UPDATE 1/29/08: A commentator sent me this link regarding catcher defense. I'm not sure I believe Johjima is one of the elite defensive backstops in baseball. However, the numbers strengthen my claim that Kenji's value to the Mariners is huge.
Originally posted on 1/28/08
The first number quantifies offense as Runs Created, a statistic created by Bill James that quantifies the number of runs a batter is responsible for producing. The simplest formula for RC is On Base Percentage * Total Bases.
The second number is an average of defensive values compiled by Tiger Tales that indicates how many runs a player is better or worse compared to a theoretical average defender at the position.
Without further adieu, from first to worst:
CF Ichiro Suzuki: 133 + (13) = 147
In the American League only two players were responsible for more runs: Alex Rodriguez (161) and Magglio Ordonez (156). Simply put he's a legitimate MVP candidate with tremendous international appeal. There is perhaps no player more important to his team than Ichiro is to the Mariners.
3B Adrian Beltre: 81 + (7) = 88
Another very good (and underrated) campaign by Adrian. Primarily lauded for his defensive skills Adrian won his first Gold Glove last year. However the defensive numbers suggest he merely good -- and not great -- manning the hot corner. If Beltre played in a bandbox his offensive stats would wow the casual fan. Instead, Safeco Field saps some of his power.
DH Jose Vidro: 85 + 0 = 85
Was Jose Vidro really the third most valuable member of the Mariners roster? Technically yes. But since he rarely played defense Jose's value was almost purely as a DH. If Vidro were a regular infielder he would likely be -20 runs. Even as a hitter Jose wasn't particularly effective. Out of 11 designated hitters with more than 300 plate appearances Vidro's PA/RC ratio was third worst, only ahead of Jason Giambi and Aubrey Huff.
LF Raul Ibanez: 104 + (-21) = 83
Ibanez was, believe it or not, the most productive offensive AL left fielder in 2007. As a DH or 1B he would be immensely valuable. As things currently stand Raul is a great hitter and horrid defender. His lack of range severely curtains his overall production to the team.
RF Jose Guillen: 93 + (-17) = 76
Good bat, bad glove. At times Guillen's sweet swing was the only consistent offense from the right side for the M's. Most people assumed Jose would be a detriment in the outfield. Lo and behold he was terrible -- and then some. Also Guillen's much-lauded arm didn't do much to prevent runners from advancing.
SS Yuniesky Betancourt: 75 + (-9) = 66
To summarize Betancourt in a nutshell: a slap hitter with a perchance for foolish mistakes on the field. Some have declared Yuni the best fielding Mariner shortstop since Omar Vizquel. He has all the physical tools but mental mistakes continue to plague him. Seattle fans complain about Jose Lopez's lack of production but perhaps they should also scrutinize his double play partner.
2B Jose Lopez: 53 + (6) = 59
It's difficult to believe 18 months ago Jose was an All-Star. For the second year in a row Lopez struggled in the second half. His brother was killed in an auto accident during the spring, so his terrible play this time around was somewhat understandable. Still, a poor approach at the plate and lapses in judgment on the basepaths and in the field define Lopez.
C Kenji Johjima: 57 (defensive numbers not available)
Not surprising the man who often hit in the 7-hole for Seattle was the seventh most productive hitter. It's difficult to quantity a catcher's defensive numbers as well as his contributions to the pitching staff. All things considered it wouldn't be going out on a limb to suggest Seattle is fine at the catcher position.
1B Richie Sexson: 48 + (-14) = 34
Astoundingly awful. Even if Sexson regains some power in his swing deficiencies on defense make him a huge liability. The Mariners would be wise to send back this $14 million albatross.