Defensive Runs Saved

We have spent several thousand man-hours (literally!) of research working to improve our methods to evaluate defense in baseball.

Everything that we know summarizes into what we call Defensive Runs Saved. Some folks have started calling it DRS for short. That’s OK. It comes in handy at times to have a short name for something. DRS or DRS System. Or just Runs Saved. Or sometimes it’s called the Plus/Minus System. That’s OK too, but it’s a bit of a misnomer. The Plus/Minus System--now titled Range and Positioning--was the focus of the first volume of The Fielding Bible and remains the cornerstone of the Defensive Runs Saved System. The Range & Positioning System is the most important methodology that we use to measure defense. But it is only one of nine major methodologies that summarize into Defensive Runs Saved.

These nine methodologies are:

  • Plus/Minus Runs Saved (All Non-Catchers)
  • Catcher Adjusted Earned Runs Saved (Catchers)
  • Catcher Stolen Base Runs Saved (Catchers)
  • Pitcher Stolen Base Runs Saved (Pitchers)
  • Outfielder Arm Runs Saved (Outfielders)
  • Bunt Runs Saved (Corner Infielders, Catchers, Pitchers)
  • Double Play Runs Saved (Middle Infielders and Corner Infielders)
  • Good Plays/Misplays Runs Saved (All Fielders)
  • Strike Zone Runs Saved (Catchers)

Defensive Runs Saved is a comprehensive accounting of how a player performs defensively. Depending on the position a player plays, Runs Saved is a combined measure of his range and positioning, his ability to field bunts, to turn double plays, to prevent baserunners from advancing either on balls in play or on stolen base attempts, to get extra strike calls, to limit earned runs, and to make extraordinary defensive plays while avoiding misplays. Positive numbers mean that a player saved his team runs, while negative numbers mean a player cost his team runs, with zero being average.

In 2015, Kevin Kiermaier recorded 42 Defensive Runs Saved, the highest total for ANY position since we started calculating DRS in 2003. On the opposite end, Brad Miller and Angel Pagan each cost their teams 20 runs in 2015, the lowest DRS ratings of that season. Joe Mauer was average playing first base for Minnesota in 2015, recording 0 runs save