StaTuesday: Early defensive ratings for 2018 Milwaukee Brewers
This past week, the Society of American Baseball Research (SABR) issued its first Defensive Index rankings (SDI) for the season, based on games played through July 15 (or, up until the All-Star break), and several of Milwaukee's players are at or near the top of their respective positions.
According to SABR, these rankings account for roughly 25 percent of the selection process used in determining each season’s Gold Glove winners and also contributes in determining Platinum Glove Award winners.
The Defensive Index is compiled from different fielding metrics and incorporates a myriad of categories. (If you are interested in a more detailed explanation, please click here.)
It should come as no surprise that Lorenzo Cain is the top Milwaukee defensive player according to SDI. Cain came to the Brewers with a sterling reputation in the field and he hasn't disappointed. Cain's 7.6 SDI is the best for any major-league center fielder, is third-highest among all National Leaguers and is tied for fifth overall in MLB. (By the way, for comparison's sake, Colorado center fielder Charlie Blackmon has the worst SDI among all qualified players at -13.7.)
But Cain is not the only Brewers outfielder who is excelling on defense, according to the SDI.
Ryan Braun ranks fourth among qualifying left fielders in the NL with a 3.8 while Christian Yelich, also listed under left fielders, has a 0.6. Domingo Santana might have struggled at the bat and is now in Triple-A, but his 2.9 SDI is third among NL right fielders.
Speaking of players struggling with the bat and in Triple-A … Orlando Arcia is tops among NL shortstops with a 6.2 SDI. He finished last season with a 5.6 SDI, so he just keeps getting better. By the way, Manny Machado, who Milwaukee flirted with acquiring, has a -10.5 SDI. The only shortstop with a worse rating in the majors is a former Brewer, Kansas City's Alcides Escobar at -10.8.
Also improving is third baseman Travis Shaw, who last season had a 3.4 SDI. But at the break, he had a 4.9 SDI, second in the NL only to Colorado's Nolan Arenado (5.2), who has won the Gold Glove in all five of his major-league seasons.
Over at first base, while All-Star Jesus Aguilar has been crushing it at the plate, he's also acquitted himself on defense, posting a 1.7 SDI, good for fifth among NL first basemen.
Milwaukee's strength on defense continues at catcher, where Manny Pina, who last year was third among NL catchers, has a 3.3 SDI, trailing only San Francisco's Buster Posey (4.9) in the Senior Circuit and Seattle's Mike Zunino (4.3) in the American League.
On the mound, Brent Suter, now out for the season, is sixth among NL pitchers with a 1.9 SDI. Three other Brewers pitchers qualified for the rankings: Chase Anderson (-0.1), Junior Guerra (-0.5) and Jhoulys Chacin (-0.7).
The one position where Milwaukee has had below average defense according to the SDI -- and this should come as no surprise considering trade rumors -- is second base, where Jonathan Villar is a -0.6 and Hernan Perez a -2.1. Potential trade target Asdrubal Cabrera of the Mets, however, has a -10.2 -- worst among all MLB second basemen.
To view all of the ratings through July 15, click here.
Dave Heller is the author of Ken Williams: A Slugger in Ruth's Shadow (a Larry Ritter Book Award nominee), 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