Wednesday, March 09, 2011

The Greatest Fielding Season Ever By A Shortstop?

Fielding metrics are still looked at by the lay analyst with a heavy dose of skepticism. There are different systems and they don't agree. In many cases, they seem to contradict the naked eye. For example, during a cursory look at last year's fielding stats in both Fangraphs and, Pat Burrell received positive fielding metrics for his play in left field for the Giants. Hasn't it been a long-standing thing that Burrell is NOT a good left fielder? So how at his age did he suddenly have such a good year? There is hope and new metrics are on the horizon. So take with a HUGE grain of salt the entire subject of this post. And what's the subject? Adam Everett and his fielding season in 2006, which according to was the best fielding season for a shortstop...EVER.

Adam Everett? That's what the site says. What this Fan did was use the play index search to find all seasons by a shortstop (defined as playing 90 percent of his games at short) with at least 20 fielding runs above average since 1901. The search was sorted by the total of fielding runs for that season. Seventy-nine shortstops have had a season with at least 20 runs above average while playing most of their games at shortstop. There sitting on top of the list was Adam Everett, the Houston Astros' shortstop in the 2006 season. His score was 40. That gave him a fWAR for that season of 4.

According to B-R, there have been six players that have had seasons of 30 or more runs above average. They are: Everett; Mark Belanger (1975 - Orioles) with 35; Terry Turner (1906 - Indians) with 34; Rey Ordonez (1999 - Mets) with 33; Ozzie Smith (1989 - Cardinals) with 32 and Art Fletcher (1917 - Giants) with 30. Please don't ask this fan how you can rate guys from 1906 and 1917, The answer would be a "Don't Know."

Belanger and Smith are, of course, considered two of the best fielding shortstops of all time. Belanger is the career leader on B-R for fielding runs and accounts for seven of those 79 seasons we talked about. Ozzie Smith made the list three times. Rey Ordonez is forgotten by except by Mets fans. For a while there, at the turn of the century. Ordonez had some of the best fielding seasons in baseball history. He had multiple seasons over 20. Other guys with multiple seasons over 20 include Cal Ripken, Jr., Eddie Brinkman, Rey Sanchez, Phil Rizzuto, Greg Gagne, Joe Tinker, Ozzie Guillen and Travis Jackson.

But not Adam Everett. It was the only season he appears on the list. In fact, his highest seasons other than that 40 monster were seasons of 11 and 10 the two seasons before his monster season. He was the starting shortstop in 2006, but he also played more games in 2005. Those were the only two seasons where he really played almost all of his team's games. Everett's problem in part is that he has always been a terrible offensive player. Everett has a career OPS+ of 66. Mark Belanger had a career OPS+ of 68 but he started eleven seasons for the Orioles. Everett has been a starter in two seasons. As we speak, he is trying to win a job with the Cleveland Indians.

So what made Everett's season so special? Well, he only made seven errors in 688 chances which is pretty remarkable. He participated in 105 double plays, which tied Belanger's best season in that category. Everett had 479 assists that season, by far the most of his career. But Belanger had four straight seasons with more than 500 assists.

But other than those cut and dried stats, this Fan couldn't tell you why Everett got a score that was better than any other shortstop in any season in history. Of course he didn't win the Gold Glove that season. But there it is. According to what this Fan thinks he's looking at, Adam Everett's 2006 season was tops of all time.

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