Top Defensive Players for 2014

August 22, 2014

Last year was an incredible year for defense. For the first time ever, a defender saved his team more than 40 runs according to Baseball Info Solutions’ Defensive Runs Saved (DRS) metric. Incredibly, two different players set the record! Andrelton Simmons saved the Braves 41 runs at shortstop, which were 29 runs better than the closest shortstop to him. Gerardo Parra also saved 41 runs for the Diamondbacks, playing all three outfield positions.

We are down to the final six weeks of 2014, and it does not look like anyone will quite reach the lofty DRS levels of Simmons and Parra last year. However, there are a couple of players who could approach 40 Runs Saved with a standout remainder of August and September.

Most Defensive Runs Saved, 2014
Player Runs Saved
Jason Heyward 32
Juan Lagares 28
Alex Gordon 20
Lorenzo Cain 20
Zack Cozart 19
Note: through games of August 19


Simmons’ teammate, Jason Heyward, leads all players with 32 Runs Saved this season. Heyward’s tremendous range accounts for the bulk of these runs saved (based on his 29 Plus/Minus Runs Saved which measure range alone).

Juan Lagares was tremendous as a rookie in 2013, finishing second among all center fielders with 26 Runs Saved despite playing just 108 games. This season, he has 28 Runs Saved in only 87 games. Lagares has exceptional range, but it’s his arm that stands out the most. Since 2013, Lagares has 15 baserunner kills (throwing out baserunners without the use of a relay man), the most at the position.

The trio of Alex Gordon, Zack Cozart and Lorenzo Cain is well back of Heyward and Lagares, but they are each having tremendous defensive seasons. Gordon has been one of the most consistent defenders in the game, saving between 16 and 24 runs for four consecutive seasons in left field. Cozart has been a strong defender throughout his career, but he has raised his game this season predominantly going to his right on groundballs in the hole between the short and third. Cain has also been excellent in his career defensively, a hugely valuable and versatile defender for the Royals for several seasons now. He has split time between center and right field the last couple of seasons and been exemplary at both. His biggest obstacle to defensive stardom may be his own teammate Jarrod Dyson, who himself is an elite defender and demands outfield innings. They have combined for 27 Runs Saved in center field this season, which is only one run behind Lagares.


COMMENTS (3 Comments, most recent shown first)

Heyward also does well under Win Shares;

2010 - 2.51 WS/1000 Inn
2011 - 2.53 WS/1000 Inn
2012 - 4.13 WS/1000 Inn
2013 - 3.50 WS/1000 Inn
Car - - 3.30 WS/1000 Inn

A typical CF earns 3.00 WS/1000 Inn. Heyward is doing that as a RF, which is really impressive.​
11:18 PM Aug 23rd
And, at least using BBRef numbers, Heyward has been amazingly consistent, with 2010 (his rookie year) being his worst--only 15 runs saved according to BBRef. Then:
2011: 18
2012: 17
2013: 22
2014: 36
8:01 PM Aug 23rd
I've seen Jayson Heyward's metrics on and they show a similar number of runs saved as what you show. This total seems incredibly high for a right fielder. Are there inconsistencies or unknowns in the manner in which the data is collected that might account for Heywards' performance, or is this a realistic assessment?
6:36 PM Aug 22nd
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