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Dateline DRB: To Catch a Statue

It's a rainy off day, which usually means we'd post one thing and be gone with it, but we're actually using this as a cleaning day of sorts, at least in regards to the topic on hand; how poor the Rays have been defensively.

Take for instance this chart from The Hardball Times:

The Rays don't only have the lowest defensive efficiency, they sit below .660, no other team in the American League is less than .680. Being that poor effects the pitchers, poor Shawn Camp's BABIP was near .460, that's absurdly high for a groundball pitcher, it speaks to the infielders, specifically our middle infielders having no range, the opposite of say the Toronto Blue Jays...

Using RZR (Revised Zone Rating) and OOZ (Out of Zone) measures we'll compare our fielders to those of the league leaders as well as the worst in the league, hoping it's not our player, and find exactly who the offenders are.

First our ground rule:
- We were going to use the 'Dukes line' for amount of plays, but we decided instead just use the regular lineup, minus catcher because simply they don't make that many ball in play outs where range matters.

Pos. Player RZR /OOZ
1B Carlos Pena .755/20
1B Jorge Cantu .714/0
1B Ty Wigginton .548/1

Kevin Youkilis .856/13
Albert Pujols .855/39
Lyle Overbay .812/19

Mark Teixeira .755/19
Justin Morneau .751/12

Derrek Lee .675/13
Richie Sexson .662/21
Dmitri Young .642/14

2B Brendan Harris .750/0
2B Josh Wilson .870/5
2B B.J. Upton .783/13
2B Ty Wigginton .780/7

Mark Ellis .905/30
Chase Utley .883/40
Brandon Phillips .880/33

Craig Biggio .783/43
Dan Uggla .783/43
Josh Barfield .772/26

3B Akinori Iwamura .618/18
3B Josh Wilson .731/0
3B Brendan Harris .667/0
3B Ty Wigginton .643/11

Pedro Feliz .766/37
Scott Rolen .757/32
Mike Lowell .730/14

Range / Worst
Chipper Jones .628/24
Garrett Atkins .593/31
Edwin Encarnacion .586

SS Josh Wilson .625/1
SS Ben Zobrist .646/7
SS Brendan Harris .777/37

Omar Vizquel .894/30
Jose Reyes .888/29
Troy Tulowitzki .864/56

Jhonny Peralta .769/43
Derek Jeter .769/28
Hanley Ramirez .757/26

LF Carl Crawford .888/27
LF Jonny Gomes .625/3

Hideki Matsui .916/22
Shannon Stewart .892/32
Alfonso Soriano .888/28

Pat Burrell .786/13
Chris Duncan .775/21
Manny Ramirez .647/31

CF B.J. Upton .885/12
CF Rocco Baldelli .903/6
CF Elijah Dukes .830/4

Andruw Jones .944/54
Curtis Granderson .940/58
Carlos Beltran .926/46

Mike Cameron .890/38
Chris B. Young .887/47

Aaron Rowand .852/55
Bill Hall .851/39
Kenny Lofton .849/34

RF Delmon Young .861/27
RF Jonny Gomes .714/8
RF Greg Norton .500/0

Magglio Ordonez .910/23
Andre Ethier .904/29
Shane Victorino .899/50

Nick Markakis .865/30
J.D. Drew .859/19

Vladimir Guerrero .813/22
Michael Cuddyer .811/26
Jermaine Dye .805/25

Basically, we suck, at least when it comes to range. Other than Carl Crawford we have nobody in the top five of any position when it comes to RZR. So what can the Rays, or who more than likely can the team add to improve the infield defense (the outfield defense is fine as far as I'm concerned, they pass the `eye' test) well perhaps shifting Akinori Iwamura to second base and slotting Evan Longoria at third base would help, Aki's quick feet make a load of plays, but we're almost wasting his range by sticking him at third.

Otherwise a few notable free agent stoppers out there this off-season at positions we need (a la 2B/SS) include Mark Ellis (team option), Omar Vizquel (eh how about no), David Eckstein (.827), John McDonald (doesn't qualify but would be an .878 at SS, third overall),  and Kaz Matsui (.887).

Vizquel is 40, he'd provide VETERAN LEADERSHIP! But is limited offensively (less so than our current SS duo).

John McDonald isn't that great with the bat either, but he's younger (32), and it takes him away from the Blue Jays, which as we experience last series would be very beneficial to our batters.

Finally we reach David Eckstein, he's the best offensively, was a UF graduate, and you know...I was going to write something about being over hyped, but by God, did you know he's only 5'6", 170 pounds? The man is a hero! X-Factor in da house!

So long story short (see what I did there?) if we want to improve our range and offensive production from the `six', we should pursue the littlest soldier.

He may be 5'7", 170, but his heart weights a ton, and his dedication? One thousand feet tall.