Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Tony Gwynn Jr's Glove

Tony Gwynn Jr is a prototypical slap hitter with no power.  In 2009 with the Padres he slashed .270/.350/.344.  So far in 2010 he's actually worse:  .225/.322/.326.  Yet, he's played in 22 games during the month of June, starting 18 of them.  Why would a guy who's such an offensive liability see so much playing time?

The conventional wisdom is, Gwynn Jr's glove has become the best OF glove the Padres have.  I was curious, so let's look at Dewan plus/minus on each of the Padre outfielders.  I grabbed the plus/minus number for the position each player has played the most in 2010.  All statistics do not include last night's 10-6 loss to Colorado.
  • Gwynn Jr:  +8 (CF, 451.1 innings)
  • Blanks: +1 (LF, 253)
  • Cunningham:  0 (RF, 26)
  • Denorfia:  +1 (LF, 82.2)
  • S. Hairston:  -1 (LF, 204.1)
  • J. Hairston Jr: +1 (RF, 42)
  • Salazar:  0 (LF, 82)
  • Stairs:  -2 (RF, 51)
  • Venable:  +1 (RF, 480.1)
I believe that's everyone who has played in the Padre outfield this season.  If I've forgotten someone please mention them in the comments and I'll add their statistics to this post.  Based on the data, it appears the conventional wisdom is correct - Tony Gwynn Jr is the best outfield glove the Padres have.

For a team built on run prevention, it makes a whole lot of sense why they play Gwynn Jr in center field every day.  So long as he continues to go get it, and hit no higher than eighth in the order, he's helping the Padres more with his glove than he's hurting them with the bat (as an aside, he's worth 1.6 WAR according to Fangraphs - negative 2.1 batting and 9.9 fielding)

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