StaTuesday: Early defensive ratings for 2019 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 June 16 and the Milwaukee Brewers are, for the most part, well represented.
According to SABR, these rankings account for roughly 25% of the selection process used in determining each season’s Gold Glove winners. The Defensive Index is compiled from different fielding metrics and incorporates a myriad of categories. The SDI then spits out a number, positive or negative, with zero being the league average. (If you are interested in a more detailed explanation, please click here.)
Lorenzo Cain is, once again, not surprisingly rated as the Brewers’ best defensive player thus far. Cain’s 2.8 rating is tied for 21st overall in the National League and second among NL center fielders behind just Arizona’s Ketel Marte, who qualifies in center despite having played just 45 games there this season (entering Tuesday’s games). Cain is just one of four NL center fielders to have an SDI of 2.0 or higher.
The next-best rating on Milwaukee also belongs to an outfielder, but perhaps not who you’re thinking of.
Ben Gamel is the fourth-highest rated left fielder in the National League, at 2.2. Gamel is one of the eight NL left fielders (among 19 qualifiers) to have a positive SDI. One that doesn’t, however, is Ryan Braun, who is at the bottom of the list at -3.8. That’s a bit of a surprise as Braun was the fourth-highest rated left fielder in 2018 (3.2).
In right field, Christian Yelich is smack in the middle of the 17 rated players at -0.1.
At first base, it seems as though neither Jesus Aguilar nor Eric Thames can grab a foothold on the position in 2019. Both, however, are doing a credible job in the field when they’re out there. Aguilar has a 0.6 SDI while Thames is just behind at 0.5.
Mr. Utility, Hernan Perez, qualifies in the rankings at second base and has a 0.6 rating. Mike Moustakas, in his first year playing the position, is a -1.5.
Moustakas doesn’t qualify at third base, leaving Travis Shaw as the lone Milwaukee player in that category and once again he ranks highly. Shaw is fifth among NL third baseman at a 0.9. That’s a little low for Shaw, who was at a 6.5 in 2018 and 3.4 in 2017.
But Shaw has nothing on Orlando Arcia. Known as a fine defensive shortstop throughout his career (he even won a minor-league Gold Glove), Arcia was rated as a 5.6 in 2017 and 3.8 in 2018. However, this season, he’s all the way down the list at -3.6. He’s not the worst shortstop, though. Not by far. The Mets’ Ahmed Rosario is a -8.8, the worst SDI for any National League player.
A number of Brewers pitchers qualify for the rankings, with Corbin Burnes (0.3), Jhoulys Chacin (0.3) and Junior Guerra (0.1) all on the positive side of the ledger, Chase Anderson and Zach Davies both at a neutral 0.0 and Brandon Woodruff (-0.1) and Freddy Peralta (-0.4) on the other side.
At catcher, Manny Pina continues to rate highly defensively, checking in at a 0.8. Yasmani Grandal is a -0.1. But take heart. Last season, Grandal had a 3.7 rating. Oh, and this year he already has 17 home runs. So, yeah, a -0.1 isn’t that worrisome.