Astros: Defensive Wins Above Replacement Leaders
By Paul Conlon
Defensive WAR: LF, Álvarez’s rank: 36th
The Astros left field position has been occupied by the offensively prolific Michael Brantley for the last several years. That’s not to say the 35-year-old veteran may be too old to play defensively everyday; however, perhaps Astros manager Dusty Baker feels that conserving Brantley’s energy by having him embrace a designated hitter role may lead to higher offensive output for the five-time All-Star.
Such a strategy might be working as Brantley possesses the second highest batting average on the Astros up to this point of the season. Brantley, thus far, has played in left field in only 21 of Houston’s nearly 50 games this season, while also having played a comparable amount of games solely as a designated hitter.
Meanwhile, Álvarez has received nearly 20 starts in left field. Álvarez ranks 36th in the majors at his position in defensive WAR with a -0.5 rating. The left-handed slugger currently possesses a sub-par .931 fielding percentage after two errors in 29 total chances; but to his credit, he has recorded one outfield assist.
Defensive WAR: CF, Siri’s Rank: Tied for 2nd
Meanwhile, Astros center fielder, José Siri, ranks second among all players at his position with a defensive wins above replacement value of +0.6. Of note, Siri remains tied with former Astro, Myles Straw, who currently roams center field for the Cleveland Guardians.
So with Siri, the Astros’ front office is experiencing comparable defensive production as they were when enjoying the elite speed afforded to the team’s center field position last season with Straw.
Defensive WAR: RF, Tucker’s Rank: Tied for 1st
You might have known that Tucker and Alvarez earned 2021 All-MLB second team honors, but did you know—Tucker is tied with Tampa Bay’s Brett Phillips for the best defensive WAR for a right fielder in the majors with a +0.7? Tucker has made one error in 99 total chances, leading to a superior .990 fielding percentage.
Additionally, Tucker’s four outfield assists ties him for fifth place among all MLB outfielders when it comes to throwing out base runners. The left-handed slugger also boasts the second largest sample size of innings played going into Memorial Day among all right fielders. This makes committing only one error in over 385 total innings of work all the more impressive. A Gold Glove Award just might be on Tucker’s horizon.