Does Mark Teixeira prevent throwing errors?


One major difference between this season and last is the Yankees improved defense. It seems that Robinson Cano is making plays on everything near him. Derek Jeter, as we’ve discussed, is experiencing a defensive renaissance. But most importantly, the Yankees have a real first baseman in Mark Teixeira. It seems that every night he makes a spectacular play, one that his predecessor, Jason Giambi, would not make. As I’ve said more times than I can count this season, it feels great to have a real first baseman.

In discussing the infield defense, many have lauded Teixeira for his ability to scoop bad throws and prevent throwing errors. That can be huge, as it helps out pitchers and helps the team get out of innings quicker. It saves an unknown number of runs, because who knows what happens if that runner is safe and the pitcher is throwing with men on. Teixeira, we can see, is excellent at scooping balls out of the dirt. Yet for all his defensive shortcomings, Giambi was rather proficient at this, too.

Just how proficient was he? John Dewan, publisher of The Fielding Bible, takes a look. In the new volume of TFB, he discusses Defensive Misplays and Good Fielding Plays. Once of those Good Fielding Plays is scooping a ball out of the dirt, so we can see how Giambi and Teixeira rate.

The numbers are a bit skewed, because Tex plays first far more than Giambi did during his tenure in New York. Based on the numbers, Tex has scooped 22 throws in 95 games started. Last year Giambi picked 29 in 112 games started. The difference is marginal: 0.23 scoops per game for Tex, 0.26 for Giambi. So really, there’s not that much of a difference in their abilities to scoop balls out of the dirt. Then again, this data assumes a few things, and then leaves out a few things.

First, we’re assuming that they would both face the same number of opportunities per game. This might or might not be true. Over the course of a 162-game season one would think that the data would even out, but that’s not always the case. For instance, if Jeter’s range was poorer while Giambi was around, he might have a hard time getting to a ball, thereby rushing the throw and forcing a scoop. This would give more opportunities to Giambi. So while he would have a slightly larger number of scoops total, he would probably have a worse percentage.

In fact, this does leave out missed scoops, data I’m sure is available with Defensive Misplays. How many balls did Giambi fail to scoop vs. Teixeira? Even more importantly, how many times did a throw take Giambi off the bag, where Teixeira would have stayed on? These are tough questions to answer even with available data. We know Giambi wasn’t a bad scooper, but it seems that Teixeira is a bit better.

Where Tex is most proficient, of course, is fielding grounders. As Dewan notes, Tex has saved his team 18 runs over the past two years by fielding grounders, while Giambi has cost his team that many runs, a 36-run swing. That’s almost four wins right there, which is significant because it’s just one aspect of defense. I don’t think many would argue that Tex’s ability to field grounders might bring the Yanks an additional two wins over the course of the season.

Categories : Defense


  1. OmgZombies! says:

    Mark Teixeria is the Atlas that holds the Yankees defensive world together

  2. Steve S says:

    This is not something that can be documented and is very subjective. But from watching it seems like these guys have a higher level of confidence when they make their throws. Watching Arod at third (contrary to Olney) he looks the most relaxed he has been in a while. His throws always seem to be chest high and he doesnt seem to be rushing or short arming the ball like he did in other years. I dont know if its a product of Tex but considering how these guys all seem to be headcases it would seem to me that having a guy like him over there helps you out because you know the throw doesnt have to be perfect

    • Mike HC says:

      A-Rod never really had a problem. He might have the best arm at third ever. At least the best I have ever seen. I was watching the game with my family where A-Rod sailed a throw way over the first basemans head, and we were all in shock. We couldn’t remember the last time he did that. (And this is a family who falls firmly in the Jeter camp and thinks A-Rod is a major turkey, albeit one who puts up big numbers)

  3. CanoFTW says:

    This doesn’t even take into account the fact that Tex isn’t afraid to actually throw to a base. There were so many times when Giambi would have a play at home or a possible GIDP but would be too afraid to throw it and instead take the out at 1st.

    • Chris says:

      With Giambi, a runner on first could basically steal as soon as the pitcher started his motion. Even if it was a pickoff play, there was no way Giambi would make a good throw to second to get the out.

    • Kiersten says:

      Because when he did throw it, it would sail over Jeter/Posada/etc’s head.

    • Mike HC says:

      Yea, Giambi was a major liability trying to throw the ball, while Teix has one of the most accurate arms for any position. The guy can deftly loft balls perfectly over baserunners shoulders and hit Jeter right in the chest. I still thank the baseball gods for the giving the Yanks Teix. We added one of the best players in baseball.

