A Note On Infield Defenses This Weekend

Alex Gonzalez made his debut Thursday night for the Braves after being acquired in a trade for Yunel Escobar. Photo Courtesy of Tim Evearitt.

Alex Gonzalez. Photo Courtesy of Tim Evearitt.

Hello again from southeast Michigan. I am happy to say that there have been scattered sightings of a big yellow ball in the sky here today. After initially saying it was a weather balloon, the Air Force now is saying that it was the sun. I, for one, am skeptical :).

Moving on to baseball, what I initially thought was a curse turned out to be a blessing in disguise today, as I was blacked out from seeing the game today on MLB.TV due to Fox’s Saturday exclusive time slot. I confess, I did not listen to the audio feed, but I did check in on MLB Gameday fairly regularly. It appeared to me that George “Gasoline” Sherill almost single handedly let this one get out of control, but ultimately needed help from “Light Me Up” Linebrink to really get the job done. Then Christian Martinez, who has yet to earn a good nickname, threw in a couple of ugly innings to finish things off. I guess we should just chalk this one up as a lost cause and move on, as hopefully the Phillies used up all their hitting in today’s 10-2 rout.

One thing that was glaring to me last night that I wanted to get everyone’s input on was the difference in the infield defenses of the two teams. On the right-hand side of the infield, the big thing I noticed was Freddie Freeman is a drastically better fielder than Ryan Howard. I’m not a big believer in today’s crop of defensive metrics, but if Freddie keeps up this pace he will chalk up a few WAR (Wins Above Replacement) just with his glove. He’ll be very valuable even if he just puts up league average offense (which would be a big step up from what the team got out of the position most of last year). I couldn’t see a big difference at second base, though I know the Phillies would have a big defensive advantage there if Utley were healthy.

The left-hand side of the infield seemed to have a big advantage for Philadelphia. I’ve always thought Chipper was a better fielder than he was given credit for, but last night he seemed stiff and slow compared to Polanco. Polanco made an incredible stop on a ball hit by Uggla. The real difference for me, though, was at shortstop. I couldn’t get a good enough view from the replays to tell how much of an impact positioning had, but it seemed like Rollins was covering huge ground to both his left and right, but especially to his left. There were at least three balls hit that I thought were going to be singles that he fielded almost effortlessly. Gonzalez seemed like a statue in comparison.

So, what do you think? Do you agree? Do you see it making a difference?

Tags: Alex Gonzalez Atlanta Braves Braves Chase Utley Chipper Jones Dan Uggla Freddie Freeman Jimmy Rollins Placido Polanco Ryan Howard

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