In 2014 the Los Angeles Dodgers as a team made 107 errors, which ranked 27th out of 30 Major League teams. That was in large due to shortstop Hanley Ramirez. Out of 21 qualified Major League shortstops, Ramirez ranked dead last with a .961 fielding percentage.
New president of baseball operations Andrew Friedman emphasized improving the team’s defense this offseason, and because of that Ramirez is now a member of the Boston Red Sox. According to Bill Plunkett of the OC register, Friedman believes the Dodgers can have an elite defense this season:
Prez of Baseball Ops Andrew Friedman on 2015 #Dodgers: "I think we have a chance to be elite on the run-prevention side"
— Bill Plunkett (@billplunkettocr) March 25, 2015
Replacing Ramirez is Jimmy Rollins, who is on the opposite end of the list of qualified shortstops in 2014. Friedman traded for 36 year old, four-time Gold Glover, who’s .988 fielding percentage was tops in the Majors last season. Rollins’ defensive WAR was 1.1 last year, compared to Ramirez’s -0.6.
The Dodgers also acquired Howie Kendrick from the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim to replace Dee Gordon at second base. While Gordon was able to steal 64 bases in 2014, his defensive WAR was -0.3. Kendrick will likely be a huge improvement, as his defensive WAR last season was 1.4 and he has a career .985 fielding percentage.
Joining Rollins and Kendrick in the infield in 2015 are veterans Adrian Gonzalez and Juan Uribe. Gonzalez has won four Gold Gloves at first base, including one last season, and Uribe is a superb defender at third; making just six errors in 102 games in 2014.
The Dodgers also improved their outfield defense this offseason, by trading Matt Kemp and moving Yasiel Puig back to right field, where general manager Farhan Zaidi believes he can win a Glove Glove. That also freed up center field for prospect Joc Pederson, who is considered the best center fielder in the organization.
The Dodgers team fielding percentage of .980 so far this Spring Training ranks 12th in the Majors, which is definitely an improvement from their 27th ranked defense a season ago. Add Gold Glove pitchers Clayton Kershaw and Zack Greinke to the mix, and it looks like Friedman’s prediction of an elite run-prevention defense could be a possibility in 2015.
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