Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Dukes in Center, Patterson in Right

Now that it appears Manny Acta is probably not on his way out at least for the moment, I figure it's fair game to start nit-picking his moves again.

Sunday we saw one of the more inexplicable Manny decisions of the season. Facing the Rays in Tampa for a day game following a night game, Manny decided to start an outfield left-to-right of Adam Dunn, Elijah Dukes, and Corey Patterson.

Dukes, as we saw in brutal fashion last night, is a pretty terrible centerfielder. On the season, he's a -19.2 UZR/150 centerfielder, meaning that over the course of a full season his defense would allow 19.2 runs more than an average centerfielder. That'd make him the fifth worst fielder at any position in all of baseball (and basically no better or worse than Lastings Milledge). For his career, he's even worse: -24.6.

In right, on the other hand, Dukes is quite a good rightfielder, posting a +10.7 UZR/150 for his career. In other words, moving Dukes from right to center costs you at least 30 runs over the course of a season.

Patterson isn't the defensive whiz that he was earlier in his career. UZR has him as essentially an average centerfielder over the last two seasons in Baltimore and Cincy.

On the other hand, before Sunday, he'd made one appearance in right field ever. Ever. So we really have no idea whether he's a good or bad right fielder, but his arm is just ok for a centerfielder and is probably below-average in right. Though his range would certainly be above average there. Factor in the unfamiliarity with the position, and let's assume it's a wash and he's an average right.

What that means is that this one decision, extended over the course of a full season, would cost the team a net 30 runs, which is nearly 3 whole wins. It's uncommon for all the in-game decisions a manager makes all year to add up to three full wins or losses, so this is a huge difference. And a mind-numbingly bad one. It's really very hard to imagine what Manny was thinking here.


Souldrummer said...

I'm telling you. This blog is starting look FMA more everyday. What did you think of today's outfield of Harris, Patterson, and Dukes? Sure it's our best defensive outfield, but Harris and Patterson barely got chances in New Yankee Stadium.

The only possible defense of these moves is that they are hoping to "develop" Dukes into a CF. But I agree with you here.

Steven said...

Dukes isn't a CF, and the priority has to be to develop the pitchers, not the fielders.

Harris, Patterson, Dukes is a decent group in the field. I think Willie would be average in center if he played there every day.

I just shudder everytime they play Willingham and Dunn out there at the same time. And with Dukes in CF If that's really the plan for the rest of the year, oy vey.

Deacon Drake said...

There was a rumor that Dukes was getting an earful from the crowd Saturday, but between that move (Patterson's bat is also worthless at RF) and moving Willie Harris' 50 innings of work to 3B so Zim could DH, yikes. I really thought Manny was trying to go out in a blaze of glory by filling out the worst lineup ever. Did I mention that Patterson batted 6th? He's barely a #9 hitter in AAA!

John O'Connor said...

With Willinghan on bereavement leave, the Nats' best outfield is (shudder) the one Manny trotted out there last night -- Harris, Patterson, and Dukes.

Take a look at Kearns' hitting stats -- they are beyond abysmal. And to play him, you have to put Dukes in center (or I suppose, left). Sitting Kearns allows you to put Dukes in his best defensive position, and gives you an all-around good outfield defense. As Steven pointed out, that's a godsend for a young pitching staff who doesn't need to be getting more than three outs per inning.

You can say Harris and Patterson had no chance in New Yankee Stadium, but does Keanrs? When's the last time Kearns hit even a medium-deep fly ball?

flippin said...

When our softball team is getting brained, we all switch up positions to keep it interesting. The best part about the change is that you have a built in excuse for botching an otherwise easy play. You can drink beer with impunity...