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Laying some philosophical cards on the table...


clancyphile

I think it is time to lay some philosophical cards on the table. I believe a team should try to maximize its best bats on the field. For instance, in 1988, I think there was really no excuse for keeping Jim Gantner at second base.

 

The 1988 Opening Day Lineup I'd have sent out:

3B Paul Molitor

SS Gary Sheffield

CF Robin Yount

1B Greg Brock

RF Rob Deer

2B Dale Sveum

DH Joey Meyer

LF Glenn Braggs

C BJ Surhoff

 

Then, of course, there has been my lengthy advocacy that Ryan Braun should have stayed at (or been returned to) third base. When there is a player who is that good offensively, I think he deserved a long leash at third base.

 

In other words, if I had the choice of a very plus offensive bat with defensive shortcomings versus a slick fielder who was league average at the position, I'm taking the plus bat virtually every time. Score enough runs, defensive shortcomings are not going to kill the team's chances.

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If Braun's defense had simply been below average, and not historically abysmal, I'd agree with you.

 

When you have a player whose defense is so awful that it single handedly turns him from an elite player into just a decent player, you really have no choice. Moving Braun from 3rd was a given.

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Braun's defense was so bad it almost totally negated his offensive value.

 

In a word. No.

 

At what point does that happen?

 

Assume two shortstops are involved in 673 chances over the course of a season.

 

Shortstop A posts a .753 OPS and makes only 15 errors.

Shortstop B posts a .950 OPS, but makes 50 errors.

 

Which would you put out there every day? I'd find the extra 200 points of OPS very hard to pass up, even if there were 35 additional errors over the course of the season.

 

If Braun's defense had simply been below average, and not historically abysmal, I'd agree with you.

 

When you have a player whose defense is so awful that it single handedly turns him from an elite player into just a decent player, you really have no choice. Moving Braun from 3rd was a given.

 

As the primary third baseman for the Brewers in 2007, Braun's OPS was 1.004. In 2008, Bill Hall's OPS was .689. That sacrifice of offense - 315 points of OPS - meant the Brewers had only 17 errors from their primary third baseman, as opposed to Braun's 26 in 2007. A net reduction of 9 errors. I feel a little underwhelmed by that exchange.

 

I think it's much more of a given that the Brewers could have made a deeper post-season run by keeping Braun at third, trading Hall (maybe getting CC Sabathia from Cleveland at the start of the season for Hall and LaPorta), and signing Milton Bradley as a free agent (Bradley posted a .999 OPS in 2008).

 

In 2008 the Brewers replaced the Jenkins (.790 OPS in LF) and Braun (1.004 OPS at 3B) combo with Braun in LF (.888 OPS) and Hall (.689). They could have had Bradley (.999) and Braun (.888). I think it's obvious which combo would have been better.

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Clancy, you lost me with that 88 lineup. On opening day 1988, Sheffield was 19 and hadn't played above A ball. Gantner was still a productive player, a great defender and tough out.

 

Milton Bradley?? You do realize that Jim Hendry lost his GM job in Chicago for signing Milton Bradley,

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See you are just comparing the wrong things when it comes to Braun. It isn't Braun vs. another 3B. It is .950 OPS 3B Braun with 50 errors vs. .950 OPS Braun with average D in LF. Which is more valuable? I am picking the Braun in LF if you ask me.
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I was just talking about something similar with some people the other day. I said that Prince was such a bad first basemen and would have been bad at any other position so they should have just got maximum value out of his bat and played him at SS or C. I was only partially serious.
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Just did some quick research. Braun was a safe bet for about a -4.0 WAR staying at 3B. I'd say Braun is on average a 5 WAR player. How is a 1 WAR 3B worth more than a 5 WAR LFer? Even if you only keep him at 3B through his peak you are talking a 3 WAR player at best...that is somehow better than a 7 WAR LFer?

 

It is quite obvious he was beyound bad. This isn't Prince Fielder type defense to ignore. This is like having a rock on defense.

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I think the legend of Braun's defense at 3B has become a little overblown. He was young and still learning a completely new (difficult) position, in total between the minors and 2007 he was only at 3B for about two seasons worth of playing time. The problem was his bat was historically good and carried him to the majors before his complete game was probably ready. Braun is a great athlete and I suspect he would have become more tolerably below-average at 3B over time.
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Even laying aside the fact that

 

1) Braun said he would never play 3rd again

 

2) He was horrible at it. Like historically bad

 

3) There's more to positional defense than just errors committed

 

 

This season is a total loss. Next season will likely be a loss as well. Shuffling the guy around to a position he hasn't played for 7-8 years to do what? win 70 games instead of 68 accomplishes what, exactly?

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I think the legend of Braun's defense at 3B has become a little overblown. He was young and still learning a completely new (difficult) position, in total between the minors and 2007 he was only at 3B for about two seasons worth of playing time. The problem was his bat was historically good and carried him to the majors before his complete game was probably ready. Braun is a great athlete and I suspect he would have become more tolerably below-average at 3B over time.

 

This is probably true but what I haven't heard anybody say is that Braun didn't want to play 3B. Never embraced it. He's human and consistently failing in the field would have eventually taken something from him at the plate. Particularly when his fielding would have cost us games.

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Braun's defense was so bad it almost totally negated his offensive value.

 

In a word. No.

 

At what point does that happen?

 

Assume two shortstops are involved in 673 chances over the course of a season.

 

Shortstop A posts a .753 OPS and makes only 15 errors.

