Phillies general manager Sam Fuld was a guest on our company’s baseball podcast this week, which prompted a fun lookup. I wanted to see where he ranked among left fielders in Defensive Runs Saved on a per-inning basis.
Turns out that if we set the minimum at 1,500 innings, which is about how many he played there for his career, that he ranks No. 1.
There’s a caveat here in that from 2003 to 2020, we incorporated positioning into the range component of a player’s Defensive Runs Saved. The last three years, that value is separate from the player’s range and credited to the team.
Nonetheless, we salute Fuld for his defensive excellence. That sent me on a hunt for outfielders who racked up a considerable total of Runs Saved within a relatively small number of innings.
In center field, Kevin Kiermaier, who has the most Runs Saved of anyone at the position since the stat was first tracked in 2003, is No. 1 on a per-inning basis, even with the qualifier dropped to 1,500 innings. Kiermaier currently stands at 20 Runs Saved per 1,000 innings.
The next-highest player on that list is one you might have forgotten. Craig Gentry never reached 300 plate appearances in a 10-year career with four teams, most notably the Rangers. But in just under 2,000 innings in center field, Gentry totaled 36 Runs Saved.
Honorable mention to Alfredo Amezaga, who played ~1,700 innings and netted 23 Runs Saved, Nook Logan (21 Runs Saved in ~2,200 innings) and Keon Broxton (19 in ~2,100 innings).
It feels like Joey Gallo has played a lot more than 1,663 career innings in right field but actually he hasn’t, at least not yet. On a per-inning basis using our qualifier of 1,500 innings, there’s been nobody better. He’s saved 31 Runs with his right field defense, 18.6 per 1,000 innings.
More within the spirit of what we’re looking for are current Giants manager Gabe Kapler (20 Runs Saved, 10.4 per 1,000) and Ryan Church (19, 10.3 per 1,000).
Lowering the qualifier further, particularly in right field, adds a couple of current names to the list. Brett Phillips is No. 1 among them. Phillips will take his 23 career Runs Saved in 759 innings in right field to the Angels this season (we’ve written about Phillips’ per-inning prowess before).
To bring this full circle (or in this case, Fuld circle), another name caught our eye when scouring the right field list. Fuld was drafted out of Stanford in the 10th round by the Cubs in 2004. Two picks later, the Marlins took an infielder from Middle Tennessee State, Brett Carroll.
Carroll played 180 games from 2007 to 2012, all but 7 of them for the Marlins. In 502 innings in right field, Carroll saved 18 runs, a rate of nearly 36 per 1,000 innings (the best rate of anyone to play at least 500 innings there). Check out some of his highlights.
Carroll currently runs a baseball academy in his native Tennessee. Memo to his players, you might want to listen extra closely to what he says when he talks about playing defense.