1. Welcome! Please take a few seconds to create your free account to post threads, make some friends, remove a few ads while surfing and much more. ClutchFans has been bringing fans together to talk Houston Sports since 1996. Join us!

[ESPN] Love for Everett

Discussion in 'Houston Astros' started by deepellumrocket, Apr 17, 2007.

  1. deepellumrocket

    Joined:
    Aug 10, 2001
    Messages:
    1,347
    Likes Received:
    4
    Sweet article.

    http://sports.espn.go.com/mlb/columns/story?columnist=crasnick_jerry&id=2840290

    Everett is Mr. Smooth in the fieldBy Jerry Crasnick
    ESPN.com
    Archive

    "If Ozzie Smith was as good as Adam Everett, he was incredible."
    -- Chris Dial, Baseball Think Factory defensive analyst

    "I can say in my heart of hearts that he's the best defensive shortstop on the planet. From what I've seen, there's no way he can't be."
    -- Astros third baseman Morgan Ensberg



    --------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    PHILADELPHIA -- Adam Everett doesn't feel much like God's gift to middle infielders today. Citizens Bank Park is underwater, so Houston and Philadelphia won't be playing the finale of their three-game series. But early flights are impossible to come by, so the Astros will spend several hours in the visiting clubhouse eating, working out, watching "Office Space" on DVD and eating some more.

    The downtime allows Everett to take stock of reality. The season is two weeks old, and he already has four errors, compared to his total of seven for all of 2006. The perfectionist in him, naturally, craves a do-over.

    "It's driving me nuts," Everett says. "It doesn't seem like I've had a true hop all year, but that's the way it goes. Maybe I'll get on a run where I make four the rest of the year."

    Everett isn't the flashiest player, but his glovework at shortstop is top-notch.And maybe, if National League infields are kind and the scorers cut him some slack, he won't make any errors at all.

    Within the confines of the Houston clubhouse, Everett's teammates wouldn't be shocked if that occurred. They rave about his preparation and positioning, his knack for making the difficult look routine and his ability to execute routine plays with such dispatch that it's test-pattern-caliber boring to watch.

    If baseball fans outside Houston are unacquainted with Everett's brilliance, it's a reflection of his weak offensive numbers (a career on-base and slugging percentage of .665) and his low profile as an Astro.

    "If he was in a big market, it would be all over the place how good he was," says pitcher Roy Oswalt. "Same thing with Lance Berkman. If he was in New York, he wouldn't be able to walk out in public."

    So the public is oblivious because Everett is a banjo hitter in a football market. We can only guess what the excuse is for National League managers and coaches who keep overlooking him in the Gold Glove balloting.

    Despite a reputation within baseball as the best defensive shortstop going, Everett has taken an 0-fer on the game's big defensive prize. The last two years, the NL coaches and managers have given the Gold Glove to Giants shortstop Omar Vizquel, who won't relinquish his death grip on the honor even as he approaches age 40.

    Last year's result was especially disappointing for John Dewan, a Chicago-based statistician who is trying to do for Everett what Oprah Winfrey did for author Wally Lamb: introduce him to a larger circle of admirers.

    Dewan, founder of Baseball Info Solutions, is on a mission to quantify defensive excellence in a way that fans, front office people and the statistically oriented can embrace. Since 2003, Dewan's staff has charted every ball hit in the majors and assigned it a percentage of difficulty based on direction, distance, speed and the route the ball took (ground ball, popup, fly ball, liner or "fliner"). The more plays a player converts above what the average defender would have made, the more points he receives. The more he fails to make, the more points are deducted.

    The findings, released last year in "The Fielding Bible," are a testament to Everett's skill. From 2003 through 2005, he received an aggregate rating of plus-76, compared to a minus-64 for the Yankees' Derek Jeter. Bill James examined the disparity in a 4½-page essay in Dewan's book and concluded that Jeter can't carry Everett's jock, never mind his glove, as a defender.

    Last year, Everett outdid himself with a plus-43, the highest rating in the four years the system has been in effect. In November, he won a "Fielding Bible Award," given out by a 10-member panel that included Dewan, James, Strat-O-Matic creator Hal Richman and ESPN.com's Rob Neyer. Everett received 98 of 100 possible points, edging Detroit catcher Pudge Rodriguez for the honor of best defensive player in the game.

    And still, no gold. The coaches and managers certainly looked at that Fred Manrique-like offensive production and determined Everett wasn't worthy.

    "My first reaction was, 'I failed,'" Dewan says with a laugh. "I failed to get the word out and make a strong enough impression that this man should have won the Gold Glove. Omar Vizquel is a great shortstop, and he had a great year. But he's No. 2 in the National League to Everett. There's no question in my mind."

