Fans of the St. Louis Cardinals are probably all too aware of tough it was to watch the team play defense in 2018. According to Andrew Simon of MLB.com the numbers match the eye test as the Cardinals ranked 28 in Outs Above Average. Per MLB’s glossary:
Outs Above Average (OAA) is a range-based metric of skill that shows how many outs a player has saved. Prior to 2020, OAA was an outfield-only metric. But it has been expanded to include infielders...
... Outs Above Average for infielders takes the following factors into account.
• How far the fielder has to go to reach the ball (“the intercept point”).
• How much time he has to get there.
• How far he then is from the base the runner is heading to.
• On force plays, how fast the batter is, on average. (A runner’s average Sprint Speed is used in the calculation, rather than his Sprint Speed on that particular play. For new players with no data, a league-average — 27 ft/sec — score is used; once the player qualifies for the leaderboard, all of his previous plays are re-run.)
In 2019 the Cardinals excelled in OAA, reversing their trend from the year before, to rank first in the league in the metric. The stellar defense had five of the six infield positions be named Gold Glove finalists, with second baseman Kolten Wong taking home the hardware this year. Simon details the reasons behind this improvement in his article on the subject.
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