Mid-Season Grades: Infield
DickDaStick: I agree with alot that Pander states above on all the infielders. I'll add my differences.
It's been a deep year at 1B, resulting in Paul being hidden behind Thome, Giambi, Hafner, Ortiz, et al. He's such an un-assuming figure of leadership and grace that few pay overlong attention to him, and Thome provides him that luxury, of being the guy pitchers don't focus on quite so much considering the left-handed thunder in front of him. Result? He's putting up yet more career numbers, a first half worth that won't measure to Frank's best years, but still qualify as all-star worthy and team-driving. His defense is as always under-rated, and only his running of the bases keeps him from being a 5 tool player. Normally, he starts cold and finishes hot, this year he's started hot and stayed there. His numbers will be gigantic. A.
I think Paulie will improve on his first half by settling down a little more. Despite his great contributions, I can recall numerous at-bats where he left menon base in key circumstances. He just seemed a little tight-sphinctered. Not sure if he feels some kind of new pressure with Thome there or what. He's on pace for 38 - 39 HR's and about 124 RBI's which are great - but I think there's more there for him and I expect to see it in the second half. I fully agree that he has shown tremendous class letting Thome and Dye and others take the limelight. On a "chemistry" grade he's an A+
if you look at Paulie's situational stats, he's doing quite well. With a man on 3rd and less than 2 outs, he's hitting .550 with an OPS of 1.664 (Dye's is 1.061 in those situations). He's struck out only 3 times (Thome has struck out 7 times). He's hitting .390 (OPS 1.130) with RISP and .429 with the bases loaded (Thome is hitting .250 with the bases loaded). His batting average, OBP, Slugging, and of course OPS are higher than any previous year's. If he has a better second half than first half, he will destroy his career best RBI and average numbers. Oh, and he's an everyday first baseman who has been quietly fantastic in the field. I'm thinking your memory might be a bit tainted by your high expectations of the man.For me, he gets an A.
Injuries have minorly stifled an otherwise completely solid and worthy first half. At times he accepts his position as a role-player in the majors, bunting over, hitting to the right side, playing acceptable defense. Other times, he decides to resort to GODZILLA FORM, hitting 2 HR a game and salvaging a win from a loss. Iguchi adjusts to every situation and almost always can come through. In Boston or New York, he have been the starting 2B. B+.
Very talented and has a knack for big-time plays when we need it the most - with game on the line he's very focused and very willing to play his role, whatever that is. Sometimes when the game is not so urgent, his focus slips and he doesn't execute the bunt, or make contact to right etc. After Thome, he has second most strikeouts on the team. From chemistry angle he looks well appreciated by his teammates. A-
Iguchi, B. I love his fielding (including the best play I have seen all year, hopefully you know the one, one of the best plays I have ever seen) and his 7 RBI in 2 innings (although we lost the game). He's avoided the sophomore slump. But he failed to get the bunt down twice in Sunday's game, and that's really, really annoying. Also don't care for the Ks.
Hot and Cold. Cold to start, but now hot to trot, he has turned his place as "Guy only saved by Brian Anderson from the title of "worst everyday hitter on a roster" into a complete reversal, delivering blow after blow in recent weeks to save both the team's beleagued starting pitching and his own batting average. His defense, like Crede's, hasn't been as solid as it was last year, but still I challenge anyone to name someone with the range and arm he contains. B-, raised from a D+ by virtue of his recent hot streak.
Hard for me to grade this guy. Hard for me to figure him out at all. He can look so fricking erratic when he's off - wildly swinging at anything thrown and looking like he has no clue. Then he'll flip and be the guy who can hit anyone or any pitch and take it deep as well. Ozzie likes his intangibles and his knack for the big hit. I like his fielding and arm - I don't like his low OBP, which is lower than BA's.He's a roll of the dice at times and that is unpredictable and can be tough at a clutch time of an important game. C+Uribe, B. EIGHT WALKS?!?!?! On the other hand, he's my favorite fielder, the one with the best chance to win a game with his glove, and he's got a shot at 90 RBIs from the #8 spot, or even more. I would be very nervous if we didn't have him going into the stretch run.
Senor clutch. I'd argue his fielding has been worse this year than last, but his hitting has been astronomically better. After his playoff tear in 2004, Carlos Beltran seemed to fade in 2005. Joe Crede has not. His offense combined with defense makes him the best third baseman not named A-Rod in the AL, and by far more liked by his home crowd than A-Rod. A solid and welcomed presence to anchor 3rd base as solidly as any year in which Robin Venture mounted the hot corner. A.
Very capable at the hot corner and would have been given an A if not for some recent fielding miscues. Another hitter with a great sense of timing for the clutch hit when needed the most. Very likable and another great chemistry guy in the dugout. Should be an all-star. Does not strike out much and has slugging over .500. A-
Crede, A-. My main complaint is that his numbers from the #7 spot (where we really need him to hit in the playoffs) are significantly lower than his numbers from the #6 spot. His numbers from the #5 spot are sensational, FWIW. But my favorite number is this: 84 Games Played. Stay healthy, Joey.