    Everett, congenial and self-effacing, appreciates the support but is mildly embarrassed about being touted over the likes of Jeter and Vizquel.

    "Derek Jeter is a pretty good player, last I saw," Everett says. "I think 30 teams in baseball would have him on their team."

    It's the type of low-key response you might expect from a self-made player. Everett, a Georgia native, spent his freshman and sophomore years at Harrison High School at second base because an upperclassman had a claim on the shortstop position. He played second base in summer ball too, because of the talented shortstop at nearby Pace Academy -- a kid by the name of Michael Barrett.

    Everett learned his fundamentals the hard way. His high school coaches, Mike Power and Mark Elkins, stationed him on a tennis court with a foam rubber paddle on his left hand and hit hot smashes with a baseball in his direction. Without the luxury of a glove, Everett grew accustomed to using his hands and fielding tricky hops.

    Boston saw enough potential to select Everett in the first round out of the University of South Carolina, then traded him to Houston 18 months later. Everett made four stops with Triple-A New Orleans, and eventually refined his game under the tutelage of former Astros manager Jimy Williams. It was Williams who taught Everett to take the ball out of his glove the right way and throw from the proper arm angle to minimize errors. Everett also became adept at backhanding the ball in the hole and throwing on the run. To this day, Everett and Williams refer to the maneuver as "the Nomar play," in honor of a former Boston shortstop who had it mastered.

    Everett still remembers a piece of advice that Berkman gave him several years ago. "If you're going to make a mistake, make it aggressive," his Houston teammate told him. "Don't make it passively, because then it just snowballs."

    Some gifts just come naturally. Everett has a strong enough arm to play deep, and he's so fluid at ranging to his left that he can cheat in the hole and still make plays up the middle. Through hours of watching tape, Dewan discovered that Everett's feet are always set when he throws, and he rarely gambles and loses on a forceout at second base.

    While some front office executives are skeptical of new-age defensive metrics, Morgan Ensberg thinks the findings by Dewan and others are a "godsend" for Everett, because they substantiate what the Astros have known all along.

    "A lot of shortstops have different mannerisms that are really exciting," Ensberg says. "They move really quickly and dive and come up with a lot of action and the arm is really whipped. Adam dives and gets up and kind of throws the ball over there and is just incredibly efficient. That hurts him, completely. People don't even recognize what just happened because of the way he makes it look."

    Houston's Craig Biggio and Brad Ausmus, who've been around a combined 35 seasons, claim Everett is the best they've ever played alongside. He's as subtle as a shadow and as reliable as a Rolex.

    "If you don't look back, he may move before a certain pitch," Oswalt says. "They'll hit the ball right over the mound and I'm thinking, 'That's a hit all the way.' The next thing you know, he's standing right there making the play."

    Everett's teammates and supporters in the statistical community are no longer shocked by anything he does. The surprise will come when the rest of the world starts paying attention.

    Jerry Crasnick covers baseball for ESPN Insider. His book "License To Deal" has been published by Rodale. Click here to order a copy. Jerry can be reached via e-mail.
     
  2. weslinder

    weslinder Contributing Member

    Joined:
    Jun 27, 2006
    Messages:
    12,983
    Likes Received:
    291
    Great article. I definitely believe this. Adam Everett is better now than Vizquel ever was, and approaching Ozzie status. He makes the exceptional play look routine and the virtually impossible look merely difficult. On a team where shortstops have usually been good defensively, Adam Everett is in another league. If MLB had a DPOY, Everett would deserve it.
     
  3. Creepy Crawl

    Creepy Crawl Member

    Joined:
    Jul 6, 2002
    Messages:
    2,914
    Likes Received:
    324
    Good read . It looks like Jimy actually did contribute something to this team .
     
  4. deepellumrocket

    Joined:
    Aug 10, 2001
    Messages:
    1,347
    Likes Received:
    4
    And don't forget that Adam is now the all-time franchise leader for home runs by a shortstop.




    I don't know if that is really something to celebrate.
     
  5. rrj_gamz

    rrj_gamz Contributing Member

    Joined:
    Aug 15, 2002
    Messages:
    15,595
    Likes Received:
    197
    Great read...imagine if he took steriods...j/k...

    Now, if just his bat could get somewhat close to his fielding abilities, then...I love the guy...
     
  6. Nick

    Nick Contributing Member

    Joined:
    Feb 28, 1999
    Messages:
    47,859
    Likes Received:
    14,081
    Jimy was a great teacher and tactician.... but he wasn't much of a motivator. He expects the players should be ready to play, no matter what... but the 2004 team really needed somebody to come in and kick their ass (which is what Garner did).

