Originally Posted by Domeshot17
I think people tend to, overate, PK's ability to pick it. He is great at it, but, using the traditionalist eye test, he has been missing more throws lately. Furthermore, most mlb first basemen are pretty solid at this skill. I am in agreement PK is probably in the top 50% here, but he is easily in the bottom 50% of Range. In the future, him moving to DH and getting a younger, more athletic 1b would be essential.
To the best of my knowlege, there is no objective measure of a first baseman's ability to catch poor throws. A throw in the dirt that goes as an error isn't going to go to the first baseman even if the bounce is long and true. There is no universally accepted degree of difficulty for the angle of a bounce on a throw in the dirt. The official scoring default is that the throw is bad and the first baseman is exceeding normal effort to field it. The same applies for throws where the first baseman has to come off the bag and tag the runner coming down the line. The records only show that a fielder fielded the ball and threw to first to get the out. The difficulty in fielding the throw is ignored, at least officially.
I agree that most professional first basemen dig balls out of the dirt. It is something they work on. Some are better at it than others. Konerko is much better at it than Dunn. On the Giants, Belt is much better at it than Posey. Players who are moved to first base to keep their bat in the lineup tends to make for weaker infields. Dick Allen, when he was with the Sox, blamed his high error total as a Phillies third baseman on Dick Stuart (aka Dr. Strangeglove) playing first much of the time. But even Fielder, who isn't particular good at digging balls out of the dirt, with sometimes field balls in the dirt. Often if a player has a reupation at being good at something, his failures are more noticable and vice versa.
You can't go back and see how many games Fielder won or lost on throws in the dirt by looking at the game summaries. But he led AL first baseman in errors, and it wasn't because he was ranging far off the base, spinning and throwing to a base where the pitcher failed to cover. You actually can find games Tigers games that lost in large part because of late Fielder errors. I don't know if that matches what his defensive numbers say, however.