Cubs, White Sox, UZR and the Konerko Cocktail

Chicks dig the long ball, but defense wins championships.

I like defense. It’s not as sexy as hitting but I appreciate a good defensive game.

In this post I am going to focus on Ultimate Zone Rating (UZR). In future posts I may use a different statistic such as the John Dewan's +/- system and I will briefly talk about Fans Scouting Report (FSR).

So let’s compare the defense of the Cubs and White Sox for the 2010 season...

We see both teams struggle defensively. The Cubs had a UZR of -5.9 and the White Sox had a UZR of -9.9.

For the Cubs, Aramis Ramirez had a 2010 UZR of -6.5. We have seen a decline in Aramis's defensive "skills" since 2007 (most notably RngR, or range [-4.7]).

Alfonso Soriano had a UZR of 5.4 (yes, that's a positive number). How does Soriano have a positive number? According to his FSR, his arm strength and arm accuracy are his saving grace. Looking at his attributes of Arm (.5) and RngR (6.8), this makes sense. Unfortunately for us Cubs fans, we have seen a drastic decline in both of these categories since 2007. This makes the assumption of Soriano being a DH trapped in the National League very true.

The White Sox had a Gold Glove shortstop in Alexei Ramirez (no, I won't let it go), but two White Sox had their worst years defensively: Paul Konerko and Carlos Quentin. Paul Konerko had an abysmal UZR (-13.9), worst of his career. We also see some concerning UZR fluctuations year-to-year (to account for fluctuations, analyze samples for three years). Joe Pawlikowski at FanGraphs had an excellent article explaining sluggers defensive woes in 2010. Topping his list was number 14, Paul Konerko. Maybe his 2010 year was an anomaly, maybe not (we'll address this in a post coming soon) but looking at the FSR, we see poor attributes (hands, first step, speed, range). I have dubbed the combination of slugging and poor defensive prowess the "Konerko Cocktail."

(It has been submitted to Urban Dictionary; link to come!)

Carlos Quentin also had a terrible year defensively (-22.9 UZR). Quentin is synonymous with bad defense. His UZR in the OF is terrible. His FSR tells us that Quentin is drinking the Konerko Cocktail. In fact, he's probably had a few already at the time of this post. He is, in my opinion, a liability to the team if he is not getting on base, hitting home runs, driving in runs. While in Arizona for spring training, I may even go so far as to let Ozzie know that I can play a better RF than Carlos Quentin (I only have to throw to the cutoff man, right?).

Next: A look at both teams and how they fair defensively in their respective divisions heading into 2011.

(***WARNING*** Do not consume Konerko Cocktails in large quantities. Do not combine with beer, wine, Aspirin, or first base. Drink Konerko Cocktails responsibly and always use a designated driver.)

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