Saturday, November 29, 2008

Strikeouts in Relief

If you look at the list of strikeouts per nine innings by pitchers throwing 50 or more innings in 2008, relievers occupy the top nine spots. Only three full-time starters show up in the top thirty. Relievers these days usually only have to pitch an inning in an outing so it's easier for them to try and blow away hitters, plus only seeing a batter once per game means the hitter has no time to adjust to what the reliever is throwing.

Whatever the reason for all the whiffing, Carlos Marmol led all MLB relievers last season with 114 strikeouts. Joel Hanrahan was second with 93, while Brad Lidge, Octavio Dotel, and J.P. Howell rounded out the top five with 92. Marmol's season total is definitely impressive, not only because he outpaced everyone by twenty, but also because it's the most relief strikeouts since 2004. His total isn't anywhere near the record for most strikeouts in relief, however.

A pitcher has reached 120 strikeouts in relief in a single season thirty-six times. Some of those pitchers, like Mike Marshall or Goose Gossage, got there by throwing a ton of innings in relief. Some pitchers, like Billy Wagner, got there by striking out a ton of batters per nine innings. The rest were obviously a healthy mix of those two extremes. Whatever method got them there, the list of pitchers is below:

Most Strikeouts as a Reliever in a Season
  1. Dick Radatz, 1964 Red Sox, 181
  2. Mark Eichhorn, 1986 Blue Jays, 166
  3. Dick Radatz, 1963 Red Sox, 162
  4. Brad Lidge, 2004 Astros, 157
  5. Dick Selma, 1970 Phillies, 153
  6. Goose Gossage, 1977 Pirates, 151
  7. Dick Radatz, 1962 Red Sox, 144
  8. Mike Marshall, 1974 Dodgers, 143
  9. Rob Dibble, 1989 Reds, 141
  10. Eric Gagne, 2003 Dodgers, 137
  11. Jim Kern, 1979 Rangers, 136
  12. Rob Dibble, 1990 Reds, 136
  13. John Hiller, 1974 Tigers, 136
  14. Duane Ward, 1991 Blue Jays, 132
  15. Goose Gossage, 1975 White Sox, 130
  16. Mariano Rivera, 1996 Yankees, 130
  17. Bruce Sutter, 1977 Cubs, 129
  18. Mark Davis, 1985 Giants, 128
  19. Tom Henke, 1987 Blue Jays, 128
  20. Armando Benitez, 1999 Mets, 128
  21. Octavio Dotel, 2001 Astros, 128
  22. Scott Garrelts, 1987 Giants, 127
  23. Lance McCullers, 1987 Padres, 126
  24. John Hiller, 1973 Tigers, 124
  25. Mike Marshall, 1973 Expos, 124
  26. Rob Dibble, 1991 Reds, 124
  27. Billy Wagner, 1999 Astros, 124
  28. Mitch Williams, 1987 Rangers, 123
  29. Keith Foulke, 1999 White Sox, 123
  30. Francisco Rodriguez, 2004 Angels, 123
  31. Goose Gossage, 1978 Yankees, 122
  32. Duane Ward, 1989 Blue Jays, 122
  33. Octavio Dotel, 2004 Astros/A's, 122
  34. B.J. Ryan, 2004 Orioles, 122
  35. Dick Radatz, 1965 Red Sox, 121
  36. Mark Littell, 1978 Cardinals, 120
Octavio Dotel in 2001 also made 4 starts, Mark Littell made 2 starts in 1978, and Mark Davis and Mitch Williams each made one start in their seasons. The strikeouts they recorded in those starts were not included when making the list.

Students of baseball history may recognize the significance of the season behind Mike Marshall's highest appearance on the list. That was the year he pitched 208 1/3 innings over a major league record 106 games. He only struck out six batters per nine innings, but the sheer number of innings pitched allowed him to rack up K's. Meanwhile, Eric Gagne, Billy Wagner, and Brad Lidge made up for pitching fewer innings by striking out just under fifteen batters per nine innings.

