Who Was The Top Defensive Player Of The First Half?

September 1, 2020
There are so many things about this season that are different from those that preceded it. But the defensive excellence of Rockies third baseman Nolan Arenado has not changed at all. It seems like he’s made the highlight reel for something he did in the field every night this season.
 

Rather than select a Defensive Player of the Month, we’ve chosen Arenado as the Defensive Player of the First Half in a vote among members of our Video Scout and Research & Development groups. Arenado edged out Rays center fielder Kevin Kiermaier and Dodgers second baseman Kiké Hernández in our voting.

Arenado and Hernández entered the day tied for the MLB lead with 8 Defensive Runs Saved. Arenado also had 10 Good Fielding Plays, tied for third-most in MLB, one behind his teammate, shortstop Trevor Story, who ranks second. Mariners first baseman Evan White leads with 14 (first basemen typically have the most because they’re often credited with Good Fielding Plays for scooping throws). Arenado and Story rank 1-2 in Good Fielding Plays since the start of the 2017 season.

Since his debut season in 2013, Arenado has 113 Runs Saved, which ranks tied for fourth overall and first among third basemen.

Most Defensive Runs Saved by Third Baseman - Since 2013

Player DRS
Nolan Arenado 113
Manny Machado 83
Matt Chapman 80
Evan Longoria 40

 

One of the most impressive of Arenado’s many good plays this season came when he was playing in the traditional shortstop spot, this diving stop and throw against Jurickson Profar of the Padres. Balls hit to this spot at this speed, with the third baseman playing where Arenado is positioned, are turned into an out only 16% of the time. That’s the lowest out probability for a ball that Arenado turned into an out this season. It’s one of seven plays that Arenado has made by either sliding, diving or jumping, one shy of Mariners shortstop J.P. Crawford for the MLB lead.

Arenado last led third basemen in Runs Saved in 2017, sharing the top spot with Evan Longoria and Matt Chapman. Chapman has been tops at the position the last two seasons, but this year, Arenado has an 8-1 edge in Runs Saved over his fellow El Toro (Calif.) High School alum, and a three-run lead over the next-closest third baseman (Carter Kieboom of the Nationals).

Some would say Arenado already ranks among the best defensive third baseman in baseball history. He’s putting a stamp on this season to give that claim even more legitimacy.

 
 

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