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Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Sloppy Mathis, Shields Down Angels: Rays 4, Angels 2

I was thinking about the Angels' alleged calls-a-good-game guy, Jeff Mathis, whose principle reason for being seems to be his hyperinflated value behind the dish. He made his major league leading twelfth error today in a crucial situation with a perilous one-run lead, throwing away a routine bunt. (The fact that he's managed to do this in 32% fewers innings than the next worst catcher, the Dodgers' Russell Martin, is in itself staggering.) That led to a three-run implosion, but the bunt wouldn't have been necessary had Scot Shields been on his game in the first place; it was pretty obvious that he had exactly nothing, walking the first batter he faced on four straight pitches.

It seems to me that it's about time to revisit Jeff Mathis' errors, it being he has so damned many:

I'm missing one or two here, but you get the drift; for the most part, Mathis' errors haven't been game-changers, but he's definitely been in the middle of some real doozies (the Dodgers and Yankees games in particular). In all but two cases, the Angels lost those games he appeared in. Mathis in fact is on pace to at least tie the franchise lead in single-season errors by a catcher, made in 1983 by Bob Boone with 13, and might just break it in substantially fewer appearances; Boone did it in 142, but Mathis has appeared in only 78 of the team's 124 games to date. If Scioscia's usage patterns continue, he'll get about 19 of the remaining 38 games in which to stretch for that level of excellence. Incidentally, he has a ways to go before he really hits the depths of catching suck: for that, we recall Oscar Stanage's 1911 season with Detroit in the modern (1900 and beyond) era, with 41 errors in 141 games; the all-time record belongs to Nat Hicks with the 1876 National Association New York Mutuals, with a staggering 94 errors over 45 games.
Back to this one. Shields clearly had nothing from the start of his outing; why didn't Scioscia yank him? I guess next time Ervin Santana pitches this well, he'll have to think about how he can get a complete game out of it, too.

The Angels had a winning record against the 2005 White Sox, too, remember. It ain't over, but the Angels need to address the sloppiness. If Scioscia starts talking about how home field advantage doesn't matter, he's crazy.

ESPN BoxMLB.com recap

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