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Un-Man the Helms
2007-05-06 22:24
by Mike Carminati

The Phils won 8-5 today behind Cole Hamels, thereby splitting their series with the Giants, but the game would not have been nearly that close if it had nor been for the brick-mitted Wes Helms. Helms had two errors: The first gave the Giants their first run in the second and led to a three-run inning and 3-2 Giant lead. The second helped the Giants tie the score 5-5 in the fifth.

Helms now projects to 31.4, that though it is not nearly a record, is among the worst in the last fifty or so years and combined with Helms' sub-par offense has been a drag on this team all year.

The most errors all time for a third baseman were recorded error-laden 19th century:

Bill Joyce1890107
Bob Ferguson1873104
Jumbo Davis188891
Joe Werrick188789
Arlie Latham188688
Billy Shindle188988
John Irwin188487
Ned Williamson188387
Charlie Hickman190086
Harry Schafer187485
Jerry McCormick188384
Pete Gilbert189184

Now, here are the worst since 1950:

Butch Hobson197843
Dick Allen196441
Pete Ward196338
Darrell Evans197536
Joel Youngblood198436
Bobby Bonilla198935
Dick Allen196735
Larry Parrish197535
Tony Perez197035
Gary Sheffield199334
Ken Boyer196334
Ray Jablonski195434
Aramis Ramirez200333
Mike Lamb200033
Todd Zeile199333
Troy Glaus200033
Bob Bailey196332
Bobby Bonilla198832
Jim Ray Hart196532
Russ Davis199832
Tony Perez196932
Wes Helms2007 (proj) 31.4
Ron Santo196131

You'll note that a number of these players (Sheffield, Perez, Bonilla, Allen) were shifted to other positions, usually first base or the outfield, later in their careers. The Phils though in their infinite wisdom chose to shift the error-prone Helms to third.

Currently, Helms has no homers and just ten RBI and a .661 OPS to go with his empty .284 average. His .661 OPS ranks just 19th among starting third baseman (min 50 ABs). Thank goodness for Kevin Kouzmanoff!

To put his poor offense in context, here is Helms' 2007 projected offensive and defensive stats compared to the average third baseman's from last season:

Avg 3B man 28.4 20.0 80.5 .279.351.469.820 14.2 246.8 25.0
Helms (proj.)31060.284.318.343.661 31.4 224.7 10.5

The problem is that the alternative at third is Abraham Nunez, who is a no-hit wonder, not to mention the only viable backup at short and second. Given that his career OPS is just .771 compared to a .820 average for all starting third basemen.

He just is not a talented enough player to start at third at the major-league level. It was a mistake on Pat Gillick's part to believe he was. At some point unless Helms picks up his offense and matches his career 2006 season—I don't expect his defensive to improve much—the Phils will have to cut their losses and let Helms and his $2.3M contract go. I hope Chris Coste is working out at third in Triple-A.

2007-05-07 09:04:51
1.   underdog
Let's see... what would the Phillies give the Dodgers for Wilson Betemit?
2007-05-07 09:28:15
2.   ziggy29
Isn't Hobson's 1978 season the last time a regular starter ever finished a season with a fielding percentage below .900? He was at .899 that year, if I recall, putting him on par with many 19th century fielders.
2007-05-07 10:02:52
3.   Vishal
did people call him butch "the butcher" hobson?

it would be a crime if they didn't.

2007-05-07 12:50:28
4.   DXMachina
3 Not so much. He was actually quite a beloved figure during his playing days in Fenway. Of course, all the Sox (even Frank Duffy) of that era were considered by the fan in the street to be practically perfect in every way. It was only later, when he managed the team, and the fans discovered that he'd been getting Fed Ex packages full of cocaine that the bloom finally came off the rose.
2007-05-07 12:56:35
5.   ziggy29
I've looked at this a bit more. There have been other regular 3Bs who have fielded below .900 at 3B.

Gary Sheffield fielded .899 at 3B in 1993 in 133 games at the position (Hobson also played 133 games at 3B) since Hobson.

Also, Joel Youngblood of the Giants fielded .893 overall in 1984 (in 128 games or less in the field), including .884 (!!!) in 117 games at 3B. Youngblood, in fact, had a career FP of .896 in 218 games at 3B!

Hobson's 43 errors, though, stand head and shoulders above all other relatively recent players.


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