Third Base ATG
November 9th, 2007
Gold Glove (NL): David Wright
Gold Glove (AL): Adrian Beltre
Fielding Bible: Pedro Feliz
People are in love, I think, with the idea of the all-round player (and by the way, is it “all-round” or “all-around?” I always assumed it was “all-around player” — that makes more sense to me — but the editors at the newspaper, who know a heck of a lot more about this stuff than I do, keep changing it to “all-round player”).
Think about how many times over the years as a sports fan have you heard a manager or coach say something like this: “Joe Bob Bobby is a great player. But he’s an even better person.”
Well, you know what? I’m calling total BS on that whole “better person” thing. If Joe Bob Bobby is, say, an all-star Major Leaguer, that would mean he’s one of the, oh, 50 or 60 best baseball players in America. That would place him in the top .0000002 percent of all players in this country.
There is NO way that Joe Bob Bobby is one of the top .0000002 percent of people in this great land of ours. I mean NO chance. We’ve got veterans who have fought for this country, fire fighters and police officers and numerous others who risk their lives, volunteers who work in soup kitchens 60 hours a week, researchers who work day and night to cure dreaded diseases, teachers who give entirely of themselves (I see these people in the movies all the time), citizens who dedicate their lives to expose wrongs and make this world a better place, the guy who fixed my Mac when it broke and so on. I realize I’m taking the quote a few steps too far but I can’t help it — I’m so sick of hearing that. He’s not a better person than he is a player. He’s just not. He may be a perfectly fine person. She may be better than an average person. He or she may be the kind of person you would want your child to marry.
But stop with the “better person than player” quote. Just stop. STOP. Arthur Ashe may have been a better person than athlete. Maybe. Roberto Clemente might be in the conversation. Maybe. That’s where it ends.
Sorry. I had no idea how strongly I felt about that until I started writing.
Anyway, we’re in love with that concept of the all-round player, the all-round great person, and I think that’s why David Wright won the Gold Glove this year. This is not to say Wright is a bad choice — no, he’s a fine fielder. The Fielding Bible folks ranked him seventh in baseball, which is quite good.
But is he really better than Pedro Feliz defensively? I don’t think so.
Feliz scored a +27 on the Dewan Scale, best among third basemen.
Wright scored a +13, which ranked him sixth.
Feliz had a 2.91 fielding range, fifth in baseball.
Wright had a 2.73 fielding range, 11th in baseball.
Feliz had a .852 zone rating, best in baseball.
Wright had a .771 zone rating, 11th in baseball.
Feliz made 46 good fielding plays according to Dewan (second behind Ryan Zimmerman)
Wright made 44 good field plays (fourth behind Zim, Feliz and Alex Gordon).
Feliz had only 11 defensive misplays (sort of the opposite of he good fielding plays) which was the best among every day third basemen.
Wright made 20 defensive misplays, middle of the pack.
And so on. Plus Feliz is such a liability as a hitter — I mean a .290 on-base percentage, that flat kills you — that you KNOW he has to be great defensively. Otherwise he would be on the bench.
We trust offensive statistics enough to know, without a doubt, that David Wright (.325/.416/.546, 30 homers, 117 RBIs) was a better hitter than Pedro Feliz (.253/.290/.418, 20 homers, 72 RBIs). We don’t yet trust defensive stats to that degree — and maybe that’s because defensive stats are not nearly as complete or as comprehensive. Still, I think the stats clearly point to Feliz being quit a bit better than David Wright in the field.
Again, I think it goes back to our love of the all-round — managers and fans WANT David Wright to be the best defensive third baseman in the NL. It fits the super hero role — he hits, he hits with power, he steals bases, and what do you know? He’s also the best defensive third baseman! Really! This also might help explain why Jeter won Gold Gloves and Dave Winfield and other big stars.
Let’s face it. It’s a lot more fun to vote for David Wright than to vote for Pedro Feliz.
Adrian Beltre, in my opinion, won the Gold Glove one year too late. He was terrific in 2006 — best in the game. He was merely good in 2007. Brandon Inge (+20) in my opinion was significantly better than Beltre (+5) this year