|Glovework is a big part|
of what Nick Punto offers.
Orlando Hudson, now a free agent, had 17 "runs saved" at second base in 2010, tied for the best in baseball with Tampa Bay's Sean Rodriguez, and led all second basemen in plus-minus with a +23. Over the past three years, the O-Dog is credited with 18 runs saved and a +27 -- most of both coming last season.
Alexi Casilla's three-year total in runs saved at second base is -13, tied for fifth worse.
J.J. Hardy has a three year total of 18 runs saved at short, at 2010 total of 4. In plus-minus, Hardy was a +6, tied for ninth in BIS' rankings, and a solid +29 over three seasons.
Delmon Young ranks last among left fielders in the three-year totals, -27 in runs saved; in 2010, he was -8, still among the league's worst. In plus-minus in 2010, he was -20, worst in all the majors; over three years, he's -57.
Michael Cuddyer, despite not playing at all in the outfield after Justin Morneau got hurt in early July, was a -6 in runs saved in right in 2010, tied for fourth worse in baseball. In plus-minus, he was -17, which is ghastly.
Denard Span was top 10 among center fielders in runs saved (nine) and in plus-minus (+14).
And then there's Nick Punto.
Punto was (in plus minus) a +1 at second base, a +10 at third base, a +8 at shortstop. In runs saved, he was 1, 8, 7. These are very impressive numbers for relatively few innings.
BIS didn't include him in their rankings; one of their people told me it was because he didn't play enough innings. But he'd have easily made the top ten at both third base and shortstop in both runs saved and plus-minus.
The question is: How much weight can one put on those numbers? Answer: Not a lot. BIS publishes three-year numbers in part because the single season figures, even for a regular, can fluctuate so much (see Hudson). For a part-timer, the fluctuation problem figures to be worse.
I continue to believe that defense, both the portion we can measure and that which is still hidden from statistical analysis, is one aspect of the game that kept the 2010 Twins from being a truly outstanding team.