Blog Entry

Who are the NL's worst defenders?

Posted on: September 22, 2011 9:10 pm
Edited on: September 27, 2011 1:46 pm

By Evan Brunell

Over the past week, Eye on Baseball has taken a look at the AL Gold Glove award winners, along with the deserving NL candidates. In addition, the AL's worst defenders were scoured, and now comes the senior circuit's recipients of tin gloves...

Catcher: John Buck, Marlins -- One of the most important things a catcher can do is to throw out baserunners. To be sure, it's a total package -- calling pitches, acting as the general on the field, blocking pitches, framing pitches... but that pesky baserunner problem is also an issue, and Buck scores very low here. Out of 95 would-be basestealers, Buck only caught 17 of them, or 17.9 percent. Of all catchers who qualify for the batting title in the game -- not just the NL -- Buck's posted the worst caught-stealing rate. His reputation in all other aspects of catching are muted at best.

First base: Prince Fielder, Brewers -- Fielder looks as if he should easily clear $150 million in a new contract this offseason and $200 million is not out of reach given the right motivated bidder. Whoever is acquiring him, though, will be doing so for his home-run bat as opposed his defense, which has been consistently awful. This is a player who would have been shoved into the DH spot in the AL had he come up with an American League team, but the Brewers have had to live with his glove at first. Fielder offers nothing at first beyond a human blob that can block the occasional grounder.

Second base: Dan Uggla, Braves -- Uggla battled Jeff Keppinger for this honor, but Uggla takes the cake here by leading all NL second basemen in errors with 15, flashing both awful range and stone hands. It's surprising the Marlins didn't move him to third a while ago, and the Braves will certainly try to shift Uggla to third base once Chipper Jones retires. Until then, Atlanta's going to have to hope that Freddie Freeman at first and their shortstop can cover enough ground for Uggla to make his mark with the bat.

Third base: David Wright, Mets -- If David Wright's .929 fielding percentage holds, it will be the lowest mark by a third baseman since  2007, excluding Mark Reynolds who has "bested" Wright's fielding percentage twice in 2011 and 2008. In 2007, Ryan Braun tallied a .895 fielding percentage and was moved to left, which was always inevitable. Before that, you have to go to Edwin Encarnacion in 2006. Errors aren't always an indication of how good a fielder is, but in Wright's case, he's making them in such copious amounts without the benefit of superlative range.

Shortstop: Yuniesky Betancourt, Brewers -- Was there any doubt? The Brewers knew that they would have a horrendous left side of the infield, but the club could only hope that Betancourt and third baseman Casey McGehee's offensive production outstripped what they lost on defense. That hasn't been the case, and Betancourt remains the worst shortstop by a mile in the game. Really, there's no excuse for his still being considered a shortstop.

Left field: Raul Ibanez, Phillies -- There isn't much that left fielders are asked to do. Stand out there with a glove, catch the balls coming your way and smash lots of home runs. Well, Ibanez hasn't quite delivered on these fronts, especially defensively where he combines a noodle of an arm with a lack of speed or quickness, making him a statue. He's fortunate he doesn't play for the Cubs, otherwise the ivy on the outfield walls would already have overtaken him.

Canter field: Angel Pagan, Mets -- Pagan came out of nowhere to be a solid contributor to the Mets the last two seasons, but things have fallen apart this year. He leads all NL center fielders in erorrs and while he has good reaction time, his hands just aren't soft enough and his arm is a wash, too. Pagan may well have lost any shot at starting again after the year he's had.

Right field: Lance Berkman, Cardinals -- As I keep bringing up, a right fielder's arm is more valuable than a left fielder or center fielder. Thus, a player's defense in right should be judged with a bit more notice as to the player's arm. Well, one of the worst arms in the league belongs to Berkman, playing right consistently for the first time in his career. The verdict? The Cardinal has a lousy arm and lousy range. Maybe Berkman should stick to first base.

