ATLANTA -- We've come a long way in evaluating defense. We now know that errors and fielding percentage don't tell the whole story, that range matters an awful lot and that sometimes the guys who make the highlight catches aren't necessarily the best defenders.
But with all that said, we also know this: when two teams combine for 10 errors in four games, well, that's not good. That's the total for the Braves and Giants in their just-concluded National League Division Series on Monday -- three by San Francisco, seven by Atlanta.
The Braves-Giants series wasn't the only one to feature a slew of errors, either. With one game remaining in the Division Series round, the eight teams have committed a combined 28 errors in 14 games. If the Rangers and Rays combine for two on Tuesday night, it will tie 2003 for the most errors in the divisional round.
It's no stretch to say that for the Braves, the errors were a significant part of their ouster. A ground-ball-oriented pitching staff allowed a mere 11 runs in the four games, yet three of those were unearned. When every contest is a one-run game, that can be a killer.
"This series had everything," said Giants manager Bruce Bochy, not discounting the defensive miscues. "You know, the errors, we had one today. That's going to happen. But just the intensity and excitement of the series, it had to be thrilling for the fans. There was never an easy moment for [Braves manager Bobby Cox] or myself, because these games could have gone either way."
Most errors in a Division Series round
Part of the issue for Atlanta, of course, was injuries. The Braves had a makeshift infield thanks to the absences of usual second baseman Martin Prado and third baseman Chipper Jones. And they missed those players, not only on offense but on the field. Brooks Conrad was one of the biggest stories of the series, committing four of Atlanta's seven errors on his own.
He wasn't the only one, though. The Braves were unable to field their best defensive team, and it hurt them.
"We're not the best team in baseball, OK. But we can win games and we can compete against anybody," Cox said following his team's loss in Game 3. "But we can't afford to make mistakes."