And now for something completely different: students of ridiculous baseball videos may recognize Mark Littell, also known as the guy who enjoys proving athletic supporters work.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Branching Out

I don't know how much press it's gotten around the country, but the Pittsburgh Pirates have been up to some interesting things so far this offseason. I'm not talking surprising trades or crafty major league signings, but I am talking about player acquisition.

Most fans know that players sign their first contracts through one of two ways: if a player lives in the United States, Puerto Rico, or Canada, he very often breaks into the minor leagues by being drafted in the June MLB draft. Players living elsewhere in the world are less constrained in their choice of teams. They are allowed to sign with whatever team sees fit to offer them a contract.

This is where the Pirates come in. Looking to establish a presence in areas that are usually passed over by major league organizations, Pittsburgh has signed players from a couple surprising regions of the world. At the beginning of November, news came out that the Pirates had signed a South African infielder named Mpho Ngoepe. There has never been an African-born major league player, so Ngoepe is seeking to make history. Next year he will play for the South African team in the World Baseball Classic before making his debut in the Pirates system.

Ngoepe isn't the only foreign signing for the Pirates this month. Earlier this week the news came out that Indian-born pitchers Rinku Singh and Dinesh Patel signed with Pittsburgh. For those unfamiliar with their story, Singh and Patel were winners of the "Million Dollar Arm contest," a promotion aimed at finding people who could throw the most pitches 85mph or faster for strikes. After winning, they came to the United States to work out for major league teams. Though very raw in terms of baseball knowledge (they'd never picked up a baseball until last year), they've drawn rave reviews from scouts, coaches, and players. If you're interested in following them more closely, they have a blog chronicling their experiences in the United States.

Though Ngoepe, Singh, and Patel are longshots at best to suit up in a Pittsburgh uniform, it's neat to see teams branch out to new places for talent. Even if the first signings don't pay off, it's never a bad idea to get in on the ground floor in different regions (especially if those regions are home to a billion people). Either way, the low levels of the Pirates system should be interesting to follow next year.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

AAA Errors by Position

I've already posted about AAA errors before, but now I've broken them down position-by-position. Most of the time when you see a leaderboard it's for a good thing, like hitting a bunch home runs or striking out hitters. I like dubious records, though, and guys who clutter the bottom of the list of players who qualify for certain titles. Players like the seven hitters who qualified for the batting title in 2008 with an OBP under .300. It's with that in mind that my fielding percentage "leaderboard" really looks at the qualifiers from the bottom up. Call me crazy, but numbers in the .940's are more interesting to me than a bunch in the .980's and .990's.

I was going to try and make it easier to navigate the mess of tables I have below, but after a year I still haven't figured this Blogger out completely. All that means is this has become a really long post without convenient breaks. Just think of it as all the reading you didn't get from me last week all at once. The tables and abbreviations therein should be pretty self-explanatory. I've decided to use total chances to make a cutoff for the fielding percentage board because I think it makes more sense than games played even if choosing the cutoff is sometimes tough.

Now that
that's taken care of, let's get started:

AAA Pitchers Sorted By Most Errors
Damian MossRichmondATL358.771
John ParrishSyracuseTOR227.682
Casey DaigleRochesterMIN176.647
Brian SlocumBuffaloCLE176.647
Jeff MarquezScranton/Wilkes-BarreNYY295.828
Matt WrightOmahaKCR325.844
9 tied with


AAA Pitchers Sorted By Lowest FPct. (minimum 20 total chances)
John Parrish
Damian Moss
Matt DeSalvo
Jeff Marquez
Matt Wright
Jack Cassel
Round Rock
Ron Chiavacci
2 Teams
Chris Lambert
Erick Threets
Esmerling Vasquez
Jeff Harris
INT Pitchers

PCL Pitchers

AAA Pitchers


Fielding is apparently optional for AAA pitchers. Damian Moss is at least kind of respectable atop the error table since he had a fair number of chances to commit errors. I'm not sure what Daigle and Slocum could really say to explain their defense. A surprising number of the pitchers on each board have made it to the majors: Marquez and Wright are the only ones who haven't on the top board. Chiavacci and Vasquez are the only other career minor leaguers on the other list. It was tough deciding the minimum number of chances for the fielding percentage board. Too many and you cut out guys like Parrish and Marquez, too few and you get guys who booted a couple plays out of the few they tried. I thought twenty was a good compromise.

