When the Marlins acquired shortstop prospect Adeiny Hechavarria, it was his glove that they spoke so highly of. However, according to a Sun-Sentinel report citing information from Baseball Info Solutions, Hechavarria is not as solid of a defender as many thought he would be in 2013.
President of baseball operations Michael Hill was shocked by the fact that the Cuban infielder wasn't a finalist for the National League Gold Glove Award. Hechavarria wasn't given a lot of attention for a Fielding Bible Award either, and turned out to not even be on the ballot that consisted of 19 names.
"I know zone rating," Hill said. "I know range factor, and I know an above average defensive shortstop when I see one with my eyes and the numbers don't match. I wouldn't even say we're slanted because we see him every day. Ask anybody who played against us if they would take Hechavarria at shortstop."
John Dewan, regarded as one of baseball's top defensive metrics analysts, created a formula to determine defensive runs saved. The calculation " represents how many runs a player saved or cost his team compared to the average defender at his position." Hechavarria was three runs below average according to the system.
"Minus-3 is below average, but not that far below average," Baseball Info Solutions (BIS) research and development associate Joe Rosales told the Sentinel. "It's the kind of guy you don't feel you're necessarily losing that much having him out there."
The Sentinel also explained that "among 21 players who totaled 935 or more innings at the position, Hechavarria ranked second-to-last in both ultimate zone rating/150 and range runs." He is tied with Braves shortstop Andrelton Simmons with 76 good fielding plays, and Rosales believes Simmons and Hechavarria are only physically similar.
"On a physical level, [Hechavarria] matches up well with somebody like Simmons," Rosales said. "When you see him out there he does compare favorably to some of the best shortstops. His objective metrics aren't matching up and when we're able to dig through it, it looks like it's just a positioning thing."
Despite some of the negative statistics, one bright spot is when Hechavarria is fielding a ball to his left. Infield coach Perry Hill blames himself for Hechavarria's average defensive numbers.
"I guess the numbers don't lie," Hill said. "I need to do a better job getting him in the right place, bottom line. I saw a lot of good shortstops. I didn't see anyone that was any better than him."
Miami believes they have the shortstop of the future in Hechavarria. With a .227 batting average last season, Hechavarria will have to adjust at the plate and perform like the start shortstop Hill believes he is to continue playing at the major league level.
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