  4. dc1874 says:

    And to think ….Cashman had planned on Swisher to play first…have to wonder about what he was thinking…

  5. Mike HC says:

    Giambi was pretty good at scooping the ball. That is one thing he had down, but as you said, there are other factors that still probably separate Teix from Giambi when it comes to scooping. The difference between an out and safe can be inches. Teix has one of the best stretches that I have ever seen and he always the sells the play expertly. Those differences may be small, but they can make a big difference in the end.

    • CanoFTW says:

      Can’t top the Mattingly stretch though…

      • Mike HC says:

        Yea, Mattingly was my favorite player before Jeter. I loved the way he played first, especially the way he set up when holding guys on first.

    • Dave M says:

      I’ve actually always thought that Giambi was pretty good at scooping throws. And isn’t too bad at fielding batted balls. He just has no range and can’t throw at all. Obviously, Tex is way better all around. Especially, range and throwing.

  6. CB says:

    Interesting note by Dewan on Tex’s proficiency in saving runs on grounders. Doesn’t correlate well with UZR for this season. By UZR Tex has been fairly bad this season.

    He’s 13th defensively amongst 1b by UZR. Tex UZR/150: -1.1

    For comparison Ryan Howard is #2 in all of baseball by UZR/150: 3.8. Even Miguel Cabrera has been much better than Tex: UZR/150: 2.0.

    So Tex has been below average and behind some players generally thought to be bad defensive players.

    By far the biggest reason by UZR Tex has been the range component where Tex is an awful -2.4. According to UZR, Chris Davis has shown better range than Tex this year.

    UZR has been made the gold standard for the quantitative assessment of defense. It’s an interesting standard.

    • Rocky Road Redemption (formerly RAB poster) says:

      I don’t believe it. I’m sorry. I’ve been trying hard to have more of an open mind toward UZR but when they start trying to convince me that Texeira, one of the best defensive first basemen I’ve ever seen (including Mattingly and Tino, has bad range, I can’t believe it. I just can’t.

      • Mike HC says:

        Maybe he plays too shallow too. Apparently, Jeter has been playing too shallow his entire career causing his UZR to decrease. Maybe Teix has the same problem. In that case, he would seemingly have great range but because he was shallow, he would not cover as much ground as if he was playing back. I don’t know how much I buy into all this, and never bought into the Jeter defense nonsense, but I do pay attention to it and there is some interesting stuff out there.

        • Chip says:

          No, Jeter was just plain bad last year at short and suddenly he’s getting to everything this year. I think UZR is pretty solid on grading shortstops but I also question how effective it is in measuring the corner infielders

          • Chris says:

            No, Jeter was just plain bad last year at short

            Actually, he wasn’t. He started showing defensive improvements last year and has continued this year. It was before last year that he was bad.

          • CB says:

            By UZR Jeter was almost exactly league average at SS last year. So it’s not sudden at all if you think UZR is “pretty solid.”

        • Rocky Road Redemption (formerly RAB poster) says:

          I know there is. I’ve had UZR quoted at me a lot and I’ve tried very hard to have an open mind about it lately. But I just don’t believe that Tex (and Cano) have bad range. I don’t.

        • Dwnflfan says:

          IMHO the biggest reason Jeter is suddenly a solid defensive SS is the absence of Joe Torre. Torre rarely adjusted his defense and it appears to be the one baseball skill Jeter lacked. Girardi comes along and suddenly Jeter goes from way below average to average to above average?

          Coincidence? I think not.

      • But UZR is not a raw production stat, it’s an intensity stat.

        Saying that he has a negative UZR does not mean he has bad range. It means he has sub-average range. The reason that Tex has a negative UZR is probably nothing more than the fact that the league has improved at 1B.

        There’s fewer innings played at 1B this year by guys like Giambi and Carlos Delgado and Mike Jacobs; some of the poorer 1B’s have slimmed down, refocused on their defense and made great strides, like Miggy Cabrera and Ryan Howard.

        Tex having a negative UZR is likely a combo of him being slightly, slightly worse this year AND there being fewer bad 1B in the league this year. That, and sample size issues.

        Just a hunch.

        • A.D. says:

          They should have some type of absolute number such as they have with everything on offense, so one can see where they’re ranking absolute-wise (even if its only at a relative level). To be able to better gauge an individual defenders performance relative to himself over the years.

          • I’ve been looking for where I can find the UZR baselines (in terms of how many raw runs the “average”, i.e. the 0.0 UZR player saves or allows in a season) and I can’t find it.

