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