Each team's best defender, surprises included

February 4th, 2020

We have more tools than ever to measure defensive performance, particularly with the recently released infield outs above average stat. So naturally, the question arises -- who was each club's best defensive player in terms of OAA in 2019?

From the players you knew were going to be at the top of the list to some surprises from last season, here's a look at each team's best glove, OAA style, using current rosters. Note: OAA does not include catchers.


Braves -- SS (+3), CF (+3)

Last season, this would have been Josh Donaldson, who checked in with +8 outs above average, third among third basemen in MLB behind Nolan Arenado and Matt Chapman. But Donaldson took a free-agent trip to Minnesota, so we stay on the left side of the infield here with Swanson, whose +3 OAA last season have him tied with Inciarte for tops among returning Braves. Inciarte, a three-time Gold Glove Award winner, was sidelined for most of the season and might well have led the club if not for injury (he had +21 OAA in 2018, second among outfielders).

Marlins -- SS (+6)

A veteran on a team of youngsters in rebuild mode, Rojas has given Miami solid defense at short the past couple of seasons, finishing with +6 outs above average in 2019 after +5 the prior season. That solid play, particularly on defense, led Miami to ink him to a two-year extension last September.

Mets -- CF (+8)

He hasn't played an out for the Mets yet, but he instantly becomes a strong right-handed-hitting defensive complement in center field to . Marisnick recorded +8 outs above average last season, coming off a +13-OAA season in 2018.

Nationals -- CF (+23)

No one in baseball produced more outs above average than Robles in his first full Major League season. He's going to be making incredible plays in center field for the defending champions for years to come.

Phillies -- 1B (+4)

Hoskins moved from left field to first base and saw a vast improvement over 2018, when he was at -18 OAA. Infielder Scott Kingery was right behind him with +3 in '19. Since we don't have catcher OAA, we don't have a figure for , widely considered the best all-around backstop in baseball. Realmuto took home his first career Gold Glove Award last year after throwing out an MLB-best 47 percent of attempted basestealers, rating well in both pop time and catcher framing.


Brewers -- CF (+14)

LoCain continued to amaze in center field in 2019, finally winning his first career Gold Glove Award in his 10th season. His +14 OAA ranked third among MLB outfielders. It was down from +22 in '18, however.

Cardinals -- SS (+13), CF (+13)

The Cardinals enjoyed much-improved defensive play last season, in large part thanks to DeJong and Bader, both of whom were Gold Glove Award finalists. DeJong's OAA improved from -5 in 2018, while Bader's was down from +19.

Cubs -- SS (+19)

Báez trails only Robles for the MLB lead in OAA, and indeed, could be considered the best defensive player in the game right now. His range, arm and fielding skill have made for some tremendous highlight-reel moments over the past few seasons.

Pirates -- 2B (+11)

Frazier made a big jump in OAA from 2018 to '19, going from +3 to +11 to lead the Bucs. He was also a Gold Glove Award finalist at second base in the NL.

Reds -- SS/2B (+12)

Talk about consistently excellent -- Galvis checked in at +12 OAA for the second consecutive year. Cincinnati acquired him from Toronto midseason, and while his bat is relatively light (despite 23 homers last year), his defense up the middle is about as dependable as you can get.


D-backs -- SS (+16)

Ahmed showed last year that he is among the elite defensive shortstops in the game. His +16 OAA ranked fifth in baseball, but even that impressive total was down significantly from the +29 he had when he won his first career Gold Glove Award in 2018.

Dodgers -- OF/1B (+8)

What is there that Bellinger can't do? In addition to winning the NL MVP Award, the slugger also led his team in OAA while playing right field (+6 OAA), center field (+1) and first base (+1). His defensive versatility gets overshadowed by his tremendous bat, but it is nonetheless a strong suit in his overall game.

Giants -- CF (+5)

When Duggar was coming up as a top prospect in their farm system, the Giants knew he had a real shot to be the club's center fielder of the future. He's shown that he can handle the giant outfield at Oracle Park, finishing with +5 OAA in only 73 games last year.

Padres -- CF (+11)

For a club in the middle of the pack defensively last year, Margot and (now with the Rays) were the standouts, making the outfield an area of strength for San Diego in that regard.

