By MARK SIMON
We’ve previously noted that we are looking forward to seeing home run robberies and great shortstop defense when baseball returns again. We’re also looking forward to seeing the play that requires a burst of speed or leaving one’s feet, which does encompass home run robberies, but also covers a lot more.
At Sports Info Solutions, we have a few proxies that we can use to measure this type of effort. We track every time a fielder sprints, slides, dives, and jumps.
For example, the outfield leader in sprinting catches over the last three seasons is Ender Inciarte of the Braves with 210, well more than anyone else. Inciarte led the majors in sprinting catches in both 2017 and 2018, but missed too much of 2019 to be near the top. Victor Robles of the Nationals and Harrison Bader of the Cardinals led MLB with 43.
Among infielders, Freddy Galvis has the most since 2017 with 202. Matt Chapman of the Athletics led all infielders last season with 51.
Which fielders have been most willing to get their jerseys dirty? Let’s look at the leaders in sliding and diving plays. Over the last three seasons, the outfield leader in those types of plays is Alex Gordon of the Royals with 40. Bryce Harper acquitted himself well in the Phillies outfield last season, leading MLB with 21 sliding or diving plays, seven more than runner-up Kevin Pillar.
Among infielders, Brian Dozier has the most since 2017 with 86, just edging out Dee Gordon’s 84. Last season, Mets first baseman Pete Alonso didn’t just lead the majors in home runs. He also led all players at any position with 32 sliding and diving plays.
Lastly, let’s look at jumping catches. We noted in our previous work that Kevin Kiermaier was quite the home run robber. So it’s no surprise that he leads all outfielders with 41 jumping catches over the last three seasons, with an MLB-best 18 last season.
Among infielders, Rougned Odor has the most jumping catches over the last three seasons with 29. The 2019 leader was Odor’s teammate, Elvis Andrus, with 13.
Hopefully we’ll be able to see these kinds of plays again sometime soon, whether it’s in a couple of weeks or in the future. It’s something to look forward to.