            All I’ve got for you is this. Per Fangraphs, in 2008, the 0.0 UZR first basemen (min 50 innings played) were:

            Paul LoDuca 119.0 inn, 7.2 RF/G (Range Factor/game)
            Javier Valentin 81.2 inn, 7.2 RF/G
            Eric Hinske 87.0 inn, 7.8 RF/G

            In 2009, the 0.0 UZR first basemen are:
            Albert Pujols 913 inn, 10.4 RF/G
            Josh Whitesell 208.1 inn, 8.4 RF/G

            I think the league has improved and thus made Tex’s great defense less extraordinary.

            • CB says:

              But that’s not what Dewan’s data suggests at all. His data doesn’t suggest the league is catching up to Tex nor does it suggest that the league is systematically getting better.

              So this could be a problem with UZR.

              • What is the Dewan data that you’re speaking of? Link?

                • CB says:

                  John Dewan. The guy whose work is the source of the fielding bible.

                  He’s also the guy whose analysis Joe is referring to in this blog post:


                • That Dewan data does not address at all the point I’m making about the league play at 1B improving from 2008 to 2009.

                  It talks about scoops and compares Tex directly to Giambi. Nothing more.

                  Unless I missed it.

                • CB says:

                  “The true difference between Gold Glover Mark Teixeira and Jason Giambi is in handling grounders. In the last two years Teixeira has saved his teams 18 runs fielding grounders, while Giambi has cost his team 18, a 36-run difference in Defensive Runs Saved. (Defensive Runs Saved is a statistic developed in The Fielding Bible—Volume II.) ”

                  Defensive runs saved is compared to the average performance.

                  The entire basis for the Fielding Bible Work take “average” defensive performance as it’s normative standard.

                  When the fielding bible says you are +18 plays or so it is compared to average.

                  So compared to average in the Fielding Bible perspective, the league isn’t getting better compared to Tex.

                  So the argument about “intensity stats” and “sub-average” still being good doesn’t hold at all.

                • No, none of that refutes what I’m talking about. None of that speaks to the “average performance” being unchangeable.

                • CB says:

                  Average is always changeable. No one is arguing that.

                  But that is the whole motivation for normative statistics.

                  There is nothing special in this. They are used in statistics all of the time.

                  It’s a crude way of “controlling” for changes in performance.

                  But if the average performance has changed it should affect both the Fielding Bible and UZR.

                  However, by UZR Tex is now below average. By the fielding bible he is still above average.

                  That’s a problem with one or both of the modes of measurement.

                  The average can change. But both UZR and the Fielding Bible are saying that we are taking that change in average into account. Both do.

                  But they disagree on what the level of Tex’s performance.

                  And this isn’t something new. Fielding bible often has Tex as a much better fielder than UZR does.

                  It’s an artifact of the metric. Not the performance.

        • And, immediately after writing that, I search for articles and find this, meaning I could have saved my breath.

          Sure, many of us know and understand that a +5 UZR means five runs better than the average player at that position, but grasping that the data is relative should force us to ask a secondary question upon glancing at a player’s results: did the league itself get better?

          For instance, if a player turned 50% of the balls hit his way in a particular zone into outs in Year #1, when the league converted 40%, and then held stagnant at 50% in Year #2, when the league increased its conversion rate to 50%, the player didn’t change but his UZR would decrease. His actual overall ability to convert outs in that zone did not erode in any way, shape or form, per se, but his skills no longer looked as shiny because the talent level of the league at this specific position increased.

          I like to refer to this as The Jimmy Rollins Conundrum, when his UZR marks hovered right around the league average in 2002 and 2005 despite playing a very, very solid shortstop. It could very well be that the eyes of myself and many other Phillies fans deceived us, with our scouting overrating Rollins’ fielding, but it seems that very few ever wonder if the fluctuations for a player in a given season are direct results of an improved league. Looking at Rollins in 2005, it is a bit tough to tell why the UZR fell to 0.8 from 4-5 runs above average the previous two years, before increasing to 6-7 runs over the next two seasons.

          His double play runs were down as were his runs prevented by not making errors, but his overall number of errors in opportunities were consistent with the sandwiching seasons. Add in that his range was identical and that he would revert back to previously established norms in the double play and error runs departments and it stands to reason that perhaps one major reason for the lower UZR dealt with shortstops across the league improving in this area. I’m not suggesting this is the only reason, as we have seen fielders have down years before for one reason or another, but rather shedding light on a question we should be asking when looking at these numbers.

          SO, moral of the story: don’t always assume that an increase or decrease in UZR is solely on the player, as the skill level of the league may have something to do with fluctuations as well.