AAA Catchers

AAA Catchers Sorted By Most Errors
Jason JaramilloLehigh ValleyPHI100816.984
Mike DiFeliceDurhamTBR55512.978
Caleb StewartScranton/Wilkes-BarreNYY70010.986
Landon PowellSacramentoOAK7009.987
Rob JohnsonTacomaSEA6519.986
Clint SammonsRichmondATL6359.986
Bryan AndersonMemphisSTL5718.986
Dusty BrownPawtucketBOS5338.985
Vinny RottinoNashvilleMIL7677.991
Ryan BuddeSalt LakeLAA2927.971
Hector GimenezDurhamTBR2097.967

AAA Catchers Sorted By Lowest FPct. (minimum 400 total chances)
Mike DiFeliceDurhamTBR55512.978
Jason JaramilloLehigh ValleyPHI100816.984
Dusty BrownPawtucketBOS5338.985
Dane SardinhaToledoDET4166.986
Caleb StewartScranton/Wilkes-BarreNYY70010.986
Clint SammonsRichmondATL6359.986
Bryan AndersonMemphisSTL5718.986
Chris GimenezBuffaloCLE4336.986
Rob JohnsonTacomaSEA6519.986
Landon PowellSacramentoOAK7009.987
INT Catchers

PCL Catchers

AAA Catchers


Jason Jaramillo was really durable last season. He caught over 100 more innings than Vinny Rottino, the runner-up in that category (976.3 to 868.7). Not coincidentally, he was the only catcher with more than 800 total chances in the field. All those chances meant more opportunities for errors, so that's why he's atop the first list. Aging MLB veteran Mike DiFelice struggled with the glove in Durham. By virtue of leading the PCL in innings caught, Rottino's seven errors as a catcher resulted in a fielding percentage still a hair above average.

AAA First Basemen

AAA 1B Sorted By Most Errors
Joe KoshanskyColorado SpringsCOL112811.990
Josh WhitesellTucsonARI97911.989
Brad EldredCharlotteCHW73410.986
Randy RuizRochesterMIN37210.973
Chris RichardNorfolkBAL10599.992
Brian MyrowPortlandSDP7499.988
Michael CostanzoDurhamTBR3119.971
Jordan BrownBuffaloCLE7608.989
7 tied with


AAA 1B Sorted By Lowest FPct. (minimum 500 total chances)
Brad EldredCharlotteCHW73410.986
Barbaro CanizaresRichmondATL5497.987
Garrett JonesRochesterMIN5707.988
Brian MyrowPortlandSDP7499.988
Josh WhitesellTucsonARI97911.989
Craig Wilson2 Teams2 Teams5686.989
Jordan BrownBuffaloCLE7608.989
Scott ThormanRichmondATL5986.990
Joe KoshanskyColorado SpringsCOL112811.990
Oscar SalazarNorfolkBAL7397.991
John LindsayLas VegasLAD7737.991




Koshansky and Richard were two of three players to have 1000 or more total chances at first base last year. The other was Josh Phelps, one of the seven players tied with seven errors. Costanzo and Ruiz are head and shoulders above (feet and ankles below?) the rest with their abysmal fielding percentage, but mercifully they didn't spend enough time at first to make it into both tables.

