12 March 2012

Eyes on Spring Training: Can Mark Reynolds Find His Inner Toby Harrah?

A couple months back, I wrote a piece on the history of bad defensive third basemen.  Reynolds had a defensive value of -18 expected runs over the 114 games he played at third base.  I made an educated guess that Reynolds would likely not be as bad in 2012 at third with -15 expected runs over 150 games. 

The list I used in that column were third basemen who recorded at least -18 runs expected defensively.  Below the list is paired to how many games on average it took to have one negative run.  For instance, the worst number we see on the list is Ryan Braun who on average gave up a run for the Brewers every 3.2 games he played at third.  Amazingly, Mark Reynolds was twice as good as Braun.  Think about that for a second.

Games Per Run Given
Greg Norton 6.32
Jim Presley 6.65
Joel Youngblood 5.57
Toby Harrah 6.05
Fernando Tatis 6.68
Edwin Encarnacion 6.23
Mark Teahan 5.33
Joe Torre 6.44
Ty Wigginton 5.54
Gary Sheffield 4.29
Ryan Braun  3.2
Mark Reynolds 6.33
Bob Aspromonte   8
Todd Zeile 8.5
David Wright 7.89
Not including Reynolds, this is a list of 14 players.  Five of them (Greg Norton, Jim Presley, Joel Youngblood, Gary Sheffield, and Ryan Braun) were effectively moved off third base to less demanding positions.  The remaining nine all improved.  That list is presented below:

Year 1 Year 2
Toby Harrah 6.05 156
Fernando Tatis 6.68 11.38
Edwin Encarnacion 6.23 10.2
Mark Teahan 5.33 7.27
Joe Torre 6.44 19.5
Ty Wigginton 5.54 15.25
Bob Aspromonte   8 75
Todd Zeile 8.5 37.3
David Wright 7.89 22.14
The Toby Harrah number is actually fudged a little bit.  He played 156 games and had a 0 expected runs value, meaning that he was measured as perfectly average in that second year.  Mark Teahan improved the least with a 7.27 games per lost run value.

If you use this group as a range of possible improvement for Mark Reynolds' defensive metric, you have the following:
Mean value: -4 runs over 150 games at third
Median value: -8 runs over 150 games at third
If history is any indication of Reynolds' future performance, the outcomes range from below average to poor.  Couple that with the same offensive performance as last year's and you get someone who is a little above average.  I think we all can live with that.

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