Manny Being Manny Is Hurting the Red Sox By DAN ROSENHECK
All of today's best P.B.P. systems agree that Ramírez is the worst defensive left fielder in baseball, and by a comfortable margin. This holds true even after accounting for the effect of the Green Monster wall in left field.
"Manny is at the far end of the as-bad-as-you-can-get-in-the-field spectrum," said Mitchel Lichtman, who designed one highly regarded P.B.P. defensive statistic called ultimate zone rating, and who consulted for the St. Louis Cardinals from 2004 to 2006.
At one extreme, the most conservative estimates suggest that Ramírez's outfield play last season, when compared with an average left fielder's, cost the Red Sox 13 runs. That's not good, but not bad enough to make him meaningfully worse than elite corner outfielders like the Angels' Vladimir Guerrero, the Yankees' Bobby Abreu and the Pirates' Jason Bay.
By contrast, Lichtman's system says Ramírez was 32 runs below average last year, which would make him one of the game's most overrated and overpaid players. If he was actually that awful, he was no more valuable than the Mariners' Raúl Ibáñez, the Blue Jays' Reed Johnson or the Angels' Juan Rivera.
The truth most likely lies in the middle: the average of the P.B.P. systems' results for Ramírez is 15 to 20 runs below average. That's enough to take a significant bite out of his value. If his hitting begins to deteriorate this season (he turns 35 in May), and his base running remains poor (subtracting another two runs or so), he is likely to be worth about as much in 2007 as Oakland's up-and-coming Nick Swisher. In other words, an All-Star, but not a franchise player, and certainly not worth anywhere near his $20 million salary.
The article goes on to suggest that the Sox would be wise to move Ortiz to first, Manny to DH and Youks to either LF or third (requiring a Lowell trade).
I remain unconvinced that any statistical system can accurately measure defensive prowess, particularly (despite the article's assertion to the contrary) things like ability to deal with the Monster. Manny's not a great defensive LF'er, but to say he costs the Sox 15-30 runs a season with his defense is laughable.
Edit: There is also an ongoing thread about this in "The Sandbox."
Edited by 941827, 18 March 2007 - 10:21 PM.