As The Hardball Times released an update of its zone ratings (definition), which is just one of several defensive metrics out there, I thought I’d look to see how some Tigers starters are doing. Just a quick primer, the stat measures how many balls a player gets to inside a defined area by their position. Further, higher number is better. It’s hard to put into perspective how much better the image of their defense looks, but this is just one way to glance and compare.
- 1st base, Sean Casey, near the bottom of the majors. Cleveland’s Casey Blake is about average, if you want to compare.
- 2nd base, Placido Polanco is in the upper 10 of the majors.
- 3rd base, Brandon Inge ranks seventh at third base.
- SS, Carlos Guillen is seventh from the bottom. Derek Jeter is nearly at the bottom. Make what you will of that one!
- OF, Curtis Granderson is second at CF, behind Ichiro; Magglio Ordonez, RF, middle to upper third ranking; and there’s no everyday left fielder to speak of.
Just from the perspective of what I observe, I think those rankings look pretty much on.
Also, Pudge Rodriguez has let by quite a few wild pitches and passed balls that he would have gotten to in past years. His percentage of runners caught stealing is half what it was last year — or the rest of his career.
Another ranking is for the team: defensive efficiency. That’s the number of batted balls turned into outs. If 8 batted balls are turned into outs, it’s .800. Average is about .700.
The Tigers were near the best in baseball in 2006. In 2007, they have .6995, which ranks them 19th.
From my perspective, this makes sense too. I think you can tell the defense isn’t as good. Guillen is making too many blunders at
second short (oops). I’m not real happy with Casey’s play at first. Inge is good, but makes errors at third. And the outfield, outside of Granderson, is not very impressive. I think Magglio Ordonez is playing better defense, but it doesn’t strike me as a strong point of the team.
Conclusion: While we look at the pitchers and say they’re not doing as well this year — pretty clear that is true — they’re not getting as much help as they did last year either. The defense has to step up, too. Cam Maybin adjusting to left field faster would help this, but let’s remember the kid is 20 and learning a new position in the majors, even if it’s similar to his natural center field. So it’s pretty clear this is the defense dealt to the Tigers pitches this year. They’ll just have to make the best of it.