Why not just put Allen Craig at SS, a position he played for 4 years at Cal?
Whatever, putting Pujols at SS is incredibly idiotic. Get away from the graphs and use common sense. Think of Pujols’ nagging hamstring and elbow injuries and how’d they do trying to turn a double play. Yikes.
P.S. Expect Rafael Furcal to re-sign after the Cardinals decline his option.
If the Cardinals, or any other team, actually were to do this in real life, there would almost certainly be a significant effect on the approach of both the Cardinals’ pitchers and the opposing batters. The pitchers probably wouldn’t dare to throw inside to right-handed hitters. In turn, those hitters would probably be conflicted between two approaches: doing their damnedest to try to pull the ball, and taking advantage of the knowledge that they would be pitched exclusively away in order to try to hit the ball really hard.
Comment by AustinRHL — September 2, 2011 @ 2:44 pm
WiseGuy, I agree. Even looking at the graphs it doesn’t make sense. You’re simply applying a +20 positional adjustment to an arbitrary player. Let’s assume the difference in UZR between 1B and SS is the same (a resonable assumption, I would say). So, the net UZR between Craig/Pujols and Pujols/Craig is zero. The net positional adjustment is obviously zero (one player at 1B, one player at SS). Assuming that offense and baserunning are independent of defensive position (from a raw value standpoint, i.e. before positional adjustment) and it is irrelevant who plays SS and who plays 1B when you look strictly at the numbers.
Now you have to look at time lost to injury. I think it’s safe to say (in general) that the average SS has a bigger risk of injury in the field over a 1B. For every Albert Pujols breaking his arm, there’s at least one Hanley Ramirez or Tsuyoshi Nishioka getting their legs taken out from under them during the turn on a double play. Your rate of WAR lost for injury is much smaller if Craig plays SS.
Wasn’t aware of Craig’s history at SS, but yes it’s be about the same putting him at SS instead – good call. Of course this is not a particularly likely solution to the problem (if for no other reason than Pujols’ arm injury history), rather the major thrust of the article was meant to be that teams are often to wed to the idea that playing a player out of position is detrimental to the team. Why run out a series of replacement level shortstops when you could get above replacement level production out of another player, despite the potentially horrendous defense.
Comment by James Lewis — September 2, 2011 @ 3:18 pm
Pujols, like many major leaguers, also played shortstop in college — in his case, at Maple Woods CC.
As James notes, that doesn’t mean he’d be a good one. But he’d be a body — and one that’d be worth a lot of runs on the other side of the ball.
I thought that as well Carson, but everything I could find said Pujols actually only played 3B at Maple Woods, although he came out of high school as a SS. Kind of splitting hairs I guess, since both were over a decade ago…
Comment by James Lewis — September 2, 2011 @ 3:35 pm
Ok. Pujols makes for a half-decent ss. Now what? At 30 per, can only afford a Kotchman type 1st base anyway. Might as well switch positions. While you’re at it, might as well replace Kotchman with Green. Mean Kotchman would make for a really slow ss and can’t hit much better than Green anyway.
Playing a position in addition to the real job requirement – hitting – is like having to take out the garbage, milk the cows, mow the lawn, etc after getting home from a real job. If a guy can really hit, you want the guy to concentrate on hitting, so give him a simple extra job, like standing around admiring the scenery or catching tosses once in a while.
If we’re going to seriously consider something like this, I don’t think it’s out of the question that Pujols would agree to move to 3B or LF for ‘the good of the team’, assuming his arm is completely healed now. Freese could probably play SS as well as Theriot or Descalso, assuming his ankles are fully healed by next spring. La Russa played Aaron Miles at SS some, so it’s not like he would totally dismiss it out of hand.
You’d have no need to go out and get Kotchman, since there is Allan Craig already on your roster. Nevertheless, this is exactly the kind of logic that I was hoping to challenge with this post. Too many managers think exactly this way – “might as well go with Greene because Kotchman doesn’t hit much better, and we’d have a big defensive hole at SS.” The problem is, Greene (and that type of player) do produce significantly less value with their bat, and all but the best defensive players don’t produce enough defensive value to make up for it. Greene is not one of these players, and he projects to have pretty limited upside. If you can instead field a SS/1B combo of Pujols and Kotchman, those two are worth as much as Pujols-Greene even if Kotchman only posts his career average .321 wOBA. If you get the 2011 version of Kotchman, or Pujols isn’t the worst defensive player in the history of the game at SS, you’ve created additional value. Far more upside in this scenario then running out a replacement level player like Greene.
Comment by James Lewis — September 7, 2011 @ 2:10 pm
I was at the only MLB game where Pujols played SS. He wasn’t going to make the Cardinal faithful forget all about Ozzie, but he didn’t look clueless. In his 2 innings played at SS, he didn’t have any fielding chances, but he looked pretty good moving around and handling the warmup throws. I sure would have liked to see him turn a double play. Of course, he has battled some injury bugs and the elbow and hammy are both concerns these days that didn’t hinder him in 2002.
Comment by The Rajah — September 12, 2011 @ 1:12 pm
It’s this simple…Craig at short…? Nice Article..idiot.
Given Pujols’ history of strong fielding percentages, this would probably ensure that Pujols would become the first player to win a gold glove at first before winning at shortstop.
OK, I’m not sure if he’d be the first to do it, but I’m fairly certain it would have a good chance of happening.
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