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Chris Dial's midseason report

Chris Dial checks in with offensive and defensive leaders for the first half of the National League season. His defensive ratings are based on Zone Rating and converted to runs...I don't know very much about how all that works, but it's one way to look at defense and make some comparisons.

Unsurprisingly, Rickie Weeks is in the bottom 10 for NL defenders. Only Jose Castillo of the Pirates scores lower among second basemen. I'd be curious to see those numbers broken down for the first 45 games and the second 45 games--anecdotally, anyway, it seems like he's really turned a corner. Rickie appears to have tremendous range, but obviously all those errors are going to hurt him.

On the flip side, Corey Koskie scores as the fifth best defender in the league and the very best among third basemen. He's saved 8 runs with his glove--nearly a win just on defense, and this is a guy who hasn't quite been an everyday player. He's about as un-flashy as a fielder can be, but we've seen him make quite a few great plays, and very few egregious mistakes.

That's where the good news ends. Big surprise: nobody claims this Brewers team is A+ on defense, nor were they expected to be. According to Dial's method, only Brewer third basemen and catchers are above average, and the aggregate catcher rating is just a notch above even. Everybody else is negative--though, besides Rickie at -9 runs, no one is worse than -4.

Strangely enough, that general average-ness means that seven NL teams are worse than the Brewers on defense. (Remember that next time you hear announcers prattling on about how the Brewers are the worst team in the Majors because of fielding percentage or some such garbage.)

Of course, it isn't all good news when your team is 10 runs below average with the glove. The Cardinals are among the best, at 26 runs above average. That's about three and a half wins better than the Crew. Hey--that's about what the gap in the NL Central is, isn't it?

Speaking of the NL Central, I'm a bit surprised by some of those teams's rankings. The Cards are rightfully on top, but they are tied with the Cubs. The Cubs! They're getting big boosts at centerfield (Juan Pierre, playing better defense than usual) and second base (Todd Walker? Neifi? What gives?). The Reds and Astros are a notch below the Crew. Cinci suffers due to big lapses at short (Felipe Lopez), center (Ken Griffey) and left (Adam Dunn). Houston gets a 20 run boost from Adam Everett and Craig Biggio, but loses 36 (!?!) with the outfield of Preston Wilson (the worst defender in the league by this metric), Jason Lane, Willy Taveras, and Chris Burke.

Lopez, Wilson, and Dunn all out-suck Rickie in the field. Again, just so you know, next time you hear announcers talking about how Weeks is the worst defender in baseball.

If you're interested in Chris's American League rankings, check them out here.