The Dodgers are 64-31 and 17-3 in July. They’ve been the dominant team that they were expected to be.
And we should give credit to their defense.
The Dodgers currently rank second to the Yankees in Defensive Runs Saved.
Most Defensive Runs Saved in 2022
They’re first in that stat in July with 24 Runs Saved, meaning their defense has saved them more than one run per game this month. It ranks first in turning balls hit in the air into outs and second in turning ground balls and bunts into outs since the month began.
And what’s noticeable about their performance this month is that it’s a little more…noticeable.
Our Video Scouts track “Good Fielding Plays.” These include diving, leaping, and sliding catches, but also things like quick double play turns, throws scooped at first base, and cutting off balls in the outfield to keep a runner from advancing an extra base on a hit.
From April to June, the Dodgers totaled 64 Good Fielding Plays. Only the White Sox had fewer (63). This month, the Dodgers have 22, tied for 7th-most.
These two were impactful in an eventual one-run win.
July 8 vs Cubs
And this one was a four-game sweep ender.
We should also note that the Dodgers have put their fielders—particularly their infielders—in position to do this kind of work with their defensive positioning.
The Dodgers have 23 Runs Saved credited to infield positioning this season. Only the Giants have more (37). But the Dodgers do what the Giants don’t do—finish the play. The Giants rank tied for 28th in Defensive Runs Saved. The Dodgers were at just 14 Runs Saved from positioning heading into the month, with the big jump coming from plays like these:
53% of balls put in play against the Dodgers defense have come against a full shift (three infielders on the pull side). That’s the second-highest rate in MLB.
That defensive approach has been validated this month. The Dodgers have upped their out rate on ground balls and bunts in full shifts from 74% from April to June to 77% in July. A 3 percentage-point jump might not sound like much, but it’s the difference between ranking 26th and 11th.
The Dodgers don’t have any players with overwhelming defensive stats. Max Muncy and Mookie Betts lead the team with 7 Defensive Runs Saved, with 4 of Muncy’s coming this month. But the Dodgers also don’t have any significant weaknesses. Chris Taylor (-4 Runs Saved) is the only fielder to cost the team more than a run with his defense and his track record at his primary position (left field) indicates that he’s better than that.
In sum, the Dodgers have a lot of good things going on defensively. And that adds up to being a great defensive team in 2022.
Most Defensive Runs Saved – Dodgers in 2022