Who Will Be The Best Defenders in 2013?

April 2, 2013

Baseball Info Solutions introduced its defensive projections in The Fielding Bible – Volume III a year ago. The 2013 projections follow the same simple formula: prorate each player’s three-year Defensive Runs Saved totals over the number of defensive innings we forecast for him in 2013. In this Stat of the Week, we’ll look at the top players at each position and the top teams in our projections.

Here are the projected leaders in Defensive Runs Saved by position:

Position Player Projected Runs Saved
P Mark Buehrle, Blue Jays 5
C Yadier Molina, Cardinals 8
1B Albert Pujols, Angels 8
2B Darwin Barney, Cubs 11
3B Brett Lawrie, Blue Jays 19
SS Andrelton Simmons, Braves 20
LF Alex Gordon, Royals 15
CF Michael Bourn, Indians 12
RF Josh Reddick, Athletics 15


Mark Buehrle and Albert Pujols are the two position leaders in our 2013 projections whom we also projected to lead their positions a year ago. In 2012, Buehrle did just that, saving his team 12 runs defensively on his way to his fourth consecutive Fielding Bible Award. Jake Westbrook was right behind Buehrle with 11. Pujols ended the season with 8 Runs Saved, well behind Mark Teixeira and Adrian Gonzalez, who had 17 Runs Saved and 16 Runs Saved, respectively. If not for his injury, Pujols might have been right there with them in 2012. For 2013 we project Teixeira and Gonzalez tied for second with 7 Runs Saved apiece.

The rest of the infield is full of fresh faces. Darwin Barney has just two seasons as the full-time starter in Chicago, Brett Lawrie has just one in Toronto, but Andrelton Simmons, with only half a season in the big leagues, may be the best of all of them. Simmons saved 19 runs in 426 innings in 2012 and should triple his playing time if he remains healthy this year. We project him to lead all players with 20 Runs Saved in 2013, but that may still be conservative.

Alex Gordon and Michael Bourn have been mainstays at the top of the Defensive Runs Saved charts over the last few seasons, but Josh Reddick came out of nowhere to lead right fielders with 22 Runs Saved in his first season of full playing time in Oakland. He and Fielding Bible Award winner Jason Heyward should provide us with a tremendous defensive duel over the next decade.

Here are the top five teams in our 2013 Defensive Projections:

Team Projected Runs Saved
Rays 34
Angels 29
Royals 23
Reds 21
Diamondbacks 15


It is no surprise to see the Rays at the top of the list. They will hope to have a healthy Evan Longoria for a full season, in which we project him to save 13 runs. The Angels locked in a major upgrade in their defensive outfield with their recent trade of Vernon Wells, making Mike Trout, Peter Bourjos, and newcomer Josh Hamilton the best outfield in baseball. The top-five is rounded out by the Royals, Reds, and Diamondbacks.


COMMENTS (4 Comments, most recent shown first)


Brendan Ryan fell one point shy of the maximum score. He has been a defensive standout for several seasons now, and with injuries limiting three-time winner Troy Tulowitzki, Ryan was finally rewarded for his excellent play. Ryan led all shortstops in Defensive Runs Saved by a significant margin with 27. His closest competitor was Atlanta rookie Andrelton Simmons with 19.

No love for Ryan this year? My vote is for him to have a better defensive year than last year.

4:59 PM Apr 3rd
Dewan (or Ben) must have regressed.

They had Simmons at +19 in 30% of the season last year, and they have him at +20 in a full season this year. If you define a full-season as playing say 85% of the time, then they regressed by adding a league average season of 81 games.

The text in the article doesn't say anything about regression, even though they must have regressed.

Anyway, +20 seems appropriate.

12:10 PM Apr 3rd
Not only do you need regression, you need aging.
8:23 AM Apr 3rd
These estimates are far too optimistic; prorating the past three years of data isn't enough; you still have to regress.
10:08 PM Apr 2nd
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