Tuesday, April 21, 2009

#1 Defense?

So I am watching the HD feed of the Indians broadcast, and they said the Royals have committed the fewest errors in baseball (and of course, because most broadcasters pay little heed to other defensive metrics, and really, it can be a little difficult to rate a defense as a whole to be fair). Now maybe watching these Royals day-in and day-out makes this harder to believe, but I was shocked.

Granted, the Royals are the Major League leader in strikeouts as of Sidney Ponson's strikeout in the first tied Atlanta at 112 (the Braves have played one more game than the Royals and are in the middle of a rain delay), and his strikeout of Asdrubal Cabrera moved them ahead at 113 in the second inning. To add to the obscene strikeout totals, the Royals had walked the third fewest batters in baseball heading into action tonight. More strikeouts mean fewer chances on the field and fewer walks put less pressure on the defense, but the Royals sit at a mere four errors, which still doesn't feel like enough.

Obviously, they have been recipients of some fairly kind scorekeeping with quite a few iffy defensive miscues not having been ruled errors. There have also been occasions--two separate Callaspo plays come to mind from Sunday's game: the grounder he knocked down ranging to his right, and the feeble attempt to tag the lead runner, both of which were in the horrible eighth--where the Royals poor execution has cost them dearly.

There is also the inexplicable defensive lineups that have featured their best defensive second baseman garnering six games played in right to his one game played at second. Mike Jacobs has played fairly poorly at first, but his lack of range (and for that matter, Bert's as well) doesn't show up in errors. Weird little hiccups like Butler jumping off first to catch a ball that could be caught without jumping and missing out on a double play doesn't show up (and, yes, I know that play was irrelevant because Billy had an unassisted double play the next play).

Passed balls/wild pitches have also felt more prevalent this season. At least twice, runs have scored on passed balls--in the first tonight, and in the first at the K on the Sunday game against the Yankees two weeks ago.

To be sure, the Royals are not the only team to have had gaffes that were not ruled errors, but are they the best defensive team? I find that hard to believe.

Regardless, Brian Bannister will need that Number One defense tomorrow when he starts in the slot Horacio Ramirez was supposed to take before Doug Waechter's elbow strain landed him on the DL. Ramirez thankfully remains in the bullpen.

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