Thursday, May 3, 2012
Carroll, Span among best on defense
Span has been on a hot streak in the batter's box in the last couple weeks and he saw his 12-game hit streak come to an end last night. After some scary concussion related issues for a chunk of last year, it is good to see Span off to a quick start as he is leading the Twins in batting average through this early part of the season. The question marks surrounding Span at the beginning of the season are becoming long forgotten and he has shown he can handle being the table setter for the Twins offense.
The offensive side of things has been a little rough for Carroll and Ron Gardenhire dropped him from the number two spot in the line-up earlier this week. In the last ten games, Carroll only has five hits and he is hitting under .135 in those contests. For the season, Carroll has seen his batting average drop to near Drew Butera territory and that is never a good thing. His ability to draw walks is still a positive but teams are going to make him prove that he can hit the ball if he continues to struggle at the plate.
Span and Carroll might be on opposite ends of the offensive spectrum at this point in the season but they have both been near the top of their game on the defensive side of the ball. After the atrocious play in the middle infield last year, the Twins brought Carroll in to be a calming influence to the rest of the defense. The corner outfielders have changed around Span since last year but his solid defense remains constant in center field for the Twins.
Out of all of the outfielders in baseball, Denard Span and Alex Gordon each saved their team seven runs during the first month of the season. The closest center fielder on the list to Span was Colby Rasmus with six defensive runs saved and then it was Austin Jackson with four. The large outfield at Target Field can provide some challenges for chasing down fly balls but Span can clearly provide some run saving ability with his defense. [Click here to see some video evidence of Span saving some runs with his defense and ending the threat from the Royals.]
Luckily for the Twins, the offensive woes for Carroll have not translated to his defense on the field. Carroll doesn't have as many defensive runs saved as Span but he has still saved the Twins two runs on the year. He has only committed one error in 106 chances at shortstop and some of his plays have been very impressive. According to ESPN and Baseball Info Solutions, Carroll made 16 good fielding plays in the first month of the season and this ranked first among shortstops. [Click here to see some video evidence of Carroll saving some runs with his defense and doubling up David Ortiz.]
The defensive play of Span and Carroll has helped the Twins to rank in the top five in all of baseball in defensive runs saved so far this year. With the Twins starting pitchers continuing to give up a lot of hits, the defense behind the pitchers is going to need to stay consistent. There are plenty of problems with the Twins at this early junction of the season but the defensive play of these two players is not one of those issues.