Since 2013, the Society for American Baseball Research has been keeping track of fielders with its SABR Defensive Index, which measures a player’s performance in comparison to his peers based on batted ball location-based data and play-by-play records. (For more details on how SDI ratings are measured, check this out.)
The SDI will account for roughly 25% of the voting for this year’s Gold Glove Awards.
Recently, the initial SDI for the 2022 season was announced. The Milwaukee Brewers have two standouts on the list.
Right fielder Hunter Renfroe, with a 4.9 rating, and third baseman Jace Peterson, 4.4, rank fifth and tied for seventh among all National League defenders.
Acquired from Boston in the offseason, Renfroe has shown he’s not just a home run hitter. He leads the major leagues in assists by a right fielder (7), is fifth in the National League in putouts by a right fielder (97) and has committed no errors. Renfroe, who is on the injured list, is second among NL right fielders in SDI trailing only another injured player, Los Angeles’ Mookie Betts.
Peterson is probably a surprise listing. But he’s finally getting a chance to play – entering Tuesday’s game he’s appeared in 54 games at third base with 43 starts, his most at any position since 2015, when he was Atlanta’s regular second baseman (he hadn’t played more than 36 games at any spot in between).
Given the opportunity, he’s showing off his glove. Peterson ranks second in the NL among third baseman in fielding percentage (.979), Total Zone Runs (9) and Range Factor per nine innings (3.18) as well as tied for in defensive fWAR (1.2) among all major leaguers. Despite his high overall SDI ranking, Peterson is third among NL third basemen, trailing division-mates Ke’Bryan Hayes of Pittsburgh and St. Louis’ Nolan Arenado.
Another position Milwaukee is strong at is catcher. Victor Caratini, another offseason acquisition, is second among NL catchers with a 2.0 SDI. No. 3 on the list? Teammate Omar Narvaez at 1.4. Seems like Brewers pitchers are set up well no matter who is behind the plate.
Milwaukee hurlers are helping themselves as well. Three Brewers pitchers qualified for the ratings and each has a positive SDI: Corbin Burnes (0.7), Adrian Houser (0.7) and Eric Lauer (0.1).
Elsewhere around the diamond, first baseman Rowdy Tellez is a -0.6 (St. Louis’ Paul Goldschmidt is at -2.1, for comparison’s sake), second baseman Kolten Wong -2.4 (last year he was a 4.0, so hopefully being healthy will get him back on track) and at shortstop Willy Adames is a 0.3 and Luis Urias -1.5.
In the outfield, besides Renfroe, left fielder Christian Yelich is at -0.4 and center fielder Tyrone Taylor -1.4. Now departed Lorenzo Cain might have struggled offensively, but he recorded a 1.1 SDI.
With Cain gone, the defensive mantle has been passed along – and appears to be in good shape – with players such as Peterson and Renfroe.