Stat of the Week: An Unlikely Defensive Runs Saved Champion
By MARK SIMON
The 2021 team leader in Defensive Runs Saved was … the Rangers.
Yes, the 60-102 Rangers. That’s not a misprint. They finished with 85, three more than the second-place Cardinals.
The Rangers had by far the worst winning percentage of any team to lead the majors in Defensive Runs Saved. No other leader had won fewer than 75 games in a full season in the 18 previous seasons for which Defensive Runs Saved was calculated.
The next four teams behind the Rangers were all playoff teams: the Cardinals, Astros, Rays, and Brewers.
But we’re here to focus on what went right for the Rangers rather than what went wrong.
That starts in right field where Texas got 30 Runs Saved, the most for any team at any position this season. Joey Gallo had 13 of those before he was traded to the Yankees. After the trade, rookie Adolis García became the team’s everyday right fielder. He too finished with 13 Runs Saved there, doing that in only 51 games.
The Rangers’ top infielder was shortstop Isiah Kiner-Falefa, who was one season removed from winning the Gold Glove Award at third base. He finished with 10 Runs Saved at shortstop, which trailed only Carlos Correa (21) and Andrelton Simmons (14).
Kiner-Falefa played in 156 games for the Rangers, a luxury the Rangers didn’t have at third base, where they used seven players. But those seven combined for 15 Runs Saved, the third-most in the majors and the most of any AL team.
Three Rangers had 4 Runs Saved at the hot corner: Brock Holt, Charlie Culberson, and Yonny Hernández.
Though the Rangers were lacking in pitching, they had two solid catchers in Jose Trevino and Jonah Heim.
Rangers catchers finished tied with the Rays for second in MLB in our pitch-framing metric, Strike Zone Runs Saved, just behind the Dodgers. Both Trevino and Heim rated well in that stat and Trevino was also top-notch in pitch blocking.
In all, the Rangers got 14 Runs Saved from their catchers. Only the Pirates (20) had more.
The combination of catcher, shortstop, third base and right field proved key for the Rangers in pushing them to the top of the leaderboard. General Manager Chris Young has plenty of work to do this offseason, but he knows where his team’s strength lies.
Most Defensive Runs Saved – 2021 Season