Defense. They say it’s a pitchers best friend. And sometimes that is true. Though sometimes it really isn’t. Daren Willman, one of the data architects at MLBAM has released another fun tool over at Baseball Savant. Monday saw the unveiling of Outs Above Average for infielders when a specific pitcher was on the mound. This would be more useful if we could also get a look at how the pitchers benefited with regards to outfielders, too – but for some reason that data isn’t available. Still, some data is better than no data.
The top two pitchers in baseball that had the biggest boost thanks to their defense were both St. Louis Cardinals. Dakota Hudson, amazingly, sits atop at +16 OAA. In second place is teammate Miles Mikolas at just +8, which puts into perspective just how much help Hudson got.
When it comes to the Cincinnati Reds pitchers, some were helped out a bit more than others. Sonny Gray was actually one of the most beneficial pitchers from his infield defense in all of baseball. He’s tied at +6 OAA with three other pitchers, tied for 8th best in baseball. In the rotation it was only Luis Castillo who saw a positive relationship from the infield defense, coming in at +2. Several members of the bullpen saw plenty of help, too, though. Amir Garrett came in at +3, while Robert Stephenson was at +2, and several others were at +1.
On the flip side of things, two guys were a bit unlucky when it came to the infield defense. Tyler Mahle was at -2 for the season. Trevor Bauer was at a -5 on the entire season, but in his time with the Reds he was at -3.
Here’s how the Reds pitchers for 2020 saw the infield defense help them, or hurt them, in the 2019 season.
Near the top of the list is a rather interesting one: Pedro Strop. He didn’t pitch for the Reds last season. Strop was with the Cubs and even as a reliever, he saw a lot of benefit from his infield defense despite significantly fewer opportunities than a starting pitcher would get. Now, Strop is a big ground ball guy, like Sonny Gray and Luis Castillo, so that does give him a few extra opportunities than your typical reliever would get – but there’s a big number there for him. It will be interesting to see how that number changes, if it does, moving from Chicago to Cincinnati.
The Reds infield in 2020 is going to be quite a bit different than it was in 2019. Freddy Galvis is taking over at shortstop from Jose Iglesias, though both were among the best at the position last season. Second base is going to be Mike Moustakas instead of the 5-headed monster of Jose Peraza, Derek Dietrich, Freddy Galvis, Kyle Farmer, and Scooter Gennett – all of whom saw at least 140 innings at the position. The corners of Joey Votto and Eugenio Suarez look to remain the same.