Sunday, December 19, 2010

Orlando Hudson at Second

Various sources reported on Friday* Orlando Hudson had signed with the Padres to play second base in 2011.  San Diego has not confirmed the deal, waiting for the results of the physical before making the formal announcement.  According to reports in the San Diego U-T, Hudson signed for 2 years ($4M in 2011, $5.5M in 2012), with an $8M option in 2013 (and $2M buyout).  It has not yet been stated if the option is club, player, or mutual (at least as far as I have read).

*Note to Jed Hoyer - can you PLEASE make these types of moves known on Thursday morning instead of Friday morning?  Help a poor lonely Podcast host out.  Throw me a bone, man.

Most of the reporting on this trade has highlighted Hudson's defensive ability.  That, coupled with the trade for  Jason Bartlett (agreed to during the winter meetings last week but only finalized yesterday), and the acquisition of Cameron Maybin earlier this off-season, make the Padres a better defensive team up the middle than in 2010.

Or does it?  I've already looked at Maybin vs Tony Gwynn Jr.  Let's look at the new players in comparison to who they're replacing.

For this evaluation I'm only going use Dewan Plus/Minus.  Ultimate Zone Rating is also a good defensive metric, and can be found on Fangraphs.  In 2010 Hudson was one of the best second basemen in the league, saving 17 runs.  His plus/minus ratings are staggering:
  • Ground balls:  +5 to his right, +3 straight on, +10 to his left for a total of +18.
  • Pop-ups/Fly Balls:  +4.
In comparison, David Eckstein and Jerry Hairston Jr played the majority of innings at second for the Padres.
  • Eckstein:  Ground balls  -1/+3/-3, Pop-ups/Fly Balls +5.
  • Hairston Jr:  Ground Balls +3/+4/-4, Pop-ups/Fly Balls -1.
If he plays to his 2010 level Orlando Hudson is a significant upgrade defensively at second.

Jason Bartlett played for the Tampa Bay Rays in 2010  By Dewan, he saved 5 runs over the course of the season.  Here's his plus/minus numbers.
  • Ground balls:  -7 right, -5 straight on, +12 left.  Dewan made him +1 on ground balls.
  • Pop-ups/Fly Balls:  +5
San Diego employed a shortstop by committee approach last season.  Hairston, Everth Cabrera, and Miguel Tejada played most of the innings there in 2010.  Let's look at their numbers.
  • Hairston:  Ground balls +2/+1/+3; Pop-ups/Fly Balls -3.
  • Cabrera:  +2/+1/-8; +2.
  • Tejada:  +2/+1/+1; -2.
At short it's a lot more murky.  Hairston Jr and Tejada actually fielded ground balls better than Bartlett did last season.  Bartlett was by far the best of this group chasing down balls in the air.  Hairston Jr is still a free agent, but Tejada signed with San Francisco in November.  In that light, Bartlett is a much better option at short than Cabrera.

The Padres have improved defensively at second base.  Their new shortstop is about on par with the duo that played most of the innings last year, and their center fielder is a bit worse defensively than Tony Gwynn Jr was.  I am not poo-poohing these moves by any means; but I don't think they improve the defense around here as much as some would lead you to believe.

1 comment:

  1. Larry Faria in Ocean Beach said:

    Nice analysis. I like the Dewan plus/minus - you can guesstimate not only how they'll work together, but how they'll fit with Headley and Hawpe flanking them. Bartlett's -7 to his right isn't so bad with Headley to his right, and Hudson's +10 to his left should cover for Hawpe nicely. It looks like there will be very few bouncing balls over 2B, at least.