Who was July’s best defensive player?

​By MARK SIMON

The Brewers are dominating defensively and their outfielders are dominating our Defensive Player of the Month award.

We’re picking a Brewers outfielder again, giving Keon Broxton top honors for July. Among those Broxton edged out was his teammate, Lorenzo Cain, who won the award in May. Broxton’s offense did not match his defense though and he was sent to Triple-A on July 28 after hitting .146 in July. But that’s of no consequence for this award.

Broxton finished July with seven Defensive Runs Saved, much of which was amassed during an amazing defensive display in the first week of July. That was highlighted by home run robberies of Joe Mauer and Brian Dozier in a series against the Twins.

Broxton now has five home run robberies in the last three seasons, tied with Mookie Betts for the second most in that span. Justin Upton ranks first with six.

Speaking of home run robberies, Cain had one on the final day of July. He’s saved 19 runs, the most by any center fielder in the majors. Amazingly, despite playing only 104 innings at the position this season, Broxton has saved 10 runs, which is tied for second.

2018 Defensive Player of the Month
Month
April Matt Chapman
May Lorenzo Cain
June Trea Turner & Alex Gordon
July Keon Broxton

Brewers on verge of breaking a record

Broxton and Cain have put the Brewers in position to shatter the mark for most Defensive Runs Saved in a season. The Brewers have 105, two shy of the 2016 Cubs, who saved 107 on the way to winning the World Series (Defensive Runs Saved has been tracked since 2003).

What makes the Brewers so good?

It starts with the outfield. With Cain and Broxton patrolling center, the Brewers have recorded 30 Defensive Runs Saved at that position, the most for any team at any position this season.

They’ve also saved 14 in right field, with Domingo Santana, Eric Thames, Christian Yelich and Hernan Perez each saving at least two runs.

In all, the Brewers turn 68 percent of balls hit in the air (that stayed in the ballpark) into outs, the highest rate in the majors. They are tied for the major league lead with four home run robberies. They also have five Defensive Runs Saved from the value of their outfielders’ arms, tied for the fifth-highest total among teams.

Every infield position rates positively, with the left side rating particularly strong. Orlando Arcia has saved eight runs at shortstop, and Travis Shaw did likewise at third base prior to the trade for Mike Moustakas. Jonathan Villar had six DRS at second base before being traded to the Orioles in the deal for Jonathan Schoop. Jesus Aguilar has saved four runs at first base.

The big boost on the infield comes from the impact of defensive shifting. The Brewers, who rank in the top 10 in shift frequency, have 19 Shift Runs Saved, sixth most in the majors.

The Brewers pitchers and catchers have also chipped in, combining to save 11 runs. Seven of those come from currently injured pitchers Zach Davies and Brent Suter.

But whether the Brewers will best be remembered as a great defensive team or a great team will likely come down to their October performance, where they’ll try to match the excellence of the 2016 Cubs in that regard too.

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