Baseball Toaster Dodger Thoughts
Jon Weisman's outlet
for dealing psychologically
with the Los Angeles Dodgers
and baseball.
Frozen Toast
Google Search
Dodger Thoughts

02  01 

12  11  10  09  08  07 
06  05  04  03  02  01 

12  11  10  09  08  07 
06  05  04  03  02  01 

12  11  10  09  08  07 
06  05  04  03  02  01 

12  11  10  09  08  07 
06  05  04  03  02  01 

12  11  10  09  08  07 
06  05  04  03  02  01 

12  11  10  09  08  07 
06  05  04  03  02  01 

09  08  07 
About Jon
Thank You For Not ...

1) using profanity or any euphemisms for profanity
2) personally attacking other commenters
3) baiting other commenters
4) arguing for the sake of arguing
5) discussing politics
6) using hyperbole when something less will suffice
7) using sarcasm in a way that can be misinterpreted negatively
8) making the same point over and over again
9) typing "no-hitter" or "perfect game" to describe either in progress
10) being annoyed by the existence of this list
11) commenting under the obvious influence
12) claiming your opinion isn't allowed when it's just being disagreed with

Shallow Hal Meets Alex and Cesar
2003-07-29 08:19
by Jon Weisman

This is the part of the blind date setup when you're forced to talk about the good personality.

On the field, Alex Cora and Cesar Izturis are beautiful to look at. But from a statistics standpoint, you need beer goggles to appreciate them.

Using the too-complicated-to-explain-but-trust-me-it-works Win Shares formula developed by Bill James, a website called Baseball Graphs has ranked every National League player, overall, by team and by position.

As a batter, Cora is the 20th-best second baseman in a 16-team league. Now that's hard on the eyes. Until you get to Izturis, who is the 26th-best shortstop offensively.

You know who has contributed more offensively to Dodger victories this season than Izturis? Todd Hundley. Wilkin Ruan. Guillermo Mota. Troy Brohawn!

Obviously, some of those guys have only a couple of at-bats this season. So what does that tell you? That Izturis is a black hole, sucking the life out of the Dodger offense. That his few positive contributions at the plate are negated by his many outs. His .250ish batting average is like a bow tie on a pig. With on-base and slugging percentages both below .300, he has no attractive qualities. He is the date from hell.

Ah, but, Izturis sure can field. He can field real cute, even. Cora, too. That's gotta be worth something when I go home at night, right?

Sort of.

According to Win Shares, Izturis is the top-fielding shortstop in the NL. Cora is the top-fielding second baseman. For that matter, Adrian Beltre is No. 2 in the league in fielding.

In fact, Izturis has more defensive value than any player in the National League, at any position. He is the Barry Bonds of defense.

And because of that, Izturis is the, well ... 11th-best shortstop in the NL. Cora is the 10th-best second baseman, better than Roberto Alomar, a recently speculated Dodger trade target. Which I guess goes to show you that while looks (on the field) don't give you everything, they count for something.

But when you're looking for a life partner, personality matters. And when you're looking for a baseball player, even a shortstop, offense is more important than defense.

I knew this a while back, actually, but watching the brilliant fielding of Cora and Izturis began to suck me into thinking that they were so good, so beautiful, that those looks were enough.

Not true.

Dodger management claims that the pitching staff benefits from the stability of Cora and Izturis.

Not true.

The Dodgers would be better off with Brian Giles at shortstop than Izturis. They'd be better off with Edgar Martinez at shortstop. And it appears they might even be better off with Jolbert Cabrera at shorstop.

Look again at the Win Shares stats for shortstop. Even as the best fielder in the game, Izturis has much less value than Rafael Furcal, Orlando Cabrera, Edgar Renteria, and others, even if you gave those guys no points at all for fielding.

Of course, those aren't the Dodger alternatives today. Cabrera is the Dodger alternative. But with these numbers, you can still make a case that even Cabrera - a somewhat clumsy infielder - is a better option at shortstop than Izturis. And long-term, you can question whether Izturis would ever improve enough offensively to justify his starting role.

No player that has registered any offensive value, from my examination of these numbers, has a greater ratio of defense to offense than Izturis, and Cora is close behind. Say what you want about the Dodger pitching or the Dodger Stadium park factors, there is no bigger run-prevention force in the game than Cora and Izturis - offensively and defensively. And that's as much of a problem as you may have feared.

Comment status: comments have been closed. Baseball Toaster is now out of business.