This month the SIS/Fielding Bible Awards Defensive Player of the Month goes to two players who demonstrated defensive dominance in August: Phillies center fielder Johan Rojas and Pirates 3rd baseman Ke’Bryan Hayes.
Rojas is getting it done at a premium position for a Phillies team that can use the defensive help. He saved 11 runs in August, the most of any player, and has 12 Defensive Runs Saved for the season. He ranks tied for 3rd in Runs Saved by a center fielder despite ranking 44th among them in innings played. Rojas was also the runaway leader in Runs Saved by a minor league center fielder with 15.
Rojas also covers ground better than most. He ranks 5th in MLB’s Jumps stat, covering nearly 3 feet more than the average outfielder within the first 3 seconds of batted-ball contact. He ranks 3rd in the Statcast metric “Burst” – covering more ground than the average outfielder when the ball has been in the air from 1.5 to 3 seconds.
Additionally, Rojas has a strong arm, one that has averaged about 92 MPH on the top 10% of his throws. That ranks Top 5 among center fielders this season. Also impressive is that he’s minimized his mistakes. He had only 1 Error and no Defensive Misplays the entire month.
Rojas’ 11 Runs Saved for the month easily topped the next-closest center fielder. Daulton Varsho (6) of the Blue Jays was the only other player with more than 5 Runs Saved there in August.
Hayes also easily led his position with 9 Runs Saved in August. The next-closest third baseman for the month was Austin Riley of the Braves with 5 Runs Saved.
Hayes is a two-time winner of the award this season, having also taken the honor in April. This month marked a triumphant return from the lower back injury that caused him to miss all but one game in July. Hayes now has 20 Runs Saved this season and reclaimed the seasonal lead in Runs Saved at third base from Ryan McMahon of the Rockies, who has 17. No one else has more than 10 Runs Saved at that position this season. By the way, Hayes also hit .320 with 6 home runs, 20 RBI, and a .956 OPS in August.
Other players under consideration for the award this month included Guardians left fielder Steven Kwan and second baseman Andrés Giménez, and Padres right fielder Fernando Tatis Jr. Each led his respective position in Runs Saved for the month.
A reminder that Sports Info Solutions will announce the winners of The 2023 Fielding Bible Awards in late October. A panel of voters selects the top defensive player at each position, along with a multi-position honoree. This will be our 18th consecutive year presenting this honor.