Friday, June 16, 2006

Well, taking three of four from the lowly Royals is acceptable, though there was some ugliness along the path.

As I'm sure you've had beaten into your brain by our television crew, the Angels have allowed so many unearned runs this year that they've already allowed more unearned runs this year than they did all of last year. Wowzers!

I'm not sure what that means; by itself, the number of unearned runs don't really tell you a whole lot about a team's fielding acumen. There's just so much noise -- you know, there are some people who think we should abolish the idea of unearned and earned runs, as the crediting of errors and hits sometimes seems capricious. I don't really find that argument persuasive (you shouldn't just abolish information because it's imperfect), but it does make a point worth noting. And some earned runs score because of indifferent defense, and one mis-timed two-out error can lead to a cavalcade of unearned runs, though the pitcher may truly be at fault for the lot of them.

No, what's disturbing to me is that so many of the errors that lead to these unearned runs seem to be errors of stupidity instead of errors of action. Physical errors are forgivable, as even the best players will make a few; this year we've seen tons of errors where guys botch routine plays, lose focus on flyballs or throws, or try to force plays where it isn't needed. Quite frankly, we look like the Royals from time to time, and this fundamental breakdown is actually a bit shocking from what heretofore has been a team well-versed in how to play the game.

However, other indicators of our defense are positive. Our team's Defensive Efficiency Record (the rate at which batted balls are turned into outs) ranks a solid tenth in the majors, so it's not like there are a lot of balls our fielders can't get to. It's just that they often mess up when they get there.

I don't think there's a real solution to this, aside from everyone getting their act together and keeping their heads in the game. We gift-wrapped two runs for the Royals last night, and against a real major league team giving away runs can lead you to your doom. Our Lads' margin of error gets smaller every day, and this is a simple and manageable improvement that can slow the waning.

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