Wednesday, June 13, 2007

I was wrong about being wrong about Julio Lugo

I feel as though I'm reaching into the Gerry Spence How to Argue and Win Every Time trickbag, but let's critically examine Julio Lugo's production in 2007. I won't insult anyone's argument by saying that Lugo should hit leadoff or deserve any All-Star considerations. Let's just look at the facts.

First, here's the Baseball Reference overview. Nobody expected a .215/.274/.322/.589 season to this point. Ranked by OPS, Lugo is last among AL shortstops. He is 9th when examined by the Sabermetric Runs Created. Not great, especially when adjusted for salary. He is eighth in runs scored and tied for fifth with Miguel Tejada in RBI. Ranked by the sum or runs scored and runs batted in, he ranks seventh among qualifiers (plate appearances).

Among AL shortstops he ranks fifth in fielding percentage (.969), eighth in range factor (PO and Assists divided by innings), and eighth in zone rating (The percentage of balls fielded by a player in his typical defensive "zone," as measured by STATS, Inc.).

Of course, we all play the 'what have you done for me lately' game, too. And lately, Lugo has failed in a game marked by failure, with his last seven reading .125/.160/.292/.452. To paraphrase the former Tampa Bay Buccaneers' coach John McKay, when asked about his team's execution, he replied "I'm in favor of it."

The Red Sox have struggled to find a superior offensive shortstop since the departure of Nomar Garciaparra. Orlando Cabrera turned out not to be too expensive, Edgar Renteria too timid, Hanley Ramirez turned into Josh Beckett and Mike Lowell, and David Eckstein just became himself.

Let's not totally ignore reality, however, as Garciaparra is .272/.316/.322/.638 at a corner position, with one home run and twelve fewer combined runs scored and RBI than Lugo, with one home run.

During the off-season, I wondered what was the attraction about Lugo mania. During the season, I've become more ambivalent, and having analyzed Lugo's contribution, I'm more frustrated than upset. Like many players in baseball, Lugo doesn't have to reinvent himself, he just has to return to 'normal'. Let's hope that he starts putting it together.

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