The Orlando Myth

These two different Major League infielders share a few things in common, on top of the fact that they have the same first name.

Orlando Hudson is the newly-signed Twin; A second baseman with a very inflated defensive reputation.

Orlando Cabrera is the 35-year-old shortstop who has also been recently signed by a new team: The Cincinnati Reds. He is also the proud owner of a top-of-the-line defensive reputation.

I’m here to break (or at least put a very large dent) in the myth that ties these two players together. These infielders are no longer quality defensive players.

Back when Hudson was playing up in Toronto in 2004 and 2005, he was a fantastic defensive player. Since those days, Hudson has lost a large amount of range while steadily and consistently becoming a sub-par defender at second base.

According to UZR (Ultimate Zone Rating), this Orlando was 3.3 runs below average in 2009; He was 5.1 runs below average in 2008 to top things off. Whether this drop-off was due to his increasing age or increasing injuries, it remains a fact that Hudson is a far-cry from his former self in the field. His reputation as a sterling defender is long overdue for a change.

Hudson is a slightly above average offensive second basemen, and this remains true, but Twin fans better not be expecting a stud in the field as well.

On to the other Orlando. This one is the former World Series champion who is joining the 6th team in his career with the Reds. Cabrera has been a consistently sub-par offensive player the past 2 seasons, posting an identical .705 OPS in 2008 and 2009. His abysmal .316 On-base percentage leaves much to be desired, but as far as shortstops go, you can accept his middling offensive game.

Up until 2009, Orlando had remained a talented defensive shortstop (albeit an inconsistent one). In 2009 however, Cabrera made a drastic switch, and became arguably the worst defender at the position in all of Major League Baseball.

“O.C.” was 15.3 runs below average this past season, which is absolutely disgusting.

Red fans had better hope his massive defensive shortcomings in 2009 were an aberration instead of what the future holds. Because while Orlando Hudson brings better than average offense, Cabrera brings relatively nothing at the plate (outside of an 8-hole offensive player). If Cabrera’s defense doesn’t make a huge recovery in 2010, he will be massively hurting his new-found team.

Cabrera doesn’t produce enough at the plate to make up for anything less than sterling defense. Thank God that Dusty Baker doesn’t believe in patience or players drawing walks, because he’ll now fall madly in love with this Orlando.

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