Rockies -- 3B (+17)

Who else would it be? Well, in this case, it was nearly Arenado's neighbor on the left side of Colorado's infield, , who finished with +15. That was a huge improvement over his -1 in 2018. Arenado also improved on his '18 total of +7. Yeah, don't hit it to the left side of the Rockies' infield, since there are two tremendous gloves over there -- Story finished third in Gold Glove Award voting last year and Arenado is 7-for-7.


Blue Jays -- OF (+6)

Whether it was in right field or center field, where he got more playing time in 2019, Grichuk has been a consistently solid defender for Toronto, following up a +7-OAA season in '18 with +6 last year.

Orioles -- SS (+12)

Baltimore got a big upgrade at short when it signed Iglesias, always known to be a glove-first player while with the Tigers and Reds. The most OAA on the club from a return player from last season belongs to infielder , who had +6.

Rays -- CF (+17)

Kiermaier has been one of the elite defensive center fielders in the game for years now, so it's not surprising to see him near the top of the list overall, let alone for the Rays. And his +17 OAA came in only 129 games played.

Red Sox -- 3B (+7)

Devers, known for his great bat but not for his glove, flipped a -7 OAA in '18 to +7 last year. is right behind him, with +6 OAA, also down from +12 in '18.

Yankees -- OF (+9)

With all of the unexpected contributors the Yankees saw emerge in an injury-plagued season, it's no surprise to see Tauchman's name here. He made huge strides at the plate, but he also made great contributions in the outfield, posting +9 OAA in 87 games. , with another great defensive season in 2019, was second on the club, with 6+ in 102 games.


Indians -- CF (+12)

DeShields is no surprise here, with the newly acquired former Rangers speedster making his impact felt most in center field. All-Star shortstop led last season's Indians roster with +11 OAA.

Royals -- OF (+5)

Here's all you need to know about how good Phillips is defensively -- he had +5 OAA in 30 games played last season. We've seen his range and he has a cannon for an arm, regularly clocked by Statcast with throws of 100 mph or faster. He had +6 OAA in '18 over 51 games split between the Brewers and Royals.

Tigers -- INF/OF (+8)

Goodrum has been a versatile player for the Tigers, seeing time at first base, second base and in the outfield. Over 112 games, he upped his OAA total from zero during the prior season. Newly acquired second baseman is second on the club, posting +5 in 121 games for the Twins last year.

Twins -- CF (+12)

Buxton got off to a great start at the plate last season, but injuries limited him to 14 games in the second half. His defense was excellent as expected, however, and the 2017 AL Platinum Glove Award winner turned in +12 OAA over 87 games after +2 in another injury-shortened campaign (28 games) in '18.

White Sox -- CF (+6)

Engel led Chicago in OAA despite being limited to 89 games by injury -- he had +16 OAA in 2018. was second, with +5, after a significant defensive turnaround from -14 OAA in '18.


Angels -- SS (+16)

Simmons posted +12 OAA in 2018, then +16 last year. Still, his streak of consecutive Gold Glove Awards was snapped at two by Francisco Lindor. Overall, though, it's no wonder Simmons owns four of them, and his range and acrobatic ability at short translate into the fifth-most OAA among all players.

Astros -- SS (+9)

Though he was limited by injury to 75 games last year, Correa still led the Astros with 9 OAA after posting +13 the year before. And while he hasn't yet won a Gold Glove Award -- he's got pretty stiff competition in the likes of Andrelton Simmons and Francisco Lindor -- that could change soon. Right behind him for Houston was center fielder , who went from zero OAA in 2018 to +8 last season.

Athletics -- 3B (+14)

He's one of the most exciting defensive players to watch in baseball, so it's no surprise that Chapman is on top of the list for Oakland, and eighth overall. Flying under the radar with his quiet excellence at first base, however, is , who won his second straight Gold Glove Award after finishing with +12 OAA, up from +3 in 2018.

Mariners -- CF (+10)

With the Mariners' abundance of outfielders either in the Majors or coming soon, there was some question going into this offseason as to whether Smith would remain in Seattle. He's still there, and he went from -2 OAA in 2018 to +10 last year, utilizing his great speed to track down difficult fly balls while patrolling center field.

Rangers -- 3B (+5), SS (+5)

Kiner-Falefa actually played more games at catcher (38) than third base (25) but still was productive in that limited action at the hot corner. Andrus was on the field for 147 games after injury derailed him in '18, producing +5 OAA as well. Second baseman was just behind with +4, down from +9 in '18. Center fielder Delino DeShields led Texas with +12 last season, but he was sent to Cleveland in the trade for Corey Kluber.