I got it folks. The beats and columnists have united in their common cause of making sure we all know that Julio Borbon sucks and David Murphy would be, could be, should be the next Robin Yount, if only that stupid Ron Washington would give him a chance.
It's been fascinating to me to watch the local megia collectively declare Borbon the worst center fielder in the history of baseball over the past six weeks. Unfortunately, he poured a little gas on the fire yesterday and now the press box's over-glorification of the virtues of David Murphy is reaching a fevered pitch.
But the denigration of Borbon's defensive value has been one of the most shockingly ignorant positions to emanate from the group-think process of the Rangers press box. Then again, I'm not sure why I should be surprised.
After all, these are the people who thought Michael Young was a great shortstop.
I won't get too deep into this, but here's the truth:
Julio Borbon is by far the Rangers' best option in center field, he was one of the best defensive center fielders in baseball last year, and when the Rangers run out an outfield of Nelson Cruz in right, Borbon in center and Josh Hamilton in left, they are giving their pitching staff the best defensive outfield in baseball. Move Hamilton to center and put Murphy in left, and that's no longer the case.
Here's a rundown of the top center fielders in baseball in 2010:
David Murphy had a -3.7 UZR in 138 games (150 plays) last year. His UZR/150 was -5.2. In left field, he posted a -2.3 UZR on 85 plays last year, which extrapolates to a -5.6 UZR/150 at that position. And god forbid they put him in center field. Over the course of his career, Murphy has a -8.1 UZR in center field. (NOTE: Every figure I cited in that paragraph was a negative).
Borbon in center (8.9 UZR / 10.5 UZR 150), Cruz in right (7.7 UZR / 10.6 UZR 150) and Hamilton in left (6.8 UZR / 13.2 UZR 150) was literally the strongest defensive outfield in baseball last year.
Hamilton's career UZR in center field is -10.4. In spite of all of the lip service the Rangers give to playing him in left to spare his body, the truth is almost certainly -- at least in part -- a recognition that Hamilton is not a defensive asset at the position (but is an asset in left).
But none of this ever gets mentioned. Nobody ever writes about how Borbon covers more ground in center field than any center fielder in baseball except one. They never write that Murphy is a poor defender. They never consider or discuss how the Rangers have won four pennants, three of which when they featured a center fielder with remarkable range and a substandard arm.
Pointing to Borbon's "loud" errors and concluding that he's a terrible defender while ignoring the other metrics that more accurately evaluate his overall defensive value is like concluding the Ubaldo Jimenez had a terrible season in 2010 because he walked almost 100 batters, but ignoring the fact that he posted a 2.88 ERA and a 6.3 WAR.
But the facts don't matter. According to the local media, Borbon should be in Round Rock and Murphy should be starting every day in Arlington. Why? Because David Murphy is a nice boy from Baylor who never complains.
Of course, he doesn't need to complain when he's got the entire press box doing the job for him.