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How do Mateo/Henderson/Ortiz/Westburg rank/compare defensively at shortstop?


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6 hours ago, E-D-D-I-E said:

At short I would prefer a guy like Hardy over the ultra rangy 'wow' guys. Make the routine play all day.

That's like everything else- give and take.  You take Hardy over Shawon Dunston, but I wouldn't classify Mateo as error-prone or fundamentally unsound.  That's what I noticed about him immediately.  When you grab a guy off waivers with "million dollar tools" you except a bit more Felix Pie.

I think Mateo played the most aesthetically impressive shortstop I've ever seen an Oriole play.  I didn't see Aparicio or Belanger, but I did see Hardy and Ripken. 

First,  I think it's fair to say: Do it again.

Second, aesthetics doesn't necessarily equal value so I understand people are uncomfortable to say it's the most valuable they've seen- I get that, but I'm equally as uncomfortable saying it wasn't.

The real answer is I think it is impossible to know.  There are just far too many variables to consider with far too little information at our disposal.  I think modern defensive statistics have some value, across a large enough series of data points, and with an appreciation for margins of error; but to compare players across eras using different tools is just impossible.  The only real way to do it is to use the scouting scale.

6 hours ago, E-D-D-I-E said:

Stronger than Cal? I can't say I agree. However, maybe seeing more will sway me.

And this I would agree with.  Cal had the best arm of the group.  Cal had basically a perfect shortstop arm.

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7 hours ago, Babkins said:

I recall an interview with Cal way back when, probably in the early nineties before he moved off short, in which he described his tendency to position himself much closer to home plate in order to get to more ground balls. It seemed counterintuitive to me when I first read it—I’d assumed that playing deeper would allow a fielder a better chance to keep the ball in front of him—but Cal’s rationale, as I remember it in the article, makes sense: he said positioning himself closer to the plate cut down on the distance he would have to range to his right or left to get to a ball. It certainly would have put a premium on his reaction times and on his ability to predict where a batter would be likely to hit a ball. I looked, briefly and unsuccessfully, for a source for this. (If OFFNY were here, he could probably cite the publication and the date.) Does anyone else recall reading something like this once upon a time?

I recall this as well. I was looking for a source earlier today as well.  The closer you play the more you cut down on the angle but the less time to react but I remember the concept with Cal.   

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Statcast has arm strength data now, and shows Mateo's arm as above average but not elite: https://baseballsavant.mlb.com/leaderboard/arm-strength?type=player&year=2022&minThrows=100&pos=arm_ss&team=

("Statcast position player arm strength metrics are available beginning with the 2020 season. Given that there is no rulebook definition of "a throw where the player is trying hard," and many non-competitive lobs are captured, we have elected to take the average of the top portion of a player's throws.")

That roughly matches with what my eyes saw. He did make a lot of throws in motion and from various angles so he could make a quick release, but the ball didn't always travel fast. His range was what set him apart.

Mateo averaged 86.8mph on his throws. Henderson in a much smaller sample averaged 88.4mph, Odor 85.0mph, Urias 81.4mph.

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1 hour ago, RZNJ said:

Here's what I got.    I believe this is the best combination of defense and offense.    From what I've seen

3B Urias

SS Henderson

2B Ortiz

 

But won't it to fun to see Henderson, Mateo, Urias, Frazier, Westburg, Vavra  and Ortiz fighting for jobs  and playing time in ST?

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1 hour ago, wildcard said:

But won't it to fun to see Henderson, Mateo, Urias, Frazier, Westburg, Vavra  and Ortiz fighting for jobs  and playing time in ST?

It doesn't look like Westburg is fighting for a job as the roster is currently constructed.  We'll see.

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1 hour ago, wildcard said:

But won't it to fun to see Henderson, Mateo, Urias, Frazier, Westburg, Vavra  and Ortiz fighting for jobs  and playing time in ST?

My guess is the O’s will go into ST with a pretty strong idea of what they plan to do with these players.  Really, only the latter three will be battling for 1-2 jobs.   

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2 hours ago, wildcard said:

But won't it to fun to see Henderson, Mateo, Urias, Frazier, Westburg, Vavra  and Ortiz fighting for jobs  and playing time in ST?

I'm pretty sure that Henderson is locked into 3B and Mateo is locked into SS.  I can't see Mateo losing his job unless he is traded.  Hyde and Elias have been effusive in their praise of Mateo.  Looks like Westburg and Ortiz are fighting for spare at bats w/ Frazier getting a lot of at bats at 2b

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24 minutes ago, OriolesMagic83 said:

I'm pretty sure that Henderson is locked into 3B and Mateo is locked into SS.  I can't see Mateo losing his job unless he is traded.  Hyde and Elias have been effusive in their praise of Mateo.  Looks like Westburg and Ortiz are fighting for spare at bats w/ Frazier getting a lot of at bats at 2b

Ortiz probably begins the season at AAA unless there is an injury to someone else.

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On 12/25/2022 at 11:43 AM, Babkins said:

I recall an interview with Cal way back when, probably in the early nineties before he moved off short, in which he described his tendency to position himself much closer to home plate in order to get to more ground balls. It seemed counterintuitive to me when I first read it—I’d assumed that playing deeper would allow a fielder a better chance to keep the ball in front of him—but Cal’s rationale, as I remember it in the article, makes sense: he said positioning himself closer to the plate cut down on the distance he would have to range to his right or left to get to a ball. It certainly would have put a premium on his reaction times and on his ability to predict where a batter would be likely to hit a ball. I looked, briefly and unsuccessfully, for a source for this. (If OFFNY were here, he could probably cite the publication and the date.) Does anyone else recall reading something like this once upon a time?

@SemperFi basically answered this with the post about positioning. George Will's 1990 book Men at Work profiled four greats: Tony La Russa, Orel Hershiser, Tony Gwynn, and Cal Ripken. Cal's chapter focussed on defense. From what I remember, it elaborated on what @SemperFi addressed, in terms of prepositioning, based on knowing the pitcher, the batter, the particular pitch, and the game situation.

(An excellent read, BTW! I notice there's an updated 2010 edition, same content but a new introduction). https://www.amazon.com/Men-at-Work-Craft-Baseball/dp/0061999814/

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On 12/25/2022 at 9:46 PM, Pickles said:

That's like everything else- give and take.  You take Hardy over Shawon Dunston, but I wouldn't classify Mateo as error-prone or fundamentally unsound.  That's what I noticed about him immediately.  When you grab a guy off waivers with "million dollar tools" you except a bit more Felix Pie.

I think Mateo played the most aesthetically impressive shortstop I've ever seen an Oriole play.  I didn't see Aparicio or Belanger, but I did see Hardy and Ripken. 

First,  I think it's fair to say: Do it again.

Second, aesthetics doesn't necessarily equal value so I understand people are uncomfortable to say it's the most valuable they've seen- I get that, but I'm equally as uncomfortable saying it wasn't.

The real answer is I think it is impossible to know.  There are just far too many variables to consider with far too little information at our disposal.  I think modern defensive statistics have some value, across a large enough series of data points, and with an appreciation for margins of error; but to compare players across eras using different tools is just impossible.  The only real way to do it is to use the scouting scale.

And this I would agree with.  Cal had the best arm of the group.  Cal had basically a perfect shortstop arm.

I saw Belanger and Aparicio.  Belanger was the best shortstop I have ever seen overall but Mateo was as good last season as any I have seen and better than any other Os shortstop since Belanger. 

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