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This is part 5 of 6 of The Yankee U’s preview of the 2010 American League Championship Series. Part 1 examined C.J. Wilson and Colby Lewis. Part 2 featured Cliff Lee and Tommy Hunter. Part 3 looked at the Texas offense, and Part 4 examined the Texas bullpen and bench.

Stephen asked me to handle this small portion of the preview, and I was glad to oblige. I looked at the Texas defense, going around the diamond in order and then looking at outfielders as well.

C: Bengie Molina
2010-2008 UZR: None
2010-2008 DRS (+/-): -1, -2, 6

Advanced metrics are fairly flawed when it comes to catchers, so we need to use simpler numbers to show that Molina had a solid year behind the plate. He caught 24 basestealers against 79 stolen bases, which is an adequate total, and allowed 4 passed balls and just 1 wild pitch to elude him all year in 113 games.

1B: Mitch Moreland
2010-2008 UZR: -.1, NA, NA
2010-2008 DRS (+/-): 0, NA, NA

Again, the advanced metrics do not help us much here, as Moreland is a rookie with too small a sample at the position to give us an adequate picture of the quality of his defense. It is instructive to note that he was replaced at the position by Chris Davis late in games down the stretch, suggesting that the Rangers see him as a liability in the field.

2B: Ian Kinsler
2010-2008 UZR: 2.1, 10.1, -5.2
2010-2008 DRS (+/-): 8, 22, -7

UZR was killing Kinsler for years, but in 2009 he suddenly turned things around and put up a stellar season in the field accoring to both UZR and DRS. I am wary about giving much weight to a single season worth of UZR, but he followed it up with another positive year in 2010, suggesting that he may have worked on his defense and has therefore become a good second baseman. I’d likely rate him as solidly above average but not spectacular, based on the numbers and my (very) amateur scouting eye.

SS: Elvis Andrus
2010-2008 UZR: 0.1, 12.1, NA
2010-2008 DRS (+/-): 0, 14, NA

Neither metric loved Andrus quite as much as they did in 2009, but I think the scouting reports and the numbers match-up here. While he is prone to an error here and there, Andrus has fantastic range and gets to balls most other shortstops do not. I would put him among the top 5 defensive shortstops in baseball without any qualms.

3B: Michael Young
2010-2008 UZR: -5.4, -7.6, -4.6
2010-2008 DRS (+/-): -12, -18, -5
Young graciously moved from SS to 3B after the 2008 season to make room for budding prospect Elvis Andrus. While the move has helped the team defensively at SS, it has done them no good at third. Young is just as bad there as he was at short, as he generally makes the play right at him but has poor range in every direction.

RF: Nelson Cruz
2010-2008 UZR: 7.7, 9.6, 2.8
2010-2008 DRS (+/-): 11, 11, 2

While scouts do not see Cruz as a spectacular defender, advanced metrics see him as one of the better right fielders in the sport. He shows good range, has a solid arm, and does not make a ton of mistakes. With a small right field in Yankee Stadium, he should have no problem covering ground in front of the short porch.

CF: Josh Hamilton
2010-2008 UZR: 1.1, 4.3, -15.4
2010-2008 DRS (+/-): 4, 9, -5

Hamilton spent most of his team playing left for the Rangers this year, but I think we will see him in CF on most nights during the ALCS. The only season in which he actually got the bulk of his time in center was 2008, and his defensive numbers were poor that year. I would consider him an adequate center fielder, but nothing more, particularly because he seems to be playing hurt. If they do move him to left field and bench David Murphy against lefty starters, Julio Borbon will see time in CF. Borbon is an excellent defensive player with spectacular range, but his arm can be run on.

LF: David Murphy
2010-2008 UZR: -2.3, 3.2, 3.5
2010-2008 DRS (+/-): 0, 2, 0

Murphy is an average to slightly above average defensive player who is not spectacular at any aspect of fielding but is solid at all. He can throw a bit, he gets to his fair share of flyballs, and he does not make many mistakes.

Conclusion

Texas is a good defensive team (6th in DEF according to BPro) that is poor at just one position, third base. They are likely adequate in CF and at 1B, and are above average at C, 2B, and LF. They also have two excellent starters in right and at short, and the backup in CF is excellent as well. I would not expect them to make a lot of defensive mistakes in the series.

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