Photo: Rick Ulreich/Icon Sportswire

As the MLB season nears an end there are a lot of things that we wrote about at some point this season that we’d like to update you on. But we only have so much space and so much time with which to work. 

So rather than try to tell you a lot about one particular thing this week, let’s update you on 5 things that we either wrote about or frequently tweeted about from @sis_baseball this season.

HR Robberies 

The 2023 season has had more home run robberies than any season since we began tracking them in 2004. The current tally stands at 73, surpassing the previous mark of 69 set in 2019.

The individual leaders in home run robberies are Mickey Moniak, Luis Robert Jr., Mike Trout, Cedric Mullins, and Kyle Tucker with 3 apiece. Angels outfielders have 10 home run robberies this season, the most by any team in any year since 2004. The 2005 Tigers had the previous mark with 9.  

Pitchers Hit By Batted Balls 

Earlier this season we addressed the number of pitchers being hit by comebackers, resulting in either the pitcher leaving the game or a considerable delay due to injury. 

The count currently stands at 18 such incidents, an unusual and scary total given that there were 19 from 2020 to 2022 combined. The total number of pitchers hit with a batted ball, regardless of severity of injury, is comparable to the last two seasons – 169 in both 2022 and 2023 and 160 in 2021.

Hitters Deserving A Better Fate 

In April we wrote about how Starling Marte and Nick Gordon had been repeatedly denied hits by either good-looking defensive plays or plays that may have been tougher than they looked. 

Both Gordon and Marte got injured and neither rated among the players most thwarted by defenses in 2023.
It looks like the best-defensed hitter this season is going to be Lourdes Gurriel Jr. of the Diamondbacks. Opposing defenses have recorded 21 Runs Saved against Gurriel this season. He’s followed by Alec Bohm and Steven Kwan (18 Runs Saved against them).

Another way of looking at it: the hitter with the most “Good Fielding Plays” against him specific to plays that took away hits is José Ramírez with 21. 

Nolan Arenado

Perennial Gold Glove and 5-time Fielding Bible Award winner Nolan Arenado had a disappointing 2023 season as far as his defensive stats went. He spent most of the year with a negative Defensive Runs Saved. 

But Arenado has looked better of late. After heading into the All-Star Break with -4 Runs Saved, Arenado has since saved 5. With 1 Run Saved, Arenado is not likely to contend for a Fielding Bible Award this season, but he’s shown that he still has some of the skills that made his metrics so good. 

NPB’s Top Defensive Team 

You may have noticed us regularly tweeting about Japanese baseball in the latter part of the year as we noticed there’s an avid following and not a lot of defensive data accessible for NPB fans.

With that in mind, we can tell you that the best defensive team you don’t know about is the NPB’s Hanshin Tigers. The Tigers, who won the Central League title for the first time since 2005, currently have 29 Runs Saved and have a comfortable advantage in Defensive Runs Saved over the next-closest NPB team, the Nippon-Ham Fighters, who have 6. 

NPB out probabilities are created from the same basis we use for MLB ones. Most NPB team totals are either negative or slightly positive. Hanshin has been the exception.

Hanshin’s top defensive players are catcher Seishiro Sakamoto (T-1st among C in Runs Saved), second baseman Takumu Nakano (2nd, 2B), center fielder Koji Chikamoto (T-1st, CF), right fielder Shota Morishita (T-4th, RF), and pitcher Koutaro Ohtake (1st, P). 

Sakamoto in particular is considerably popular among fans because of his pitch-framing skill. (we’ve heard from many on social media). Hanshin pitchers are 49-19 with a 2.12 ERA this season when Sakamoto catches.