Grading infielders is a difficult task. There’s a long list of criteria that needs to be taken into consideration before passing judgment on what players should make the cut. For instance, Mark Teixeira of the Yankees has committed only 1 error all season long. At the same time, one has to consider the fact that Teixeira is a first baseman, a position which is easier to do well in than shortstop or second baseman.
With that said, what has to be considered is a player’s overall production. If a player can keep his errors to a minimum and also give his team some production when it’s his turn to bat, he’s a definite keeper. Based on that line of thinking, these are the top five infielders in the American League.
If there’s a player whose inclusion on this list should surprise no one, Derek Jeter is that player. He’ll make his seventh consecutive All-Star appearance in 2012, his thirteenth overall. So far in 2012, the former Gold Glove winner has put together a season that’s been above average even for his standards. His .973 fielding percentage ranks him twelfth among AL shortstops, and as a team the Yankees have the third-best defense. Add in the fact that he’s hitting the ball at a solid .308, and it’s easy to see why Jeter was an easy pick for this list.
Derek Jeter isn’t the only with a ticket to this year’s All-Star Game. Teammate Robinson Cano, the Yankees’ second baseman, will be out on the field along with him. His performance this season has been nothing short of superb, with only four errors committed on 378 chances. This, combined with his strong hitting and the Yankees’ overall terrific defensive performance, is the reason that he’s among the most elite second basemen in all of baseball.
There’s a trend of Yankee infielders appearing on this list, but Teixeira was just as much of a given as anyone else. In 698 plays, Teixeira has committed exactly 1 error. History says that he’ll eventually make more mistakes, but for now, he’s been as consistent at the position as anyone would ever dare to ask for. If not for his overall weak performance hitting the ball this season, there’s a very strong chance that he’d be taking the field along with teammates Derek Jeter and Robinson Cano for the All-Star Game.
The Texas Rangers are currently sitting at 52-34. This record isn’t just the best in their division; it’s the second best record in all of Major League Baseball. A large reason for this is their power hitting, but one can’t overlook their terrific fielding, either. They’ve committed the sixth-fewest errors in the American League, and one of the anchors of their defense has been third baseman Adrian Beltre. He’s been rewarded for his strong play both at third base and in the batter’s box, as he’ll be going to his third consecutive All-Star Game this season.
Gonzalez has been the pinnacle of efficiency over the last several seasons. His play at first base has earned him All-Star selections in 2008, 2009, 2010 and 2011, along with Gold Glove awards in 2008, 2009 and 2011. As part of a Red Sox unit that places in the top five for defensive statistics this season, the only knock on Gonzalez this season is that his batting average is down this season from .338 to .283.
Few surprises here, with Jeter and Gonzalez being among the highly-decorated players to make the list. For every player on this list, there are probably three or four who could have arguably taken their spots. That’s how subjective infield positions are, and it also shows how difficult they are to play – a player could commit one big mistake and find himself out of the discussion.
This is a guest post submitted by Don Phan. Don currently writes sports content for blogs part-time and is with FANATICS Inc. full-time as a marketing associate. FANATICS is a leading retailer of licensed sports fan merchandise and boasts an immense selection of autographed baseball memorabilia and display cases.