The Dodgers prioritized defense in the offseason, getting rid of Matt Kemp, Hanley Ramirez and Dee Gordon and replacing them with historically better defenders. While Gordon figured it out on defense this year, at the time it looked like the Dodgers were upgrading their defense heavily, and they did.
According to MLB.com, the Dodgers allowed 21 fewer unearned runs this year than they did last year and led the majors in fielding percentage. Obviously, both stats are imperfect and there isn’t really any perfect way to measure defense, but the 2015 Dodgers were one of the best defensive teams in baseball. A huge improvement came in the outfield, where their outfielders combined for nine defensive runs saved this year compared to -24 last year.
Gold Glove awards are also an imperfect way to gauge defense, but the Dodgers had a pair of finalists for the award. Zack Greinke and Adrian Gonzalez, both of whom won the award last year, are finalists once again this year.
Jun 3, 2015; Denver, CO, USA; Los Angeles Dodgers first baseman Adrian Gonzalez (23) throws on a force out to second base in the third inning against the Los Angeles Dodgers at Coors Field. Mandatory Credit: Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports
Greinke is a ninja on the hill, as he often shows off his athleticism and hops off the mound to make plays most pitchers wouldn’t think of making. Greinke is obviously a tremendous pitcher, but his hitting ability and defense makes him one of the best all around players in baseball.
Greinke had two whole errors this year and tied his career high for Rdrs (Defensive Runs Saved above average, according to Baseball Info Solutions). He also controlled the running game better than he has in recent years, catching 45 percent of attempted base stealers (partially the pitchers’ doing, but most of the credit probably goes to the catchers).
Gonzo could win his fifth career Gold Glove this year and has always been viewed as an above average defender at first. There’s no stat for it, but his ability to pick low throws saved the rest of the Dodger infield from at least 10 more errors. He posted a .996 fielding percentage, with six errors in 1389 chances, and had a 10 Rdrs, saving 10 more runs than an average first baseman.
While Justin Turner is great defensively at third base, with the caliber of third basemen in the NL it’s not surprising that he wasn’t named a finalist. Nolan Arenado will probably win every Gold Glove until we’re all dead, and Matt Duffy and Todd Frazier are also great defensive players. Joc Pederson not being named a finalist is sort of surprising, but it’s hard to argue against Billy Hamilton, Andrew McCutchen and A.J. Pollock.
Gold Glove winners will be announced on November 10th.
On another note, Molly Knight reported this morning that Don Mattingly will become the coach of the Miami Marlins, reuniting him with Gordon. According to the LA Times’ Dylan Hernandez, the Dodgers were set to pay Mattingly’s salary if he did not find a job elsewhere, so now that he did the Marlins will pay “almost all of it”.