AAA Second Basemen

AAA 2B Sorted By Most Errors
Matt AntonelliPortlandSDP56913.977
Andy Cannizaro2 Teams2Tm21512.944
Elliot JohnsonDurhamTBR32212.963
Danny Richar2 Teams2Tm30812.961
Andrew BeattieAlbuquerqueFLA50211.978
Jarrett HoffpauirMemphisSTL47011.977
Kevin Howard2 Teams2Tm22011.950
Bobby ScalesIowaCHC31710.968
5 tied with


AAA 2B Sorted By Lowest FPct. (minimum 250 total chances)
Danny Richar2 Teams2Tm30812.961
Elliot JohnsonDurhamTBR32212.963
Bobby ScalesIowaCHC31710.968
Diory HernandezRichmondATL2608.969
Bernie CastroScranton/Wilkes-BarreNYY3189.972
Travis DenkerFresnoSFG2968.973
Mike McCoy2 Teams2Tm2817.975
Jarrett HoffpauirMemphisSTL47011.977
Emilio Bonifacio2 Teams2Tm3909.977
Matt AntonelliPortlandSDP56913.977




There's an awful lot of movement at this position. No fewer than five of these guys plied their trade for more than one team last season. The top four on the errors table have played in the majors while Hernandez, McCoy, Scales, and Hoffpauir are the members of the fielding percentage table who haven't made it to the show.

AAA Third Basemen

AAA 3B Sorted By Most Errors
Matt TuiasosopoTacomaSEA28127.904
Neil WalkerIndianapolisPIT35819.947
Mark SaccomannoRound RockHOU20519.907
Aaron HerrBuffaloCLE16718.892
Dallas McPhersonAlbuquerqueFLA28817.941
Jamie D'AntonaTucsonARI17717.904
Ian StewartColorado SpringsCOL18616.914
Jeff BaisleySacramentoOAK24315.938
Morgan EnsbergBuffaloCLE13615.890
Joel GuzmanDurhamTBR22114.937

AAA 3B Sorted By Lowest FPct. (minimum 150 total chances)
Aaron Herr2 Teams2Tm16718.892
Matt TuiasosopoTacomaSEA28127.904
Jamie D'AntonaTucsonARI17717.904
Mark SaccomannoRound RockHOU20519.907
Ian StewartColorado SpringsCOL18616.914
Michael CostanzoNorfolkBAL18313.929
Eric DuncanScranton/Wilkes-BarreNYY15611.929
Josh FieldsCharlotteCHW16511.933
Peter CiofronePortlandSDP16811.935
Joel GuzmanDurhamTBR22114.937




This is where it starts to get interesting. Third basemen and shortstops typically commit the most errors of anyone on the diamond and AAA this season is no different. Tuiasosopo led all AAA players with 27 errors committed and easily outpaced his comrades at the hot corner. Curiously, minor league veteran Aaron Herr spent all his time with the Indians at third base and all his time with the Reds at second base. It's an interesting coincidence that Joel Guzman is tenth on each list.

AAA Shortstops

AAA SS Sorted By Most Errors
Andres BlancoIowaCHC37722.942
Jesus MerchanTucsonARI49321.957
Mike Rouse2 Teams2Tm45720.956
Brent LillibridgeRichmondATL40219.953
Brett DowdyPortlandSDP36916.957
Gregorio PetitSacramentoOAK33416.952
Brandon WoodSalt LakeLAA24416.934
Fernando CortezCharlotteCHW40515.963
Oswaldo NavarroTacomaSEA34815.957
Sergio SantosRochesterMIN26215.943

AAA SS Sorted By Lowest FPct. (minimum 250 total chances)
Andres BlancoIowaCHC37722.942
Sergio SantosRochesterMIN26215.943
Nick GreenScranton/Wilkes-BarreNYY25213.948
Gregorio PetitSacramentoOAK33416.952
Brent LillibridgeRichmondATL40219.953
Jorge Velandia2 Teams2Tm25712.953
Mike Rouse2 Teams2Tm45720.956
Brett Dowdy
Salt LakeLAA36916.957
Oswaldo NavarroCharlotteCHW34815.957
Danny Sandoval2 Teams2Tm25811.957
Jesus MerchanTucsonARI49321.957




Tuiasosopo aside, shortstop is where the errors are. Ex-Royal Andres Blanco struggled with the glove at Iowa, showing up in the top spot on both lists. Even though he's tied for eighth in total errors, Fernando Cortez actually had a higher than average fielding percentage for an International League shortstop. It's hard to be disappointed with that. Careful observers might have noticed Atlanta players in the fielding percentage leaderboard at each infield position besides third base. The Yankees AAA club's infielders struggled on defense as well.

