StaTuesday: Final 2017 Twins defensive ratings

Back in July, we presented the initial results of the Society of American Baseball’s (SABR) Defensive Index rankings (SDI).

As we mentioned back then, according to SABR, these rankings account for roughly 25 percent of the selection process used in determining each season’s Gold Glove winners, which were announced last week.

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The Defensive Index is compiled from different fielding metrics and incorporates a myriad of categories (for a more detailed explanation, please click here).

When we checked in over the summer, Byron Buxton was second in the major leagues in SDI behind Boston’s Mookie Betts and his rating was way ahead of the next-highest center fielder, Kansas City’s Lorenzo Cain.

Well, the Gold Glove winner ended up finishing second in the majors leagues behind Betts, although he did narrow the gap, and also way ahead of Cain (20.0 to 10.1). By the way, the highest-rated National League center fielder was Washington’s Michael Taylor at 7.9.

Yes, this is just how good Buxton is at playing center field. We’ve said it before, but we hope he has a lot of room in his trophy case. Those Gold Gloves will start piling up.

Speaking of Gold Gloves, it’s hard to imagine any player who has turned around his defensive play more over the last couple of years than Brian Dozier. In 2015, Dozier’s SDI was -6.1. Last year, -1.3. This year, Dozier had a 3.6 SDI (only Detroit’s Ian Kinsler was higher in the American League at 5.8) and earned his first Gold Glove.

And speaking of Gold Gloves, Joe Mauer … oh, wait. Mauer finished third among American League first basemen in SDI at 6.7 but wasn’t even a finalist for the award. The winner of the Gold Glove, Kansas City’s Eric Hosmer, had a -2.6 SDI, second worst among AL first basemen.

The Twins had some strong defense at other positions, too, according to the SDI.

Jason Castro finished fourth among AL catchers and 23rd overall in the league at 4.6, a big improvement over the days of Kurt Suzuki (who did not qualify for the rankings in 2017, but who had a -7.2 SDI in 2016 and -8.4 in ’15).

Among other Gold Glove qualifiers on Minnesota, Max Kepler stands out. The right fielder had a 4.2 SDI, which ranks him 25th overall in the American League and fifth among his position in the AL.

On the flip side, Miguel Sano had a -5.8 SDI, worst on the team and third worst among AL third basemen. However, Sano did improve as the year went on as he had a -7.2 SDI in our first look back in July.

Shortstop Jorge Polanco had a -3.8 SDI and Ervin Santana, the only Twins pitcher who qualified, was at -1.3. Left fielder Eddie Rosario ranked right in the middle of AL left fielders at -0.2

To view all the final ratings, click here.

Dave Heller is the author of Ken Williams: A Slugger in Ruth’s Shadow, Facing Ted Williams – Players From the Golden Age of Baseball Recall the Greatest Hitter Who Ever Lived and As Good As It Got: The 1944 St. Louis Browns