Any way you measure it, Nolan Arenado and Trevor Story are two of the best defenders in the game. While this information certainly isn’t news any baseball fan, there is a new stat to prove it: Outs Above Average for infielders. Brought to you by Statcast, previously OAA had only been calculated for outfielders for the last two seasons. Now the stat gods have found a way for the defensive metric to apply to infielders.
While Javier Báez is atop the list at 19 OAA, Arenado is second at 17, and Trevor Story is fifth at 15. Nolan’s seven Gold Gloves are proof of his talents on the hot corner, but the competition at shortstop could explain why Story is still looking for his first Gold Glove. Outside of Báez, 2019 Gold Glover Nick Ahmed is tied for third on the list at 16 with Angles shortstop Andrelton Simmons (even though it’s AL). Check out Baseball Savant for a list of every infielder’s numbers from 2019.
There are more factors that go in to the infield OAA than the outfield OAA, as explained by MLB.com’s, Mike Petriello:
“The short version is that there are four primary items that affect the chance of a play being converted into an out:
• How far the fielder has to go to reach the ball (“the intercept point”)
• How much time he has to get there
• How far he then is from the base the runner is heading to
• On force plays, how fast the batter is, on average”
Petriello references MLB.com’s Tom Tango’s in-depth 21-page PDF if you want to really get into the nitty gritty of how each variable of fielding is defined and measured.
The biggest difference from the outfield stat is that this one takes into account the average speed of the runner and where the fielder is in relation to where he is throwing. The best reason this is a more informative and better stat is that so many other fielding stats, like Defensive Runs Saved or Ultimate Zone Rating, is that OAA is measurable and consistent. It will be much more accurate in comparing infielders’ abilities since DRS and UZR rely on “the eye test via video scouting or zone-based systems.” OAA is made up of quantifiable feet and seconds.
Arenado and Story’s numbers account for every out in that 33. The rest of the Rockies infield broke even with Ryan McMahon, Daniel Murphy, and Garrett Hampson all at zero. Can you imagine if DJ LeMahieu was at still at second for the Rockies? Or even his new position at first? Insert Debbie Downer meme here.
As announced, this offseason has been “splashless” when it comes to any kind of major changes or acquisitions for the Rockies. As we know, the organization has a bill of zero dollars for free agents or any changes to the 40-man roster. The Rockies join the Chicago Cubs (they do have a new manager) and the Pirates in this business strategy.
Every other team has done something, from the Mariners spending the lowest at $2.95 million (mostly on pitchers Carl Edwards Jr. and Kendall Graveman) to the Yankees tallying up a hefty bill of $336.5 million (mostly on Gerrit Cole).
Aniello Piro is right in saying that “this offseason been a real bummer,” especially following a bummer of a season. However, it’s not surprising, and I would take doing nothing over spending money on more bad deals. We are in this self-imposed spending cap because of huge contracts to five free agents over the last few seasons: Ian Desmond and Daniel Murphy, and the monstrous ERA trio of Wade Davis, Bryan Shaw, and Jake McGee. If it comes to just getting free agents, especially over-priced, past-their-prime players, only to make news and be able to say they did stuff during the offseason, I would rather just have a quiet and boring offseason. It’s way better than stupid decisions that make for a pull-your-hair-out offseason where you think about boycotting games the next season.
It is hard to go all in on the “we hope everyone just plays better” basket, but I do think it’s a better problem than more bad deals on players who don’t make the roster better and just add a payroll that is now 11th highest in the MLB. And it is 100 percent better than trading the best player in the history of your franchise, which is a subject I am not going into but that Piro spends more time talking about due to ESPN’s Jeff Passan’s ideas of blockbuster trades. When it comes to stupid vs. boring, I will take boring all day.
The early 2020 Power Rankings are in and the Rockies didn’t make the cut. Only the top 20 did and the Rockies aren’t on the list. The Dodgers are No. 2 (behind the Yankees), but the good news is that no other NL West team made the cut either.
Kevin Henry explains that this happened for three reasons:
1. The Rockies lost 91 games last season.
2. The Rockies have not spent any money in free agency this offseason.
3. Other teams are trying to improve and the Rockies are just hoping to improve.
Henry also tries to be optimistic for three reasons:
1. There is still time to make moves.
2. Spending money doesn’t always result in winning (just think about those five free agents we signed in past seasons)
3. We can hope that Kyle Freeland, Daniel Murphy, Wade Davis, and Bryan Shaw improve. (Henry didn’t mention Ian Desmond or Jake McGee. Sometimes there is just not enough hope in the basket to go around).
We spend a lot of time criticizing owners and GMs, and analyzing every single stat available on every player. It can be easy to forget how much work goes into making the Colorado Rockies run day in and day out, regardless of whether they win 91 games or lose 91 games. That’s why it was really cool to see that Rockies clubhouse manager Mike “Tiny” Pontarelli was recently voted clubhouse manager of the year by his peers in the Major League Baseball Clubhouse Managers Association.
Tiny (the nickname everyone calls him) has been with the Rockies for 14 years, first starting as a bat boy and then working his way up to clubhouse manager where he is in charge of everything from ordering (for example $350,000 worth of baseballs a year), supervising his crew, cleaning equipment, and making sure guys have everything they need. This feature by Patrick Saunders has kind quotes from Nolan Arenado and Bud Black.
It’s a great award for a Colorado native who loves the Rockies. Even though it is from March of 2018, this Denver Post video about Tiny is definitely worth a watch.
Jeff Bridich is actually making himself available for fan questions. Yes, you read that correctly. Tracy Ringolsby announced that he is hosting the Rockies GM on Monday, Jan. 27 at Sam’s No. 3 in Glendale from 5:30-6:30 p.m. I think fans have lots of questions. It will be interesting to see if Bridich has any answers.