AAA Outfielders

AAA OF Sorted By Most Errors
Luis TerreroNorfolkBAL20713.937
Brendan KatinNashvilleMIL13610.926
Jai MillerAlbuquerqueFLA2349.962
Tommy Murphy2 Teams2Tm2558.969
Brent ClevlenToledoDET2448.967
Chris RobersonNorfolkBAL2217.976
Brandon WatsonLehigh ValleyPHI2157.965
Felix PieIowaCHC1677.964
7 tied with


AAA OF Sorted By Lowest FPct. (minimum 200 total chances
Luis TerreroNorfolkBAL20713.937
Jai MillerAlbuquerqueFLA2349.962
Brandon WatsonLehigh ValleyPHI2017.965
Brent ClevlenToledoDET2448.967
Tommy Murphy2 Teams2Tm2558.969
Chris LubanskiOmahaKCR2156.972
Tony Gwynn Jr.NashvilleMIL2216.973
Xavier PaulLas VegasLAD2416.975
Chris RobersonNorfolkBAL2867.976
Christopher FreyColorado SpringsCOL2245.978




Finally, we turn to the outfielders. While each position has its own intricacies, when it comes to outfield errors they're all the same: catch the ball, hit the cutoff man, no error. Apparently even those simple ideas are challenging for some players. I hope for the sake of the guys on these lists that they can blame a strong arm for these errors rather than trouble keeping the ball in their glove. Whatever his defensive issues are, Luis Terrero really blows away everyone else in the worst fielding percentage contest. Brendan Katin was saved from that indignity by lack of playing time.

So that's the errors situation at each position in AAA. Some guys make the list because they played a lot more than anyone else and some make the list because they're just not very good on defense. Whatever the reason each individual player has for appearing here, all of them collectively provide helpful context when looking at error totals for your favorite International League or Pacific Coast League player.

Monday, November 17, 2008

CS% in the Minors

A catcher has a lot of responsibility during a game. He has to know the scouting report for each opposing hitter, he has to use those reports to call pitches and then frame those pitches if they're on the edge of the plate. A catcher has to be ready to block a pitch in the dirt or jump up and catch a pitch headed for the backstop. He has to hop out of their stance to go after pop ups and bunts close to the plate. He's got to keep his pitcher calm on the mound and avoid the batter's bat only inches from his hand. With all that going on, no wonder teams figure any offense from their catcher is a bonus.

There's one more thing catchers have to be ready for behind the plate. If a runner is on base, a catcher has to be ready to come up throwing to try and foil a steal attempt. Since this is one of the easiest things to quantify when it comes to catcher defense, it gets a lot of attention. Regardless of other defensive skills, if a catcher throws out 40% of would-be basestealers, people sing his praises. But if a catcher dips down below 20%, he turns into a liability behind the plate. Take Jason Kendall, for example. He draws rave reviews from the pitchers he's handled over the years, but after a terrible 2007 (111 SB allowed, 20 CS) a lot of folks thought his arm was too much of a liability on defense. Combined with his anemic offense, who would want him? Now that he threw out 41 of 96 basestealers in 2008, his defense is acceptable again and it's his bat that's, as always, ridiculed.

All in all, it's still kind of fun to check out caught stealing numbers as long as you remember there's other stuff catchers bring to the table. Since there are SB and CS numbers out there for minor league catchers, it's only logical to look at how minor league catchers stack up against one another, right?

Even though there are varying season lengths in the minors, I'm going to use 50 stolen base attempts against as a minimum for everyone. There's a decent mixture of levels atop the leaderboard, so I think it works out fine.

