So long, A-Gon — we hardly knew ye

November 20th, 2006 → 11:45 am @

Out of all the Hot Stove departures that have or are likely to happen, there’s something uniquely sad (albeit understandable) about that of Alex Gonzalez, a.k.a. the human vacuum cleaner. Gonzalez was the best Olde Towne Team shortstop I’ve ever seen, and the fluidity and grace with which he fielded his position was a marked and delightful contrast to those look-at-me-I’m-trying-really-hard shortstops that, say, win Gold Gloves. In years past, the crippling, seemingly crippled play of Edgar Renteria would have been par for the course at Fenway. It’s remarkable that Pokey and A-Gon have made Renteria seem like an abberation rather than the norm. (Speaking of Reds acquisitions: Mike Stanton? What the fuck is that?)

Post Categories: 2006 Hot Stove Season & Alex Gonzalez

Baseball: one sport where it definitely pays off to make it look really hard when you do something really easy

November 4th, 2006 → 10:52 am @

Derek Jeter won the 2006 AL Gold Glove at shortstop over Alex Gonzalez.

Compared to Gonzalez, Jeter had a lower fielding percentage (.975 to .985), a lower zone rating (4.14 to 4.36) and a lower range factor (.821 to .863), which means Jeter made a higher percentage of errors per chance, got to less balls hit to his area of the field, and made fewer plays per nine defensive innings. (Besides that he was great.)

One thing Jeter is quite good at is making plays other shortstops made with relative ease look as if they require Herculean efforts (think of his mad scrambles to the right, resulting in a pivot, whirl, and mid-air throw across the body; what’s generally lost in all the oohing and ahhing is that said ball was only about two feet away from Jeter to begin with). These are plays that good shortstops (Alex Gonzalez, say, or Pokey Reese or even Alex Rodriguez) make look easy. Heck, even Pokey’s in-the-stands grab in the famous July 1, 2004 game at Yankee Stadium was better than Jeter’s head-first dive…but since Pokey didn’t emerge bruised and bloodied, no one’s talking about him anymore.

Very smart people who know much more about baseball than I do have argued that Jeter is among the worst defensive players in all of baseball; I won’t go there. But his Gold Glove is nothing more than one more piece of proof that baseball coaches and managers are not always the sharpest knives in the drawer.

Post Categories: Alex Gonzalez & Derek Jeter & Gold Gloves