Koby Schellenger wrote:I think the defensive criticisms of Braun are a little overblown in general. Most of the errors he makes are throwing errors despite a good arm. He is able to cover plenty of territory and get to a lot of balls.
Using errors as the basis of defensive analysis has tremendous flaws inherant to the metric. That is not to deny that Braun struggles defensively, but it is magnified when considering the conditions of the fields. The Southern League, and to a lesser extent, the Florida State League, does not have the pristinely soft infields of major league stadiums that are meticulously groomed. The SL in particular features very tough, hard infields which only compounds the statistical noise present in the error statistic.
By comparison, Andy LaRoche, an average to above average defensive 3B committed 10 errors in 62 games in the SL. Projecting that over 162 means he would have made more errors than any other 3B in baseball. What's more interesting is that upon being promoted to AAA Las Vegas, LaRoche committed only 5 errors in 53 games. Understandably, errors are nearly the worst statistic ever created in baseball, what goes on is that with better fields that are built in more suitable ways with a higher budget, balls don't take as many funny hops, they are easier to field in proper position and on and on.
Braun will stick at third if for no other reason than the Brewers have too many outfielders as it is. I don't think there's any reason he needs to be rushed up to the majors if Koskie can't go but I certainly think he could contribute. Given that the Brewers have alternatives (Hall, Graffanino) and a surplus of outfielders, I can't see a scenario in which Braun makes the team out of ST. But I wouldn't be surprised at all to see him in Milwaukee after the All Star game, especially if Milwaukee is struggling offensively.
I completely agree that errors are an awful statistic. They really measure little defensively, especially when talking a guy like a middle-infielder... However, there's a difference when we are talking 25 errors and 45 errors (Actually, LaRoche's 10 in 62 extrapolated over 162 is 26, which is higher than every other 3Bman, but I only extrapolated Braun's over 150 I think, because 34 in 110 is 50 in 162 - flat out scary). Though I agree that the fields generally get better as you progress, the difference IS minimal - I would like to see an analysis as to HOW much difference it actually makes. I would bet it was less than a .005 difference in FPCT. In college, I played at spring training sites, some of the best college fields in the country, and a few short-season and A-ball fields, and there was literally no difference - and I have no idea how it can actually get BETTER, at least in terms of being a defender, than those fields. Obviously I believe that the infield at Fenway plays better than the infield at Lowell, but the difference is probably minimal - certainly not enough to change the fact that 50 errors is 50 errors.
Do you have a link to show errors on throws and errors actually fielding the ball? I ask this in seriousness, not being a smarta**, because you stated that he made more throwing errors than fielding errors and unless you have seen him play more than 50% of his games, I'm not sure you can state that with much confidence unless there are actually splits. Regardless, even if they are throwing errors, that does not bode well for Braun. If they were fielding errors, you could make the argument that it has to do with the conditions of the fields, but throwing errors are throwing errors, and at the age of 22 with 17 years of baseball experience, I would think that he would have harnessed the control of his throws by now. From all reports I've read, Braun has poor movement at 3rd troubled even more by hands like feet. His arm is very much PLUS, but you'd be better off playing Russian Roulette than guessing where his ball is headed.
And to go even farther with this, he made 15 errors at Brevard County (A+) in 508 innings at 3B, but 19 errors in 500 innings at AA Hunstville. Sample size is too small, certainly, but I was just putting it out there as a comparison since you showed me LaRoche's.
You are probably right that the Brewers will keep Braun at 3B because the OF is full, but as soon as a spot opens up I would think they would toss him out there. Honestly - even if he cuts his errors by 15, 35 errors, regardless of how they are made, are far too excessive to have from a Major League player. His defense could be more detrimental than his offense being instrumental (that sounds awful, but you know what I mean).