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Mookie Betts Is A Dominant Defensive Player

February 12, 2020
When we say Mookie Betts is on the move, that has a couple of meanings. One is that he’s headed to the Dodgers in the recently-completed trade with the Red Sox. The other is that when Betts is on the move when in the field, he’s usually going to do something notable.
Betts saved 93 runs with his defense in right field the last four seasons. The next-closest right fielder in that span is Aaron Judge with 45. Betts had back-to-back seasons of 30 Runs Saved in 2016 and 2017. He slipped to 17 in 2018, but that was still good enough to lead the majors in right field. His 16 Runs Saved last season trailed only his new Dodgers teammate Cody Bellinger (who will likely move to center field) and Judge (each with 20).

There are a number of ways in which Betts has racked up Runs Saved. He’s the runaway leader in Plays Saved on balls hit to the shallowest parts of right field and medium-depth right field in that span. And he’s topped on balls hit to the deepest part of right field by only Jason Heyward and Giancarlo Stanton.

Betts also has 12 Outfield Arm Runs Saved in right field the last four seasons. Only Judge (14) has more in that span (another topic for another time, but Judge did that in 1,900 fewer innings than Betts).

Lastly, Betts’ five home run robberies (plays in which he literally saved runs) in the last four seasons are topped by only Lorenzo Cain (9), Josh Reddick (8) and Justin Upton (7).

Betts’ defensive excellence at his primary position is what separates him from others in the game. Over the last four seasons, he leads the majors in Total Runs, which combines Runs Created, Baserunning Runs, and Defensive Runs Saved, along with a positional adjustment (and the primary pitcher stat, Pitching Runs Created). His 674 Total Runs beat out Nolan Arenado (627) and Mike Trout (611).

The Fielding Bible—Volume V is coming soon. The book features our improvements to Defensive Runs Saved, essays on all 30 teams, studies from the Sports Info Solutions R&D team and much more. You can learn more about it and pre-order a copy at this link.

COMMENTS (4 Comments, most recent shown first)

Brock Hanke
I don't want to make too much of this, but if Betts is really dominant with the glove, why isn't he playing center?
12:44 AM Feb 26th
What is the single-season worst run saved total by any player?
12:00 PM Feb 14th
The un-sarcastic answer is 93 Runs Created.
3:56 PM Feb 13th
If one were to equate runs save to an offensive output, what woyld Betts’ 93 runs saved be in an offensive context?
5:17 AM Feb 13th
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