          • Rocky Road Redemption (formerly RAB poster) says:

            Tex is better than the majority of the league at first.

            He will definitely win the goold glove this year, and Cano should.

            • Rocky Road Redemption (formerly RAB poster) says:


            • “Tex is better than the majority of the league at first. He will definitely win the gold glove this year…”

              To win the gold glove shouldn’t he be, like, the best, instead of “better than the majority?”

              • Rocky Road Redemption (formerly RAB poster) says:


                • I’m sorry… But what does “NL” mean, in this context?

                • Rocky Road Redemption (formerly RAB poster) says:

                  It means that some of the better 1b could have been in the NL and therefore not competing with Tex for the gold glove anyway.

                • Ok. You said he’s “better than the majority of the league.” I figured that meant the majority of the AL, since the Yanks are in the AL and the Gold Glove Award is a league-specific award. The NL is completely irrelevant to this discussion. So you meant “better than the majority of MLB,” not “the league.” Still a poor argument for why he deserves the Gold Glove, but at least it’s more clear now.

              • Rocky Road Redemption (formerly RAB poster) says:

                Not to mention better than the majority is just a blanket statement meaning that IF anybody is better than it’s certainly not by much.

                • Ok… That might have been what you meant, but it’s not what you said. If he’s “better than the majority,” that could mean he’s the 6th or 7th best first baseman in the league, and any of the guys ahead of him could be much better. Thus, being “better than the majority” is certainly is not a good reason to say he’ll “definitely” win the Gold Glove. I get your intended point, now that you’ve clarified it, but that’s not what you said in the comment I responded to.

          • Mike HC says:

            If you are not improving every year, you are getting worse. The more you stay the same, the worse you get. That is pretty standard stuff.

            • No, not true.

              That’s probably the biggest reason why people quibble with UZR. Not understanding how intensity stats based on non-fixed averages work.

              • Mike HC says:

                It is really not that hard. It is calculated from a moving average based on the actual performance of everyone in the league for that year. It is not based on some arbitrary opinion of what average should be.

                The problem is that most people like to base whether a player is getting better or worse based on their own personal performance. You know the saying, don’t worry about other people, just worry about yourself. Just improve yourself. UZR measures a player compared to the rest of the league, so a guy can actually improve, but still get worse compared to the rest of the league.

                It would be the equivalent of measuring batting average by looking at the league average instead of just the actual number. Jeter would be considered worse if he hit .300 and the league average was .290, rather than if he hit .290 but the league average was .260. Most people would say he was better when he averaged .300, but others might say he was comparatively better when he hit .290

        • CB says:

          That doesn’t really matter because all players are being compared to the same standard – the “average.”

          As long as you are using one normative standard the marginal differentials shouldn’t change.

          So if the league has gotten better because of attrition then Tex should also improve in lockstep.

          If other players like Cabrera and Howard are getting better differentially to Tex, then Tex is in fact getting worse.

          That’s the way many sabermetric stats are calculated. Same for WAR. They are all normativley comparative.

          If the normative standard gets better but you don’t, then you are definitely getting worse.

          On the flip side, rather than come up with a complicated explanation which assumes the rest of the league is getting better,ec. you could conclude that UZR may not be reflecting Tex’s defenisve value in a valid way.

          • Rocky Road Redemption (formerly RAB poster) says:



          • Yes, but CB, what I’m talking about is cognitive dissonance.

            People who criticize UZR for being flawed because Mark Teixeira, a good defender, has a negative UZR rating are criticizing UZR because they are equating “subaverage” with “bad”. Those concepts are not entirely equitable.

            If I am a millionaire and my two best friends work at McDonalds, I’m rich and above average. If I move to a gated community and all of a sudden my two best friends are now billionaires, I’m now below average.

            But I’m still just as rich as I was before.

            Year to year fluctuations in UZR don’t mean the system is flawed, it means we need to remember that the stat measures relative difference to a NON-FIXED standard of average, a standard that is subject to a rising and falling tide lifting or lowering all boats. Good defenders can often have slightly negative UZRs and bad defenders can often have slightly positive UZRs.

            The only time those UZR numbers can safely be said to proclaim a player unequivocally “good” or “bad” is when that player posts STRONGLY positive or negative numbers over large stretches of time.

            • Tom Zig says:

              Oh if only all the UZR detractors could read this.

            • Rocky Road Redemption (formerly RAB poster) says:

              But Tex is NOT subaverage. He is very above average.

              • No, this year, in this sample of plays, he’s not.

