Not all glovemen are destined to stay hopelessly inept at the plate. Ben looks at defensive stars who have added offense to their games this year.
Plenty of weak-hitting players from baseball’s past and present have gotten by on good gloves alone. Most big-league benches boast a part-timer whose sole strength is an ability to play capable defense at premium positions. But despite Brendan Ryan’s best efforts, relatively few players become stars unless they can combine good gloves with big bats.
Fortunately, not every good-field, no-hit player is destined to stay that way. Legendary glove man Ozzie Smith was a good player who turned into a great one when he learned how to hit in his late 20s. Defensive players of Smith’s caliber are few and far between, but some of today’s finest fielders could follow a similar trajectory. This season, the following five defense-first players who entered 2012 with reputations as easy outs have become much tougher to retire, transforming themselves (at least temporarily) into all-around threats instead of one-dimensional talents.
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The tater trots for April 24: Chipper's birthday blast, Wieters' accidental home run, and Gomez's confused (and speedy) trot.
From ten home runs on Monday to 32 homers on Tuesday, baseball's random nature shows itself again. Thankfully, we had plenty of interesting trots last night, with notoriously slow trotters and famously quick trotters all getting their turn. And, even though it's already the last week of April, we're still seeing the first home runs of such stars as Carlos Gonzalez (who hit two out Tuesday night to make up for things).
Events that have happened already this season after not happening for all of 2011 help explain why we're still hooked on baseball.
There were 2429 major-league games played last season.* Most of the things that can happen in a baseball game happened in one of those. With a few exceptions, teams and players will do all of the same things in 2012 that they did in 2011—they’ll just do them in a difference sequence and more, or less, frequently than they did before. When and how often they do those nearly identical things will determine which teams win divisions and which players win awards. We’re suckers for those things, so another season of the same, reshuffled, is enough to suck us in. But we're not completely content with repetition. We also watch in hopes of seeing something we didn’t see the season before.
*There would have been 2430, but no one felt like seeing another Dodgers-Nationals game in September. That missed game may have deprived us of history: Matt Kemp finished the season one home run away from 40 home runs, and Dee Gordon finished the season one home run away from one home run. For the alternate-history buffs: the man who would have started that game against the Dodgers, had it been played, was Tom Milone. Milone had the fifth-lowest home run rate among Triple-A starters last season, so that extra game might not have made Matt Kemp baseball’s fifth 40-40 man. Then again, that home run rate might not have meant much, since there weren’t many Matt Kemps in the International League. More on Milone a little later.
Extreme power and speed picks join a very exciting VP week for outfielders.
Value Pick outfielders performed like they'd been hit by a hurricane this past week, but the batter Ozzie Gullen calls “The Tank” (Dayan Viciedo) is up, causing belated relief in Chicago as Adam Dunn hasn't been striking out for a few days now. And this author risks becoming “Rocket Man” as yet another Astro gets featured in Value Picks. But really, who outside The 610 Loop has paid any attention to the Astros recently, anyway? And a lack of attention often leads to value.
Announced their buyout of RF-RJermaine Dye's option for 2010, and that Dye has opted for free agency; announced the receipt of $$-$ Fabulous Moolah from the Royals as part of the price of the Teahen trade. [11/6]
A preview of the Dominican Winter League, taking a look at the teams, stadiums, managers, and players to watch for.
The "National Religion" came back on October 16th, as the Dominican League launched its 56th edition. Reliably praised as having the highest level of talent among the winter leagues, one should expect to watch another mix of highly ranked prospects, mid-level major leaguers, a few recognizable American players, veterans looking for another shot, and some major league stars between now and the end of the Caribbean Series in February. The league format has six teams playing a 50-game regular-season schedule, with the four best records advancing to a long 18-game round-robin playoff, and the two remaining best clubs play a best-of-nine final series to decide the league's champion. Without further ado, here's what this season will bring us:
Tigres del Licey (Licey Tigers)
Home: Santo Domingo
2008-09 record: 26-24, fourth place (tied) regular season; 12-6, first place round-robin; beat the Gigantes in the final series 5-0.
Ballpark: Estadio Quisqueya; strong pitcher's park, with a Park Factor of 92.
A post-conference conversation with the man behind the indispensable pair of volumes of The Fielding Bible.
It might be a stretch to say that "defense" is John Dewan's middle name, but then again it easily could be. The author of the highly acclaimed The Fielding Bible has delivered an even more impressive second volume, making Dewan the industry's most influential voice when it comes to defensive metrics. A co-owner of Baseball Info Solutions, Dewan moderated the Baseball Analytics panel at last weekend's MIT Sloan Sports Analytics conference. Afterwards, he sat down with Baseball Prospectus to talk about why Carlos Gomez is a better defensive outfielder than Nate McLouth, why shortstops love Justin Morneau, and what it means to be a Molina.
Carlos Gomez is a work in progress. At 26 years old, the Puerto Rico native has only 60 innings of professional ball under his belt in baseball backwaters such as Canton, Ohio and Allentown, Pa. With a high school career hampered by injury and a college career marred by ineffectiveness and then a bout of "Ankielitis," envisioning any kind of professional career at all for Gomez seemed a stretch. But persistence and a willingness to experiment have allowed Gomez to cast off his pitching woes and remake himself as a sidearming reliever, and intellectual curiosity has spurred him to incorporate objective research into his pitching approach. His is the story of Moneyball writ small, one player searching for any advantage he can get in order to rise through the professional ranks.
Traveling under the handle "Chad Bradford Wannabe," Gomez began posting to Baseball Primer last fall. Our first encounter found him searching for a way to gauge the level of his independent-league competition using Equivalent Average, a query which brought him to the attention of Baseball Prospectus' writers. Since then, he's become a popular member of the online baseball community, chiming in several times this past off-season on his experiences playing winter ball, his own research, and his evolving approach to the game. Gomez is slated to pitch for the New Jersey Jackals of the Northeast League this year.