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Postby Koby Schellenger » Thu Jan 11, 2007 9:26 pm

I'll try to address each point you made, because they deserve it, but bear with me because this might get difficult to continue dialogue with so much being said in each post.

rmande09 wrote: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.

You are very correct in saying ST sites are very nice. Parent clubs pump a lot of money into those facilities to make sure they are "up to snuff." The difference between a typical A or AA field and a good AAA (Omaha, Iowa etc) or a MLB field is in the quality and composition of the soil and grass. Any infiltration in the field will change the nature of it including how a ball moves against it. A very simple example of a similar affect can be observed by watching a game at Yankees Stadium when Chien Ming Wang is pitching. The ground in front of home plate is watered down such that the ball moves slower on that surface than it would at Camden Yard. The biggest reason for the disparity is budget. A typical AAA club groundscrew staff might look like this: 1-2 full time employees, 4+ interns working more than you'd ever want to in a week and several more game day staff. Many A facilities have a single full time groundskeeper and a 1-3 interns with little to no game day staff.

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.

No I do not. That comes from Brevard County's manager talking about his defensive woes when he was promoted and from Game Day Notes released for a game in late August when he was in AA. From all the times I've seen him, most of his errors come from having trouble getting into position to field and throw in one motion. This is pretty typical of a lot of young players. But it will certainly be exaggerated by a poor playing surface.

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.

Sample size (and inherant problem with the metric) granted, it shows my point that the surfaces he played on (particularly in Huntsville) might have an impact on his totals.

In all what we are left with is comparing a crappy statistic that has even more subjectivity and lack of credibility in the minor leagues than in the major leagues.
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Postby dcskater619 » Thu Jan 11, 2007 9:41 pm

rmande, he already explained the problem with errors.. throwing errors CAN be fixed.. braun gets to balls and has good enough range, but the fields don't help him out very much.. i think he sticks at 3rd for them, unless Hall goes to third. They have Clark/Mench/Hart/Jenkins/Gross so Clark won't have to play CF everyday..
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Postby bigken117 » Thu Jan 11, 2007 11:12 pm

Weren't a majority of BJ Upton's errors at SS a result of throwing?
Chuck Knoblauch got so bad at throwing to 1st from less than 90' away they had to move him to the OF.
If Braun really is that bad at third, the Brewers in all good conscience can't leave him there. A logjam in the OF just means they have to trade someone. With his stick, it shouldn't be him.!/baseballcafe

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Postby rmande09 » Fri Jan 12, 2007 12:24 am

dcskater619 wrote:rmande, he already explained the problem with errors.. throwing errors CAN be fixed.. braun gets to balls and has good enough range, but the fields don't help him out very much.. i think he sticks at 3rd for them, unless Hall goes to third. They have Clark/Mench/Hart/Jenkins/Gross so Clark won't have to play CF everyday..

Like Koby and I said, errors really are not a great stat. You could have a guy make 12 errors and a guy who made 20, and the guy who made 20 could easily be the superior fielder. However, a line must be drawn somewhere.

Koby, I am sure that the playing surfaces at the MLB level are better than AAA, AAA better than AA, and so on. But lets be 100% honest here - the effect that this difference has is probably negligible. It may be the difference between 1 or 2 botched plays, but other than that?

Obviously, having range is very important at all Big League positions, but I feel like people treat the third base position the same way they treat a shortstop with range. Range is, more or less, the ability to get good reads off the bat and field balls moving laterally. At the third base position, being fleet of foot is nearly irrelevant in terms of range - if a ball is hit to your left or right with anything on it, it's pretty much layout and give it your best effort. It's a reaction position. Unfortunately, much of Braun's problem with his transitioning from fielding to throwing is related to his reaction. Good reactions mean good position to receive the ball, good position to receive the ball means easy transition to throw. If you watch a guy like ARod take ground balls, he is perfect. Great reaction, comes through the ball, makes for an easy transition to get into position to fire across to first. Braun? Take this as you may, I will not pretend to have seen him play often, as I have seen him just twice since he played for the U, but what I have seen is pretty poor reactions that cause him to receive the ball on his heels - he does not get a good jump on the ball, which does not let him come through the ball, which makes it real tough to let off an accurate throw with a little 'oomph' on it. Add to the fact that Braun's got hands like feet (he does), and he has a LOOOONG way to improve to an adequate defensive three-bagger.

And before someone says, "First step and coming through the ball CAN be taught," it can. But it can only do so much. It is instincts, because most of the mechanics involved in properly fielding a ground ball are based off a good first step, and good first steps cannot be taught. A teacher can TEACH where Braun (or any fielder for that matter) needs to be when he receives the ball and what direction he needs to be moving in, and he can practice in hours and hours a day, but proper reaction is a gift. Why do you think Butler was not a 3B for more than a month in his first full season? It wasn't because he was slow or because he had poor hands or because he had a poor arm, it was because his first step was AWFUL.

The only way Braun becomes a serviceable 3B (and he will never be anything better than below-average, if he sticks at 3B) is if he develops his glove into some sort of perfection, meaning he never, ever boots balls, and the only errors he makes are on the throw. Majority of his errors MAY be on the throw, but even if it is a 60% majority, he is still making 20 fielding errors, which is not very impressive.
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Postby » Sat Jan 13, 2007 2:01 pm

Braun is not ready to contribute at 3B defensively at the Major League level as of yet.

I think he'll be up for good starting in September however.
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