You often hear baseball people (analysts, announcers, former players, scouts, etc.) say that the basics are overlooked in today's game, because it's all about power and speed now. Players used to run endless drills in spring training practicing fielding and take grounders and shag flies before nearly every game during the season, but no longer. Now they hit the weight room or watch video. The art of fielding has been lost upon many.
To see what I'm talking about you need not look any farther than the list I compiled of these brickhands. When you look at this list you see names that equate to offense, certainly not defense. There's power, speed, batting average, and high-priced starting pitchers, but no Ozzie Smith's or Keith Hernandez's...just a bunch of Edward Scissorhands.
(Position: Player- Errors/Fielding %)
1st Base: Ryan Howard- 19/.988
2nd Base: Ian Kinsler- 18/.974
3rd Base: Mark Reynolds- 34/.904
Shortstop: Hanley Ramirez- 22/.967
Leftfield: Delmon Young- 8/.973
Leftfield: Adam Dunn- 7/.968
Centerfield: Carlos Gomez- 8/.982
Centerfield: Willy Taveras- 7/976
Rightfield: Brad Hawpe- 9/.956
Catcher: Russell Martin- 11/.990/6 Passed Balls
Catcher: Ramon Hernandez- 9/.988/10 Passed Balls
Catcher: Yadier Molina- 10/.986/5 Passed Balls
Pitcher: AJ Burnett- 7/.870
Pitcher: John Lackey- 5/.792
I have the pleasure of watching Ryan Howard crush longballs for the Phils, but much to my dismay he's a horrific fielder. He plays an unintelligent first base, often appearing lackadaisical. He's a big man (6'4"/256), but is poor at blocking bounced throws from fellow infielders; he has future DH branded on his big back. Kinsler is a hot-shot 2-sacker for the Rangers, but his fielding isn't helping their beleaguered pitching staff. Reynolds whiffs at a record setting rate (204 k's in '08), but has 45 homeruns in just 2 seasons with the D-Backs to help offset that. However, he makes a blunder 1 out of every 10 chances on the diamond...breaking Bonds' homerun mark wouldn't even make up for that. Hanley is a gifted all-around athlete and quite possibly might be in the Top 5 players in MLB today, but like Howard he looses concentration and turns simple plays into errors. At catcher we have 3 culprits of varying degrees. First- Russell Martin was Gold Glove winner in '07, but is prone to silly errors by being over aggressive. Second- Ramon Hernandez just isn't very mobile behind the plate anymore, and 10 passed balls last season proves it...just think if he had to catch Tim Wakefield. Third- Yadier Molina just won the Gold Glove for NL backstops this past season, but he also had the worst fielding percentage.
In leftfield we have an unfocused youngster in Delmon Young and a miscast big bodied oaf of an outfielder in Adam Dunn. Young stands to improve with experience, Dunn should be done in the outfield and stick to 1st base and DH duties. Moving to the middle, we come to Gomez and Taveras in centerfield where they're both as speedy as the roadrunner on meth, but can't seem to make the crucial plays. Then in right field there's Hawpe...I heard Colorado is thinking of renaming it "Frightfield".
Pitchers usually aren't the best of fielders, unless of course you're Greg Maddux and win something like 17 Gold Gloves. But I digress, the two errant chuckers on this list are just plain bad. Freshly inked big-contract boy Burnett might field some boos from Yankee fans this season if he can't field his position better. Then there's Lackey, who has a fielding percentage so low that is nearly matches our plummeting Dow Jones.
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