2B or not 2B
We have all struggled with quantitative analysis on defense, but this isn't some statshead thing created in a cellar at MIT. James explains that Dewan's aides "watched video from every major league game and had recorded every ball off the bat by the direction in which it was hit [the vector], the type of hit [ground ball, fly ball, line drive, popup, mob hit, etc.] and how hard the ball was hit."
So, in a game where we have long been able to measure offense and pitching, Dewan has made a strong presentation for rational and real defensive analysis.
For those without access to ESPN insider, the news for Mets fans isn't good.
1. Carlos Delgado was "far and away" the worst fielding 1B in the majors last year. For those hoping for skewed numbers based on small sample size: he's still one of the three worst over the last three years.
2. Bret Boone, a non-roster spring-training invitee, scored as a worst fielding 2B last year and over the last three years. So now he is the total package of detriment at the plate and detriment in the field. If he makes the squad, expect his "veteran leadership" and "proven ability to produce" to get him stomach-churning playing time.
3. Aaron Rowand, new Phillies CF, was a top CF last year and over the last three years.
Other options at 2B are the unsure-handed Kaz Matsui, Jeff Keppinger and winter-league phenom Anderson Hernandez. Unfortunately for Mets fans, Willie Randolph has an inexplicable love of veterans, regardless of ability to perform. At the same time, his "gut" tells him that young players have to "prove themselves" before being given responsibility- even if it becomese painfully clear (and it may not be) that Keppinger/Hernandez deserve the job.
Hence, with a young Reyes at SS (18 errors in 2005), a huge question mark at 2B and a known deficit at 1B, we may be holding our breath a lot on routine ground balls in 2006. And considering our aging pitching staff, who other than Pedro can't blow by hitters, and who will undoubtedly need help from fielders to get out of jams, these defensive shortcomings may haunt us right out of a playoff spot.