What's worse? An error by a below average fielder, or a misplay by an average-to-above-average defender?
From my perspective it's the latter, but not everyone sees things my way.
On Thursday in San Francisco, Adam Dunn's seventh-inning error on a ball hit by John Bowker opened the door to three-run Giants' rally, erasing a 4-2 lead in a game won by the home team 5-4. The reaction by Nationals' fans was quick, and maybe a little predictable, with many posting comments on various sites along the lines of "this is exactly why the Nationals need to shop for a new first baseman..."
It was Dunn's fourth error of the season, a pretty small number in the grand scheme of things, and I'll be the first to admit that his fielding percentage is not a true indication of prowess with the glove. Still, he's been better there this year than I expected, and believe me when I tell you, he works very hard at improving. He wants to be better, and intends to get there. Better doesn't mean a Gold Glove - all that's required is basic adequacy.
On the other side of the coin, Adam Kennedy's first inning two-out error against San Diego Saturday night led to 3 unearned runs and a 4-2 loss. Kennedy is a veteran infielder with a solid reputation, and he pretty much got a pass from the online critics. Not a big surprise there.
The Nationals have committed 40 errors this year, tops in the NL (tied with Florida). They're still playing .500 baseball. Some errors, naturally, are more costly than others. Errors are going to happen. Period.
Houston - the next stop on this current road trip - has the worst record in the league, but a team fielding percentage in the top half of the league. The best teams have well-above-average defense. The Nats are some distance away from that at the moment, but by degrees, they're improving. There's no ring for the best fielding team. The 2010 Nationals are about five weeks ahead of the 2009 squad in victories. Better glove work has played some role in that.