Tuesday, May 19, 2009

What would you rather have?

It's the age-old question in baseball. What would you rather have — a dynamite batting order or a loaded pitching staff along with a solid defense?

For me, it's a no brainer. You want the pitching staff and you definitely need a strong defense behind the staff to back it up. The most underrated aspect of baseball? Strong defense, particularly up the middle. It can save countless runs throughout the season. Still, it's always overlooked.

Take a look at Major League Baseball. The Tampa Bay Rays didn't have a great offense last year. They had a great pitching staff and had a lights-out defense. They made moves to sure up their defense last season on their way to the World Series. For starters, they traded outfielder Delmon Young to Minnesota for shortstop Jason Bartlett and pitcher Matt Garza. Garza immediately fit into their rotation and Bartlett played a Gold Glove caliber short. They moved B.J. Upton from second base to center field, moved Akinori Iwamura from third base to second and called up Evan Longoria. All three were upgrades at their new positions and the team immediately became better because of it. This year, look out for the Cincinnati Reds. They have improved up the middle — Willie Tavarez is a very good centerfielder, shortstop Alex Gonzalez is slick with the mit and Brandon Phillips won a Gold Glove last year at second. Catcher Ramon Hernandez is better known for his bat, but he's a veteran that can command an underrated pitching staff.

Sorry about that rant, but here's the point. The New Mexico State Aggies have a great offense that belts balls all over the yard. They're pitching staff has surprised some, but it's not elite. And their defense certainly isn't elite. It will come back to haunt them this week. The Aggie offense is great and if it's hot, it could carry them to a WAC championship. But, offenses by nature go into peaks and valleys. NMSU matches up well in the WAC with Fresno, Louisiana Tech and Nevada. You put the Aggies against any of these teams, I think they can win. They don't match up well with San Jose State or Hawaii though. I think San Jose is going to win the tourney. They have the best pitching and defense in the league and just enough offense to get it done. That seems like the safest winning formula that there is.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I agree. Too much emphasis is placed on the hitting. The saying is, "defense wins championships."