John Mozeliak and Jeff Luhnow deserve kudos for their assessment of available shortstops last winter. Izturis, as projected by his performance the last time he was healthy and playing full time, is turning out to have been the best SS available when the Cardinals let Eckstein walk..
Current OPS ranking of the four most recent Cardinal shortstops (primary position):
- Izturis .695, 6 strikeouts in 118 AB's
- Ryan .689, 8 strikeouts in 58 AB's
- Renteria .650, 20 strikeouts in 156 AB's
- Eckstein .637, 12 strikeouts in 118 AB's
Izturis not only has the best OPS of the four as of today but he also has the best strikeout ratio by a large margin.
Izturis also leads the group with 3 SB's but he has been caught 3 times and he has twice as many AB's as Ryan.
Renteria leads the group in HR's but with only 3.
Defensively, Izturis has the best zone rating and scouts rate him the best fielder among the four.
Izturis, who will still be only 28 by the end of this season, is five years younger than Eckstein and Renteria (both 33 by end of season). Ryan will still be 26 by the end of this season. Brendan is only 2 years and a month younger than Cesar.
- Renteria's salary this year is 10M
- Eckstein is getting 4.5M
- Izturis is getting 2.85M
- Ryan gets $393k
- Ryan still needs more seasoning.
- Eckstein is more and more injury prone.
- Renteria cost valuable prospects and over three times as much in salary.
Out of the 40 shortstops listed in the MLB batting stats by ESPN.com, Izturis' current OPS of .695 now ranks 24th, just ahead of Boston's Julio Lugo.
No doubt azruavatar will say that Cesar's performance is "unsustainable". We'll have a chance to test that hypothesis with a better sample size at the midpoint of the season.
But for now, considering Izturis' fielding excellence, his performance so far this season should be considered at least average overall among MLB shortstops, a lot better than the great majority of fans and sportswriters were predicting.