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Wednesday, January 28, 2004

Be Prepared To Shield Your Eyes 

I'm a little concerned about the lack of uproar at the move to make Scott Spiezio the M's everyday third baseman. In a way, I can understand - on the average, a good defensive third baseman doesn't make a very big difference over a bad one, say one, MAYBE two games over a 162-game season. This assumption, however, works only if we assume that the bad third baseman is still good enough to man the hot corner at the big league level. If, for example, a big league team replaced their league-average 3B with, say, my dad, even only as a defensive replacement, this move would cost the team a WHOLE LOT MORE than 2 games. Try ten. Or twenty. Maybe more. Scott Spiezio is probably a better 3B than my dad. Probably. (The old man was not too shabby as a ballplayer.) But he's not as good as Russ Davis when he notoriously "defended" the Mariners' hot corner from 1996-1999.

Russ Davis as M's 3B:
0.933 Fielding Pct., 2.24 Range Factor

Scott Spiezio, Lifetime, as 3B:
0.929 Fielding Pct., 1.66 Range Factor!

(Statistics from Baseball-Reference.com)

Russ Davis was so bad that Lou replaced him in 1998 with Rico Rossy, a .198 hitter. Spiezio has Davis' stone hands, but without the range. But Spiezio is such a better hitter, you might say. Kinda. Davis' average OPS+ (weighted by # of plate appearances) during that span was 92. Spiezio's weighted average OPS+ the last four years is 106 (100 is by definition average). So Spiezio is just a hair above average at the plate (actually, OPS+ considers all hitters, not just regulars, so, compared to starting position players, he's probably below average) and a complete and utter hack with the glove. By any measure, Scott Spiezio figures to be one of the worst regualrs in Mariners history. And his band blows. Hard.

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