MLB Action: Don’t Forget About Playing Defense

Los Angeles Angels center fielder Mike Trout dives for a fly ball against the Seattle Mariners in a baseball game Thursday, May 29, 2014, in Seattle. (AP Photo/Elaine Thompson)

Nobody forgets about the importance of defense when it comes to football or basketball. You often hear about defense winning championships in those sports. Why don’t we hear about it more in baseball?  I’ve found that the single most common mistake in baseball is overlooking the importance of defense.

How can you best measure which defense is good? While some simply look at how many errors a team has committed, that is far too simple and is very subjective. What if the scorer at their home park is particularly tough or easy when it comes to rulings on errors? Also, it doesn’t  factor in how many runs were saved by good defensive plays. You can’t only look at the negative side of things. Defensive runs saved is a sabermetrics statistic that is among the best out there to help us know which defense is doing things the right way.

Let’s take a look at a couple examples of how important defense is in baseball. First of all, can you remember when the Kansas City Royals were a terrible team? Last year, they lost in Game 7 of the World Series. What has been the biggest reason for the Royals turnaround? Defense! In 2010, the Kansas City Royals ranked dead last in the majors in defensive runs saved with -95 runs saved. In 2013, Kansas City led the league in defensive runs saved. In 2014, they ranked fourth in defensive runs saved.

While it’s possible for a bad team to have a good defense and vice-versa, it doesn’t happen all that often. Only one playoff team ranked in the bottom ten teams in the league in defensive runs saved in 2014. That was the Detroit Tigers, and they were able to hide their defensive problems with great starting pitching and a great lineup. Three of the top four teams in defensive runs saved and six of the top nine were playoff teams in 2014.

No matter how you slice it, defense matters a lot in baseball. Don’t be one of the bettors that undervalues the importance of defense on the diamond!

Written by Kyle Hunter of

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