Sunday, June 26, 2011

Ronny Cedeño: Frustratingly Acceptable

Within the past week, we've seen Ronny Cedeño bunt with the bases loaded and 1 out, get benched for it, then bunt again with runners at first and third with 1 out after supposedly learning his lesson. He bunted with runners on 1st and 3rd with no outs against the Reds April 17th. He's been caught stealing in 4 of 5 attempts this year. It seems like every time Ronny has an idea, it is so bad that it's not even within the realm of anything anyone could have possibly considered. His offensive numbers are also bad. He's hitting .238/.295/.333 and his OPS+ is a meager 78.

Despite his light bat and mental lapses, Ronny Cedeño, is helping the Pirates win because he has been one of the best defensive shortstops in the NL this year. Ronny's wins above replacement player (WAR) is 1.5, which puts him 5th best among NL shortstops behind José Reyes, Troy Tulowitzki, Alex González, and Stephen Drew. Not bad company, right? Broken down, his offensive WAR is 0.4 and his defensive WAR is 1.1. His dWAR ranks 2nd (tied with Tulowitzki) among NL shortstops and is tied for 4th among all NL players. His Ultimate Zone Rating (UZR) is 2.5, which is 3rd best among NL shortstops.

All of these acronyms and numbers are telling us something that's hard to notice with the naked eye: Ronny covers a lot of ground in the field at an important position, and his excellent defensive season is helping the Bucs prevent runs from scoring. The pitchers are getting a lot of (well deserved) credit this season, but the Pirate defense has played a large role in their success. The Pirate pitching staff is comprised of pitchers who require a good defense to succeed, and Ronny has been a key part of that defense.

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