Friday, January 15, 2010

The Crystal Ball '10: Cesar Izturis

To go against the grain, I was going to take a closer look at Cesar Izturis' offensive game and try to come up with something of a silver lining to the dark cloud that is Izturis' bat.

As you might expect, I came up pretty dry on that front.

One thing that is encouraging though, is that after a rash of injuries to his hamstrings over the years, Izturis seems to have regained some of his speed. 8.2% of his hits were infield hits, he stole 12 bases in 114 games and a full 33% of his bunts attempts went for hits. The wheels are back and you'd like to think that if not for an appendectimy mid-season that he he would have stolen 20 bases.

Beyond that, there is no trend that points to any noticable change in Izturis' offensive output one way or another. He is a free-swinging, light-hitting, shortstop who adds little besides decent speed to the lineup.

So it's a good thing that he is possibly the best shortstop glove in the Majors.

Only the Cards' Brendan Ryan added more WAR with their glove than Izturis. Forgetting that Derek Jeter got the award for a second, Izturis turned in Gold Glove caliber defense by any metric you want to use. In fact, over the last two seasons Izturis has posted a 12.7 UZR/150 which leads the majors, well above the next guy (Jimmy Rollins at 8.8).

Besides, these young pitchers will need a guy like Izturis behind them this year. Forget about a reliable closer, a slick-fielding shortstop will do wonders for the psyche of a young pitcher battling for wins. Expect that support from Izturis and expect some timely stolen bases but anything he does at the plate will obviously be gravy. Izturis brings considerable value with the glove but that is all.

Photo by Keith Allison and used under the Creative Commons License 2.0

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