Highest CS% in the Minors, 2008
(minimum 50 SB attempts)

1Mathew KennellyDanville
2Drew ButeraNew BritainAAMIN262650.0
3Michael McKenryModestoA+COL454047.1
4Johnny MonellAZL Giants
5Martin MaldonadoBrevard County
6Wilin RosarioCasperRCOL322745.8
7Jonathan LucroyWest Virginia
Brevard County
8Flint WipkeRancho Cucamonga
Salt Lake
9Justin KnoedlerSacramentoAAAOAK292344.2

Jordan WidemanBillingsRCIN292344.2

Lowest CS% in the Minors, 2008
(minimum 50 SB attempts)

RankNameTeamLevelMLB TeamSB
1Christopher JonesHickory
2Jameson SmithGreensboroAFLA5957.8
3Tyler BelcherGreensboroAFLA51712.1
4Ulrich SnijdersAZL Brewers
West Virginia
5Jonathan StillLancasterA+BOS761213.6
6Curtis ThigpenSyracuseAAATOR521016.1
7Shawn ZarragaAZL BrewersRMIL571116.2
8Douglas PickensMahoning Valley
Lake County
9Ronald PenaHickoryAPIT641316.9
10Devin MesoracoDaytonACIN901917.4

Catching only three of fifty-three runners isn't pretty. With Hickory, Greensboro, and West Virginia in one division, the Sally League must have been fun for speedy ballplayers. For what it's worth, Knoedler in the first list and Thigpen in the second list are the only catchers listed who have appeared in the majors.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

WHIP<=1.000, Qualified for ERA Title

By now you've no doubt heard about the large offer extended by the New York Yankees to free agent pitcher CC Sabathia. As I looked at Sabathia's 2008 stats, I noticed that he had a WHIP of 1.003 for Milwaukee as he led the Brewers to the playoffs. Sabathia made half his starts for Milwaukee and half for Cleveland. Since his WHIP for the Indians was 1.234, his 2008 WHIP wound up at 1.115, a little bit lower than his Cy Young season of 2007.

WHIP is an acronym for Walks + Hits over Innings Pitched, a way of measuring how many baserunners a pitcher allows. Obviously, the fewer baserunners a pitcher allows, the harder it is for the opposing offense to score runs. Over the past five years, the major league average WHIP is around 1.400. So Sabathia's 1.115 WHIP is very good, indeed. It's nowhere near record-setting, however.

Since 1990, eleven different pitchers have qualified for the ERA title (1 IP per team game, usually 162 IP in a season) with a WHIP of 1.000 or lower a total of twenty-two times. Since 1901, ninety-eight different pitchers did it 161 total times. It's possible to find different eras in baseball history by looking at the list. From 1901 to 1920, the deadball era, eighty of those 161 seasons were recorded. From 1921 to the start of World War II, when offense reigned, only one pitcher made the list (Carl Hubbell, 1933). The 1950's only saw two pitchers join. The so-called "Year of the Pitcher," 1968, had nine pitchers accomplish the feat. You get the idea.

It's kind of interesting that while offense in the late 1990's and 2000's increased to levels not consistently seen since the 1930's, the number of pitchers with a WHIP under 1.00 hasn't been impacted like it was back then. Presumably this has something to do with increased strikeouts; if hitters aren't putting the ball in play as much, they don't have as many chances of those balls falling in for hits, thus inflating the pitcher's WHIP.

Whatever the reason, there have been twenty-two sub-1.000 WHIP seasons since 1990. The list of names reads like a future Hall of Fame ballot, with a couple exceptions.

WHIP <= 1.000, Qualified for ERA Title (1990-2008)

Curt Schilling199259165226.10.990
Greg Maddux*199431150202.00.896
Greg Maddux*199523147209.20.811
Kevin Brown199633187233.00.944
Pedro Martinez*199767158241.10.932
Greg Maddux199720200232.20.946
Greg Maddux199845201251.00.980
Pedro Martinez*199937160213.10.923
Kevin Millwood199959168228.00.996
Pedro Martinez*200032128217.00.737
Kevin Brown200047181230.00.991
Derek Lowe200248166219.20.974
Pedro Martinez200240144199.10.923
Odalis Perez200238182222.10.990
Curt Schilling200233218259.10.968
Jason Schmidt200346152207.20.953
Ben Sheets200432201237.00.983
Johan Santana*200454156228.00.921
Randy Johnson200444177245.20.900
Pedro Martinez200547159217.00.949
Johan Santana200545180231.20.971
Johan Santana*200647186233.20.997

* - Cy Young Award winner

Pedro Martinez's 0.737 WHIP in 2000 is an all-time record. The only other pitcher to have a WHIP under 0.800 was Walter Johnson in 1913 (0.780). Addie Joss had a 0.806 WHIP in 1908, and Greg Maddux's 0.811 in 1995 is fourth all-time.

