clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

Cleveland Comps: Offense and Defense

New, 30 comments

Dayn Perry at Fox says the Rockies should hope for a Cleveland win in the ALCS:

Which team is best equipped to succeed in October? Research has shown that teams that thrive in the post-season tend to strike out lots of opposing hitters, play good defense and have dominating closers. In those three categories, the Red Sox grade out much better than Cleveland does: They strike out more hitters, they boast a significantly better defense (by almost any measure), and Jonathan Papelbon is leaps and bounds better than Joe Borowski. Big advantage for Boston there.

I'm going to focus on that second point of his in comparing the offensive and defensive contributions at each position. I think either way, the Rockies will have a big defensive advantage -particularly when the games shift to Coors Field- but Perry's correct in saying that Cleveland could find themselves hurt more by a lack of fielders who can cover a lot of ground. I'm going to list each player's (or position's) EqA -a park adjusted measure that's meant to sum a player's total offensive contribution- as well as an approximation of defensive runs saved or allowed over the course of a season compared to an average fielder. Positive is good, negative is bad.

CF - Advantage Cleveland

Willy Taveras .260 -5

Grady Sizemore .290 -1

The measure I'm using for defense, btw, comes from this table combining info from the Baseball Info Solutions and Stats Inc. For whatever reason, the numbers these two different companies have compiled point completely opposite directions on certain players. The BIS numbers would have you believe that Sizemore is vastly overrated defensively, allowing 18 runs to score over what the average center fielder would have done. Stats says that Sizemore is the best centerfielder in the game. Taveras splits the other way, so if you believe BIS, the Rockies will have a considerable advantage in center field. If you believe Stats, that difference is reversed. It would be interesting to me to see how this shakes out in reality should these teams meet. I honestly haven't seen enough of Sizemore's defense to make a call, but Coors will be a good showcase to see what he's got.

2B - toss-up

Kazuo Matsui .259 +10

Asdrubal Cabrera .265 +3

These guys are just too close to call offensively right now (Cabrera's got the upside) and while Matsui is probably a better defender, there's not enough of a gap to make this an issue in only seven games. Stats Inc. loves Kaz-Mat, while BIS only gives him about 1.5 runs over the average fielding second baseman. At first base, Todd gets the love from BIS, but rates considerably lower with Stats. Either way, the Rockies' right side is considerably more adept at fielding balls in play than Cleveland's.

LF - Big advantage, Colorado

Matt Holliday .320 +8

Franklin Gutierrez/Kenny Lofton/Jason Michaels .254

On offense, that's a huge difference, and on defense, Matt's still better than anybody Cleveland's going to play in left field. One of the big reasons Arizona was able to clamp down on our scoring -besides some very good pitching- was the ability of all three positions in their outfield to cover a lot of real estate. Cleveland, on the other hand, could be in big trouble if the Rockies get the ball past the infield.

1B - Advantage Rockies

Todd Helton .309 +16

Ryan Garko .279 -6 Travis Hafner .285

The offensive difference is enough to like the Rockies, even when Hafner can't DH in Coors. The difference between Hafner's D and Garko's might not be enough to matter for the three games in Denver, but Helton will be much better either way.

3B toss-up

Garrett Atkins .280 -20

Casey Blake .260 -8

Both are sub-par defenders, and I don't think the difference between the two will be meaningful, but Blake's been hot at the plate in the playoffs while Atkins has not, so I'm basing my split decision off of that. Sue me. If our pitchers shut down Casey like they have been everybody else, it doesn't matter.

RF - Advantage Rockies

Brad Hawpe .296 -8

Franklin Gutierrez .262 +11 Trot Nixon .238 -3

I split the two Cleveland guys up, but I don't think they'll actually platoon given how bad Nixon's looked this season. I'm suspecting Gutierrez gets the playing time, especially considering his defensive value. I should have said this earlier, but keep in mind that Rockies outfielders are likely to be underrated by these numbers thanks to all the bloop singles that fall   in front of them, it's just the nature of the park that I don't think either Stats or BIS has done enough to address.  Even so, Gutierrez is the better defender by a fair margin, and that mitigates Brad's offensive advantage considerably.

SS Slight advantage Rockies to toss-up

Troy Tulowitzki .272 +24

Jhonny Peralta .260 -10

Tulo hasn't been looking good at the plate during the postseason, his shining moment came on a mistake pitch, and he's missed several other mistake pitches since then, let alone the good ones. Peralta's had a fine postseason to date. The advantage the Rockies have on defense, however, is real and it could come into play this series.

C - Big advantage Cleveland

Yorvit Torrealba .235

Victor Martinez .292

I think too much has been made in the mainstream press of Torrealba's inability to throw runners out. We've seen Colorado pitchers keep runners close, and both Phillies and D-backs were looking unsure of themselves when they got to first. That said, Victor Martinez is a stud in the batter's box, and Yorvit Torrealba -despite a strong postseason- is not.

DH - toss-up?

Ryan Spilborghs .279, Seth Smith .486

Travis Hafner .285

Smith's MLB career has started with incredible luck mixed in with an early showcase of his skills. He's going to start making more outs soon, swinging bunts and bloop doubles will get fielded eventually, but it's good to remember that his superb contact skills help drive that luck. A Smith/Spilly platoon at DH could actually provide enough balance to keep up with Pronk.