StaTuesday: Kepler stands out in final 2018 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).

The Minnesota Twins didn’t have any finalists for a Gold Glove — but maybe they should have.

Right fielder Max Kepler had the 11th-best SDI in the American League and was third among AL right fielders with a 7.8. The two players above him — Mookie Betts (12.4) and Aaron Judge (8.7) were both Gold Glove finalists, with Betts winning.

The third finalist, the Angels’ Kole Calhoun, ranked fifth at 4.3 (Seattle’s Mitch Haniger was fourth at 4.7). Maybe Kepler was victimized by his inexperience and/or name recognition compared to the other three. We expect next year that won’t be an issue.

Last season, Minnesota only had one pitcher qualify for the SDI and Ervin Santana ended up with a negative number. This year is a different story.

Kyle Gibson had the seventh-best SDI among AL pitchers — 1.2 — and tops in the AL Central (of the top six, five were from the AL East). Not bad considering he was at -0.2 back in July.

In addition, Jose Berrios came in at an 0.8. Jake Odorizzi was the only other Twins pitcher listed and he was a -0.2, a full -1.0 ahead of the AL’s worst-ranked pitcher, Cole Hamels, and well ahead of Pittsburgh’s Ivan Nova, who clocked in at -3.0.

For some reason Joe Mauer, who was ranked fifth among AL first basemen in July, was not listed among the qualifiers as he ended up with 90 games at first base. Either was Jake Cave, who played just 70 games in center field.

Among other position players who finished the season Minnesota’s roster, well, there were no standouts. Eddie Rosario was decidedly average, finishing seventh among AL left fielders at -0.3. Shortstop Ehire Adrianza came in at -6.7 (Kansas City’s Alcides Escobar ranked last in the AL at -11.0) and catcher Mitch Garver was, welp, worst among all MLB catchers at -9.3. However, he was far from having the worst SDI among all players; that “honor” belonged to Yankees third baseman Miguel Andujar who was at an incredible -21.1.

Speaking of third baseman, Eduardo Escobar, who was traded to Arizona, still qualified for the Twins and had a 1.3. Same with second baseman Brian Dozier who was at -3.5.