawford, at +45.
In general, the best with the leather are young players who still have good mobility and flexibility. These are the likes of Mark Teixiera, Adrian Beltre, and Orlando Hudson. The geezers of the group? RF Ichiro Suzuki and CF Torii Hunter.
At least there were two Yankees in the worst group to the Red Sox’ one. CF Bernie Williams (-78) and RF Gary Sheffield (-38) are worst at their respctive positions, too. Take that, Steinbrenner. :P