Stastical proof that watching Coco in center field is about as much fun as doing wasabi snooters

August 28th, 2006 → 4:15 pm @

Chris Dial over at Baseball Think Factory has computed the defensive rankings for all AL players who’ve played a minimum of 500 innings. And guess what? Among center fielders, Coco comes in dead last, holding down the bottom of the order with Texas’s Gary Matthews, Jr. (Just a coincidence, but one that’s fun to point out: within a couple of days, Crisp (on June 29) and Matthews (on July 31) made two of the most memorable catches of the year.)

Crisp, according to BTF, will cost the Sox about 11 runs over the course of 150 games. This assessment is more or less backed up by ESPN’s Zone Ratings, which ranks Crisp last among regular center fielders.

Of course, BTF’s rankings, like all defensive metrics, must be taken with a grain of salt. For all the energy put into finding new ways to collect and analyze fielding data, no one has yet come up with a good way to factor Fenway’s Wall, resulting in negatively skewed numbers for any Boston left fielder. (Manny’s bad, sure…but not 41 runs bad.) In John Dewan’s fascinating Fielding Bible (worth getting just for Bill James’s essay on why Derek Jeter may be the worst fielding shortstop in history), Crisp is ranked as the second best left fielder in all of baseball for 2005 (when he played left for the Indians), and the second best in 3-year plus/minus rankings (behind Carl Crawford). And in this year’s BTF rankings, Mike Lowell comes out on top among AL third basemen, while A-Rod is dead last. Lowell’s had a good year, and his baby-soft hands and deadly accurate arm makes for fun viewing, but his range is pretty miserable. A-Rod’s made a boatload of errors, but his range is decent to good. I can buy Ichiro as the league’s best right fielder…but Vlad, hobbled as he is, as second worst? Behind Trot? (The Fielding Bible ranked Trot as the best right fielder in baseball last year and the second bet over the last three years; this, I suspect, has as much to do with Fenway’s expansive right field as Manny’s negative numbers have to do with the truncated left field.)

Anyway. Check it out. It’ll be more fun than counting down the hours to tonight’s game.

Post Categories: Coco Crisp & Defensive metrics & oblique references to Jackass

Coco Crisp wonders why he can’t join the rest of the team on the DL

August 26th, 2006 → 12:15 am @

Last week, someone who spends a lot of time around baseball told me he thought Coco Crisp was the worst centerfielder in the A.L. I thought that seemed excessive, although admittedly I hadn’t seen Crisp much in Cleveland (and the wild variations in defensive valuations — is Trot Nixon the best right fielder in the league? Or one of the worst? — leave a bit to be desired).

So I can’t speak with any authority on where Coco ranks among other centerfielders. I can say his instincts have been atrocious, and rarely as much as they were tonight. In the bottom of the fifth, with Schilling dealing and Yuniesky Betancourt on first, Willie Bloomquist hit what should have been a bloop single into center field…except Coco decided he was going to be a hero and bellyflopped about ten feet short of the ball, allowing Betancourt to score and giftwrapping a triple for Bloomquist. The last time a person made that kind of decision — needlessly diving for a ball when the benefit of a catch would be far outweighed by the danger of letting the ball get by you — Adam Stern ended up with a highlight reel, along with a stern lecture. (I’ll be here all week, folks.) “We’re playing no doubles there,” Francona said after Stern’s game-ending, April 18 grab. “We want it to take two hits to have the guy score from first. If he doesn’t make that catch — if the ball slides by him — he scores on hit. I think he learned a lesson, and thankfully it didn’t cost us a ballgame.” By the 20th, Stern was back at Pawtucket. He hasn’t been back since.

Who knows what Crisp was thinking. Maybe he’s running scared, and hoping he can find some way — any way — to win back his confidence, and Sox fans. Maybe he was thinking back to June, when he made what was immediately called a highlight reel grab for the ages. (That’s obviously hyperbolic, although it might have been the catch of the year. At least for a couple of days, until Gary Matthews Jr. literally climbed the outfield wall to steal a homer from Mike Lamb.)

Maybe he really is the worst centerfielder in the league. Or maybe he’s not cut out to play in Boston. It happens. This could be one of those times.

I think it’s weak when writers slam baseball execs for making moves those same writers supported at the time, and I supported the Crisp signing. He was young, he came cheap, and his offensive numbers were good and trending upwards (and were significantly better away from Cleveland than they were at home). Right now, it looks like this was a move that didn’t pan out. And if the season ends up as it began — with Crisp looking as if we wants to be anywhere but on the field at Fenway — I can’t imagine Coco will be patrolling center for the Sox next year.

Post Categories: Coco Crisp

Combine a DSL connection, some free time, and lots of online videos… (Warning: no porn content)

July 2nd, 2006 → 1:59 pm @

It’s Sunday, I haven’t brushed my teeth yet, and the superballs got me poking around for some great ads. The first one I sought out was “The Showdown” (click on McDonalds in the left-hand menu). Speaking of Jordan, I’m partial to the “Jordan 21” ad. There’s also, of course, some obligatory World Series ads: the funny one and the dusty one.

Once you start poking around for videos, it’s hard to stop. For anyone who hasn’t turned on their TV in the past 24 hours, you can compare Gary Matthews to Coco Crisp. (I know Crisp’s catch was a game-saver, but I don’t see any way Matthews doesn’t come out on top.) I couldn’t find video of Pedro’s 99 All-Star game performance, but here’s a nice tribute (I’d forgotten about the time he offered his glove to an ump and told him to pitch). And then there’s this weirdly touching super-fan remix throw-down, the battle of the Dream Ons, with the Sox going old school and Larry Legend getting the Eminem treatment.

(Apologies to Bill Simmons for the blatant appropriation. And when you go to the Simmons column, check out Will Leitch‘s picks in a sidebar on the right.)

Post Categories: 2004 Playoffs & Ben Cohen & Coco Crisp & Deadspin & Gary Matthews & Larry Bird & Michael Jordan & Red Sox

Hello, I must be going

June 27th, 2006 → 4:48 pm @

I can’t tell you how many years I’ve wanted to reference this. Anyway, I’m off to Boston, where I likely won’t be able to keep up my normal frenetic posting schedule. But don’t worry mom and lonely guy sitting in his basement: I’ll be back on pace soon. And tomorrow there’ll be a Sneak Peek from back in 2003 in honor of #45’s return to Fenway. In the meantime, enjoy (and argue about) Nomar, read about how close the Sox came to passing on Papi, and enjoy tonight’s game. I know I will.

Post Categories: 2007 Offseason & Coco Crisp & Curt Schilling & Honeymoon & Jacoby Ellsbury & Kevin Youkilis & Mike Lowell & Phil Collins