We need to talk about Brenton Doyle’s defense.
He’s on track to be a Gold Glove finalist while playing center field in the most-challenging outfield in baseball — and it’s a point that’s largely been overlooked because he’s on a struggling Colorado Rockies team.
Here’s how he’s stacking up to the competition.
The data is compelling
Let’s start with the numbers, which are current as of the end of the Miami Marlins series.
In 516.0 innings (through the end of the Miami Marlins series), Doyle had 7 DRS, which is the fourth-highest in baseball, tying him with Alec Thomas. They are tied more the most DRS in the National League.
Consider, then, UZR, “[t]he number of runs above or below average a fielder is in both range runs, outfield arm runs, double play runs and error runs combined.” By this metric, Doyle’s score is 10.8. The next closest center fielder? Michael Harris Jr. and Joey Wiemar with 4.5. (You read that right.) His Def score? 8.6, which leads all MLB center fielders.
Let’s look, then at Baseball Savant. Doyle has six Outs Above Average (OAA), tying him with Joey Wiemar for fourth-most in baseball — also, these three players have the highest OAA in the National League. Doyle’s Fielding Run Value (FRV) is now eight — last week, it was six — tying him for third-most in MLB with a minimum of 500 innings in center field.
What about SABR’s Defensive Index, which is used to help select Gold Glove winners? By that metric, which was last updated on July 9, Doyle has a score of 7.0, the sixth-best in the National League and the highest score of any center fielder. The closest center fielder is Brandon Marsh (4.2). (By the way, Ryan McMahon leads all NL defenders with a score of 11.1.)
Did I mention that he is a rookie playing in the most challenging outfield in baseball?
In short, Brenton Doyle is having a stunning defensive season.
That the Rockies pitching staff has struggled in 2023 has been no secret. Without Doyle in center field, however, those struggles would surely have been worse.
Doyle sees practice as key
For Doyle, it’s about doing what he’s always done.
“[I’m] taking every rep and [batting practice] serious and just trying to get the most efficient routes as possible,” he said, adding, “and [I’m] try to get a good feel for the outfield here.”
That’s become easier as he’s gotten more experience playing at Coors Field.
“Obviously the gaps are really big here. There’s a lot of ground to cover,” Doyle said. “So you’ve got to get a feel of what balls to be really aggressive at and what balls to play a little bit more smart.”
He continued, “And with us now, since the gaps are so deep, sometimes we’ll be playing pretty far back and trying to really save runs and doubles in the gaps. Sometimes, those shallow balls will drop here and there. but at the same time, it ends up helping in the long run.”
The Rockies coaching staff have noticed
Manager Bud Black praised Doyle’s defensive performance.
“I think all in all the coaches and I have been pleased with his defense,” Black said.
“I think we’ve seen a lot of good things from him in center field,” he added. “There’s the speed component, which is a plus in our park — or any park, but especially our park.”
“I think there’s room for improvement,” Black continued, referring to Doyle’s reads and routes, but the Rockies coaching staff like what they’ve seen so far.
“I love the aggressiveness,” he said. “We’ve seen him a few times take on the wall, which I think all good defensive outfielders do. They’re not afraid of the wall. They’re not afraid to dive. They’re not afraid to be aggressive. And he’s all of that.”
Black also pointed to Doyle’s effective throwing: “The arm? Plus. We’ve seen him either keep us in games or win us games with his arm getting outs from the outfield besides catching the ball.”
It’s high praise for one of the most challenging jobs in baseball.
It’s time for the larger baseball community to take notice of just how good Brenton Doyle has been defensively. The Rockies have found a true center fielder who has tamed Kris Bryant’s outfield “graveyard.”
By the way, this would not be his first Gold Glove — he won an MiLB Gold Glove in 2021 while with the Spokane Indians.
What does being on a Gold-Glove track mean to Brenton Doyle?
“It’s pretty cool,” he said. “I always take pride in my defense, and it’s something I don’t take lightly. I’m out there trying to better myself every day, and defense wins games as well as offense. So defense is a big part of my game.”
If his 2023 season finishes strong, Brenton Doyle should be recognized for what he has accomplished.
Coors Field Attendance
According to ESPN, 1,583,337 have attended games at Coors Field in 2023 (the end of the Astros series and the Rockies’ 49th home game). That number ranks 12th in baseball. The average game attendance was 32,313. (Last week, the average Coors Field game attendance was 31,968.)
As a benchmark, in 2022, the average game attendance at Coors Field was 32,467.
In case you haven’t noticed, Jordan Beck is absolutely burning up Double-A Hartford, picking up where he left off in Spokane. Thomas Harding spoke with Beck, who said, “They believe in what they’ve got as a player, and they’re just going to let me do me,” Beck said. “That’s how you get the best version of people — let them be themselves.” Question: Might Beck finish the season with the Isotopes?
If you attend Rockies games, you’ve probably noticed that one of the “Game Notes” slides usually takes a turn. When the Rockies played the Astros on Wednesday, the message went viral.
Who is writing these Game Notes, and what does it all mean? Does Dinger have a secret? Purple Row will continue to monitor the situation.
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