Sure, Ordóñez has a couple of Gold Gloves baseball writers watch SportsCenter, too. But defensive statistics tell another story, and it's not a pretty one. STATS, Inc., in an attempt to come up with a better way to rate fielders, has devised something called the "zone" rating. It essentially counts the number of balls hit into your area and reports the percentage of them that you turn into outs almost like the defensive equivalent of on-base percentage. Ready for a shock? Last season, baseball's Human Highlight Film had a zone rating of .896, which placed him 18th fourth from last in that category among regular major league shortstops. And over the last three seasons, his .933 average puts him a point below the major league average. Which means that not only can Omar Vizquel and Barry Larkin out-field and out-hit Ordóñez, but so can Jay Bell and Royce Clayton. To his credit, Ordóñez has been above average in 1999, but Ozzie Smith he ain't. (Olerud, by the way, who's never mentioned in the same breath as Don Mattingly and Keith Hernandez, actually owns the best zone rating of any first baseman in baseball, both last year and over the three previous seasons.)
There's a good news/bad news aspect to this for Mets fans. The good news is that, shockingly, many of the Mets' young players are following Olerud's lead: Edgardo Alfonzo, Roger Cedeno, and Luis Lopez (Ordóñez's potential replacement) are all flirting with .400 OBPs. The bad news is that combined, they probably don't make up for the runs that Ordóñez is costing them.
The worse news, of course, is that even with Olerud as an archetype, Valentine seems destined to keep reflexively writing Ordóñez's name in the lineup in the hopes that he'll suddenly turn into Derek Jeter like he was supposed to. If only Valentine would take a lesson from The Phantom Menace: Don't believe the hype.
Hit like a pitcher? He wishes.
Mets shortstop Rey Ordóñez is not only the worst hitter among everyday players, the Mets have a couple of relief pitchers who should probably pinch hit for him.