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Several Teams Have Defensive Streaks On The Line

September 17, 2020
Dodgers third baseman Max Muncy made two nice plays at the hot corner in a 7-6 loss to the Rockies on September 6. One was a lunging grab and flip to second base for a force out. The other was a charge-and-throw on a Nolan Arenado slow roller. The two plays were worth just over one run in Muncy’s (and the Dodgers') 2020 Defensive Runs Saved total.

Why do we bring this up? Because of an impressive streak that Dodgers third basemen have going that will play out into the final days of this season.

The Dodgers have gotten a positive Defensive Runs Saved contribution from their third basemen in every season since 2008. A total of 51 Dodgers played at least one inning at the position from 2008 to 2019, with the most prominent Runs Saved contributors being Juan Uribe (34), Casey Blake (26), Justin Turner (23), and Luis Cruz (12).

Justin Turner’s hamstring injury has meant that Muncy and Edwin Ríos have recently handled the load at third base. Between Turner, Muncy, and Ríos, this streak could go either way. The trio has combined for 0 Runs Saved at the position this season.

The second-longest streak of consecutive seasons with positive Runs Saved belongs to Red Sox right fielders. That one dates to 2009. Mookie Betts (96 Runs Saved) is the primary reason that the streak has lasted as long as it has, but Shane Victorino (26), J.D. Drew (10), Brock Holt (9) and Daniel Nava (8) deserve props for that too.

Not surprisingly, replacing Betts has been a challenging task. Boston’s right fielders have combined to cost the team 2 runs in 2020. Alex Verdugo, obtained in the trade for Betts, has flourished in left field, but cost the team a run in right field. J.D. Martinez, who is having a tough season at the plate, hurt the team in his 30 innings, costing them 3 runs with his defense.

This has been a pretty dismal year for the Rangers, but they’re almost surely going to end one streak. Rangers right fielders have finished with a negative Runs Saved total for 10 consecutive years. Thanks to Joey Gallo, that shouldn't come close to happening this season. Gallo has impressed with his glove and especially with his arm. His 8 Runs Saved in right field are tied with Betts and Anthony Santander of the Orioles for the most in MLB. Gallo and teammates are at 10 Runs Saved there for the season.

The Rangers have a streak of identical length at catcher. That one could end as well thanks to Jeff Mathis, whose 5 Runs Saved have offset the 3 that Robinson Chirinos cost the team before his trade to the Mets.

The one other season streak of double-digit length belongs to the Diamondbacks, who have finished with a positive Runs Saved total in center field in each of the last 10 seasons. The Diamondbacks have had excellent center fielders during that time, including Chris Young, A.J. Pollock, Ender Inciarte and Jarrod Dyson.

Most of their innings in center field this season were taken by Starling Marte before he was traded to the Marlins. They’re at 0 Runs Saved and it will likely depend on the likes of Daulton Varsho and Tim Locastro to see if that run extends into 2021.

One streak that didn’t make the cut – the Athletics have had nine straight seasons of negative defensive value from their catchers. But thanks to Sean Murphy, they’re poised to end that mark. Read about it on the Sports Info Solutions blog.



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