Are the Mets the worst defensive team in MLB?
Though advanced defensive metrics can be a faulty way to measure success, they also have an important place in today’s game. Among the more respected of them is John Dewan’s Runs Saved, which measures precisely what you might imagine it measures. Runs Saved is a cumulative stat taking into account a fielder’s range and ability to convert a batted ball into an out, along with his effectiveness completing position-specific tasks such as turning double plays or throwing out would-be base stealers.
Heading into Wednesday’s play, the Mets ranked dead last in the Majors with -26 runs saved, meaning their defense had cost them 26 runs over the first three weeks of the season. Only one position player, Angel Pagan, had a positive Runs Saved total (so keep that in mind before bashing Pagan for his slow start at the plate).
To compare, the second-worst team in baseball was the Phillies, with -18 runs saved. The best was the Rangers with +14 runs saved.
FanGraphs’ Ultimate Zone Rating (a metric similar to Runs Saved) tells a similar story, showing the Mets with a -7.4 UZR through 18 games, third-worst in the National League. Among the foremost culprits are David Wright, Willie Harris and Carlos Beltran, who possess UZRs of -2.9, -2.9 and -2.2, respectively.
(It’s worth noting that the Mets rank 17th in baseball with just 10 fielding errors on the year — if nothing else, a condemnation of traditional defensive statistics.)
The struggles have been both telling and (the Mets hope, at least) somewhat aberrational. The Mets were an above-average defensive team last season, thanks in large part to Pagan and Ike Davis, one of the best defensive first basemen in the league.
Right now, though, they’re simply not repeating that performance. And it’s costing them runs.
—–Follow along on Twitter @AnthonyDiComo.