The Astros’ infield could be the best in the World Series.
Defense in baseball is the hardest to quantify. We have metrics like Defensive Runs Saved and Defensive WAR, but generally an eye test is required to get a gauge on who is the better fielder.
The most important defensive positions are up the middle at catcher, shortstop and center field (right field being a close fourth). If we’re going at the primary positions where you want to have solid arms and gloves, the Astros have the advantage in two of the three positions by quite a wide margin.
What Martin Maldonado lacks in hitting; he more than makes up for with his game calling and defense. He may have had the play of the ALCS in the strike ’em out-throw ’em out of Alex Verdugo in the seventh inning of Game 6.
Travis D’Arnaud on the flip side gave up 11 stolen bases with zero caught stealing in the NLCS against the Dodgers. Staying out of double plays and putting runners in scoring position can make all the difference in a series.
At shortstop, the metrics say the disparity is gargantuan. Correa has 21 Defensive Runs saved which leads the league. This year Dansby Swanson is negative five in DSR, the worst defensive year of his career.
The most interesting facet of this defensive debate is the outfield. The defensive advantage in the outfield will depend on where the games are being played.
In Minute Maid Park, the Astros combination of Tucker and Chas McCormick have 21 total runs saved between them (10 for McCormick, 11 for Tucker). Jake Meyers was not among the group of players in centerfield on Monday, while his status hasn’t been reported.
Once the series moves to Atlanta though, McCormick will most likely be on the bench with Tucker moving to center field, Brantley moving to right and Alvarez in left.
In that case, the Braves get a slight edge with Adam Duvall providing 19 defensive runs saved. And even though Eddie Rosario and Joc Pederson aren’t stud outfielders, neither is Alvarez in left or Brantley in right.
Still the Astros have the edge with Yuli Gurriel at first base over Freddie Freeman (five defensive runs saved to two), and even though Altuve has had some bad errors including two botched double plays in Games 1 and 3 of the ALCS, he’s also had some spectacular plays including the first out of Game 6 in the ALCS to prevent Luis Garcia opening the game in a ton of trouble with a diving play and long throw to get Kike Hernandez.