For those of you who haven’t seen the Bill James Handbook, it is a paperback book which comes out every year and is full of stats. Stats for every player, leaderboards on tons of obscure stuff. Some of the stats are funny, there are even stats on managers. There are some funny factoids I learned, such as that in 2010 Vlad Guerrero got thrown out on the bases 12 times, and is in Bill James’ words clearly the worst base runner in baseball. Another fact which I found humorous is that Prince Fielder was on first base 64 times last year when the batter hit a single, and only 3 times did he make it to third base.
There are many fielding stats in this book and what struck me is how the A’s infield was dominant in all of them. In the book’s “Fielding Bible” awards for the best defender at each position, Daric Barton won for best first baseman, and Ellis, Kouz, Pennington and Suzuki and Cahill were in the top 6 at their positions. The A’s infielders appear near the top in virtually every fielding category, including the “Runs Saved” category and the “Plus/Minus” category. Cliff Pennigton managed to lead the league in “SS double play%”, “SS Pivot %” AND “Throwing Errors”. So I guess this means although he threw some away, when he didn’t throw it away he got rid of it quick and turned a lot of DPs. Cliff also led the league in Range Factor for SS.
I don’t want to rat hole this post into another Cahill debate, but his name is high on the list on almost all the pitching fielding stats, and he led pitching stats like “BA vs RHB” with .198, and was 2nd in “GIDP Induced”. Interestingly to me at least, was that Gio Gonzalez led the AL in the stat of “Highest % Curveballs” with 30.3%. There is for me a little sadness when I see that Henry Rodriguez was 2nd in the league in “Pitches 100+ MPH Velocity” But I liked that trade anyway. More pangs of sadness when I see all the offensive stats with Carlos Gonzalez at or near the top. His name is on more offensive leader boards than the whole A’s lineup added up.
So what DON’T I see when I look at all the leaderboards? Well other than Barton leading the league in “Pitches Seen” and “walks” the A’s offense is pretty much absent from the leader boards of 2010. I see a ugly stat, Kouzmanoff was 3rd in the league in “First Pitch Swings”. What else is absent is any sort of offensive or defensive dominance from any of the A's outfielders, except that Rajai and Coco were up there in SBs. It looks like the A’s have addressed this lack of OF dominance with Willingham and DeJesus, and with these 2 guys and a healthy Coco, the A’s look able to dominate the fielding stats all over the diamond in 2011, and hopefully do some damage on offense. Of course I am a wild and crazy optimist, but the A’s look great in 2011!