Jeff Erickson mentioned in his World Series blog that he thought the media was going a little too far in annointing Troy Tulowitzki over Ryan Braun as the NL ROY. I figured that I'd write up a new blog on the subject since I'm going to take it in a slightly different direction.
The thing I don't get is how many people act like Braun's personally responsible for playing such bad defense at third base. It's as if they think he can go out there and yell to Bill Hall "Hey, I'm not doing so well here so let's switch positons for a while." He's not a very good third baseman, but the Brewers are telling him to keep playing third, he's not forcing them to do it. If the Cardinals played Albert Pujols at third base this season, he would likely be pretty brutal over there. Would that change your opinion of Pujols as a player? Probably not, because everyone would know that he's playing out of position and they'd just dismiss his defense at third base. For some reason a lot of people can't do that with Braun.
Not to pick on any one individual, but here's a prime example. Nate Silver at baseballprosectus.com posted a blog recently about his "Top 50 Most Valueable Long Term Talent" list which appears in SI. He's rating the most valueable players over the next six years and notes that Braun is on the cusp of the top 50 due mainly to his defense. What? If he had come up as a RF or LF and was just average then he's probably a no brainer for that top 50 list, not "on the cusp". He notes that Jay Bruce would be in the #15 to 25 range, which may be accurate, but if Braun had been moved to the outfield immediately after being drafted would there really be a heck of a lof of difference between Braun and Bruce? Silver is basically knocking Braun 25 spots down the list because he was told to play 3B instead of the outfield.
We're not talking about a guy who's so uncoordinated that he's relagated to DH. We're talking about a guy who was a SS in college and is fast/quick enough to steal 15 bases in 20 attempts this year. But because his defense at third base was so bad this season, probably historically bad, people want to focus on that and take him down a notch as a player.
To be fair, these were just quick thoughts on what his final list would look like, not the last draft, and Nate is a fine writer so hopefully he'll come to his senses. What I think it does illustrate is that his first reaction was to knock Braun down for his defense, which I think a lot of media people do.
On an ironic side note, Silver also mentions in his blog that Aramis Ramirez is a lock for the top 50 and notes that he "suddenly learned to play defense". This is the same Aramis Ramirez who had a .928 fielding percentage over his first 163 games in the majors.