                He’s not an above average first baseman this year, because he’s having a down year (for his standards) and other guys are playing better.

                He’s good and yet subaverage. This should not be a hard concept to grasp.

                • Rocky Road Redemption (formerly RAB poster) says:

                  That’s where I disagree. I watch Ryan Howard a lot. I see Kevin Youkilis a lot. And neither of them are as good as Tex (as good as Youk is). Howard, whatever UZR says, is not even close.

                • That’s still only 3 players. You’re claiming that Tex can’t possibly be subaverage because you watch Tex, Youkilis, and Howard (and those last two only “a lot” and not “all the time”.

                  There’s like, what, a good 60 players who have played at 1B across all 30 teams this year? And thousands of innings?

                  I’ll trust a team of people and videocameras watching and recording EVERY PLAY EVERY DAY more than your personal opinion you reached after watching Tex, Ryan Howard, and Kevin Youkilis “a lot”.

                • Rocky Road Redemption (formerly RAB poster) says:

                  “A lot” only means not as much as the Yankees. Believe me, I watch them very often, especially Howard.

                  Hey, you’re entitled to trust who you want to trust, but when people tell me Ryan Howard has more range than Mark Texeira I’ll try to keep an open mind but I watch those two all the time and it’s not even that close. Also, because I try to keep up with the Red Sox, I often watch Youkilis. Tex has more range than Youkilis as well.

                • “Believe me…”

                  Those two words are the crux of your entire argument. To paraphrase: “I saw X, and you should believe that because I say so, and you should disregard any other opinions and even data/metrics that do not say the same thing as me, again, because I say so.” You do see why that’s not very persuasive to a lot of people, right?

                • Also:

                  “…you’re entitled to trust who you want to trust, but when people tell me Ryan Howard has more range than Mark Texeira I’ll try to keep an open mind but I watch those two all the time and it’s not even that close.”

                  Those “people” who are telling you that Ryan Howard has more range than Mark Teixeira?

                  They watch both Ryan Howard and Mark Teixeira more than you do, RRR. Way more. They watch them on every single play of every single game they’ve ever played. You don’t, no matter how much you may want to.

                  Large teams of unbiased statisticians equipped with arrays of cameras recording mountains of visual data without ever taking a play off >>>>>>> you watching two guys yourself with your own eyes on TV most of the time.

                • Rocky Road Redemption (formerly RAB poster) says:

                  I told you, I’m not asking you to believe me. And I never said that they don’t watch those two players moore than I do. But I watch both enough to know that Tex is better than Howard.

                  I’m sorry, it’s just impossible for me to believe Tex is a worse defensive 1b than Howard is.

                  And asking anybody to believe me, I’m just saying that this is what I believe. You can believe what you want.

            • CB says:

              This goes against the entire concept of replacement level, however, and much of sabermetrics.

              Things like WAR, etc. are comparative statistics that depend on normative evaluation.

              In order to make sense of the defensive metrics, you have to create double standards for the way you treat them with respect offensive statistics.

      • Ok… I’m, regrettably, becoming the new DBHOF with my near daily defenses of Don Mattingly… But Teixeira is not in Mattingly’s league, defensively. Tex is great and I’m a huge fan, but come on. Tex is a good first baseman, but Mattingly was a cut above. Mattingly was in the Keith Hernandez league. Tex is very good but he’s not in that conversation.

        • Rocky Road Redemption (formerly RAB poster) says:

          Tex is in the Mattingly and Hernandez league defensively.

          This arguement especially is all relative since there were no defensive metrics when Mattigly and Hernandez played, but I’ve seen them both and Tex is right there with them. Really, what more could you do at first base? What could Mattingly do that Tex can’t?

          Everybody (including me) loves Mattingly but defensively he wasn’t unequaled.

          • Agree to disagree (strongly). I think you’d be very hard-pressed to find many people who would put Tex in the Mattingly/Hernandez class, defensively.

            • Rocky Road Redemption (formerly RAB poster) says:

              The way I look at it, 1st base isn’t one of the harder defensive positions. As far as I’m concerned Tex can do everything Mattingly and Hernandez can.

              But I’ll just agree to disagree.

              • I’m going to agree with Mondesi here. My flawed memory tells me that Mattingly >>>>> Tex.

                But this is like picking between Melyssa Ford and Esther Baxter here. You can’t really go wrong either way, but I’m picking Donnie Baseball hands down.

                • Rocky Road Redemption (formerly RAB poster) says:

                  So Ford or Baxter?