Pitcher: Matt Garza, Cubs -- A pitcher's job on defense basically comes down to this: field the grounders back to you and act as an irrelevant fly-ball pointer-outer. So when you make seven errors in just 191 innings for a fielding percentage of .774, you aren't doing too well. That's Garza, who has made five throwing errors while muffing two grounders. Garza's only made 10 putouts and 14 assists, so 22.5 percent of his involvement in fielding plays have resulted in an error. That's not good.

You'll notice no NL West players landed on the list. That's not surprising. With San Diego and Los Angeles playing in pitcher's parks and San Francisco's stadium rather spacious as well, defense is at a premium. Colorado also needs to emphasize defense as well to take away hits and patrol Coors Fields' cavernous gaps.

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Since: May 17, 2009
Posted on: September 23, 2011 4:27 pm

Who are the NL's worst defenders?

I would throw in Seth Smith of the Colorado Rockies. I have been stuck watching his terrible outfield defense all year.

Since: Oct 11, 2007
Posted on: September 23, 2011 3:02 pm

Ha ha! Weeks.

I was going to mention Weeks too, but I didn't want to say anything since I haven't seen too many Brewers games.  He seems like a good candidate to me based upon the small sample size I have personally witnessed.

Since: Oct 11, 2007
Posted on: September 23, 2011 3:02 pm

Ha ha! Weeks.

I was going to mention Weeks too, but I didn't want to say anything since I haven't seen too many Brewers games.  He seems like a good candidate to me based upon the small sample size I have personally witnessed.

Since: Mar 5, 2010
Posted on: September 23, 2011 2:54 pm

Who are the NL's worst defenders?

Did Edgar Rent-a-wreck not play enough games to qualify, because every Reds game I watched his broken down a$$ was playing SS.  Or was it because his 2 foot range never got him close enough to any ground ball for it to be considered an error?

Since: Jul 25, 2010
Posted on: September 23, 2011 2:39 pm

Uggla? Hey Evan, ever heard of Rickie Weeks?

I wonder if Uggla "wins" this award if he didn't have the horrible All Star game on his resume??

While no where close to "good" or even "above average", I would put him at "slightly below average" - and I can't see that making him the worst in the league.

Let me give you an alternative worst 2B in the league: Rickie Weeks. Yes, Uggla has 15 errors, but Weeks has 14 in 256 fewer chances!!!

One other thing - your claim about such crummy range. Want to explain how Uggla has the 3rd most total chances in the NL if he has no range?

Obviously you made a choice based on (a) who had the most errors and (b) what's that players history. What a horrible piece of "journalism".

Since: Oct 11, 2007
Posted on: September 23, 2011 2:20 pm

Uggla is a bad choice

Anyone watching Braves games has to be impressed with Uggla's vastly improved defensive play.  WATCH THE DAMN GAMES, GET AWAY FROM MAKING JUDGMENTS SOLELY BASED ERRORS!!!  Anyone who has watched 130+ Braves games as I have will most likely agree.

Since: Nov 6, 2007
Posted on: September 23, 2011 10:56 am

Who are the NL's worst defenders?

mr. scotty,
gonzalez is one of the best if not the best defensive shortstops in the league. before that we had yunel escobar. if you are reffeering to brooks conrad and then making the blanket statement that we allways have bad middle infielders, that is just dumb. and you should know conrad was only a fill in to martin prado, a fine second baseman

Since: Nov 6, 2007
Posted on: September 23, 2011 10:53 am

Who are the NL's worst defenders?

It makes me wonder if the guy who wrote this article has seen dan uggla play a single game this year. i am guessing not.  Evan Brunell answer me that question hoenestly.  i have watched almost all of the braves games this year and have been impressed with his defense as has most of the league and his teammates when asked.  there is a stigma about dan uggla's fielding that is false and derived from his allstar game melt down. He has been fantastic for the braves this year. at least 3-5 of those error weren't even errors.

Since: Aug 18, 2006
Posted on: September 23, 2011 9:01 am

Who are the NL's worst defenders?

Amazing there are no Nationals on the list.  Ian Desmond is better than he was last year, but there was a lot room for improvement.

Since: Nov 21, 2007
Posted on: September 23, 2011 8:14 am

Who are the NL's worst defenders?

Uggla has been a disgrace a 2B his whole career. Least range in the league.

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