11-8, 4.12 8-8, 3.96
can that be true of a guy whose OBP is 25 points above the league average? yes, if he slugs .369. the basic conclusion is that eckstein is a nonentity offensively, contributing nothing. given that he has scored just 62 runs while leading off for the league's highest-scoring team (on pace for about 90 runs), you'd have to say that's a fair assessment --- you could plug almost any competent major-leaguer into that lineup slot and get 90 runs out of him.
but i take no satisfaction from such statements. as loyal readers know, i was skeptical of eckstein from the minute the cardinals signed him, and i watched with a critical eye for the first few months of the year. but i've come to appreciate the guy's situational intelligence; any player who, in a single fortnight, can give you a walkoff squeeze bunt and a walkoff grand slam has got to be playing the game right.
and from whom could the cards have gotten better results? among nl shortstops (admittedly not a distinguished group) eckstein still rates third in OPS at .720, behind only the reds' felipe lopez (.800) and the braves' rafael furcal (.747) and ahead of more highly regarded batsmen like jimmy rollins and cesar itzuris. and even if he's worth -2 runs at the plate, eckstein's still better than the man he replaced, edgar renteria, who is draining the red sox offense at a rate of 6 runs per season . . . . .