Tuesday, May 24, 2011
Edwin Encarnacion's hands of stone
By David Schoenfield
Blue Jays third baseman Edwin Encarnacion had two balls hit to him Monday night. He caught a pop fly and booted a groundball ... his 11th error of the season. After Toronto scored five runs in the top of the sixth to take a 6-1 lead, John McDonald replaced E squared in the field.
What caught my attention is I didn't remember Encarnacion playing that much third base for Toronto. Sure enough, he's only started 16 games there and committed eight errors (he's also been tagged with three errors at first base in just 60 innings). His fielding percentage at third: .784. That's bad enough for a high school kid, let alone a major leaguer.
It reminded me of some other famous brick-leathered cornermen:
Toronto's Edwin Encarnacion has 11 errors this seaon: eight at third base and three at first base.
Butch Hobson, 1978 Red Sox: Red Sox fans still like to blame Hobson for throwing away (literally) the '78 division title, as he committed 43 errors for an .899 fielding percentage. Hobson played much of the year with a bad elbow, but Don Zimmer kept in the lineup. Those 43 errors are the most by a third baseman since 1938.
Pedro Guerrero, 1984 Dodgers: Guerrero was one of the most devastating hitters of the '80s, but a third baseman he was not. He did OK in '83 (.934 fielding percentage) but not so OK in '84 (.917, 16 errors in 72 games).
Joel Youngblood, 1984 Giants: Youngblood was a utility infielder/outfielder who ended up playing 117 games for the Giants at third base. He wasn't good. He made 36 errors, turned just 11 double plays and fielded .887.
Howard Johnson, 1989 Mets: HoJo was a great athlete, but not gifted with a pair of soft hands. He fielded .910 for the '89 Mets, a team that also played Gregg Jefferies at second base and Juan Samuel in center field.
Gary Sheffield, 1993 Padres/Marlins: Fielded .899 as he committed 34 errors in 133 games. He actually did decently at third in 1992, making just 16 errors and showing adequate range, but his disastrous '93 season led to a move to the outfield.
Bobby Bonilla, 1995 Mets/Orioles: Bobby Bo battled third base to a draw at various times in his career. At other times, the hot corner delivered a knockout, such as in '95, when Bonilla fielded .908 there in 70 games. Bonilla also led the league in errors three other times at third, with a career high of 35.
Russ Davis, 1998 Mariners: If I remember correctly, Davis developed a throwing problem in '98, leading to 32 errors and a .906 fielding percentage. He didn't exactly compensate with great range.
Ryan Braun, 2007 Brewers: Braun's rookie season was a rousing success at the plate but a rousing disaster in the field, as he fielded .895, with 26 errors in 112 games. He fielding runs below average from Baseball-Reference rates as -35, the worst of any third baseman in 30 years.
Man ... Russ Davis still irritates me after all these years.