Baseball is a sport that is set up to fail. Perfection is so rare in any facet of the game. Oh yes, I did watch on TV back in the day Don Larsen, Jim Bunning and Roy Halladay pitch perfect games. On the other hand, if you get a hit for every two outs you make at bat you would be in the Hall of Fame. The third leg of the baseball’s three legged stool is fielding and perfection is rare there too. It is truly amazing at the half way point of the minor league season the Phillies have two every day position players in Clearwater playing for the Threshers who have yet to be charge with an error this season.
I might be a little different but I like to watch good defense when I go to a game. Most baseball people believe good defense wins World Series. If this is the case the Threshers second baseman Carlos Alonso and right fielder Kelly Dugan should be on the Phillies 25 man roster right now instead of toiling in the hapless, heat and humidity of the Florida State League. You see Carlos has been perfect with no errors after 58 games and Kelly after coming off the disabled list to start the season has been perfect after40 games. No other player at their positions in the Phillies system can make such a claim.
In the first game of the second half of the FSL season Thursday night, Alonso a was at his best in the field. Carlos wound up the game with three putouts and six assists in the field. He caught a pop fly, made a routine 4-3 throw to first, turned a 6-4-3 double play, got his body in front of a hard hit ground ball that took an in between hop forcing him to knock it down to get the runner at first. His is best play was on a ball hit into the gap in right center where as the relay man in short right field he took a perfect throw from center fielder Aaron Altherr and threw a strike third baseman Harold Martinez to get the batter at third. Those plays are all Spalding Guide examples which showed why Alonso is not only the best fielding second baseman in the FSL but in the Phillies minor league system.
Kelly Dugan on the other hand ran down four fly balls in right in the same game. He has a knack for going back and coming in on line drives with ease. He has caught balls up against the right field wall and made sliding catches on line drive hit in front of him this season. The only error committed in right field by a Threshers this season was by Delmon Young who was on a rehab assignment from the Phillies at the time.
A useful measure to compare defensive effectiveness is range factor which is computed by adding together putouts and assists dividing by games played at the position. At second base Alonso (0 errors) has a range factor of 4.76 per game. Other regular second basemen’s range factors in the minor league system include Cesar Hernandez (7 errors) at AAA, 4.14 and Albert Cartwright (8 errors) at AA, with a 4.48 range factor. At the major league level Chase Utley (5 errors) has a 4.84 range factor this season.
In right-field Kelly Dugan (0 errors) is in a league of his own defensively. He has a 2.40 range factor including four outfield assists this season. This compares to several players’ range factors in the minor league system who have played right field this season: Leandro Castro (1 error) 1.78 at AAA, Steve Susdorf (1 error) 1.46 at AAA, Anthony Hewitt (2 errors) 1.72 at AA. At the major league level right fielder Delmon Young (2 errors) in 31 games has a range factor of 1.89.
Both second baseman Carlos Alonso and right-fielder Kelly Dugan are major league ready defensively after the first half of the FSL season. At the bat they are not too far away either. Alonso is hitting .276 and is third in runs scored in the league and Kelly Dugan is leading the league in hitting at .339. Only the Phillies Front Office can answer why they are still at high A ball. They have nothing left to prove in the Florida State League.