Marty at Across the Seams has a post on Neifi Perez’s defense. In it, he demonstrates that Perez is nothing like the best defender at his position (second or short), that Krukow, Alou and every other knucklehead would have you believe. This is not news to me, as I have derided the contract he was given (and given is the right word, as it amounted to a gift I wish I would see the likes of in my lifetime), essentially since he signed it.
He is not the best defender in the league, and as I have stated repeatedly, he’d have to have a vacuum at the end of each arm and one where his mouth is to justify 400 at-bats.
First, shortstop. Looking at guys with significant innings at the position (more than 300), Perez was behind Bill Hall, Jack Wilson, Rafael Furcal, Kaz Matsui, Wilson Delgado, and Felipe Lopez, and slightly ahead of Royce Clayton. In ZR, it’s worse, with Adam Everett, Cesar Izturis, Jose Vizcaino, Ramon Martinez, Alex Gonzalez, Wilson, Jimmy Rollins, Edgar Renteria, Delgado, Khalil Greene, Orlando Cabrera, and Craig Counsell ahead of him. Let’s try fielding percentage now. Deep breath: Larkin, Clayton, Rollins, Izturis, Cabrera, Renteria, Counsell, Garciaparra, Deivi Cruz, Wilson, Martinez, and Everett.
OK forget shortstop then. Let’s try second instead. He does much better here (300 innings minimum, which he barely makes). Neifi is first in fielding percentage, tied with Placido Polanco and Jamey Carroll. In range factor, he’s first by a wide margin over the second-place guy, Aaron Miles. It falls apart a bit in ZR, where he trails Jose Reyes, Chase Utley, Luis Castillo, Mark Grudzielanek, Matt Kata, Nick Green, Scott Hairston, D’Angelo Jimenez, Mark Loretta, Aaron Miles, Marcus Giles, Jeff Kent, Junior Spivey, Tony Womack, Alex Cora, and Todd Walker.
So there. But would he have been a better choice as a late-inning defensive replacement than Cody Ransom? Obviously. But you can’t have everything, and if Perez was bitching about sitting behind Deivi Cruz (who was only out-hitting him by about 400 OPS points), than he should have been released.