How does Aaron Judge already have 10 Defensive Runs Saved?

By MARK SIMON

There are 18 players with at least 10 Defensive Runs Saved this season. Of those 18, the one who has played the fewest innings is Yankees rightfielder Aaron Judge, who has saved 10 runs in 375 innings (45 games).

Judge has the same number of Runs Saved at that position as three-time Fielding Bible Award winner Mookie Betts in fewer than half as many innings played. So how did Judge amass so many Runs Saved so quickly?

Half of Judge’s runs have come from Range & Positioning and Judge has earned his value there. Prior to getting hurt, his best plays were a diving catch on Niko Goodrum (on which our system gave him an 8% chance of recording an out) and a home run robbery against Jose Abreu.

His most valuable catch since returning is one in the gap to take a hit away from Daniel Murphy of the Rockies. Remember that some of the value in Judge’s DRS comes from being in the right spot at the right time, but he’s made enough solid plays for there to be a fair amount of merit in what he’s done in catching fly balls.

Judge has two DRS for plays related to this throwing arm, which isn’t unusual considering that he had two in 2017 and an MLB-leading eight in 2018. Judge has four unaided assists, which ranks third at the position. Those are of considerable value.

Erasing those runners also counts in Judge having allowed 15-of-36 runners to advance on hits he’s fielded, an above-average rate which gives him a little DRS boost (average advance rate is 50%). The last three seasons, Judge has the lowest baserunner advancement rate, 40 percent.

Judge is helped somewhat by playing in Yankee Stadium, in that it gives him opportunities that others might not get elsewhere. But if you’re wondering about his arm strength, just ask one of his victims, Max Stassi.

Judge’s assists and the home run robbery get additionally counted in his Good Fielding Plays Runs Saved. He gets an initial bump for making the play itself and then add-on value related to the run value in what he did.

SIS Video Scouts watch every game, categorizing Good Fielding Plays & Defensive Misplays and Errors. Good Plays include Web Gems as well as things like cutting the ball off in the gap to prevent a runner from advancing. Misplays and Errors include drops, muffs and bobbles, but also things like slipping and falling.

In all, Judge’s Nine Good Fielding Plays offset his Five Misplays & Errors considerably (hence why he recorded three Runs Saved). The best thing Judge has done is minimize his mistakes. Five Misplays & Errors in 375 innings is a good ratio. It comes out to 1.3 per 100 innings, which ranks sixth-best among the 30 players who have played right field the most (he’s essentially tied for fourth).

In sum, the evidence is there in favor of Judge’s performance in right field this season. It will be interesting to see come Fielding Bible and Gold Glove Awards time how he fares in the balloting, weighing his excellence against his time missed. In other words, how will the jury weigh in?

Most Defensive Runs Saved – RF
Innings
Cody Bellinger 15 747
Aaron Judge 10 375
Mookie Betts 10 785
Jason Heyward 8 522

For more information about Sports Info Solutions, click here.

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