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The 2010’s all-defense Arizona Diamondbacks team

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Let’s break out the gloves and pick our best-fielding nine for the decade

Miami Marlins v Arizona Diamondbacks Photo by Ralph Freso/Getty Images

Following up on the all-baserunning team of the 2010’s, the next specialty team is the one you’d put out there to best handle the balls in play. As previously, These aren’t strictly the best defenders to pull on the team uniform in this decade. We’re instead looking at the best single season at each position, with it also being the player’s primary location for the year in question. This is based on Baseball Reference’s Fielding Runs, and for obvious reasons, covers just the period 2010-19.

Overall for the decade, the best fielder in baseball was... Andrelton Simmons, and it wasn’t close. He tallied 198 runs saved, a staggering 47 more than the second-placed man, Jason Heyward. Heyward was, in fact, the same distance from the 9th-placed man, Ian Kinsler, as he was to Simmons. The highest-placed to have appeared for the Diamondbacks was... any guesses? Just as with base-running, it’s Jarrod Dyson, who came in tenth at 97 runs. Ender Inciarte (+85) occupies twelfth spot, and Nick Ahmed was in fifteenth spot at 77, which is pretty good, considering he missed the first four years entirely. Worst in the decade? Matt Kemp, at -143. The lowest-ranked D-back was Rickie Weeks, fourth worst at -91.

Now, let’s look at single seasons.

  • P, Patrick Corbin (2013, N/A). B-R doesn’t list fielding runs for pitchers, so for this position, I’ve strolled across to Fangraphs and used Defensive Runs Saved instead. There, Corbin scored a +8. Probably an upset, with Pat edging out a pair of seasons by six-time Gold Glover Zack Greinke, as well as Joe Saunders in 2011, all of which scored +7.
  • C. Jeff Mathis (2018, +8). According to B-R.com, taken into account here are “catcher handling of the pitching staff via things like pitch framing and pitch calling,” as well as more obvious things like controlling the running game. Not really a surprise to see Mathis top this list, even though he only started 61 games that year. He truly was a defensive wizard.
  • 1B. Paul Goldschmidt (2015, +18). I wrote the name in before looking the stats up - the only question was which year it might be. This isn’t just the best defensive campaign for Arizona. It’s the best season at the position for the entire National League over the decade. Indeed, it’s the top score in the NL by this metric, since Albert Pujols for the Cardinals in 2007.
  • 2B. Ketel Marte (2018, +7). After a very successful transition to center this year, it’s easy to forget that Marte was a solid defender at second-base too. The runners-up spot is a surprise: it goes to Josh Wilson in 2013, who put up +5 runs, despite only making 15 starts there. Though at that level, the vagaries of small sample-size begin to take over.
  • SS. Nick Ahmed (2018, +21). Another position where I wrote in the name before running the report. Ahmed takes all three podium spots here, with his 2019 and 2015 seasons coming in close behind, at +19. The best non-Ahmed shortstop campaign belongs to Cliff Pennington, whose 2013 season rated a +13, tied with Nick’s 2016.
  • 3B. Jake Lamb (2015, +7). There’s actually a tie here, Eduardo Escobar also putting up +7 this year. However, Lamb did it in fewer games (107 vs. 158) so I’m giving him the nod. It’s an interesting blip, given the narrative has usually been about Lamb’s defensive struggles. However, the news for Jake in this reckoning is not universally good!
  • LF. Cody Ross (2013, +19). If Lamb was a surprise, Ross’s presence here probably counts as a genuine shock. Though he only qualifies for left by virtue of more games in LF than RF: by innings that season, he’d be a right-fielder. And as we’ll see in a couple of paragraphs, he wouldn’t come anywhere near topping that list. But in left? He’s a god.
  • CF. Ender Inciarte (2014, +20). I’d have guessed Pollock, but he comes in no higher than fourth, even in his injury-free season. Ahead of him comes not just Inciarte, but two years of Chris Young: his 2010 and 2011 scored +18 and +17 respectively. Ender was even better the following year in right field, scoring +29 there. But that still wasn’t enough for a two-peat.
  • RF. Gerardo Parra (2013, +37). I’m not sure if that year broke the system somehow: three of the top four for the decade all came in 2013, Parra joined by Simmons (+41) and Manny Machado (+36). Though the decade’s best was Kevin Kiermaier of the 2015 Rays, at +42. Still, can’t complain about third-best in baseball over a ten-year period!

And as before, here are the worst at each position, forming a team of Stone Glovers for the decade with Arizona.

  • P. Chad Qualls (2010, -4 DRS)
  • C. Miguel Montero (2013, -6)
  • 1B. Mark Trumbo (2014, -8) - yes, he played mostly at first that season
  • 2B. Aaron Hill (2014, -10)
  • 3B. Jake Lamb (2017, -13) - like Pollock on base-running, Jake makes both teams
  • LF. Brandon Drury (2016, -16) - I’d forgotten the great “Let’s move Drury to the outfield!” experiment. He started more games in left that year than anyone else. #2-4 on the list were Yasmany Tomas (played mostly in right; see below), Rickie Weeks (second last on the list, at -7 the same year) and Peter O’Brien. I suspect Dave Stewart may not have valued outfield defense very much...
  • CF. Tony Campana (2013, -1)
  • RF. Yasmany Tomas (2016, -16).