Texas Rangers infield middle of the pack in new Statcast defensive metric
By Kenneth Nash
The Statcast metric of Outs Above Average has finally been translated to the infield and the Texas Rangers landed just above average in 2019’s metrics.
The metric of Outs Above Average is a tool that has been used to measure individual and team outfield defensive performances regarding run prevention. As of today, that metric has now been translated to include infielders as well and on Wednesday, the rankings for the 2019 season were released. The Texas Rangers finished 2019 with an infield OAA of +4, good for 13th in the MLB.
For an in depth breakdown of how OAA is calculated for both outfielders and infielders you can visit the MLB.com glossary. In short, the metric takes into account where a player was positioned as well as the time they have to reach the ball in play, time to make said play (baserunner speed) and distance he is from where the ball has to be to make the play. This means it can account for dramatic shifts which have increased in popularity.
As far as the Rangers, mentioned above, they finished with a +4 rating which was 13th highest in the MLB. That was fourth among AL West teams behind the Astros in 3rd (+27), Angels in 4th (+22) and the A’s in 9th (+14). The Mariners were the lowest rated among AL West teams with a -13 rating, 24th in the MLB. Texas only had five players that qualified with the mark being one fielding attempt per team game played except for first base where the mark is a fielding attempt per every other team game.
The interesting thing about this metric is that it can breakdown rating depending where the ball was hit. Texas was markedly worse on plays hit laterally towards third base finishing -12 in that department. That should come as no shock with the club playing a revolving group of aging veterans or developing infielders at third. Conversely, the right side of the infield finished with a +6 mark on balls hit laterally towards first base. In addition, the Rangers were +9 on balls which they came in on and a +2 on those which had them going back.
Regarding individuals, Elvis Andrus was the highest rated defender for Texas last season finish +5 in OAA. Andrus ranks 13th among shortstops, a position paced by the Chicago Cubs’ Javy Baez (+19). Andrus’ +5 is tied with the Dodgers’ Corey Seager and Brewers’ Miguel Rojas. The Rangers second highest rated player was Rougned Odor whose +4 was 9th among second basemen, tied with Eric Sogard, Brock Holt, Cesar Hernandez and Hanser Alberto.
More from Texas Rangers News
- Early 2023 MLB mock draft has Texas Rangers selecting an Ohtani-lite
- 3 Texas Rangers outfield trade targets not named Bryan Reynolds
- Did Jacob deGrom really mean what he said at his Texas Rangers press conference?
- Martin Perez accepting the qualifying offer looking like solid deal for the Rangers
- 4 outfielders the Texas Rangers can still pursue this winter
Of the Rangers other qualifiers, Asdrubal Cabrera was the only other infielder with a positive rating, a +2 at third in his time with the Rangers. Other notable third basemen with a +2 rating include Anthony Rendon, Kris Bryant, Kyle Seager and Brian Anderson. Logan Forsythe finished with a -4 rating however just a -2 at third base. The other negative marks came from his time at short and first. Danny Santana had the lowest rating out of Rangers infielders at -5 although he was even in his time at first base.
Non-qualifiers were still measured but you can adjust the attempts to a minimum of 10 meaning other Rangers players are included. Isiah Kiner-Falefa finished +5, Ronald Guzman was -1 and Nick Solak was a -3 rating.
It’ll be interesting to see how this metric develops in use over time. In terms of the outfield because I know you’re curious, Texas finished 23rd in the MLB at -6 OAA. Delino DeShields, now with the Cleveland Indians, was the highest rated Rangers’ outfielder at +12, the 6th highest individual mark in baseball. Nomar Mazara, now with the Chicago White Sox, finished even and Shin-Soo Choo finished 90th of 92 qualifiers with a -12 OAA. Joey Gallo, Danny Santana and Willie Calhoun did not meet the requirements in 2019 for outfielders but while you’re here, Santana finished +2, Gallo +1 and Calhoun -7.
With all the change occurring and expected to occur regarding personnel for the Rangers next season it will be interesting to compare these numbers to those at the end of the 2020 season. The club isn’t though of as a strong defensive group and ridded itself of its best defender, DeShields, this offseason. However, a lot of non-qualifiers are expected to get everyday playing time this season meaning we could see a big shift in this metric come this time next year.