Yesterday 9-time gold glove center fielder Torii Hunter of the Los Angeles Angels moved to right field.Â Speedy minor league center fielder Peter Bourjos was called to the majors and Hunter acknowledged that the Angels outfield defense has been a “big problem.”Â [Source: USA Today]Â In last night’s game, a 6-3 Angels loss to the Baltimore Orioles, Hunter recorded an outfield assist throwing out Matt Wieters at the plate.Â [Source: ESPN]
“I can sit here and say, ‘I want 10 Gold Gloves and center field is my position,’ ” Hunter said before the Angels’ 6-3 loss to the Baltimore Orioles at Camden Yards. “Sometimes you have to slap pride in the face and all that individual stuff, Gold Gloves â€¦ that’s nothing. All I care about is winning, man. I need a ring. I’ve been to the playoffs seven times and haven’t won anything.”Â [Source: LA Times]
Hunter’s 2010 UZR (Ultimate Zone Rating) of minus 3.7 places him 16th of 21 center fielders who qualify in terms of innings played.Â He also ranks 16th of 21 qualifiers with a minus 2.5 in RngR (Range Runs).Â These are not career lows by any means but they do reflect a drop off in his performance from 2009 as compared to his peers.Â [Source: Fangraphs]
Being a Mets blog you’re probably wondering why I’m going on about the Angels and Torii Hunter.Â Well here’s the nifty tie-in.Â Carlos Beltran is a 3-time gold glove winning center fielder playing for the New York Mets.Â He missed 81 games last season due to a knee problem for which he then had surgery which caused him to miss 88 games this season.Â He currently wears a rather large brace on his knee when he plays.
Beltran has hardly played enough games to qualify for statistical comparisons to his fellow center fielders but even in a small sample the numbers may tell us something.Â His 2010 UZR is minus 2.3 which is actually an improvement over 2009 but for the 2nd consecutive year is a negative number which is something Beltran has earned only 3 times in his career.Â Similarly his RngR of minus 2.4 is an improvement over last year which was also negative but stands out compared to 2006-2008 which were all positive numbers.Â [Source: Fangraphs]
Consider that information, along with what you’ve observed of Beltran’s performance subjectively with your own eyes, then ponder this:Â Angel Pagan currently ranks 3rd of 21 qualifying center fielders in UZR with a plus 7.5 and and 6th out of 21 in RngR with a plus 3.5.Â [Source: Fangraphs]
Torii Hunter set personal goals aside and moved to right field for the good of his team.Â It’s time for Carlos Beltran to do that too.