In the process of blogging about Chris Davis‘ record-setting futility this morning, I found myself complaining that it was the only subject of discussion surrounding the O’s among national outlets. In writing that, I also realized it was the only headline on ESR this morning as well.
I need to remedy that. So, let’s talk about this O’s defense!
The Birds have turned 16 double plays, tied for most in the majors with the Atlanta Braves. We’ve witnessed some great infield wizardly over recent seasons, with the steady consistency of J.J. Hardy, the dazzling elegance of Manny Machado, and then Jonathan Schoop, who perhaps had a stronger arm than even Machado and could turn a double play on a dime, playing up the middle.
Not many expected much out of this 2019 group, but so far, they’ve done their predecessors proud. Jonathan Villar has proven capable at both shortstop and second base, Rule V pick Richie Martin has been mostly smooth (though he’s had a couple hiccups), and Hanser Alberto has been surprisingly efficient whether at second base or third. Rio Ruiz gets to most every ball that Machado would have at third, but his throws leave a bit to be desired.
On Monday night, Alberto made several diving stops (though a throwing error marred his evening slightly). Villar came out of nowhere to turn what looked like a sure single up the middle into a fielder’s choice at second base.
Until last night, the Birds were the only team in baseball to have not allowed a single stolen base. Currently, they’re tied with the Cleveland Indians at one apiece.
Maybe it’s just the eye test, and in a few weeks, the advanced statistics will tell us that our eyes have been lying and that the Birds defense is just average, or worse.
Whatever. As much as we respect those analytics around here, all I know is that this Birds defense has been a pleasure to watch so far.