                • Thanks… I love Tex, and I think he’s been great in the field for the Yanks. But Mattingly is seen as one of the best defensive first basemen ever. In this case we, regrettably, don’t have the metrics to back that up, but memory/opinion is pretty uniform in its agreement on this matter.

                  Tex is good, but I don’t think there are many people out there who would agree he’s one of the best defensive first baseman ever (RRR excepted).

                  RRR, agree to disagree and all that… With the understanding that most of the baseball-watching world likely disagrees with you.

                • Baxter. Met them both in person, and she wins by a breast nose.

                  (NSFW, but patriotic)

                • Rocky Road Redemption (formerly RAB poster) says:

                  Best defensive first basemen ever? I’ve seen analysts on either ESPN or MLB newrok (unfortunately I can’t remember which or I’d give names) saying that Tex was better than both Donnie and Tino.

                  He was great, but best ever is, IMO, stretching it a bit. The way I look at it maybe they ARE the best ever, but 1b is (compared to other positions) such an easy spot to play that if you’re very good defensively you can play a very high level of defense at first. As in, Donnie may be one of the best ever but since it’s easier to be one of the best at first base than certain other positions you can have a lot of people in the debate for “best ever”.

                • Ugh. Dude, I never said he was the best defensive first baseman ever. I said he’s widely acknowledged to be one of the best defensive first basemen ever.

                • Rocky Road Redemption (formerly RAB poster) says:

                  And I pointed out that I’ve seen analysts on either MLB or ESPN (this would sound much better if I could produce names, unfortunately I can’t) that have made the statement that Tex is better than Mattingly.

                • And I pointed out that I’ve seen analysts on either MLB or ESPN (this would sound much better if I could produce names, unfortunately I can’t) that have made the statement that Tex is better than Mattingly.

                  That doesn’t bolster your argument too much, as the overwhelming (and I mean O. VER. WHELM. ING.) majority of the “analysis” heard on both MLB and ESPN has been horridly dumb recently.

                  Maybe you got the smart analysis that one time… but color me skeptical.

                • Rocky Road Redemption (formerly RAB poster) says:

                  Well then who exactly are the anlysts that claim Mattingly is one of the best ever?

                  I’m just saying that I don’t think it’s cut and dry, there’s a debate here.

                  Not to mention 2 of the 3 guys on Baseball Tonight picked the Yanks to go to the WS over the Red Sox. Including one Dave Winfield.

                • Rocky Road Redemption (formerly RAB poster) says:

                  Okay, I guess 2 of the 3 guys picking the Yanks for the WS doesn’t mean anything. But it is cool.

                • Well then who exactly are the anlysts that claim Mattingly is one of the best ever?

                  I won’t answer that, because I never made the claim that he was one of the best ever. That was Mondesi.

                  And I prefaced my statements by saying that “my flawed memory” says that Mattingly was better. I’m not claiming any monopoly on accuracy on that statement. I just said it’s a personal judgement call and I admit it may well be wrong.

                  Just like Baxter v. Ford. Speaking of which, the loyal opposition party:

                  (also NSFW and also patriotic)

                • “And I pointed out that I’ve seen analysts on either MLB or ESPN (this would sound much better if I could produce names, unfortunately I can’t) that have made the statement that Tex is better than Mattingly.”

                  Yeah, I know you were referring to what ESPN analysts said. (And yeah, it would be better if you could produce names.) But ESPN analysts are morons and I still don’t know why you would respond to my statement that I think Mattingly is one of the best defensive first basemen ever by saying “but I heard someone else say he’s not the best first baseman ever.” It just doesn’t make much sense and it’s not a valid or relevant response to my comment. If you’re having a conversation with me respond to what I say, not what John Kruk says.

                  “Well then who exactly are the anlysts that claim Mattingly is one of the best ever?”

                  That’s a fair question. I will note, however, that I never pointed to particular “analysts” who would agree with the opinion that Don Mattingly is one of the best defensive first basemen ever. I said it’s a commonly-accepted opinion. And, in response… Who wouldn’t agree with that opinion? You certainly agree with it, and you’re the one arguing with me. Is it realistic to think there are informed/intelligent people out there who do not think Don Mattingly was one of the best defensive first basemen? I don’t think it is. It’s kind of just a commonly-accepted opinion. It is what it is.

                  “I’m just saying that I don’t think it’s cut and dry, there’s a debate here.”

                  No, that’s not what you’re saying. You’re saying Tex is a better defensive first baseman than Don Mattingly was.

                  The possibilities in this conversation have been exhausted. I’m done.

