How does Dallas Keuchel lead pitchers in Defensive Runs Saved?

By Mark Simon

If you saw our Instagram picture of the Defensive Runs Saved leaders by position yesterday, you might have noticed something unusual.

Atlanta Braves starter Dallas Keuchel leads all pitchers in Defensive Runs Saved with six. That’s not odd because of who the leader is – Keuchel typically ranks among the best-fielding pitchers in the game. It’s odd because Keuchel didn’t throw a pitch in an MLB game until June 21.

Despite everyone else having a two-plus month head start, Keuchel still leads the field. How does something like that happen?

It’s simple. He’s just that good.

Keuchel has made nine plays with an out probability below 50% this season. Entering Monday, no other pitcher had made more than six such plays. “I’m blessed to have good reflexes,” Keuchel said five years ago. It’s still true today.

Most Plays With Out Probability < 50% – 2019 Season
Pitchers
Dallas Keuchel 9
Clayton Kershaw 6
Joe Musgrove 6
Patrick Corbin 6

Keuchel’s success goes beyond using his glove. The play with the lowest out probability (8%) was this smash by Tim Anderson that went off Keuchel’s foot, but the Braves pitcher was able to field the ball along the first base line and retire Anderson for the out.

Another was this broken-bat nubber by Todd Frazier down the third base line, on which Keuchel hustled and made a barehand play to get the out. The out probability there was only 21%.

Additionally, Keuchel has been a part of a career-high four double plays. And with regard to another aspect of pitcher defense, he has not allowed a stolen base all season. In fact, there’s only been one attempt in 96 2/3 innings against him. Keuchel isn’t perfect — he has three Defensive Misplays this season — but that’s not enough to dent his record. He’s only had one batted ball against him with an out probability for him between 65% and 100% on which he failed to make the play.

Keuchel has garnered praise recently for an 0.97 ERA in his last six starts heading into his start on Tueday. Let’s not overlook how he’s helped his own cause with some outstanding defensive work.

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