The major league WHIP leader in 2008 was Toronto's Roy Halladay. He issued 39 walks and allowed 220 hits in 246 innings, good for a 1.053 WHIP. The 2007 leader was Jake Peavy of the Padres at 1.061 (169 hits, 68 walks, 223 1/3 innings). Justin Duchscherer wound up 20 1/3 innings short of joining the list in 2008: he had a WHIP of 0.995 in 141 2/3 innings.

John Smoltz in 1996 got as close as you can get to a 1.000 WHIP without actually getting there. He allowed 199 hits and 55 walks in 253 2/3 innings. He was one out short of a 1.000 WHIP, but he had to settle for 1.001. Maybe I should've rounded?

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Errors Down on the Farm

Quick! How many major league players were charged with thirty or more errors in 2008? Give up? The answer is only one. Last year's error king was none other than Arizona Diamondbacks third baseman Mark Reynolds. He is the first player to reach 30 errors since Edgar Renteria struggled at short for the Red Sox in 2005. I wonder if the stress of his major league record 204 strikeouts followed him into the field? Second place in 2008 went to Edwin Encarnacion of the Reds with 23 errors. Four other players committed twenty or more errors: Hanley Ramirez (22), Yuniesky Betancourt (21), Jorge Cantu (20), and Joe Crede (20). You can see the full list at here.

Errors aren't a very good way to measure a player's defense. What is scored as an error by one official scorer may very well be ruled a hit by another. The ability of a first baseman to scoop balls out of the dirt or catch other wild throws can have a big impact on the error totals of his teammates. Errors alone don't tell you about a player's range. The list goes on. Of course, if you manage to make a high number of errors, chances are you're not the best on defense.

With all that said, when it comes to defense in the minor leagues, errors are what you hear about most. A minor league notes column might say something like this, "Player So-and-So committed his 27th error of the season last night," and go on to briefly talk about the player's struggles. Sometimes you'll hear about how high error totals in the minors don't mean a player will be terrible in the majors: Jimmy Rollins committed 29 errors in the Florida State League, Derek Jeter had 56 errors in 1993, Omar Vizquel reached 25 errors for the Salinas Spurs before So-and-So was born, those guys turned out pretty well, etc. Other times the player's error total will be used to suggest he'd be better off in the outfield or as a designated hitter.

What you don't often see is where Player So-and-So ranks in the league by total errors. Maybe if So-and-So is leading the league, that will be noted, but it's not usually mentioned if he's third or fourth or fifth, and so on. It's hard to look up minor league rankings for errors, too, so it's hard to get a feel for where guys fit in.

As part of my looking at minor league fielding stats from I've put together a list of players who committed the most total errors in the minors, regardless of level, league, or position. For example, Gustavo Nunez in the Tigers organization committed 7 errors as a shortstop in the Gulf Coast League, seven as a shortstop in the Florida State League, and four as a second baseman in the FSL. In my list he shows up as having committed 18 errors. Simple as pie.

It turns out that while Mark Reynolds was the only major leaguer to top thirty errors, thirty-four minor league players got there. I've listed them below. Positions are shown the way does it.

