This is the time of year when baseball fans get excited about everyone.
Understandably so. Watch a few games and it’s easy to feel good about players, often rising stars or prospects. And usually you’re watching home runs because they make for good highlights, so you tend to think about them as hitters. But who are the game’s rising young defensive stars?
In terms of those already in the major leagues, these were the top 6 players in Defensive Runs Saved by a player in his age-23-or-younger season in 2022.
Andrés Giménez won a Gold Glove and finished sixth in the AL MVP voting in his third MLB season. He looks like he’s going to be a standout, whether he plays second base or shortstop, for years to come.
Oswaldo Cabrera tallied 12 Runs Saved in only 43 games in the field. He played six positions for the Yankees and could fill a super utility role this year. Right field was his best spot – he finished with 6 assists and 9 Runs Saved there.
We just wrote about Nick Allen, another shortstop/second baseman, in an article for our website. He was the most aggressive shortstop at going to his backhand last season and it was an effective approach for him.
Alejandro Kirk split time between catcher and DH because the Blue Jays wanted to get him in the lineup a lot. In addition to being a Silver Slugger, Kirk also ranked 3rd in Runs Saved from blocking pitches and ranked tied for 6th in Runs Saved among catchers.
We featured Michael Harris prominently in The Bill James Handbook 2023, and for good reason. He totaled 19 home runs and 20 stolen bases to go with his 8 Runs Saved last season. He’s arguably the most likely player to have a 20-20-20 season (20 homers, 20 steals, 20 Runs Saved).
Alek Thomas was similar to Allen in that he didn’t hit much but stood out for his glove. His 17 Good Fielding Plays in center field ranked 3rd at the position behind Myles Straw (24) and Victor Robles (18).
Akil Baddoo is another whose hitting needs some work, in his case to get back to the success he had in 2021. The glove played well in left field last season and with the Tigers in rebuilding mode, he should continue to get chances to prove he can be a solid big leaguer.
There was a time when Scott Rolen was one of the game’s rising defensive stars. Read about Rolen’s reign of defensive excellence in an oral history on our website.