How has Wright improved on defense?
After a few seasons of lackluster defensive play, David Wright has rebounded to be one of baseball’s most consistent third basemen over the first five weeks of 2012. That story describes how Wright worked with third-base coach Tim Teufel this spring on his defensive positioning, both while waiting for balls to be hit to him and while preparing to throw to first base.
But how exactly has Wright improved? I spoke today to author, statistician and defensive expert John Dewan, whose “Fielding Bible” is required reading for many Major League general managers. Dewan uses a Plus/Minus system that calculates how many runs a fielder saves versus the average player at his position, breaking it down to various aspects of a player’s game. Dewan’s data shows that Wright has already saved two runs on balls hit to his right this season, making him suddenly a very good third baseman on those reaction shots down the third-base line.
Compare that to Wright’s specific struggles of years past and it’s a big, big change. As Dewan wrote in the third edition of his “Fielding Bible,” which came out this spring, “It seems that Wright has the physical tools to make highlight-reel plays; if his range to his right improved and he limited the misplays on throws, he could possibly work his way into the Fielding Bible Award discussion in the future.”
That, thanks to Teufel, is exactly what Wright has done so far in 2012. It’s a neat little story about how stats and scouts don’t always have to be independent; it’s a human game, and players who work can sometimes overcome their shortcomings of the past.
Follow me on Twitter: @AnthonyDiComo.