Statcast’s best fielders in baseball in 2022

We already know who won the 2022 Gold Glove Awards. But what if we only used Statcast’s fielder tracking data to decide the best defenders in baseball?

Let’s pick the Statcast All-Defense Teams for 2022.

These are the best fielders in the American League and National League at every position according to Statcast’s defensive metrics. For infielders and outfielders, that’s Outs Above Average, which uses a plus/minus system for each fielder based on the out probability of all of his chances. For catchers, we’ll use pitch framing runs — the amount of runs a catcher saves his team by getting extra called strikes on borderline pitches.

Does Statcast agree with the Gold Glove winners? Are there any surprises?

Here are the 2022 Statcast All-Defense Teams for each league, position by position.

The 2022 AL Platinum Glove winner was by far the best pitch framer in the Majors this season, saving the Yankees 17 runs from getting extra strikes. The next-closest catcher was the Rangers’ Jonah Heim at +12 framing runs. Trevino got called strikes on a Major League-best 54% of borderline pitches.

First base: Owen MillerGuardians
+6 Outs Above Average

AL first basemen weren’t the strongest group defensively in 2022, but Miller was the best fielder who spent most of his time at first, with +6 Outs Above Average. Vladimir Guerrero Jr., who won the Gold Glove Award, had minus-4 OAA.

Schoop was Statcast’s defensive player of the year. His +27 OAA was No. 1 in the Majors at any position and more than twice as good as the next-best AL second baseman, Andrés Giménez at +13 OAA.

The third baseman for the World Series champions was solid at the hot corner all year and accumulated a personal-best +8 OAA. He was especially good at plays going to his left, with half of his OAA coming from those.

You’ll find Nicky Lopez down in the utility section. But for everyday shortstops, Mateo was tops in the AL. Starting 142 games at short for the O’s, he was especially good on plays coming in or going back (+8 combined OAA).

Left field: Steven KwanGuardians
+9 Outs Above Average

Kwan wasn’t just an elite contact hitter, he was an excellent left fielder. The Guardians rookie won the Gold Glove Award in the AL and deservedly so, as his +9 OAA was the best among all left fielders.

Center field: Jose SiriRays
+16 Outs Above Average

Whether he was playing for the Astros or the Rays, Siri was elite in center field in 2022. He had great range going into the gaps, as he was worth +14 total Outs Above Average on plays going to his left or his right.

Right field: Max KeplerTwins
+11 Outs Above Average

Kepler was just as good whether he was facing a lefty hook or a righty slice in right field, as he posted a +6 OAA vs. right-handed hitters and +5 OAA vs. left-handed hitters. Kepler has always been one of the best right fielders, worth +51 OAA at the position since Statcast introduced the stat in 2016. Only Mookie Betts has been better in right field.

Baseball’s top overall fielder in 2021 as a shortstop, Lopez split his time between shortstop and second for Kansas City in 2022 and was still excellent as a middle-infield hybrid. Lopez’s +14 OAA made him a top-10 fielder overall in MLB.

d’Arnaud was the only NL catcher with double-digit runs saved from pitch framing, putting him ahead of Omar Narváez, Yadier Molina and Tomás Nido. It was the best framing season of his career, as d’Arnaud improved from +1 to +11 framing runs from 2021 to ’22.

Walker stood out first with +14 OAA, making him not just the best defensive first baseman, but a top-10 fielder overall in MLB. Walker’s +33 OAA since 2019 is by far the best at the position, with Matt Olson (+12) and Paul Goldschmidt (+11) next.

Although Tommy Edman would deserve a Statcast award here, he’s going in as a utility player. So McNeil gets the Statcast defensive award at second base in the NL for his career-best +8 OAA there this season.

It was a huge defensive year for Swanson, who was the second-best fielder in all of baseball by Outs Above Average and the No. 1 shortstop by a wide margin over Francisco Lindor and Nico Hoerner (+13 OAA each). Swanson’s 2022 gives him a case as the best defender of the big four free-agent shortstops.

The D-backs rookie might be the fastest player in baseball (30.7 ft/sec sprint speed), so he eats up the ground in the outfield. Even though he was only called up at the end of August, Carroll racked up +5 OAA, best among NL left fielders for the season. He made an MLB-best 11% of plays above expectation.

Grisham narrowly edged Siri for the most Outs Above Average among regular center fielders. He made 17 plays with a catch probability of 50% or lower, more than any other outfielder, including five five-star catches (25% catch probability or lower).

The versatile Varsho is a good enough all-around player to play both catcher and center field. But most of his reps came in right field in 2022, and he accumulated +17 OAA, making him a top-five fielder overall in MLB. He made six five-star catches, more than any other outfielder.

Edman was in a similar situation to Lopez, playing both second base and shortstop for the Cardinals (and a little third base…and a little outfield). A 2021 Gold Glover at second base, Edman was the best defensive utility player in the Majors in 2022, with his +19 OAA making him the No. 3 fielder overall in baseball.

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