Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Best Yankees Infield Defense Since 1998?

Do the 2015 New York Yankees have the potential to be the best infield the team has had defensively since 1998? In a word, YES. While the team will come nowhere close to being the best infield offensively the team has ever had, that’s arguably the 2009 Yankees infield according to WAR, but defensively this team can hold its own with the best of them.

Mark Teixeira (5.6 dWAR) may need a day once in a while, or two times a week, but still has one of the best gloves at first base picking many balls in the air and the dirt that most players couldn’t get to. Martin Prado’s (3.8 dWAR) best and most natural position is second base and excels because of his range and strong throwing arm that plays in the outfield and third base. Didi Gregorius (-4.6 dWAR but should improve playing every day) is known for his infield defense and spectacular range and throwing arm and while still learning has all the tools to stick at shortstop in the long term. Chase Headley (20.4 dWAR) is considered to be a premier defensive third baseman that the metrics, and Yankees fans, love at the hot corner. This along with strong defensive candidates in Brendan Ryan and Jose Pirela on the bench has the making for an incredible infield defense. Taking into account the four starting infielders defense WAR’s in 2013 you come up with 25.2 dWAR and you can expect that number to rise after a full season for Gregorius and one position, most days anyway, for Prado.

In 1998 the Yankees trotted out slick fielding Tino Martinez (4.0) at first base, Chuck Knoblauch (-4.0) at second base, Derek Jeter (2.0) at shortstop and Scott Brosius (12.0) at third base. Their defensive WAR’s combined for the 1998 season, considered to be arguably the greatest Yankees team and greatest baseball teams of all-time in case you forgot, was 14.0 dWAR. Let that sink in and think about that for a second. The team may not out-slug anyone but I don’t see many flares or ground balls getting through either.

Run production hasn’t worked for the Yankees much in the past 10-15 years so it looks like New York is taking a stab at run prevention and it’s a sight for sore eyes. 

* all stats courtesy of and their fielding value tab

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