Carlos Zambrano’s outburst today seemed to be partly due to what he believed was defensive nonchalance on the part of Derrek Lee, the Cubs’ first baseman. A few short hours later, this sparked a debate among my Cubs friends and my Sox friends. The Cub-loving friends insisted that Derrek Lee was a better first baseman than Paul Konerko. The Cub fans insisted that Konerko was slow and therefore was not as good at first base as Lee was. The Sox fans defended Paulie saying his lack of speed has to do with running the bases, not with his ability to make plays. He makes as many diving catches as the next guy.
Says one Cubs fan, “But if Paul Konerko was at short stop, the only way he’s catch a ball, would be if it was hit at his glove.” To which the Sox fan sarcastically replied, “Cause Derrek Lee is the most agile man in the world, right?” After all, isn’t first base where ALL the slowest, oldest DH-to-be’s go to play? Right.
But I decided I can’t let my bias do the talking. I honestly have no clue about how good or bad this Derrek Lee character is. I probably watch as much Cubs baseball as I watch women’s softball. I enjoy the humiliation, so it’s fine once in awhile, but I can’t make a habit of it; it’s just embarrassing. But I digress. Let’s look at some numbers!
Paul Konerko: His lifetime fielding percentage is 0.995. That in itself is amazing. 69 errors over a lifetime? Not bad out of 12,822 possible outs. 2 of those errors were committed at 3rd base, out of 51 opportunities. There are also 20 opportunities in the OF. So 67 errors out of 12,751. The 0.995 percentage stands.
Derrek Lee: Well, that guy has a 0.994 percentage. Pretty close. He’s had 87 errors in 13,434 possible outs. He’s never played any position other than first base. But he has had about an extra year.
So, in conclusion. It’s all the same. If anything, Paulie has shown he’s somewhat more versatile because he played third and in the outfield a handful of times, but who are we kidding? I basically wasted two hours of my time researching first basemen when I could have been researching the Silva-Garcia matchup. Thanks, Crosstown Cup. You have wasted my time once again.
But before I let you go on a pessimistic note: the Sox rolled over the Cubs winning 6-0, taking 10 in a row and ending up 1.5 games behind the Twins who are on a 4-game skid. Lucky for us. And it was a humorous game, as Carlos Zambrano gave up 4 runs in the first inning then was indefinitely suspended by his own team for throwing a tantrum in the dugout. Or as JJ Stankevitz called him, “CarLOLos Zambrano.”