Earlier this week, Star Tribune scribe Howard Sinker questioned rhetorically why Jamey Carroll never received the scorn that Nick Punto did. He posited that Punto was scorned because of his usage and his poor bat, but then demonstrated that, in their tenures, Carroll actually had more at bats/game than Punto, they had similar batting statistics and they were used mostly for their glove at 3 positions. This is all well and good, but it fails to see the context. I can’t speak for everyone who grew frustrated with Punto during his tenure here, but I have a few reasons that Jamey Carroll didn’t bother me nearly as much as Nick Punto.
1) Jamey Carroll was used primarily as a middle infielder, and Punto was used at third base. A light hitting batter is to be expected at 2b, unless you have Chase Utley, Robinson Cano or Brandon Phillips, but this day in age, third basemen are supposed to be reliable batters. Hiding Carroll’s bat at 2nd was totally acceptable. It wasn’t Punto’s fault, obviously, but it seemed that the Twins were wasting offense by using Punto at 3rd instead of finding a real hitter to put over at the hot corner.
2) Carroll was a better defender. Most of the kudos for Punto’s defense come from his time as a third baseman, where the other fielders at that position aren’t known for their defense, but as a middle infielder, Punto was thoroughly at or below average. Sure, he looked good and had a reliable glove, but his range and anticipation were terrible, which is why he always had to dive. Carroll was a smarter, better fielder.
3) Speaking of diving…