Cannon Arms in 2013

January 10, 2014

So much of the current star power in baseball is in the outfield, where phenoms like Mike Trout, Bryce Harper, and Yasiel Puig routinely amaze with their spectacular play. However, there are some equally exciting but less-heralded players who make some tremendous contributions to winning. In 2013 two of these players were also outfielders, and they dominated with their arms. One was a traditionally part-time player, and the other was a rookie non-prospect:


Most Outfield Arm Runs Saved, 2013
Player OF Arm Runs Saved
Gerardo Parra 12
Juan Lagares 11
Jose Bautista 9
Adam Jones 7
Leonys Martin 6
Chris Denorfia 6
Carlos Gomez 6
Alex Gordon 6
Jeff Francoeur 5
Juan Perez 5
Norichika Aoki 5


Entering 2013, Gerardo Parra had been heavily used as a fourth outfielder. From 2009 to 2012, he averaged 940 outfield innings per season. However, the jump to 1,355 innings in 2013 coupled with extra time in right field—his 1,042 right-field innings in 2013 were more than double his prior 516 career innings there—allowed Parra to show off his great arm. Before 2013, Parra had saved the Diamondbacks an estimated 10 runs with his arm. Last season, Parra saved them 12 runs, which led all outfielders.

Just behind Parra, rookie center fielder Juan Lagares saved the Mets an estimated 11 runs with his arm, and he did that in only 820 innings at the position. His lofty total was supported by his 12 kills—runners thrown out without the assist of a relay man. That is the sixth-highest total in the last five seasons. He trailed Parra’s 15 kills last season, but Lagares joined Adam Jones—who had 10 kills in 2010 and 13 kills in 2011—as one of only two center fielders to exceed eight kills in a season since 2009.

Hall of Fame note: Congratulations to Greg Maddux, Tom Glavine, and Frank Thomas, who were elected into the Hall of Fame on Wednesday. It was well deserved for each of them. I am particularly pleased to see Thomas enshrined in his first eligible season after playing the bulk of his career in my home town of Chicago. However, they were not the only worthy candidates. This time last year, I made my case for Mike Piazza, who is simply the best offensive catcher ever. And, contrary to popular belief, he was an above-average defensive catcher as well. Click here to read what I wrote. Hopefully voters will rectify his omission next year.


COMMENTS (8 Comments, most recent shown first)

I admit that my standard for evidence is strict--indeed I revel in it. If it's not admissible in a court of law I don't want to know about it. I'm more interested in fairness than I am in preventing the odd PED user from slipping into the Hall. And I find it manifestly unfair to ask someone to prove a negative when I can't prove the positive.

Regarding the main subject of the article: now I see why Adam Jones looked like a Gold Glover to the voters, who presumably were impressed by highlight-reel throws and were unaware of his undistinguished plus/minus.
6:21 PM Jan 11th
If only Lagares could hit.
10:07 AM Jan 11th
My source links for the scouting reports don't work.
Piazza's is contained in:

Ripken's is at:
8:32 AM Jan 11th
What we`ll have to come up with is some sort of innuendo score for all these guys who seem to be on the PED bubble of the Hall of Fame. Some players get very low innuendo scores and waltz into the Hall of Fame; some get high innuendo scores, and are kept out.
But other than how they do in HoF voting, i`m not sure how we`d quantify the innuendo. Maybe a Google test?

I 'googled Piazza' steroids and got 199,000 matches.

'Ripken steroids' got just 78,000 matches
Any other ideas?
Piazza was 6`3`195 lbs at age 17 according to this scouting report of the time (​ufzCPoWN9TBsafogCbnJz21W11e0mXTkH2V2GTGabfuRrZytAXrfd9XqGLeAg)

Ripken was... 6`3`and 195 lbs at 17... and a pitcher!

I see him in commercials now and can`t help think... What a big head! Is that a moon face?

8:28 AM Jan 11th
.....sorry (really!) for a third post (wish we had an editing feature!)....
But I didn't say it real well.
I don't mean that I think it's "irresponsible" for voters to vote for someone who used PED's.
I mean I think it's irresponsible to vote for someone if you have any significant doubt about his really having been a "great player" -- [i]how ever you conceive of that[/i] -- since there's no "out" mechanism. Since enshrinement is irrevocable, I'm saying the "burden of proof" (if you want to call it that; I wouldn't) is on being darn sure the guy [i]is[i] a Hall of Famer in your book, rather than considering it fine as long as there's "no proof" that he isn't.
4:50 AM Jan 11th
P.S. Sorry to extend the digression. I suppose that's what you get for appending a stray comment about the Hall of Fame voting on a terrific article about outfield arms. :-)

Very interesting data -- especially that the top two guys were so far up there despite being so part-time.
12:16 AM Jan 11th
"No evidence whatsoever" -- only if you have a narrow definition of "evidence." But, tell you what: Let's accept your narrow definition.

Why do you think there needs to be evidence that someone's greatness was fake? Shouldn't the burden (so to speak) be the other way around -- i.e. shouldn't you want to be pretty sure the guy was clean before voting him in, since there's no mechanism for taking someone out once he's in?

And I'd say that's just it: Enough of the voters have doubt about whether Piazza was clean, and they feel they'll need (somehow) to have less doubt before they'll vote for him. Which seems eminently reasonable to me.

If you look at it that way, "evidence" isn't the criterion for declining to vote for someone. It's sufficient to feel there are indications that suggest doubt.

And if you ask me (which not too many people here would) :ha:'s irresponsible to vote for a player if you feel there are indications of doubt. UNLESS the Hall of Fame wants to establish a mechanism for taking guys out from there.

I know that my view on the subject is quite outlying in terms of this site, and that's why I've participated so little of late. But for what it's worth, the site's view is apparently outlying in relation to the HOF voters, and, I think, in relation to the public's predominant view.
12:13 AM Jan 11th
If memory serves, Piazza's reputation as a catcher, already suffering from his rag arm, really went into the tank when a couple of anonymous Dodger pitchers told an LA Times reporter (possibly Bill Plaschke) that Piazza spent too much time worrying about his hitting and not enough preparing to catch them. If I'm right his reputation never recovered.

I don't think we're terribly good at evaluating catchers statistically, though I'm glad that John's numbers (thanks for the link) confirmed what I've believed for years that I was seeing through the centerfield camera. Piazza offered a firm target and, while his framing wasn't in a class with Jose Molina or Bob Boone, he gave the umpire a very good look.

However I don't believe it's his perceived defensive deficiencies that are keeping him out of the Hall. For whatever reason, like Jeff Bagwell, Piazza has been tarred with the steroid brush on no evidence whatsoever. This is enough for some self-righteous moral apostles to deny him their vote, and I think it stinks.
5:09 PM Jan 10th
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