Shortstop B posts a .950 OPS, but makes 50 errors.

 

Which would you put out there every day? I'd find the extra 200 points of OPS very hard to pass up, even if there were 35 additional errors over the course of the season.

 

If Braun's defense had simply been below average, and not historically abysmal, I'd agree with you.

 

When you have a player whose defense is so awful that it single handedly turns him from an elite player into just a decent player, you really have no choice. Moving Braun from 3rd was a given.

 

As the primary third baseman for the Brewers in 2007, Braun's OPS was 1.004. In 2008, Bill Hall's OPS was .689. That sacrifice of offense - 315 points of OPS - meant the Brewers had only 17 errors from their primary third baseman, as opposed to Braun's 26 in 2007. A net reduction of 9 errors. I feel a little underwhelmed by that exchange.

 

I think it's much more of a given that the Brewers could have made a deeper post-season run by keeping Braun at third, trading Hall (maybe getting CC Sabathia from Cleveland at the start of the season for Hall and LaPorta), and signing Milton Bradley as a free agent (Bradley posted a .999 OPS in 2008).

 

In 2008 the Brewers replaced the Jenkins (.790 OPS in LF) and Braun (1.004 OPS at 3B) combo with Braun in LF (.888 OPS) and Hall (.689). They could have had Bradley (.999) and Braun (.888). I think it's obvious which combo would have been better.

 

Judging defense by number of errors committed with lead to incorrect conclusions.

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Amazing how many say this isn't really even a debatable topic, yet here we are.
"This is a very simple game. You throw the ball, you catch the ball, you hit the ball. Sometimes you win, sometimes you lose, sometimes it rains." Think about that for a while.
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Who is/was worse defensively at 3rd? Braun or Jason Rogers.

 

Doesn't matter to me. Neither belongs within a half mile of third base. Hard to say never getting a good look at Rogers though. Obviously he is horrible, but how horrible?

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I am sick of seeing this debate pop up in every thread. The response is the same every time. Clancy says Braun should still be at third, he wasn't that bad, etc. And everyone else disagrees, even providing facts. And then Clancy brings it to a new thread.
This is Jack Burton in the Pork Chop Express, and I'm talkin' to whoever's listenin' out there.
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Braun's defense was so bad it almost totally negated his offensive value.

 

In a word. No.

 

At what point does that happen?

 

Assume two shortstops are involved in 673 chances over the course of a season.

 

Shortstop A posts a .753 OPS and makes only 15 errors.

Shortstop B posts a .950 OPS, but makes 50 errors.

 

Which would you put out there every day? I'd find the extra 200 points of OPS very hard to pass up, even if there were 35 additional errors over the course of the season.

 

If Braun's defense had simply been below average, and not historically abysmal, I'd agree with you.

 

When you have a player whose defense is so awful that it single handedly turns him from an elite player into just a decent player, you really have no choice. Moving Braun from 3rd was a given.

 

As the primary third baseman for the Brewers in 2007, Braun's OPS was 1.004. In 2008, Bill Hall's OPS was .689. That sacrifice of offense - 315 points of OPS - meant the Brewers had only 17 errors from their primary third baseman, as opposed to Braun's 26 in 2007. A net reduction of 9 errors. I feel a little underwhelmed by that exchange.

 

I think it's much more of a given that the Brewers could have made a deeper post-season run by keeping Braun at third, trading Hall (maybe getting CC Sabathia from Cleveland at the start of the season for Hall and LaPorta), and signing Milton Bradley as a free agent (Bradley posted a .999 OPS in 2008).

 

In 2008 the Brewers replaced the Jenkins (.790 OPS in LF) and Braun (1.004 OPS at 3B) combo with Braun in LF (.888 OPS) and Hall (.689). They could have had Bradley (.999) and Braun (.888). I think it's obvious which combo would have been better.

 

Kind of an entirely different argument to say 'Well I wish we could have kept Braun at 3rd to sign this hypothetical free agent who ended up being really awesome that year.'

 

The Indians by the way were coming off a 96 win season. Why on earth would they have been interested in trading us CC for Hall and Laporta at that time?

 

You're making hypothetical deals in retrospect to support the keep Braun at 3rd idea, ideas that either weren't realistic or only look good now in hindsight.

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Since everyone is piling on Clancy I will say that in general I agree with him. Braun should've gotten a longer leash at 3B. I think in general Braun has gotten beat up more in the OF than he would have at 3B. Really I see him more as a 1B anyways
The David Stearns era: Controllable Young Talent. Watch the Jedi work his magic!
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Since everyone is piling on Clancy I will say that in general I agree with him. Braun should've gotten a longer leash at 3B. I think in general Braun has gotten beat up more in the OF than he would have at 3B. Really I see him more as a 1B anyways

 

I just don't see what good a longer leash would have done. Would they have been waiting for him to be just really bad instead of historically awful at 3rd?

 

Its not like he was a defensive guru at 3rd in the minors and they pulled the plug on it after one bad season in MLB. He had 3 seasons in the minors where he was equally as bad at 3rd.

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I think a lot of people just don't remember how bad Braun was defensively at 3B. It wasn't just a matter of "a few errors". I guess I can't blame people for forgetting, since that was eight seasons ago already...he really just did not have the instincts to play the position. Braun has even admitted he couldn't handle it, and doesn't want to ever play the position again. Can we please drop this idea?

 

This is coming from someone who has been one of the biggest Braun fans around. My dog is named "Brauny", if that means anything.

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