Pity Nick Blackburn

In some ways, 2009 could be considered the year when defense became cool again. After seeing a shift away from glovework during the past 20 years, a handful of teams adopted outfields with multiple center fielders playing along side each other, and plodding sluggers saw their value in free agency crash through the floor. In both the blogopshere and MLB, defense is getting the respect it deserves again.

So, with that in mind, let me present to you the worst outfield defense of all time*, taking the field today for the Minnesota Twins.

LF – Delmon Young, career -17.3 UZR/150 in left field.
CF – Michael Cuddyer, career -6.3 UZR/150 in right field. He’s playing center!
RF – Jason Kubel, career -15.7 UZR/150 in right field.

Reports that the Twins have acquired Adam Dunn and plan on starting him at shortstop have yet to be confirmed. I know Denard Span is hurt and they wanted to give Morneau a half-day off by DH’ing him, but really Ron Gardenhire? Young-Cuddyer-Kubel seems like a good idea to you?

At least he’s not doing with Scott Baker or Kevin Slowey on the mound, but let’s pretend that Blackburn is some kind of extreme groundball guy. His career GB% is 44.8%, just barely above league average. He is, however, an extreme pitch to contact guy, averaging just 4.41 K/9 in his major league career. He’s not going to get outs on his own, but relies on his defense to make plays behind him.

The outfield defense that Gardenhire gave him today consists of two designated hitters and a poor defensive corner outfielder. Good luck, kid. You’re going to need it.

*It’s hyperbole. I’m sure there’s been a worse outfield put on the field at some point in history.

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Dave is the Managing Editor of FanGraphs.

24 Responses to “Pity Nick Blackburn”

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  1. cws05nuts says:

    The CWS OF. For sure the worst outfield.

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  2. Pat says:

    So if he played for Seattle, he would be Washburn 2.0?

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  3. jtr says:

    Thought this was a joke, then I checked the box score.

    Expecting to see a ton of walks due to Blackburn throwing everything in the dirt on 3B side. Can’t have any balls going to Buscher either, those are going to be easy hits.

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  4. brant k says:

    I think the Nats outfield defense is almost as bad every day between Dukes, Dunn and Willingham/Kearns.

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  5. Bill says:

    Well, crap.

    Assuming Gomez didn’t come up with some injury I don’t know about, he had the option of going Kubel-Gomez-Cuddyer without really losing anything on offense at all…especially considering they’re playing in Oakland, this has to be the worst single personnel decision made this year (at least).

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  6. Bill says:

    In 2006 for a few games, the Red Sox were starting LF: Manny Ramirez, CF: Wily Mo Pena RF: Trot Nixon. Seems pretty awful.

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  7. David says:

    I think Carlos Gomez killed Gardenhire’s dog. That’s the only plausible explanation. I mean, friggin’ Matt Tolbert is leading off. It’s not like having Gomez there instead is really any worse. At all…

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  8. Rob in CT says:

    The 2004/2005 Yankees OF was worse.

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  9. Karl says:

    I can’t decide which irks me more as a Twins fan, Go Go on the bench in this situation, or Matt Tolbert leading off.

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  10. Gary says:

    Good news so far.
    So far, Nick Blackburn 6.2 IP, 3H, 3 BB, 3K.
    5 Groundout 9 Flyout/lineout.

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  11. twinsfan says:

    Gardenhire might be the most overrated manager in the game.

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  12. Dylan says:

    Wow, it cost the Twins the game too…

    With a 3-0 lead in the bottom of the 8th, 1 out and nobody on, Jack Hannahan hit a liner to right which Kubel dove for, let it get past him, it turned into a triple, then Cabrera hit a single which would have been a double play had the infielders been at double-play depth, the Kennedy homered to tie the game…

    Bad defense.

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    • BeefMaster says:

      Actually, not keeping the original alignment was what cost them – the Twins brought Gomez in as a defensive replacement in the 8th, taking out Kubel and moving Cuddyer to right. It was Cuddyer that played Hannahan’s single into a triple. Kubel probably has little enough range that he wouldn’t have tried to make the catch there, so they actually would’ve been better off keeping the horrible outfield alignment.

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  13. Clayton says:

    I think the occasional 2005 Reds outfield of Dunn, Pena, and Kearns was pretty bad. Worse than the outfield the Twins ran out there tonight? Is it worth arguing whether the kid with the 35 IQ is dumber than the kid with an IQ of 40?

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  14. sam says:

    this OF has nothing on the A’s OF in 2000. Credit Gardy, though, for putting Cuddyer in CF over the other guys

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  15. Jon says:

    Back in ’99 the Cubs ran out Henry Rodriguez in Left, Sosa in Center and GlenAllen Hill in right a couple times. Brutal.

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  16. greenmachine says:

    Speaking of those DHs, how’s Kubel hitting this season, Dave Cameron?

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  17. JI says:

    That seems worse than Ibanez/Bloomquist/Everett

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  18. Dwade says:

    The exact same OF just ran out there against the Cubs with Kevin Slowey on the mound.

    At least Nick Punto is back…

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  19. glassSheets says:

    Hey kids, Ron Gardenhire decided he wants to pinch hit Joe Mauer for either Redmond, Casilla, or Punto. You are given the leverage index for each of the three at bats below. Where would you use your best hitter if you got to pick?

    Redmond = 3.61
    Casilla = 0.99
    Punto = 2.77

    C’mon kids, it’s easy. Too bad Gardy is awful.

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