Pre-Season Defense: Right Side of the Infield
Focusing on Defense, how do the 2005 Cubs matchup to the 2004 Cubs with the leather? We continue our look at the expectations for the Cubs glovework in 2005.
First Base: Well, there is no change in personnel at first. D-Lee, Derrek Lee, Rodan, Big-Choi's replacement... whatever you wish to call him is back for 2005. The man is 6'5" and was given the nickname Rodan because of his wingspan. He's big, he swings so easy its awesome to watch! And yeah, he can pick it at first base.
D-Lee is one of my favorite Cubs, I think he plays with good fundamentals, but this is about defense. So lets look at the stats. In 2004, Derrek Lee started 159 games at first base, logging 1432 innings as #3 on the scorecard. During that time, he made 6 errors and saved about 37 from the rest of the infield. His fielding percentage was .996, and he had a range factor or 8.73.
The other three games were started by Todd Hollandsworth who made one error in 21 innings at first. Todd Walker and Jason Dubois combined for the other 12.1 innings of play at first. Neither of these two made an error, although Todd Walker had a range factor of 6.55. (Small Sample Size Alert).
I have not read anything that would make me think that Lee will perform any differently on defense than he did last year. He is 29 years old and is still in his prime. For 2005, I see no change in our firstbase fielding expectations.
Second Base: The stats. This table taken directly from ESPN.com's Cubs 2004 Fielding Stats.
|Team Total as 2B||162||162||1465.1||776||316||447||13||73||.983||4.69||.843|
As you can see, Todd Walker was the primary second baseman in 2004, registering 51% of the innings played at second base. Mark Grudzielanek accounted for 39%, and the remaining 10% was split among bench players.
The 2005 version of the Cubs brings back Walker, Jose Macias, and Neifi Perez, as well as adding in Jerry Hairston Jr. JHJ started 12 games at second for the Orioles in 2004, logging 102 innings, while committing 1 error, turning 9 double plays, and ending up with a fielding percentage of .983 and a range factor of 5.21.
These factors lead me to believe that JHJ will probably play a fair amount of second base for the Cubs in 2005. I am going to guess that Todd Walker will get 65% of the innings at second, JHJ will get 25%, and the other bench players will get their 10%.
While JHJ is apparently a pretty good second sacker, he isn't all that much better than Grudz. And Walker, who is definitely an inferior defender will pick up more time. This leads me to believe the Cubs will be a bit more porous on defense in the area of the field Ryno used to call home.