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Archived Stat of the Week

 

Best Defensive Players of the Decade (Part II)

February 27, 2013

The best defensive players of the decade at second base and shortstop, which we covered in the previous Stat of the Week, were close calls. Chase Utley and Adam Everett earned those distinctions against some stiff competition. This week, we’ll look at the best defenders since 2003 at first base and third base, neither of which requires as much nuance to decide.

First, here are the five best first basemen of the last 10 years according to Defensive Runs Saved:

Most Defensive Runs Saved at 1B, 2003-2012
Player Innings DRS DRS/1000
Albert Pujols 11,890 134 11
Mark Teixeira 12,247 94 8
Doug Mientkiewicz 4,253 46 11
Kevin Youkilis 4,835 45 9
Casey Kotchman 7,011 43 6

The previous decade of first base defense was dominated by two players, and while Mark Teixeira is the one most often praised for his premium glove, Albert Pujols has the most Runs Saved. In fact, Pujols exceeded Teixeira by the same big margin that Teixeira exceeded the rest of the field of first basemen. Pujols outpaced Teixeira by 40 Defensive Runs Saved in nearly 400 fewer innings, which is reflected in his five-to-one edge over Teixeira in Fielding Bible Awards. Doug Mientkiewicz, a defensive specialist, was the only first basemen to match Pujols’ pace of 11 Runs Saved per 1000 innings with at least 1500 innings played over that time frame.

Next, here are the five best third basemen of the last 10 years according to Defensive Runs Saved:

Most Defensive Runs Saved at 3B, 2003-2012
Player Innings DRS DRS/1000
Adrian Beltre 12,294 170 14
Scott Rolen 9,669 114 12
Pedro Feliz 6,942 80 12
Evan Longoria 5,217 72 14
Brandon Inge 8,968 70 8

Adrian Beltre, another Baseball Info Solutions’ favorite, easily takes the crown as the best defender of the previous decade at third base. Beltre has managed four Fielding Bible Awards, one fewer than Pujols, but his dominance over the field at third base exceeds that of Pujols. He has saved 56 more runs since 2003 than his closest competitor, Scott Rolen, and only Evan Longoria has matched his pace of 14 Runs Saved per 1000 innings.

Our holistic Defensive Runs Saved metric is made up of several runs saved components. Two primary components of Defensive Runs Saved include the Plus/Minus System, which evaluates the range of fielders at every position except for catcher, and Good Fielding Plays and Defensive Misplays. Defensive Runs Saved for first basemen and third basemen also includes Runs Saved on bunts.

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