This isn't apropos of anything in particular, but I've been thinking a lot about defense lately. Last year, the rap on the Crew was that we were an awful defensive club (especially on the right side of the infield), and with Ryan Braun joining the gang, it was bound to get worse.
It's too early to get much from defensive stats this year, especially with guys like Weeks and Braun who haven't played every day. But we do have team "defensive efficiency," and the Brewers are ranked 7th among the 16 NL clubs. Not bad, I'd say.
I'm interested what the general consensus is on our main players. I'm going to toss out my thoughts on a dozen or so Brewers, based on watching about half of the innings this year. I'm curious where you agree and disagree:
- Johnny Estrada: A little better than advertised, probably a bit below average. Seems a bit shaky on foul pops, not fantastic in any aspect of the game, but not the mangler some make him out to be.
- Damian Miller: Still great.
- Prince Fielder: Like Estrada, better than he's often made out to be, but I don't want to get wrongly excited. We know Prince works hard, and it shows...but while he's no Jason Giambi, he's also no Doug Mientkiewicz, either. Probably a notch below average.
- Rickie Weeks: MUCH better than last year, might even be average or better someday. Not yet, though.
- JJ Hardy: flashes of brilliance, general consistency; I couldn't write this blurb without saying he turns outs into outs. He's above average, not yet a gold glover, but I think he could be someday.
- Ryan Braun: I've seen him make some really great plays. I refuse to believe he magically learned how to play third base on the flight to Milwaukee, but the talk of him moving off the hot corner seems to have quieted significantly.
- Craig Counsell: wow. They must do a lot of fielding drills in Whitefish Bay. Just...wow.
- Tony Graffanino: I really don't know. I can't recall anything very positive or negative about him in the field.
- Geoff Jenkins: I don't understand why he (or anyone else, for that matter) can be so good in one corner position and so bad in another, but he is. He was awful to watch last year in right, but has gone back (mostly, anyway) to being great in left.
- Kevin Mench: Like many bad outfielders, he has a pretty good arm.
- Bill Hall: Coming around, I think. I was going to be optimistic far beyond the point of rationality, but I don't think I'll have to be. A gold glove future seems doubtful, but average defense in center is a possibility.
- Corey Hart: I don't know. I've seen some good plays, I've seen some weird routes, I've read some awful scouting reports, yet he looks okay in center, which would suggest he's good in the corner. Jury's still out as far as I'm concerned.
- Tony Gwynn: Like Hardy, he's very good right now, but I think he has room to get better. If he does, like Hardy, he could be a perennial gold glover as long as he hits enough to stay in the lineup.