A slightly belated tip of the hat to the Rangers’ infield defense for their dominant work against ground balls and bunts this postseason.
The Rangers faced 207 grounders and bunts in the playoffs and World Series— more than any other team this postseason— and got at least one out on 77% of them, the highest rate of any team this postseason. All four of their infield regulars deserve recognition for their play in 2023.
First baseman Nathaniel Lowe went from -9 Defensive Runs Saved in 2022 to 3 in 2023. He won the AL Gold Glove at first base and finished 6th in the Fielding Bible Awards voting at the position (highest among AL first basemen). With the Rangers protecting a 3-2 lead against the Astros in the 7th inning of Game 6 of the ALCS, Lowe had a big stretch and scoop of a throw to complete a double play. The Rangers won that game and then Game 7 the next day.
Second baseman Marcus Semien has finished tied for 2nd, 4th, and 2nd in Runs Saved at the position the last 3 seasons. But because of that consistency he leads all second basemen in Runs Saved in those 3 years. He likely saved 2 runs with a diving stop in Game 5 of the ALCS against the Astros, 1 of 4 Good Fielding Plays he made in the postseason.
Shortstop Corey Seager had 5 Runs Saved this season, a respectable total but one that didn’t rank in the Top 10 at the position this season.
However, Seager tied for the MLB lead among shortstops in Double Play Runs Saved with 3. Seager converted 74% of double play opportunities in the regular season, the 2nd-highest rate among the 35 shortstops with the most opportunities in 2023. Seager was 100% when it mattered most, spearing Ketel Marte’s bid for a hit in the 8th inning and turning it into an inning-ending double play. That helped preserve a 3-1 Rangers win in Game 3 of the World Series.
Third baseman Josh Jung finished the regular season with 0 Runs Saved but tied for the MLB regular season lead in Good Fielding Plays at the position with 21. Jung rated among the best third basemen in baseball at making plays on balls hit to his right, not surprising given his great arm. He had a pair of Good Fielding Plays on balls hit down the line in the postseason (this one and this one).
The Rangers’ outfield may not have ranked No. 1 at turning balls hit in the air into outs but they made some terrific plays. Right fielder Adolis Garcia threw Christian Walker out at the plate in a key moment in Game 3 of the World Series. Garcia also won a Gold Glove and finished 2nd to Fernando Tatis Jr. in the Fielding Bible Award voting in right field. Center fielder Leody Taveras robbed Yordan Alvarez of a home run in the ALCS. Left fielder Evan Carter had 3 Good Fielding Plays, all impressive catches.
In fact, you could say that Carter’s diving catch in the 1st inning of Game 1 of the Wild Card Round against the Rays was the tone setter for what was to come the rest of the postseason. Highly impressive for a rookie to start a highly impressive run for the Rangers, the 2023 World Series winners.