Kevin Kiermaier - Historic Defensive Season?

September 14, 2015

Kevin Kiermaier has emerged as one of baseball’s flashiest defensive players this season with a multitude of highlight-reel plays, but even more impressive is the fact that he may be on pace for the best defensive season ever as measured by Defensive Runs Saved.

Kiermaier played the majority of his rookie season with the Tampa Bay Rays as a right fielder, saving an impressive 13 runs in less than half a season at the position. But since becoming a full-time center fielder this year, he has saved 37 runs, the most of any player this season and 15 runs more than the runners-up (Andrelton Simmons and Brandon Crawford). In fact, Kiermaier’s 2015 campaign is thus far the second-best DRS season at a position since Baseball Info Solutions began tracking this data in 2003.

Best Defensive Seasons by Defensive Runs Saved (DRS)
Season Player Position DRS
2013 Andrelton Simmons Shortstop 41
2015 Kevin Kiermaier Center Field 37
2013 Manny Machado Third Base 35
2006 Adam Everett Shortstop 34
2009 Franklin Gutierrez Center Field 33
2013 Gerardo Parra Right Field 32
2013 Carlos Gomez Center Field 32
2005 Jack Wilson Shortstop 32
2007 Albert Pujols First Base 31
2007 Troy Tulowitzki Shortstop 31

 

The Rays center fielder has already eclipsed the previous center field record-holder Franklin Gutierrez, but he still trails multiple Fielding Bible Award and Gold Glove winner Andrelton Simmons. If Kiermaier continues his stellar play at the same pace, he will surpass Simmons’ record with 42 runs saved.

 
 

COMMENTS (11 Comments, most recent shown first)

steve161
Granderson's arm isn't strong enough for RF, but then it was never strong enough for CF either. I've never understood why they don't put him in left.
6:47 PM Sep 20th
 
MarisFan61
Off the subject, but, what's the deal with Cespedes being in CF and Granderson in RF? Just wondering.....I would have thought it was an easy call (for a couple of reasons) to have it the other way around. Evidently it's not.
6:47 PM Sep 18th
 
OldBackstop
Yes, this year Cepedes didn't play an inning of CF until joining the Mets, and he sat down their light-hitting Gold Glove 24-year-old center fielder...so, speaks volumes. Not that Cespedes has hurt the team :-) In CF or otherwise....
2:35 PM Sep 17th
 
MarisFan61
I'd bet on Keith Hernandez to make it in our lifetime.
Or at least I hope we live that long. :-)​
7:02 PM Sep 16th
 
Riceman1974
I don't think the Hall of Fame has the best defenders at each position, mainly because there is little consensus regarding the best defensive players.

Kieth Hernandez will never make the Hall of Fame, and not only was he a transcendant defensive player at his position, he was a good hitter too. Mark Belanger was as good as Ozzie Smith, and you could argue the best ever, but he ain't getting in the Hall without a ticket. Andru Jones was the best centerfielder I ever saw, and had some decent hitting numbers, but he'll never get in. The list goes on and on (Nettles, Marion, Dewey, etc., etc.).
3:06 PM Sep 16th
 
MarisFan61
(I assumed he meant this year, and if he did, it was right.)
11:08 AM Sep 16th
 
steve161
In fact Cespedes had played about 75 games in CF before joining the Mets.
9:29 AM Sep 16th
 
OldBackstop
I think just the position and necessary athleticism would lead to a certain disappointment on a year-to-year basis that would cloud a career.

Also, the subtlety of being a great centerfielder rather than an above average one seems to be problematic. They seem to be all incredible, error-free and a highlight film play ever game or two. While they always say up the middle you can be average with the bat, it seems like centerfield is the least of those positions. Every team has some jitterbug lightning quick kid in the minors.

Even Lagares on the Mets...Gold Glove last year...now he is getting a ninth inning AB...1 start in their last 11 games. Yeah, Cespedes sat him down mostly, but Yo-C hadn't played a single game in center until he got here.
1:09 AM Sep 16th
 
OldBackstop
I think just the position and necessary athleticism would lead to a certain disappointment on a year-to-year basis that would cloud a career.

Also, the subtlety of being a great centerfielder rather than an above average one seems to be problematic. They seem to be all incredible, error-free and a highlight film play ever game or two. While they always say up the middle you can be average with the bat, it seems like centerfield is the least of those positions. Every team has some jitterbug lightning quick kid in the minors.

Even Lagares on the Mets...Gold Glove last year...now he is getting a ninth inning AB...1 start in their last 11 games. Yeah, Cespedes sat him down mostly, but Yo-C hadn't played a single game in center until he got here.
1:09 AM Sep 16th
 
steve161
I've always been sympathetic to the notion that the best defender at a position is a legitimate HOF candidate, the most obvious case being Bill Mazeroski. But it's not so easy to find a similarly clear candidate for center field who isn't already in--at least not among those of us who saw Willie Mays play the position.
8:07 PM Sep 15th
 
MarisFan61
They just mentioned it on the Yankee TV broadcast (Yanks vs. Rays), with great and repetitive emphasis.

Let me pose this: Suppose a player like him has a long career and remains so historically great in center field for at least 10 years, but is never more than maybe average offensively. Let's say, a Bill Mazeroski-type career, but as a center fielder. Let's say he winds up being considered possibly the greatest defensive CF of all time and clearly the best of his generation.

Is that a possible Hall of Famer, even though his overall 'value' doesn't come close to measuring up? Actually it's possible his career total of things like "WAR" would be in the range of some actual HOF CF's but it wouldn't be near the level of what is looked for nowadays.

Is that a possible Hall of Famer?
I'd sure vote for him.
6:59 PM Sep 15th
 
 
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