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The Contributions of Brendan Harris

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We know his bat has really come around, but what about the glove?

It's been a rough year for Minnesota's middle infielders.  Between offensive futility, defensive inconsistenicy, injuries and a severe lack of focus and understanding, it's been hard for fans to get behind the guys starting at second and short, and just as hard for Ron Gardenhire to fill out a lineup card on a daily basis.

It was easy to include Brendan Harris into that group.  On the morning of May 26, Harris was hitting .255/.294/.353.  Not encouraging.  But in his next 26 games, Harris has failed to reach base just once; June 14.  In the 102 intervening at-bats he's put together a triple slash of .324/.389/.451.  That's a world of difference no matter how you look at it, and it's all come at just the right time.  With Alexi Casilla (.467 OPS), Nick Punto (.570) and Matt Tolbert (.484) being offensive black holes, and other guys missing time for one reason or another, Harris' sudden flourish with the bat has helped Gardy give the top of his batting order a bit of...order.

So Harris has been the only middle infielder of use with the bat so far in 2009.  This we know, you didn't need me to point it out.  The interesting comparison is the defensive one.

 

Second Base

 

 

Shortstop

 

Name

Innings

RZR/150

OOZ

Innings

RZR/150

OOZ

Alexi Casilla

258.1

-19.7

4

--

--

--

Brendan Harris

85.1

-18.7

2

282.2

10.8

10

Nick Punto

74.1

-3.6

0

348.1

-2.1

12

Matt Tolbert

218.0

-15.2

3

5.0

-27.3

0

RZR/150:  UZR runs above average per 150 defensive games.
OOZ:  Plays made outside the zone of that position.

Obviously there are some sample size issues, but there are a couple of things that are pretty clear.  First, nobody plays defense at second base very well.  Second...Harris has actually done well at shortstop.  At least, he's done better there than anyone else this season.

When the Twins signed Punto to his two-year contract over the winter, Gardenhire said they were signing him to play shortstop.  And that was fine, because considering what we knew about these guys coming into the season Punto was probably the best equipped to handle the spot.  But after what we've been witness to, and considering the pretty large gap between how everyone has performed between second base and shortstop, it's about time to re-evaluate how to best deploy the assets that we have.

So we can rip on Harris for his glove, but he's the best option at short that we have.  And the fact is that he may not be exceptional, but he's definitely doing okay.  Let's hope he keeps it rolling.