Yesterday the crew over at MLB Advanced Media unveiled a new set of stats for infielders at MLB.com. We’ve had Outs Above-Average for outfielders for a while now. But almost all defensive metrics for infielders were missing. They’ve been a bit of a work-in-progress for some time, with the team at MLBAM trying to figure out how to best go about using the information they had. The data goes back to 2017 and can be viewed by season.
Three seasons is about the baseline that is suggested for the amount of time you need to use to get a decent feel for how a player is defensively – at least with past defensive metrics. The sample size simply hasn’t been viewed as large enough otherwise.
With a brand new stat, we don’t really know much about it. We don’t know how accurate to treat it, or how large/small of a sample size is needed to say the data is reliable. I’ve long been a skeptic of the publicly available defensive metrics being as accurate as some people tend to believe that they are. I’ll die on the hill that in no way should defensive values being used in WAR calculations because we know for a fact that offensive values are far more correlated to run production than defensive values are to run prevention. But that’s another story for another day.
With all of that said here’s a quick break down of what the metric is measuring:
- How far the fielder has to go to reach the ball (“the intercept point”).
- How much time he has to get there.
- How far he then is from the base the runner is heading to.
- On force plays, how fast the batter is, on average.
Mike Petriello discusses and explains some of the things going on, and provides examples (with video and charts) of how things are being measured and calculated. Feel free to give it a look if it’s something that sounds interesting. For my money, which isn’t much, this system *sounds better* than any other defensive metric at first glance.
Now that we’ve got that out of the way – let’s take a look at how the 2020 Cincinnati Reds infielders stack up:
The Current Cincinnati Reds
Joey Votto – First Base
The data at first base is going to be a little bit different from the other positions. The reason being that at first base you can also make a difference in fielding throws from the other infielders and that is not at all a part of the Outs Above Average number put forth here. This is only a measure of range and turning balls you field into outs.
When it comes to Joey Votto, he’s been about league average over the last two years, and slightly better than league average over the last three years. In both 2018 and 2019 he rated out as +1 OAA. During the 2017 season he rated out as +3, giving him a +5 mark over the last three seasons.
Mike Moustakas – Second Base
This is a bit of a tougher one to reliable use because Mike Moustakas has spend an overwhelming majority of his playing time at third base in the last three seasons. In 2019, at third base, he rated out as perfectly average, getting a 0 rating. In 2018 he rated out as a +1 defender at third. Back in 2017 that number was below-average, coming in at -4.
With the Reds, though, it’s not likely that Mike Moustakas will be playing much time at third base. That’s where Eugenio Suarez plays, and the Reds have openly stated that Moustakas is their second baseman. In 2019 he played in 47 games there, playing in 359.2 innings. He only made one error, posting a .993 fielding percentage. The data in the sample size at second base gave him a +2 rating.
Freddy Galvis – Shortstop
While Freddy Galvis didn’t spend much time at shortstop after arriving in Cincinnati last August – he only played in seven games there and only four of those were starts. But in 2017, 2018 and before arriving in Cincinnati in 2019 with Toronto he played in 373 games at shortstop. During the 2017 season with Philadelphia he graded out at +6. The next season in San Diego that number was even better at +12. This past season at shortstop he was also at +12.
Among the shortstops across baseball in the last three seasons not many rate out better than the +30 that Galvis has. Nick Ahmed leads the way at the position with an absurd +51. Andrelton Simmons has a +43 rating over the last three seasons. Francisco Lindor comes in at +31. That’s it.
Eugenio Suarez – Third Base
After grading out as a below-average shortstop early in his career, Eugenio Saurez made the move to third base where he’s been considered an above-average defender by the older defensive metrics. When it comes to Outs Above Average he’s graded out that way, too.
In the 2017 season he rated out as a +4 defender. That was followed up with a +6 mark in the 2018 campaign. Last season was his worst among the three, but he still graded out slightly better than average at +1 on the year.
The Former Cincinnati Reds
Jose Iglesias – Shortstop
In 2019 the Reds got to watch Jose Iglesias do some impressive things, almost weekly making a highlight reel caliber play at the shortstop position. The numbers back up just how good he was, too – he rated out at +12 Outs Above Average during the season. That’s the same as Freddy Galvis – but the two got there quite differently. Iglesias was very good going towards the second base bag, but merely average going towards third. He was solid going back and coming in. Galvis, on the flip side was solid in all directions, but very good coming in on the ball.
In 2018 Jose Iglesias graded out at +2. And back in 2017 that number was 0. Overall in the last three seasons he’s been above-average overall – but it was the 2019 season that differed from the other two.
Jose Peraza – Shortstop/Second Base
In 2019 when Scooter Gennett went down late in the spring with an injury, the Reds made the decision to slide Jose Peraza to second base and have Jose Iglesias slide into the starting shortstop position. He graded out as a +2 defender on the season in the infield. In 2018 he was even better, with most of his time coming at shortstop, he graded out as +5 overall. During his first full season with the Reds in 2017 he was slightly below-average, -1 overall. That came with a +3 mark at second base, but a -4 at shortstop.
Scooter Gennett – Second Base
For most of the last three seasons Scooter Gennett played at second base for the Reds. In each season he was listed as a below-average fielder. In 2017 he was a -4 fielder. The next season he graded out at -5. Last season, in much less playing time due to the injury, he was a -3 defender between his time in Cincinnati at San Francisco.
Zack Cozart – Shortstop
In the first year that we have data from with this new stat, Zack Cozart was the Cincinnati Reds shortstop. Outs Above Average graded him out as a -3 defender. That’s in contrast to the +6.4 he graded out in UZR/150 that same season. The next season he was in Anaheim and played a little bit of everywhere around the infield for the Angels. Overall he graded out as a -8 fielder according to Outs Above Average – and that came while only playing in 58 games. In the 2019 season he spent most of his time at third base, but injuries kept him off of the field most of the season. Cozart was +2 at third base, but -1 at shortstop.