Which Players Have Featured the Best and Worst Gloves in 2015?
Much of what we talk about here deals around which players and teams are doing well hitting homers and scoring runs. We also talk a lot about which pitchers and teams are doing the best job at limiting runs scored against them. But rarely do we talk about an aspect of the game this is just as vital, if harder to compute.
That's right, MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred has continued with the game's long-standing tradition of forcing nine fielders (including the pitcher) to take positions out on the field, put on gloves, and try to prevent batted balls from becoming hits. Recording outs is still, according to league officials, an "important part of the fabric of the game."
Seriously though, we never get to shine a light on the glove work, so let's take a look at who is doing the best in the field so far here in 2015 according to Defensive Runs Saved (DRS) and UZR (Ultimate Zone Rating).
Both stats essentially tell the same story, using different metrics to judge a player based on how many runs he has saved or cost his team, compared to a league average player at his position. The players are ranked below by DRS, my personal favorite of the two.
|Mookie Betts||Red Sox||CF||8||1.4|
The leader of the pack so far this year is Kansas City's Lorenzo Cain, with a DRS of 12 and a UZR of 8.1. Last year and the year before, Cain was worth 24 DRS each season, so he's been doing this for a while. Nolan Arenado is ranked second this year with 11 DRS, more of the same from last year when he put up the third-most DRS among third basemen with 16.
Bryce Harper is off to the best defensive start of his career, ranking third with 10 DRS this season. Last year he was worth -1 DRS, 5 the year before, and 14 in his rookie season in 2012. So it's nice to see Harper back to playing elite-level defense once again.
Now, let's look at the other side of the coin. The following players are hurting their teams the most on defense, and it's kinda ugly.
|Hanley Ramirez||Red Sox||LF||-11||-9.2|
We all knew it was going to be an adventure for Hanley Ramirez in left field, playing in front of the Green Monster, having never played the position before. And, that's been the case. Ramirez, in just 41 games, is about 11 runs worse than a league average left fielder according to DRS and 9.2 runs worse according to UZR. It's ugly, but not surprising.
The player who is surprisingly struggling is Yankees third baseman Chase Headley, with -7 DRS and -4.4 UZR. Last year, Headley was outstanding defensively, worth 13 DRS for both San Diego and New York, with a UZR of 20.9. He already has nine errors this season -- six throwing and three fielding. His range has diminished greatly this season, and no one is quite sure why.
Clearly, run prevention is as important as run creation. The Kansas City Royals used that philosophy to get within one win of a World Series title last year.
It pays to take a quick glance at the fielding stats once in a while to see which players and teams are leaking runs to the other side.