The Detroit Tigers have had their share of issues this year. However, according to the Society of American Baseball Research, performance on the defensive side of the ball has not been a problem. Ian Kinsler, Justin Upton, and Jose Iglesias are all among the Top Ten Defenders in the American League.
Here’s what SABR has to say about how these rankings are derived:
“The SABR Defensive Index draws on and aggregates two types of existing defensive metrics: those derived from batted ball location-based data and those collected from play-by-play accounts. The three metrics representing batted ball data include Defensive Runs Saved from Baseball Info Solutions, Ultimate Zone Rating developed by noted sabermetrician Mitchel Lichtman, and Runs Effectively Defended based on STATS Zone Rating and built by SABR Defensive Committee member Chris Dial. The two metrics included in the SDI originating from play-by-play data are Defensive Regression Analysis, created by committee member Michael Humphreys, and Total Zone Rating.”
After plenty of number crunching, players are assigned a number to represent their defensive capabilities. You can get a more detailed explanation here.
Justin Upton leads the Tigers with a score of 8.7. That’s good for 4th in the American League and 6th in all of Major League Baseball. Kinsler scores a 6.4 for 7th place in the AL and 16th in MLB. His double play partner Iglesias rings in with a 6.1 — 9th among AL players and 19th overall.
Leading the way with a 15.3 is Red Sox right fielder Mookie Betts, whose mark is the highest among all players in the sport, American or National League.
These defensive performances are giving Tigers fans a little to cheer for as the team begins its rebuild.