                • Actually, one more thing… While I think it’s an accepted fact that most people would agree that Don Mattingly was one of the best defensive first basemen ever, I’ll give a reason why I think that. As ridiculous as GG voting might be, it’s a decent barometer of what the press, and the general public, thinks about how good a fielder these guys are, right? Well, let’s look at how many GGs Mattingly won:

                  Most GGs ever at 1B:
                  1. Keith Hernandez (11) (all-time MLB and NL leader)
                  2. Don Mattingly (9) (all-time AL leader)

                  So, to answer your question more specifically, the press and the general public are the people I’m asserting think Don Mattingly is one of the best first basemen ever.

                • Rocky Road Redemption (formerly RAB poster) says:

                  “No, that’s not what you’re saying. You’re saying Tex is a better defensive first baseman than Don Mattingly was.”

                  Absolutely not. The quote was that he’s in their league defensively.

                • Fair enough, let’s go back to the source of it all. You said: “…Texeira, one of the best defensive first basemen I’ve ever seen (including Mattingly and Tino…”

                  Ok… Again, maybe there’s some… vagueness… to your words sometimes. To me, when someone says “X is one of the best I’ve seen, and that even includes Y and Z,” that means the person is making a judgment that X is better than Y and Z. If that’s not what you meant, then fine, I’ll change my interpretation of those words. Frankly, it doesn’t matter. He’s not better than Mattingly was and he’s not as good as Mattingly was.

                  If that’s what you meant, then I’ll amend the sentence you took issue with. “No, that’s not what you’re saying. You’re saying Tex is a better as good a defensive first baseman than as Don Mattingly was.” I still think that’s false, even with the edits, as I’ve been arguing all along.

                  Please, please, please, don’t respond again. This conversation couldn’t be more dead.

                • Rocky Road Redemption (formerly RAB poster) says:

                  Now I’m just trying to annoy you.

    • Chip says:

      Yeah that confuses me as well. I think the range at first is due almost completely to the positioning. I wonder if anybody out there has done a study to determine how positioning of the corner infielders can effect the outcome. For instance, is playing the lines in a close game more effective?

      I think a lot of these defensive metrics are going to be helped out by the Hit F/X system as you’ll be able to further isolate plays to certain parts of the infield (probably not as effective to the outfield unless you can account for atmospheric conditions)

      • Chase says:

        First base is 100% positioning. UZR doesnt normalize all the factors that go into playing first. Here are a few to think about:

        Whip of your pitching staff causing you to hold runners on. which also goes along with the number of left handed pitchers (Think good pick off move AKA Andy) causing you to hold to the bag longer.

        Defensive range of your second baseman will change your positioning.

        Style of play in your division. NL teams are more likely to bunt and hit an run and therefore change positioning.

        Heres my favorite. You play the shift for Ortiz completely taking half the field out of their normal positioning. Just an interesting variable that I thought of, but I’m sure this has a major effect on Tex’s range.

    • A.D. says:

      Yeah he gets nailed on rage, which has fluctuated from +9 to -4 throughout his career, which does make one wonder what causes those swings. Or is defense, something believed to be fairly study, actually just as up and down as a hitter’s batting streaks

  7. A.D. says:

    The lack of missed scoops doesn’t make any type of good comparison. But it certainly seems that Tex is doing great over there. Just his ability to throw the ball which has probably saved at least 1 over what Giambi would have done.

  8. currambayankees says:

    He!! yes. He prevents a ton of errors. The man is an awesome glove. Nice to have a great glove back at first. Not just lumbering giant with a glove.

  9. pete c. says:

    Yes Jason Giambi could dig a ball out of the dirt. Nobody that I’ve spoken to denies that, so maybe that part of the argument is a wash between the 2 players. But there’s more to the position than that. Giambi looked like he was ready to wet his pants everytime he had to throw to 2nd. And he was a statue when he had to look lively around the bag. All in all Tex is a huge upgrade and there’s no argument there.
    Hey on the next post can we talk about how many angels can dance on the head of a pin.

    • Hey on the next post can we talk about how many angels can dance on the head of a pin.

      No. Where are you going with this?

      • King of Fruitless Hypotheticals says:

        do you not like angels or pins?


        if we can sit around and talk about how much we love jeter, certainly, pete, you’ll let us sit around and talk about how much we love tex’s fielding and general 1b play, no?

        speaking of which, posada made one of espn’s spinoff stupid shows for tagging the runner with his glove and not the ball from tex’s throw home. boo :(

        it is kind of cool to watch Tex throw–did you know a first baseman can actually MOVE HIS FEET before and or during a throw? fanfrickintastic if you ask me.

