From time to time, we are reminded of how much of a hilarious and occasionally ridiculous sport baseball can be. Randy Johnson smoking that poor bird with a pitch, Brendan Ryan’s surprise infield triple and of course the video of Brian Wilson viciously murdering that Gatorade tub in the dugout are just a few examples of bloopers (Does Wilson count as a blooper or is that something too dark and aggressive to be a blooper?). Possibly the most notorious of all baseball bloopers are the hundreds (thousands?) of pop-ups that confuse infielders and outfielders alike and fall to the turf due to lack of communication. When four guys all shout “I got it” at the same time, but then none of them step up and make the play, it’s usually a blunder that is not only preventable, but pretty funny.
One statistic that is dubious when determining the skill of a baseball player is the error statistic. Errors are essentially when a fielder misplays a ball and allows the batter or runner to advance bases. I call this statistic dubious because it can be a poor determining value for whether or not a fielder is skilled. For instance, a second baseman with slow reaction time and subpar speed (they exist) may miss a ground ball altogether and it could be ruled a hit. However, a shortstop who is lightning quick with brilliant reflexes may manage to get a glove on a similarly hit ball but mishandle it, resulting in a runner on base, despite his superior skills. In this example, the poorer of the two fielders in reality is not the same on paper. This is why a few of the greatest players and fielders of our time show up on the active error leaders list.
Also consider that many of them are either shortstops or third basemen, which are the infielders who generally see the most action, as they call it the “hot corner” for a reason. Nonetheless, here are Major League Baseball’s top 10 active career error leaders and their 2014 salaries, according to Spotrac.com. Michael Young gets an honorable mention here because he would have been number 9 had he not retired back at the end of January. All error statistics are accurate as of April 2nd, 2014. Also, Miguel Tejada would have been number 1, but he is currently not active in Major League Baseball, being a suspended free agent and having been the subject of retirement rumors recently. He is suspended for just under half this season for testing positive for amphetamines.
10 Juan Uribe: 142 Errors – $7.5 Million
9 Jose Reyes: 144 Errors - $16 Million
8 T7. David Wright: 167 Errors - $20 Million
7 T7. Alfonso Soriano: 167 Errors - $5 Million
6 Alex Gonzalez: 195 Errors - $1.1 Million
5 Aramis Ramirez: 224 Errors - $16 Million
4 Alex Rodriguez: 234 Errors - $0 ($22 Million if he hadn’t been caught)
3 Derek Jeter: 243 Errors - $12 Million
As with any player who plays for a prominent franchise in any sport, Derek Jeter is the subject of plenty of criticism. Much like Tom Brady in the NFL, Lebron James in basketball and Sidney Crosby in hockey, just uttering the name “Jeter” may cause one to encounter a roomful of haters shouting derogatory names and negative stats. Well, here you go, he’s number three among active MLB defensive players in terms of errors. Plenty of baseball analysts have argued that statistically, Jeter is a subpar shortstop from a defensive point of view. This has become truer with age, as some of his seasons in his 30’s have brought more errors, but overall, looking at this stat, with 19 years in the league, he is averaging 12.7 errors a year, which is lower than most on this list.
2 Rafael Furcal: 250 Errors - $3.5 Million
1 Adrian Beltre: 258 Errors - $17 Million
At just 19 years old, Beltre was the youngest player in the National League at the time. His fielding was slow in the early years of his career, but his batting was always respectable, averaging in the .280’s and high teens in home runs until his departure from the Dodgers in 2004. Much like Rafael Furcal, he has been very up and down throughout his career, leading the MLB in errors a few times. He has, however, been named an All-Star three times and has been a Gold Glove Award recipient four times. With 258 errors divided by his 16 seasons in the league, he is averaging just over 16 errors per season. But given his batting ability and the fact that when he’s “on” he’s really “on”, Beltre definitely goes out there and earns his money.
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