Most Total Errors Committed in the Minor Leagues in 2008

InnTotal ChancesErrors
1Ryan Adams*4/65Delmarva
2Marcus Lemon*6BakersfieldA+TEX1023.253243
3Carmen Angelini*6Charleston
4Audy Ciriaco*6West Michigan
5Daniel Mayora*64ModestoA+COL1071.058840
6Ronald Ramirez*64Tri-City
7P.J. Phillips*6/7Rancho CucamongaA+LAA1064.062938

Reynaldo Navarro*6MissoulaRARI613.040638
9Domnit Bolivar*56/4Batavia
Quad Cities

Carlos George*64AZL BrewersRMIL373.021737
11Helder Velazquez*64/5AshevilleACOL947.050236

Matthew Cline*654West Virginia
Brevard County

Steven Souza*5/6Vermont
14Brent Brewer*6/5West Virginia
Brevard County

Charlie Culberson*6Augusta
16Derrick Mitchell*4Lakewood

Lance Zawadzki*64/5Fort Wayne
San Antonio

Craig Corrado*4/5LexingtonAHOU933.039233

Burt Reynolds*5Princeton
20Elvis Andrus*6Frisco

Mat Gamel*5Huntsville

Tony Blanco*57/3Modesto
23Jonathan Greene*5/3Clinton

Jim Negrych*54Lynchburg
25Jose Coronado*6/4BinghamtonAANYM1199.064330

Nathan Samson*64Peoria

Angel Gonzalez*46/5Lynchburg

Renny Osuna*46/5Clinton

Greg Paiml*6/4Kannapolis

Ruben Tejada*6St. LucieA+NYM1099.158030

Fidel Hernandez*6Clearwater

Frank Martinez456Stockton

Pedro Baez*5/6Ogden
Great Lakes

Justin Baum*5/4Fort Wayne

It's hard to be a low-minors infielder, I guess. The two guys on the list who reached AAA were only there briefly, so I guess AA is the highest level for elevated error totals. I don't know if that's because bad defense holds players back or if players really improve their defense by the time they reach the top level of the minors. I suppose it could also be that error-prone players who reach AAA probably have a bat that begs for a mid-season call-up, limiting their opportunity to make errors in the minors.

Whatever the reason, you must have noticed everyone on the above list is an infielder. Obviously, they have more opportunities to commit errors. But what about their brethren in the outfield? Twenty minor leaguers reached double digits in errors while lumbering around out on the grass.

Most Total Errors Committed in the Minor Leagues in 2008
(outfield only)

RankNameTeamLevelMLB TeamInningsTotal ChancesErrors
1Luis TerreroNorfolkAAABAL833.020713
2Ambiorix ConcepcionBinghamtonAANYM1011.225812

D'Marcus IngramQuad CitiesASTL633.017812

Carlos PegueroHigh DesertA+SEA479.112512
5Gerardo ParraVisalia

Maiko LoyolaColumbusATBR1004.127211

Michael McBrydeSan JoseA+SFG1045.126911

Mark DolencBeloitAMIN965.122111

Maximo MendezWisconsinASEA948.021311

Michael MooneySan Jose

Shane KeoughKane CountyAOAK640.013111
12Jason PlaceLancasterA+BOS977.225010

Austin KrumCharlestonANYY1124.123810

Dominic BrownLakewoodAPHI994.123010

Moises SierraLansingATOR1112.222310

Maurice GartrellBirminghamAACHW821.118710

Ben RevereBeloitAMIN660.217510

Javis DiazLake Elsinore

Brendan KatinNashvilleAAAMIL645.113610

Tony BrownBillingsRCIN475.28510

Unlike the infielders, error-prone outfielders show up at all levels. Tony Brown's sub-.900 fielding percentage is kind of sad. I assume he must have a pretty wild arm behind all those errors. I believe Luis Terrero is the only one on this list to have played in the majors.

Here's some useless trivia: catcher Gabriel Gutierrez, a Dodgers farmhand, handled the most chances (365) in the minors last year without committing an error. The non-catcher with the most errorless chances was Jonathan Van Every of the Red Sox with 306. Blakeney Billings, the 2008 16th round pick of the Brewers, committed two errors in his only two fielding chances of 2008. It's good to see he picked up the Brewers' defensive philosophy so quickly. Ten other minor league pitchers committed an error in their only fielding chance. Finally, who says a pitcher is a fifth infielder? Scott Mueller in the Baltimore system managed to record 110 outs on mound without a single fielding chance.