A new gem from I Remember Dome-Dogs:
Is it early in the season? Yes. Is it too early for a couple bloggers to start throwing out ideas about radical changes to the Houston Astros? Never.
Love the player, hate the contract, or some combination of the two- regardless, Carlos Lee is here to stay. Here is the good:
BA: .288 OBP: .341 Slugging: .499 HR: 30 RBI: 107 Runs: 96
That being said, Lee doesn't exactly inspire confidence with a glove in his hand. So far this season, he hasn't been credited with an error, but that doesn't begin to describe the extent of his relative ineptitude in the outfield. To give the Astros a better chance of playing winning baseball, the braintrust here at Dome Dogs makes outlandish proposal #1 for the year: put Carlos at first, and move Lance Berkman to LF.
An error only takes into account plays that reasonably should have been made by a particular defender. It was a statistic that was developed during the infancy of the sport, when gloves were hastily thrown together straps of leather that did little more than protect the player's hand. Players in today's game should be expected to be a bit more proficient in what they are able to do. Errors are handed out by the official score keeper, whose attention is primarily focused on the batter/pitcher match-up. It is a subjective call, which takes away from its legitimacy. Various statistics have been developed to put defensive performance into context, and while none of them are perfect, they are infinitely better than having only the error at the disposal of fans and statisticians alike.
Revised Zone Rating (RZR), is a defensive statistic that we're going to use to explain ourselves. Revised Zone Rating is the proportion of balls hit into a fielder's zone that he successfully converted into an out. Hardball Times The field of play is divided as such. Basically, a player is evaluated by looking at only those zones that an average fielder at that player's position fields at least 50% of balls successfully for outs. Doing this allows statisticians to split the playing field up between fielders and give each an amount of responsibility for those zones that they are supposed to cover. For our purposes, we'll take a look at what Left Fielders and First Baseman did in 2006 (the last year I could entire fielding statistics).
Left Field (responsible for Zones F through H on line drives and C through I on fly balls and popups) :
Balls in Zone: 3,825 Plays Made: 3,264 Zone Rating: 0.853
Lee's 2007 Rating: .827
First Base (responsible for covering zones V through X, the three zones closest to the right field line):
Balls in Zone: 2,779 Plays Made: 2,083 Zone Rating: 0.750
Berkman's 2007 Rating: .718
RF: Balls in Zone: 3,941 Plays Made: 3,428 Zone Rating: 0.87
Berkman’s 2007 Rating: .884
We can see that neither player were at league average for their positions in 2007. However, Lance (though in limited playing time) was an above average RF, which is a more difficult defensive position. Further, he successfully converted 11 balls in play into outs that were outside of his zone (OOZ) in 289 innings in RF. Carlos only managed 36 in 1369 innings.
It's tough to hypothesize how Carlos would do at first. He probably has less of an area to cover, as far as zones are concerned, but would have to learn to pick throws out of the dirt, hold runners on, etc. Either way, we say it's worth a shot: we've already seen two Lee misplays on line drives lead to runs (once yesterday against Chicago, and once against San Diego). We are not trying to say that Lance would have the range of Carl Crawford, but he would be able to cleanly play those balls that are hit into his zones at a higher rate than Lee.