Seth's site today directed me to an interesting article at the Twins Scout site breaking down the best defensive players at each position in the Twins' minor league organization. It's an enlightening list. One thing I will say though, is that if Glenn Williams is the second-best defensive third-baseman in our system, as the article states, we are not in very good shape at that position. While you're at Seth's site, you should also scroll down and check out the sweet Q&A he did with outfield prospect Tommy Watkins.
While on the subject of defense, Peter Gammons' latest blog entry (ESPN Insider required) talks about the criteria that John Dewan (CEO of STATS, Inc.) uses to evaluate defense in his new book The Fielding Bible. Quote from Gammons' article:
We have all struggled with quantitative analysis on defense, but this isn't some statshead thing created in a cellar at MIT. [Bill] James explains that Dewan's aides "watched video from every major league game and had recorded every ball off the bat by the direction in which it was hit [the vector], the type of hit [ground ball, fly ball, line drive, popup, mob hit, etc.] and how hard the ball was hit
Gammons lists the best and worst defensive players at each position according to the metric. Among the three worst defensive second basemen in the past three years, along with Bret Boone and Alfonso Soriano, is Luis Rivas. No surprise there. The five best defensive teams in 2005 were the Phillies, Indians, Angels, White Sox, and Astros. Three of those teams made the playoffs (two made it to the World Series) and the other two were fairly close. The four worst teams: Yankees, Royals, Marlins, and Reds. Three did not come close to the playoffs. This reinforces the importance of defense, an often overlooked aspect of the game.
One quibble with Gammons' article. These are three separate quotes from within the article, in reference to Dewan's book:
"Just go buy the book."
"What I'm using doesn't kill the book, it enhances. Just go get it and think."
"There is so much to this book. Just go buy it and have Dewan explain what you read here means."
There's nothing wrong with endorsing a book that you're writing about, especially one that looks as interesting as this one. However, while reading this article, I was bothered by how bossy Gammons seemed. Saying "just go buy it" doesn't sound like a recommendation, it sounds like an order.