Who are the best infielders at avoiding mistakes?
By MARK SIMON
A couple of weeks ago, we ran an article in The Athletic explaining our detailed scoring system for tracking Defensive Misplays and Errors. The piece focused mostly on those who were frequent mistake-makers, so we thought that we would share a look at the game’s best at avoiding defensive mistakes. We’ll do one post covering the infield and another looking at outfielders.
For our purposes, we’ll look at extended runs of play – the referenced leaders will all be within the last four seasons entering play on April 23, and will have played at least 1,500 innings at that position.
The leaderboard is based on video tracking that assesses Good Fielding Plays for 30 types of defensive excellence and Defensive Misplays & Errors for about 60 types of mistakes.
First Base: The most mistake-free players here are Paul Goldschmidt of the Diamondbacks and Joe Mauer of the Twins, each of whom averages just over one Misplay & Error per 100 innings. With Goldschmidt, that’s not surprising given that he’s won three Gold Glove Awards and three Fielding Bible Awards. Mauer hasn’t won one at first base yet. But he has by far the best Good Fielding Play to Misplay & Error ratio of any first baseman.
Second Base: Robinson Canó of the Mariners and Joe Panik of the Giants rank 1-2, each averaging just under 2 Misplays & Errors per 100 innings. Though neither ranks close to the leaders in Defensive Runs Saved at the position in that time, each plays a highly fundamentally sound brand of defense that limits miscues.
Shortstop: The leader here is unsigned former Orioles shortstop J.J. Hardy, who was one of the game’s top infield defenders from 2012 to 2016. He averaged just under 2 Misplays & Errors per 100 innings, a hair ahead of Tigers shortstop José Iglesias. Though Andrelton Simmons dominates the shortstop position from a defensive perspective. Iglesias is better in this regard, averaging 2 Misplays & Errors per 100 Innings to Simmons’ 2.4 (which ranks fifth at the position).
Third Base: Nationals third baseman Anthony Rendon is one of those players who is very good in many areas and avoiding mistakes is one of them. Rendon is the only player averaging fewer than 2 Misplays & Errors per 100 innings at third base. Injured Dodgers third baseman Justin Turner ranks second (2.2 Misplays & Errors per 100 innings).
For those wondering, Nolan Arenado ranks 12th, as his style of play lends itself to an abundance of Good Fielding Plays (his 213 are 73 better than the player who ranks second) and Misplays & Errors (116 – only Todd Frazier has more with 119)
We will look at outfielders in a future post
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