Chicago Cubs: Javier Baez atop new defensive statistic

(Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images)
(Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images) /

Since 2015 Statcast has been evolving with new statistics, and their newest defensive statistic has the Chicago Cubs’ Javier Baez leading the pack.

Javier Baez has yet to take home a Gold Glove Award, but others have taken notice of his phenomenal defense. Statcast has been around since 2015, measuring launch angles and pitchers horizontal and vertical break on all of their pitchers, among other useful statistics. And while Ben Lindbergh’s MVP Machine does a terrific job of describing how Trevor Bauer successfully got 8.6 inches of horizontal break on his newly developed slider, Baez can claim he’s the best defensive player in baseball. At 27-years-old, the Chicago Cubs are likely to reward him with a well-deserved extension before the season as well.

To this point, a player’s worth on the defensive side of the ball has been determined by the Defensive Runs Saved (DRS) statistic. But since 2017, Statcast has been valuing defense by a statistic called Outs Above Average (OAA): “is the cumulative effect of all individual plays a fielder has been credited or debited with, making it a range-based metric of fielding skill that accounts for the number of plays made and the difficulty of them. For example, a fielder who catches a 25% Out Probability play gets +.75; one who fails to make the play gets -.25.”

With an overall OAA of 19, Baez is ranked better than 289 players who have logged at least 10 attempts in the field and ranked better than 166 players with 100 attempts. Right behind Baez is Nolan Arenado who has won seven consecutive Gold Gloves with an overall OAA value of 17. Other players within the top five include Andrelton Simmons, Nick Ahmed, and Trevor Story, with Story being the only other member to have not received the Gold Glove Award.

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Baez initially joined the Cubs’ roster at second base with Addison Russell holding down the fort at shortstop. But due to Russell’s decline on and off the field, Baez was able to slide back into his more natural position, and he’s putting a show on for the world. And while he’s earned several offensive awards in his career, Baez is certainly due for a Gold Glove Award next year.