The Defensive All-Stars

The all-star teams were announced yesterday, and by the sheer number of first basemen on the rosters you can tell which end of the offense/defensive spectrum is considered during the team building process. Michael Young? Sure, Franklin Gutierrez? Ew, no. With that in mind, today I’m going to crown the all-star teams compiled completely of the best defenders in each league. Since we don’t have a central thought process on how to evaluate catchers defense, I’ll skip over those roster spots. Also I went by qualified players only, so some, like Ben Zobrist at second, have a really good case, but don’t qualify due to playing time at the position.

First up, the National League.

1B: Derrek Lee, Adrian Gonzalez
2B: Brandon Phillips, Freddy Sanchez
3B: Ryan Zimmerman, Pedro Feliz
SS: Jack Wilson, J.J. Hardy, Rafael Furcal
COF: Nyjer Morgan, Colby Rasmus, Jay Bruce, Justin Upton, Randy Winn
CF: Matt Kemp, Mike Cameron

Any team in need of a defensive middle infielder for the rest of the season should call the Pirates. Zimmerman is really good, and probably has a real all-star bid locked down until Stephen Strasburg becomes the greatest pitcher in the universe. Lots of youth in the outfield with Rasmus, Bruce, and Upton; what are the odds that those three make up a few real all-star outfielders during their careers? Naitonals/Pirates representation, it doesn’t matter, Morgan is the starter in left.

American League:
1B: Paul Konerko, Miguel Cabrera
2B: Howie Kendrick, Placido Polanco
3B: Joe Crede, Brandon Inge, Evan Longoria
SS: Marco Scutaro, Elvis Andrus
COF: David DeJesus, Nelson Cruz, Juan Rivera, Ichiro
CF: Franklin Gutierrez, B.J. Upton, Ryan Sweeney

What a ridiculous quartet of defensive talent at third base. If Adrian Beltre were healthy, the AL would have four third basemen with 8+ UZR. Originally I had Ian Kinsler on the team as the third second baseman, but I’m pretty sure Evan Longoria could fill in at second and produce 5+ UZR. The most surprising placer is probably Juan Rivera. Given his recent fielding history his UZR this year seems like a small sample size mirage, his last good fielding season was in 2005 after all. How fun would a Gutierrez, Upton, and Ichiro outfield be to watch? Don’t get any ideas, Seattleites.

Since no all-star team is complete without gimmicky vote-in schemes, here’s a list of five in each league worthy of your consideration for addition.

NL: Juan Pierre, Jayson Werth, Casey Blake, Ryan Theriot, Clint Barmes
AL: Carl Crawford, Ian Kinsler, Dustin Pedroia, J.D. Drew, Aaron Hill

All things considered, I’m not too sure out team of defenders couldn’t defeat the real all-stars.




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27 Responses to “The Defensive All-Stars”

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  1. daniel says:

    Eh. Theriot? UZR likes him but I think any Cubs fan will tell you that he’s a subpar defender at shortstop. His arm would play at second but not short, and it’s incredible how many balls he dives for and misses.

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  2. Hef says:

    Justin Upton’s stats might look good, but have you ever watched him play outfield? He’s dropped more fly balls this year than the entire Mets squad. No way he deserves to be on any team praised for defense this year. Maybe in the future because the kid’s a beast, but right now he’s awful.

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  3. Miguel Cabrera’s gotta be the most surprising name on that list. Has his defense genuinely improved with more experience at first, or is this just a fluke?

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    • Ben says:

      Yes. As I Tiger fan I get to watch Miguel at first everyday and he keeps getting better and better. The one thing he needs to improve and being able to determine what balls hit to his right to go after and which ones to let Polanco get. Other than that he has been great, making all the plays plays you would expect a first basemen to make as well as some showing great range with some diving plays. If you remember, while horrible at third, he always had soft hands, which helps at first, and a strong arm, which doesn’t really matter as much as first.

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  4. aweb says:

    Since we don’t have a central thought process on how to evaluate catchers defense, I’ll skip over those roster spots.

    All things considered, I’m not too sure out team of defenders couldn’t defeat the real all-stars.

    I think the number of passed balls might pose a problem to your team.

    More seriously, while I realize fangraphs itself doesn’t have a standard way to evaluate catcher defense (any plans? that’s a major hole in evaluating players), if you had to pick a best defensive catcher or two from each league, who are they at this point? Educated guesses?

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  5. lester bangs says:

    Inge deserves an All-Star spot, for his power, his fielding, and the versatility he’d give to the AL squad as a reserve.

