Rookie Total Runs and DRS Leaders

June 20, 2013

A couple of weeks ago, we looked at the overall Total Runs leaders so far in 2013. Total Runs is a comprehensive player evaluation that combines our Defensive Runs Saved numbers with runs generated by offense, pitching, and baserunning.

This week, let’s use the same metric to look at the best rookies so far:

Player Total Runs
Shelby Miller, Cardinals 49
Hyun-Jin Ryu, Dodgers 46
A.J. Pollock, Diamondbacks 45
Jedd Gyorko, Padres 43
Julio Teheran, Braves 42
Pete Kozma, Cardinals 42
Didi Gregorius, Diamondbacks 41
Nolan Arenado, Rockies 40
Evan Gattis, Braves 40
Jose Fernandez, Marlins 35
Marcell Ozuna, Marlins 35


The top of the list features two National League pitchers at the forefront of the Rookie of the Year discussion. Shelby Miller is striking out more than a batter per inning and has a 2.08 ERA in 14 starts. Hyun-Jin Ryu has been nearly as good with a 2.85 ERA. Overall, the NL dominates the list. Conor Gillaspie and Aaron Hicks fell just short of the top-ten in rookie Total Runs in the American League, but I wonder if the AL Rookie of the Year favorite has even made his debut.

No one would have been surprised to see a rookie Diamondbacks outfielder near the top of this list before the season began, but most would have pegged Adam Eaton to be that player. Instead, Eaton has been hurt, and A.J. Pollock has taken full advantage of his resulting playing time. He is tied for ninth in baseball with Norichika Aoki and Chase Headley with 10 Defensive Runs Saved.

Defensively, Pollock has been the standout, as previously mentioned. However, Nolan Arenado has recently passed him in Runs Saved despite his late-April debut Those two have separated themselves from the other rookies in the field:

Player Defensive Runs Saved
Nolan Arenado, Rockies 12
A.J. Pollock, Diamondbacks 10
Marcell Ozuna, Marlins 7
Aaron Hicks, Twins 6
Brandon Barnes, Astros 5


Note: Total Runs uses a few different measures of a player’s ability. We measure offense using Bill James’ Runs Created system. His system measures stolen base runs, but excludes activity on the basepaths other than that. We add in Baserunnning Runs to complete the offensive part of the equation. For pitching, we have an article in the book that describes how we developed our new Pitching Runs Created system so that we can measure a pitcher’s contribution compared with a hitter. The last part is the Positional Adjustment. This is a technique we developed three years ago in The Fielding Bible—Volume II to take into account, for example, that a shortstop has more defensive value than a first baseman. Our Defensive Runs Saved system doesn't reflect the relative defensive importance of one defensive position compared to another, which makes the Positional Adjustment necessary. Total Runs is explained fully in The Fielding Bible—Volume III.



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