    Jimy could also be credited with Lidge's prominent rise to stardum, as well as Ensberg finally looking like he belonged in the majors (bizzaro injuries, not withstanding).
     
  7. MadMax

    MadMax Contributing Member

    Joined:
    Sep 19, 1999
    Messages:
    72,540
    Likes Received:
    17,815
    This is it, right here. This nails it. Everett is extremely efficient in his movement...so it doesn't appear as if the plays he's making are nearly as spectacular as they actually are. And..he has a knack for positioning himself well, as Oswalt said...that allows him to make plays that other SS's wouldn't make look routine.

    And the average fan kinda ho-hums all that. It isn't likely to appear on Web Gems. But it's incredibly valuable. And it's underappreciated, even in the city he plays in.
     
  8. bobrek

    bobrek Politics belong in the D & D

    Joined:
    Sep 16, 1999
    Messages:
    36,288
    Likes Received:
    26,638
    There have been a few plays when Loretta has played short where he wasn't even close to the ball on hits up the middle. I am so spoiled at watching Everett that I expect anything hit up the middle will have a reasonable shot at getting fielded.
     
  9. MadMax

    MadMax Contributing Member

    Joined:
    Sep 19, 1999
    Messages:
    72,540
    Likes Received:
    17,815
    That's one of the plays he makes that amazes me. Because he'll make that play without diving...completely squared up to the ball...BEHIND SECOND BASE!!

    It's all about his positioning.
     
  10. No Worries

    No Worries Contributing Member

    Joined:
    Jun 30, 1999
    Messages:
    29,645
    Likes Received:
    16,471
    Careful MM. There are children who read this board ;)
     
  11. Creepy Crawl

    Creepy Crawl Member

    Joined:
    Jul 6, 2002
    Messages:
    2,914
    Likes Received:
    324

    Yeah , that was something the guy was good at . I remember watching a pre-game show one time , and they were talking about how good Jimy was with teaching the fundamentals .
     
  12. Rule0001

    Rule0001 Contributing Member

    Joined:
    Oct 25, 2003
    Messages:
    2,801
    Likes Received:
    1
    Sign him up for the Hall of Fame. :)
     
  13. BrieflySpeaking

    BrieflySpeaking Contributing Member

    Joined:
    Aug 3, 2003
    Messages:
    4,952
    Likes Received:
    262
    its bull**** that he didnt win the gold glove last year...
     
  14. xiki

    xiki Contributing Member

    Joined:
    Jun 18, 2002
    Messages:
    17,488
    Likes Received:
    2,879
    And preparation. And anticipation. And reaction.

    But - with a guy as baseball bright as he, how come he cannot 'teach' himself to be a decent offensive contributor? :confused:
     
  15. kaleidosky

    kaleidosky Your Tweety Bird dance just cost us a run

    Joined:
    Mar 20, 2002
    Messages:
    15,084
    Likes Received:
    1,352
    love it.

    and would love to see him put together a solid offensive season like ozzie started doing later in his career (around 30 yrs old)
     
  16. ROXRAN

    ROXRAN Contributing Member

    Joined:
    Oct 12, 2000
    Messages:
    17,874
    Likes Received:
    4,184
    I had an argument with someone else that stated "if Adam Everett was so good, then why don't you see him diving after balls like other shortstops?"...after that I realized the argument was over...
     
  17. MadMax

    MadMax Contributing Member

    Joined:
    Sep 19, 1999
    Messages:
    72,540
    Likes Received:
    17,815

    because you don't just teach yourself that. because hitting a baseball is ridiculously difficult.

    oh, and by the way...he's won you at least one game with his bat so far. and he's batting .294 with a .368 OBP.
     
  18. Jugdish

    Jugdish Member

    Joined:
    Mar 27, 2006
    Messages:
    8,237
    Likes Received:
    8,054
    Funny that they mention this, because in that same essay James prefaces his analysis by basically saying, "I know nothing about defense."
     
  19. MadMax

    MadMax Contributing Member

    Joined:
    Sep 19, 1999
    Messages:
    72,540
    Likes Received:
    17,815
    which is why he relates it to stats. because his point is, as i remember, that he knows nothing about defense from merely watching. that you have to find a way to quantify it better. which is the whole point of the Fielding Bible.
     
  20. Buck Turgidson

    Joined:
    Feb 14, 2002
    Messages:
    84,066
    Likes Received:
    82,068
    "That *he* had to find a way to quantify it better" would be more correct.

    All the data necessary to make a judgement on his defense - his hands, his positioning, his range, his reaction time, his arm strength - has been very evident to the skilled observer for years.
     

Share This Page