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  6. astrostl says:

    Kemp: 10.1 UZR in 717.2 2009 CF innings, 15.8 UZR/150
    Cameron: 5.1 UZR in 648.2 2009 CF innings, 8.2 UZR/150
    Rasmus: 11.0 UZR in 443.2 2009 CF innings, 27.6 UZR/150

    Rasmus COF? Nobody puts baby in a corner.

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  7. Davidceisen says:

    A lot of all-stars this year have lower UZRs this year than their career numbers. Utley, Pujols, and Betran are starters for the NL with UZRs way below their career norms. I would rather have them on a defensive oriented team than Sanchez and Gonzalez.

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  8. David says:

    Inge is the best there is. He can cover much more ground than Crede or Longoria, has fantastic instincts/range and an absolute gun for an arm.

    The only thing holding him back in years prior was his offense. He has been fantastic in that department too, he also has had so many clutch hits (tie ballgame or within 2 runs) that he has to be an All-Star.

    I’d probably pick Kinsler second because I think he got shafted and Lind third for the same reason.

    Please everyone VOTE INGE! :)

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  9. SP says:

    No UZR love for the Jays? I would say Scott Rolen, Aaron Hill, Lyle Overbay, and Alex Rios are amongst the best fielders at their positions and I expect them to be near the top of their positional UZR rankings at the end of the season.

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  10. The A Team says:

    I vote for Werth and Hill.

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  11. R Y says:

    Sadly (because my Braves lost the series to the lowly Nats), I’m now a believer of Nyjer Morgan’s defensive prowess after witnessing this past weekend’s series. Morgan tracked down at least 2 balls that would have been doubles had it been Dukes or Milledge out there and throw out a guy at second. Of course, Dunn’s 300th HR is probably the bigger story nationally (if anyone notice the Nats at all).

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  12. tom says:

    Travis Ishikawa says hello

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    • tom says:

      the only reason Ishikawas not qualified is because he had to sit on the bench while Pandas arm was healing(they put Panda at 1B to keep him in the lineup). Ishi was known for his defensive prowess throughout his minor league career and SHOULD win a GG this year if they want to give the GG to the best defensive players.

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  13. SamoanRob says:

    What daniel said about Theriot. Makes some bad decisions too. I vote for not him.

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  14. Jim says:

    Interesting, although AL 1B confuses me. UZR numbers at 1B
    (Not sure I trust any defense metric over half a season, but what you gonna do?)

    Cabrera: 6.9
    Konerko: 9.4
    Youkilis: 10.4

    Leaving the guy off with the best numbers(who can defend both 1B and 3B pretty well), seems pretty odd. I guess this is bc he came in a little below the qualifying level(not sure what that is, but he got to be close).

    Or were you trying to keep this team separate from the actual All-Star team?

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  15. mjmetro says:

    the yankees are making a huge mistake by not starting brett gardner every day in center. he’s got an 8.1 UZR in only 422 innings (18.3 UZR/150) and he’s been the 5th most valuable AL CF so far. if he were qualified, he’d be up there for sure.

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  16. Michael says:

    From people who have seen enough of him this year, has Kinsler really improved that much?

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  17. skoorbo says:

    What I would like to see…

    SS Ramirez
    C Mauer
    1B Pujols
    P Fielder
    2B Utley
    RF J. Upton
    3B Longoria
    LF Crawford
    CF Kemp

    It would be hilarious.

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  18. Brandon says:

    Jay Bruce is an awesome defender. He’s the best defensive right fielder in the NL from what I’ve seen.

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  19. J.R. Mannetta says:

    Is Jacoby Ellsbury’s poor range numbers this year anything more than small sample size? I’ve watched a majority of the Sox games this season and it seems he is covering enough ground to have positive numbers.

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  20. phildo says:

    i can see why you wanted to put kinsler on there, with his career -7.2 uzr/150 at 2b over ~4000 innings. but i’m totally sure his awesome uzr this season isn’t due statistical noise and he actually did go from terrible to awful in one offseason at the age of 26!

    and please, rangers fans, respond to this comment by telling me how you’ve watched every game kinsler has ever played and you can tell that he really has improved a ton. i can’t wait.

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  21. DC says:

    I know he only played in about 40 defensive games, but I think that’s even more impressive, but Travis Ishikawa should be up there don’t you think? I mean, he’s significantly ahead of the 1B class and he’s played in half the games. Sure it’s a small sample size and he might not be a +24 run guy in the longrun, but still, I think he deserves some mention.

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  22. WY says:

    Rasmus should be in CF.

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