I have a feeling that Carlos Guillen is going to be the Detroit Tigers MVP when the awards are handed out after the season. Guillen’s offensive numbers are above average and his ability to switch hit brings a unique dynamic to the lineup. On the other hand, Guillen’s fielding has been atrocious and his decision-making hasn’t been any better. I have thought about writing a post about Guillen’s laziness in the field for quite some time but I always convince myself not to. However, after Guillen failed to throw home which would’ve easily nailed Scott Podsednik at the plate to preserve a 0-0 game on Friday and his error today against the White Sox, I can no longer bite my tongue.
Normally, when a routine ground ball is hit to the shortstop, I feel good about the situation. When a routine ground ball is hit to Carlos Guillen, I expect something bad to happen. Guillen almost appears lazy in the field. His throwing motion lacks form on occasion which often results in horrendous throws. Even some of Guillen’s putouts are sketchy at best. He’s an unreliable fielder and an even more unreliable thrower. His fielding percentage and error totals are among the worst in MLB. He now leads MLB in errors. His decision making is borderline-awful. Twice in the last two weeks, Guillen has failed to throw home to prevent a run. The error yesterday against the White Sox was a crucial mistake. In a pivotal series where runs will undoubtedly come at a premium, Guillen had a chance to quash a White Sox rally. Instead, he made a mental error (which MLB does not keep track of) which has occurred far too often this season.
A lot has been made of Alex Rodriguez’s errors while Guillen has received little criticism, if any. It would be one thing if Guillen weren’t a good fielder to begin with but his career numbers indicate he is much better than the product he is putting on the field. It is clear to me that Guillen’s numbers are suffering from a lack of effort and/or concentration. I love what the Tigers are doing this season. Seemingly every player has excelled beyond anyone’s imagination before the season started. I certainly didn’t envision the Tigers being so much better than the rest of MLB in terms of record. Unfortunately, a good record isn’t going to get it done in the playoffs. Above all, the Tigers will have to be consistent. Guillen has not been anywhere near consistent in the field. Judging from listening to Mario Impemba and Rod Allen broadcast games on TV it would appear that Guillen is Ozzie Smith II in the field. They constantly rave about Guillen’s defense as if 2005 carries over to 2006. Given the lack of criticism and attention that the Detroit media has given to Guillen’s fielding gaffes, one would think that I’m imagining all of this. But, I assure you that I’m not. Guillen has seven more errors than any shortstop in the American League. He already has three more errors than his previous career high with close to two months to go. Like I said before, I’ve been tempted to write this post many times this season. Watching Guillen in the field has become unbearable.
I like Guillen. He produces good numbers offensively at an affordable price. However, it is important to consider Guillen’s faults on the defensive side of the ball when considering his value to the team. As far as the Tigers most valuable position player goes, Guillen would have to be taken into consideration. His offensive numbers are good enough to garner him consideration but please don’t underestimate Guillen’s inefficiency in the field this year. As I mentioned above, even his outs are often questionable. His whole approach to fielding is more nonchalant than anything else. It is my hope that more is made of this issue by the local media. It seems like everyone is afraid to criticize this Tigers team because they have the best record in baseball. Let’s not forget that this team is nowhere near as talented as some of the other teams in the AL. The Yankees and White Sox can afford to make mistakes with their clout in the lineup. Much like the Championship Pistons team in 2004, these Tigers get by on efficiency, teamwork, and defense. They don’t have the luxury of being able to make up for ridiculous mental miscues in the field. Guillen is by far the worst offender and at some point needs to be held accountable.