Atlanta Braves Among the Best Up the Middle
A lot is made of “defense up the middle”. A lot is being made this year about the Braves’ defense up the middle. But is it really true that good? And more importantly, will it matter?
The Atlanta Braves are looking to start 2017 with a new shortstop and new second baseman. They bring back a Gold Glove laden center fielder. We’ve seen some of the things they can do.
So how much does that matter over an entire season?
The players handling these three positions – for any team – will have the greatest range of any fielders on the club. So it doesn’t matter whether the ball is hit to them. It matters whether they can retrieve is and make a play.
This chart is voluminous, and I will leave you to peruse it at your leisure, but here’s the Cliff Notes version:
When you check the hitting spray charts for every team, they show you that the majority of batted balls end up within the range of these 3 glove men.
The raw numbers back this up, too. Here is a list of the Top 15 fielders from 2016 in terms of numbers of plays handled:
|Jackie Bradley Jr.||BOS||280||CF|
Obviously, the middle infielders are the most important aspect of the defense with the center fielder right there with them.