The best infield in the AL

Dickerson tagged out at 3B by Kouzmanoff

Image by SD Dirk via Flickr


The Oakland A’s sit 61-62 through 123 games, 8 games behind division leading Texas – a position much better than bettors might have wagered in March, but far from exciting.  Their young starting rotation has garnered quite a bit of attention, their infield defense deserves even more of the spotlight – without question, this is the league’s best defensive infield.

At first base, Daric Barton’s 6.1 UZR is good for 2nd in the AL (behind only Justin Morneau – though Morneau has missed a significant portion of the season’s 2nd half) and his range factors lap the rest of the field.

Name Team Pos Inn Plays RZR OOZ RngR ErrR UZR
Justin Morneau MIN 1B 688 86 0.878 16 6 2.7 9.4
Daric Barton OAK 1B 1026 103 0.851 48 8.5 -2.6 6.1
Casey Kotchman SEA 1B 750 85 0.794 20 1.5 2.5 3.6
Kendry Morales LAA 1B 448 51 0.850 12 3.3 0.2 3.6
Lyle Overbay TOR 1B 1030 105 0.833 31 2.2 0.2 2.8


Adam Rosales has filled in admirably as Mark Ellis has missed significant portions of the season with injuries – Ellis has consistently been one of the AL’s best second basemen, and Rosales has delivered similar numbers.  Together, the tandem would rank as the league’s best defensive second basemen, individually they are 3rd and 4th, respectively.

Name Team Pos Inn Plays RZR OOZ RngR ErrR UZR
Orlando Hudson MIN 2B 802 200 0.833 29 8.3 1.6 8.8
Dustin Pedroia BOS 2B 667 161 0.861 13 3 1.6 6.3
Adam Rosales OAK 2B 393 98 0.875 5 1.5 2.2 5.2
Mark Ellis OAK 2B 652 168 0.866 11 0.6 2.4 4.4
Mike McCoy TOR 2B 67 18 1.000 4 3.1 0.4 4


On the hot corner, Kevin Kouzmanoff has started 116 games and sports a league best 10.6 (and his strong 20009 campaign defensively would indicate that the 2010 numbers are anything but an aberration). 

Name Team Pos Inn Plays RZR OOZ RngR ErrR UZR
Kevin Kouzmanoff OAK 3B 1028 176 0.772 40 6.8 2.8 10.6
Adrian Beltre BOS 3B 1055 173 0.749 59 9.9 -0.8 9.2
Evan Longoria TBR 3B 1088 166 0.755 33 6.9 0.2 8.4
Nick Punto MIN 3B 344 76 0.844 15 2.7 3.8 6
Danny Valencia MIN 3B 413 78 0.804 10 2.8 1.9 5.2


At shortstop, Alexei Ramirez has been a revelation for the White Sox and should coast to his first gold glove (though the voting for those can be so unpredictable it wouldn’t be shocking to see Ramirez miss out), but Cliff Pennington has had a strong first year as Oakland’s starter, 4th in UZR amongst qualified starters in the AL.

Name Team Pos Inn Plays RZR OOZ RngR ErrR UZR
Alexei Ramirez CHW SS 1050 287 0.834 56 10.7 0 12.4
J.J. Hardy MIN SS 617 151 0.858 27 5.2 3.1 7.8
Ramon Santiago DET SS 527 128 0.853 29 6 -0.4 5.6
Nick Punto MIN SS 233 53 0.869 14 5.8 -0.9 5.2
Cliff Pennington OAK SS 980 271 0.824 37 3.9 -2.3 3.9
Alex Gonzalez TOR SS 740 210 0.808 40 1.1 1.5 3.4


Billy Beane will be busy this off-season, and the infield is no exception.  Pennington and Barton are now just beginning their careers. Kouzmanoff is under team control for a few more seasons and should be extended or offered arbitration.  Mark Ellis may be the most challenging decision – the A’s hold a $6M club option (with a $500k buyout).  Ellis’ defense is unquestioned, but he’s a lifetime .250 hitter with a penchant for DL trips.  Adam Rosales is probably not the starting second basemen on a championship team, but he could prove more than adequate as a replacement for Ellis, with near approximate defense and similar hitting numbers. The $6M saved might be better of put in the Carl Crawford fund.

As a baseball fan, however, here’s hoping that Beane and the A’s keep the league’s best defensive infield behind the young (and very promising) starting staff for a few more years.

About Bill Porter

Bill is an aspiring sportswriter (attorney by day) born in Washington DC, raised in New York, and currently living in San Francisco with his wife Kirsten and two spazzy labs, Fletch and Bear. Follow me on Twitter at @wfporter1972
This entry was posted in Athletics, MLB, Teams and tagged , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

One Response to The best infield in the AL

  1. dwishinsky says:

    I do agree with the infield being great defensively and I think the pitching staff benefited from this greatly. As I am sure you gather from my blog I am not a Kouzmanoff fan. I like him as a guy, think he has potential, I just can’t stand his free-swinging, and think it is very counterproductive. I think the infield is somewhere where we are very strong with the starters, I have my concerns about the depth (at least this season) as Pennington and Rosales face injuries going into the spring and I don’t think Sogard is a starter on a playoff contending club (this year and quite possibly beyond). I like Steve Tolleson and his versatility, but again don’t think if it is long-term is he a good answer in the infield either. So I am sort of mixed on them, but it is mostly offensive concerns, defensively they are very strong indeed, and I just LOVE watching Pennington grab something deep in the hole and still get the runner by a yard.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s