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Dodgers Amongst Best and Most Improved Defensive Teams in MLB

The Dodgers have been spotty on defense at times, but remain a top-notch defensive team.

LOS ANGELES, CA - MAY 08: Cody Bellinger #35 of the Los Angeles Dodgers catches a drive by Josh Donaldson (not pictured) of the Atlanta Braves in the third inning of a MLB baseball game at Dodger Stadium on Wednesday, May 8, 2019 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Keith Birmingham/MediaNews Group/Pasadena Star-News via Getty Images)

The Dodgers are one of the best defensive teams in baseball. Although that might not be seen by the naked eye, there are multiple indicators that demonstrate the Dodgers’ defensive prowess.

In a recent column for The Athletic, Mark Simon discusses some of the league’s best and most improved defenses for the 2019 season. The Dodgers rank on nearly every list. Here is the link to Simon’s column below:

Defensive Strides

Here is the stat that tells all: The Dodgers have experienced the third biggest climb in defensive runs saved from 2018 to 2019 in all of Major League Baseball. The two teams ahead of them, the Phillies and Blue Jays, were the worst defensive teams in baseball in 2018 by defensive runs saved at -146 and -100, respectively. Therefore, they had a TON of room for improvement. The Dodgers, however, held a respectable mark of 47 defensive runs saved in 2018, but have grown all the way to 125. By season’s end, the Dodgers could have somewhere around 150, which is an absurd number.

For reference, the Arizona Diamondbacks led all of baseball last season with 157 defensive runs saved. The Dodgers have the potential to shatter that mark.

The everyday at-bats of Alex Verdugo, the defensive strides of Max Muncy, and Cody Bellinger emerging as a Gold Glove caliber player have all contributed to a stellar defense.

The Power of the Shift

While many despise the shift, the Dodgers have benefited from it more than any other team in baseball by a wide margin. They have saved a total of 45 runs from the shift. Wow. When the Dodgers have deployed the full shift in 2019, opponent batting average on ground balls has sunk to a paltry .200. Whereas in 2018, opponent batting average was .291 in 2018 when the Dodgers only deployed a partial shift.

Individual Performance

To start, there are only three players on the Dodgers who have worse than -1 DRS at a give position: Joc Pederson at first base with -3 (no surprise), Justin Turner at third base with -3 (uh oh), and AJ Pollock in center field with -9 (yikes). While these marks are not great, they are far from the worst and it also helps when your teammates carry you. With Cody Bellinger’s 24 defensive runs saved total, he has actually covered his three under-achieving teammates and then some. Pretty impressive.

Overall

While it may not pass the smell test, the Dodgers are one of the best teams in baseball defensively. That will certainly be a fantastic asset come October.

Written by Daniel Preciado

My name is Daniel Preciado and I am 18 years old. I am a sophomore Sport Analytics major and Cognitive Science and Economics dual minor at Syracuse University. When I am not in New York, I live in Whittier, California --- not too far from Chavez Ravine. I am pretty old-school for being an analytics guy and I will always embrace debate. Also, Chase Utley did absolutely nothing wrong.

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