BALTIMORE – There are certainly things Brent Morel could have done better this season, but his defense has been as good as advertised.
It’s not to say there aren’t things he can’t do better in the field, but for a first-year player, Morel has delivered an impressive season with the glove.
Using the defensive metric UZR (or Ultimate Zone Rating), which measures a player’s defensive contribution and is available at fangraphs.com, Morel has a 2.8 rating which means he is above average at his position.
It is the sixth best rating among third basemen in baseball behind Milwaukee’s Casey McGehee (3.3), the Angels’ Alberto Callaspo (4.9), Tampa Bay’s Evan Longoria (5.4), Philadelphia’s Placidio Polanco (6.8) and Texas’ Adrian Beltre (10.2).
It’s pretty solid defensive company for a player who wasn’t even in the major leagues at this time last year. But he’s still not a finished product with the glove.
Not counting Monday’s night when he had a ball kicked out of his glove for an error, there are little things he is working on other than having bad luck.
Morel’s range and quick reflexes allow him to get to balls that most infielders can’t grab. But on some of those plays, particularly on dives toward the line, his rushed throw can be off line at times. It’s not so much a criticism as an observation since that play, along with handling a good bunt, would seem to be the most difficult for a third baseman.
Despite the high degree of difficulty, Morel says it’s a play that needs to be made.
“It’s disappointing,” he said. “You want to go out there and help any way you can. You have a chance to make a play and to throw the ball away it’s disappointing. It’s one of those things that you expect to make the play every time even if not everybody else does and it’s disappointing to yourself.”
If it sounds like Morel is being a bit hard on himself it’s because he has set his goals extremely high. He would like to win a Gold Glove one day, although as manager Ozzie Guillen preaches, that award has as much to do with your ability to hit as it does your ability to field.
“Hopefully I’ll win a Gold Glove eventually,” said Morel, who has been playing every day again ever since Mark Teahen was traded. “I have a lot of work to do. I’m nowhere near that caliber right now but hopefully I’ll keep progressing. We have good coaches here that help us out and hopefully later on down the line that will be an achievement.”