Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Judging the defense

When Ryan Doumit
is in the outfield,
it's not for his
defensive skills.
In the final innings of Monday night's overly-long extra inning game in Boston, the Twins outfield had Ryan Doumit in left, Wilkin Ramirez in center and Chris Parmelee in right. This is not the Jamaican relay team when it comes to speed, and there were observers who wondered if Stephen Drew's game-winning double could have been caught by a genuine left fielder.

Ron Gardenhire, hewing to the philosophy that one doesn't blame the player when the manager puts him in a position outside his skill set, avoided criticizing Doumit: I had my backup catcher out there.

It occurred to me that Parmelee -- whose best position is probably first base -- might be the most accomplished outfielder of that trio. So this morning I dug into the plus/minus and runs saved defensive metrics devised and compiled by Baseball Info Systems.

Please note: BIS itself says the metrics are best applied over years, not weeks. This is early May. So the numbers don't necessarily define individual skills.

A few highlights:

Parmelee is a bit below average in right, but not so much that he can be said to be hurting the team defensively. As of Wednesday morning he was listed at -4 in plus/minus but zero in runs saved. He's been better than I expected, but I wasn't expecting Dwight Evans from him either.

The best defensive player on the team has been Brian Dozier, +6 in plus/minus and 4 in runs saved at second base. Next best: shortstop Pedro Florimon, +4 and 2. The worst: Ramirez is a combined -6, -4 in just 48 innings around the outfield.

Doumit has just three innings in left field, all on Monday; he grades out at -2, -1 in left. So, yeah, it appears that the BIS grading system figures Drew's ball was catchable.

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