        • ShuutoHeat says:

          King of Fruitless Hypotheticals says:
          August 4th, 2009 at 12:53 pm

          “it is kind of cool to watch Tex throw–did you know a first baseman can actually MOVE HIS FEET before and or during a throw? fanfrickintastic if you ask me.”

          After watching Giambi for so many years at 1B, I always thought the 1B’s feet were glued to the ground or they were wearing some super heavy cement cleats.

          But yeah as soon as I saw some of the plays Tex pulled off, I literally had an explosion in my pants.

          He seriously has some good hands.

  10. Cam says:

    Tex is certainly a better all around 1st baseman, but it was still tons of fun watching Giambi snatching the ball out of the dirt, emphatically throwing his glove hand in the air, then walking off the field staring at the ball as if to say “how dare you try and get past me. The Giambi will not have that.” Badass

  11. Jake H says:

    Tex is the man.

  12. Tom Zig says:

    Don’t forget that Giambi didn’t have confidence in his throwing arm and was very hesitant to throw to 2nd or 3rd.

    Tex has thrown to 2nd on several occasions and has even thrown to 3rd and home. Has Giambi ever done that?

  13. Simon B. says:

    I honestly think Teixeira might be the most overrated fielder in all of baseball.

    I don’t know if people just think he’s good because he comes right after the steroid-addled corpse of Giambi, but his range is subpar, and this is at the position with the lowest standard of defense.

    • Rocky Road Redemption (formerly RAB poster) says:

      Yes well we’re all debating something like that in the above comments vortex.

    • I agree to a degree. I think he’s good out there, so I disagree with you there, but I do think he’s overrated by some Yankees fans. The metrics don’t bear out his greatness this year, but all of a sudden some Yankees fans think the guy is one of the best to ever play the position. He’s good, and he’s much better than Giambi (who wasn’t all that different from tossing a rotting corpse out there with a glove), can’t we just leave it at that without overrating the guy? Good grief.

      • Rocky Road Redemption (formerly RAB poster) says:

        Does “some Yankee fans” mean me?

        Maybe it does, maybe it doesn’t, but for the rcord while I think he’s up there with some of the best first basmena I’ve ever seen I haven’t watched enough baseball to make a judgement on all time greatness.

        • Rocky Road Redemption (formerly RAB poster) says:


        • Rocky Road Redemption (formerly RAB poster) says:

          also *basemen*

        • Of course I think you’re in that group of people who overrate Tex’s defense.. My comment above wasn’t a direct attack on you in particular, but clearly, after our conversation above, it’s not a stretch to think that I think some fans overrate Tex and that I’d place you in that group.

          “while I think he’s up there with some of the best first basmena I’ve ever seen I haven’t watched enough baseball to make a judgement on all time greatness.”

          Ok… I still think you overrate him. Not sure what your hesitance to discuss “all time greatness” has to do with it.

          • Rocky Road Redemption (formerly RAB poster) says:

            “but all of a sudden some Yankees fans think the guy is one of the best to ever play the position.”

            The reason all time greatness is involved is because I haven’t watched some of the all time great defensive 1b’s like, off the topic of my head, Gehrig. But as for 1b’s I’ve seen myself, yes he’s up with some of the best.

  14. dkidd says:

    mistakenly posted this in the jeter thread:

    not to overstate the importance of coaches (cano needs larry bowa!!! etc) but i think mick kelleher has positively impacted jeter’s defense

    • Bo says:

      I’d give way much more credit to the actual 1b than a coach.

      Lets be real here. Having someone like Tex at 1b makes life easier for all the infielders.

  15. pete says:

    guys…it’s first base…just accept that its really effing hard to tell how good first basemen are defensively because unless they can’t scoop, throw, or make diving plays, they’re all pretty much the same. Who really knows who was the best between guys like hernandez, mattingly, and tex? i never saw keith or donnie play, but i watched every game of meintkeivitcz or however the fuck its spelled, and he was reputed to be amongst the best defensive first basemen ever. Personally i couldn’t tell the difference. I will say that tex is as good a throwing 1B as i’ve ever seen (a wildly useless and subjective little factoid, i know). Chances are, that might be the only thing that puts him over other first basemen. As far as pure glovesmanship goes, i would think the differences between good defensive first basemen (i would say tex is good defensively, subaverage or not) is incredibly minuscule.

    • Rocky Road Redemption (formerly RAB poster) says:

      Agreed, actually.

      That was more or less what I was trying to point out in the comment vortex from earlier.

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