Just when I did baseball’s best outfield, the best infield will be determined by four categories – OPS, Runs Created, UZR, and Fielding Percentage. Stats for the first baseman, second baseman, shortstop and third baseman were used. Catchers’ stats were not considered.
Stats were used for the player who played the most games at that position. For instance, Ian Stewart has played more games at third than Garrett Atkins for the Colorado Rockies, so Stewart’s stats were used.
Each category was worth 10 points. If a team didn’t finish in the top 10 in a particular category, that team received zero points.
Here are baseball’s best infields at the halfway point of the 2009 season…
10 – 6. Washington Nationals, Florida Marlins, Los Angeles Dodgers, Boston Red Sox, Detroit Tigers
5. Colorado Rockies – 23 points
Infield – Todd Helton, Clint Barmes, Troy Tulowitzki, Ian Stewart
OPS – Eight
RC – Six
UZR – Two
FP – Seven
Analysis – It all changed for the Rockies when they put Clint Barmes at second, Ian Stewart at third, and Troy Tulowitzki started hitting. And oh yeah, they still have some guy named Todd Helton at first base.
To nobodies surprise, the Rockies can hit with anyone as their combined .831 OPS suggests. Ian Stewart has given the Rockies a nice lift with a .794 OPS.
This is one of my favorite infields in baseball.
4 (Tie). New York Yankees – 28 points
Infield – Mark Teixeira, Robinson Cano, Derek Jeter, Alex Rodriguez
OPS – Nine
RC – Ten
UZR – Zero
FP – Eight
Analysis – The most expensive infield in baseball is also one of the best. The Yankees finished in the top three in three out of the four categories.
Newly acquired Mark Teixeira has been doing it with the bat, as well as the glove. Teixeira has a .920 OPS and has created 66.3 runs so far this season.
Teixeira has been lights out with the glove. If he wasn’t so good at scooping the ball out of the dirt, the Yankees infield would have maybe 20 more errors. I don’t think there is anyone better at scooping the ball out of the dirt at first than Teixeira.
Jeter and Cano have been steady up the middle for the Yankees. Cano has enjoyed a nice bounce year this year, after pretty much taking last year off.
I won’t talk about Rodriguez’s accomplishments because he is a cheater.
4 (Tie). Philadelphia Phillies – 28 points
Infield – Ryan Howard, Chase Utley, Jimmy Rollins, Pedro Feliz
OPS – Five
RC – Seven
UZR – Seven
FP – Nine
Analysis – The Phillies would be higher on this list if Jimmy Rollins didn’t take the first half of the season off. Can you believe that through over 80 games Rollins has only created 36.7 runs? That is mediocre at best.
While Howard and Rollins have won MVP’s, it’s Chase Utley who has been the real MVP of this group in the first half of this season.
Utley has a sweet 1.004 OPS and has created 77.4 runs this season. The 77.4 runs created is tops of the players on this list.
Pedro Feliz has been very solid defensively with a 6.2 UZR and a .975 Fielding Percentage.
1 (Tie). Tampa Bay Rays – 32 points
Infield – Carlos Pena, Ben Zobrist, Jason Bartlett, Evan Longoria
OPS – Ten
RC – Nine
UZR – Eight
FP – Five
Analysis – Like the Phillies’ outfield, I guess when you send your entire infield to the All-Star game you are going to be tops this list. Longoria, Bartlett, Zobrist, and now Pena (taking the place of Pedroia) will be packing a suitcase for St. Louis.
The real story of this group is Zobrist. Zobrist is second in the AL with a 1.012 OPS and if the season ended today, he would finish in the top three in MVP voting.
Jason Bartlett is having a career year offensively and actually has a higher OPS than Evan Longoria (.937 to .903).
The Rays have the highest infield OPS in baseball with a .943 mark.
1 (Tie). Toronto Blue Jays – 32 points
Infield – Lyle Overbay, Aaron Hill, Marco Scutaro, Scott Rolen
OPS – Seven
RC – Eight
UZR – Seven
FP – Ten
Analysis – The Blue Jays’ infield can do it all. They can get to the ball, when they get to the ball – they catch it, and they can flat out hit.
The Blue Jays have gotten career years out of Aaron Hill and Marco Scutaro. Like Zobrist of the Rays, if the season ended today, Aaron Hill would be an MVP candidate.
Scott Rolen has enjoyed a nice comeback year. Rolen has a .858 OPS and has played his usually solid third base. Rolen is fourth amongst all third baseman with a .976 Fielding Percentage.
Lyle Overbay should be more like Mark Grace, but instead he hits like Mark Davis pitched for the Kansas City Royals.
So that is all for the baseball’s best series for now. I will do a final baseball’s best series at the end of the year. It will be interesting to see if the teams who were No. 1 at the halfway point, stay No. 1 by the end of the season.
*All stats were calculated for this post before Sunday’s action.