Defending And Prosecuting Razor Shines

The New York Post noted that 16 Mets have been thrown out at the plate this season.  This is a staggering amount and doesn't reflect well on Razor Shines.  One part of this story that the Post neglected to mention is only 9 of the 16 baserunners were thrown out from the outfield.  The rest came on infield plays, such as Omir Santos's adventure between 3rd and home last week vs. the Marlins.  For anyone who missed the play, Santos broke for home on a wild pitch, changed his mind halfway down the line, and was thrown out scrambling back to 3rd.  For baseball scoring purposes, this counted as "thrown out at home".  It's tough to pin that one on the 3rd base coach.  This ends the "defending Razor Shines" portion of the post. 

To judge Shines's work as 3rd base coach, as far as waving runners home goes, I looked up opposing teams' outfielders who have thrown out Mets trying to score and evaluations of their throwing arms.  These include the throwing arm components of UZR and +/-, as well as the Fans' Scouting Report.  The UZR and +/- numbers represent how many runs above or below average the outfielder has been worth with his arm.  The Fans' Scouting Report figure represents the average rating given to a fielder by fans who have watched him play.  A score of 1 = poor, 2 = fair, 3 = average, 4 = good, and 5 = great.  Of the 9 thrown out baserunners, 2 involved cutoff men, so I didn't include them.  These 7 were straight-up outfielder to catcher:

Date Opponent Runner Outfielder UZR 2008 UZR 2009 +/- 2008 +/- 2009 FSR 2009
4/6 Reds David Wright Jay Bruce 1.4 5.3 5 8 4.7
5/2 Phillies Omir Santos Jayson Werth 4.5 4.0 5 6 4.0
5/12 Braves David Wright Jordan Schafer N/A 1.3 N/A -1 3.7
5/25 Nationals Carlos Beltran Austin Kearns -2.4 3.7 -3 6 3.8
6/2 Pirates Jeremy Reed Nate Mclouth 0.4 -2.2 2 1 3.3
7/14 Astros Jeff Francoeur Hunter Pence 8.6 5.5 12 10 4.1
8/17 Giants Cory Sullivan Aaron Rowand 3.4 -1.1 5 0 3.0

Context Note: Last season, Pence had the most valuable arm according to UZR; Brian Giles was last, at -10.6 runs.  This year Nyjer Morgan leads the way at 10.0; Brad Hawpe has the worst, at -6.2.

It looks like there isn't a poor arm in the bunch.  Bruce, Werth, and Pence possess cannons, and the rest appear to be average or slightly above average.  It makes sense that outfielders with good throwing arms will throw out some runners at the plate (Bruce, Werth, and Pence are all top 10 in the NL in assists).  However, this tells us that Shines has been foolishly testing some of the best arms in the game.  If sending Francoeur against Pence was dumb, then sending the lead-footed Santos vs. Werth was outrageous.  Keep in mind that this little study isn't flawless, as I didn't painstakingly review video of each play (although I remember watching most of these and expressing disgust) or heavily consider runner speed to determine if the green light was a smart move.  

It appears Shines doesn't spend much time learning about opposing team's outfielders.  Or if he does, he just disregards the numbers and scouting reports in favor of aggression for the sake of aggression.  Omar Minaya and Jerry Manuel will probably be spared the death blow this offseason, but let's hope Shines is not retained as 3rd base coach.  There's hope for this actually happening, as even Manuel expressed concern about the Shines green light:

He's been OK, and I think he'll get better.  There have been some times where maybe guys should have been held or what have you, and there will be some more times like that.

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