Brandon Barnes (Thomas Campbell-USA TODAY Sports)
On Tuesday the 2013 Gold Glove Award winners were announced. About two weeks prior, the nominees (three for each position), were revealed.
So you might be asking yourself, why was this not covered here at Climbing Tal’s Hill?
Well the answer to that question is simple; not one Astro player was nominated.
Now to anyone that watched the Astros (yes you are in the minority due to the Comcast debacle), or even followed them this season, this should not come as a surprise. To be blunt, the Astros were horrible defensively. Granted they did have some highlight reel plays, and some players did stand out with good glove work, but overall it was brutal.
It wasn’t just an individual thing, it was a team effort. And it is something that needs to change, both for next season, and for the future as the Astros look to contend.
Before we bring in some statistics that support the claim of how bad Houston was defensively in 2013, there are a few things that we must get out of the way because we don’t want to generalize.
Brandon Barnes played a great center field. On a regular basis he made outstanding plays whether it was an acrobatic catch, quickly getting to a ball in the gap, or throwing a runner out. This cannot be overstated. Barnes was fourth in the American League among outfielders with a 2.91 Range Factor. Found on Baseball Reference, this statistic measures an outfielders’ putouts and assists over nine innings.
Even though Matt Dominguez made sixteen errors, the third baseman certainly made some very good plays this season and did show some potential. The same potential and defensive flashes goes for shortstop Jonathan Villar.
While it is harder to quantify Jason Castro‘s defensive contributions (especially without going too much into advanced statistics), he was a steadying influence for the young pitchers behind the plate.
Now for some of those statistics:
- The Astros were tied for last in the American League with a .679 Defensive Efficiency. For a comparison, Oakland led the league at .708.
- The Astros were last in the AL with 4,320 putouts, while the Mariners lead the AL with 4,395.
- Houston’s .979 fielding percentage was also last in the AL with the Orioles leading the league at .991.
Moving into advanced statistics, the picture gets even uglier.
- In measuring Total Fielding Runs Above Average (per Baseball Reference), the Astros came in last at -76 while the league leading Rangers were +66. That is quite a big differential.
- Houston actually finished in the middle of the pack with -41 Defensive Runs Saved Above Average. Kansas City led the league at +95.
To the Astro leadership, this is not a secret. It is something that will be made a priority moving into 2014. Improving on this performance will be a group effort, and I think it is something we will begin to notice as early as Spring Training.