In a piece for the Sports Info Solutions blog, Mark Simon digs deep to try and find an explanation for Bryce Harper’s poor defensive ratings; he’s cost the Nationals 25 runs with his performance in the field, per Defensive Runs Saved. Simon notes that Harper ranks second-worst among all MLB position players in that metric, having played well below average both in right and center field. Simon objectively examines the categories in which the All-Star slugger has performed below his historical norms, such as range rating, deterrent value from his throwing arm, and the routes he’s taken to fly balls. Of course, defensive statistics are widely thought of as more subjective than most offensive stats, so it remains to be seen just how much any of these numbers will actually impact Harper’s value on the free agent market this offseason. As Simon notes, he’s certainly quelled mid-season concerns about his offensive capabilities by tattooing baseballs to the tune of a 1.004 OPS since the All-Star break. It will be interesting to see how Harper’s suitors factor his defensive performance into their offers over the course of the winter.
And now a pair of notes related to infielders…
- Jordan Bastian of MLB.com provides the highlights from a recent press Q&A with Josh Donaldson. Among the most interesting parts of the interview is Donaldson’s credit to NFL wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald for referring soft-tissue expert Dr. Josh Sandell to him. The third baseman also noted that he made some dietary changes during his recovery from injury, and discussed how he feels hitting-wise. “I’ve felt better,” said Donaldson. “I haven’t had much of the results to look for, but I feel like I’ve hit some balls hard. As long as my approach and how I’m seeing the ball — my pitch recognition — is up to par, and I’m hitting the ball solid, there’s not much more I can ask for from that.” The “Bringer of Rain” owns a .811 OPS in a small sample with the Indians as he attempts to help his new club get back to the World Series, all while making his bid for a big free agent payday.
- Though Cardinals infielder Kolten Wong left Friday’s game early due to cramping, Joe Trezza of MLB.com tweets that he’ll likely be available off the bench today, per manager Mike Shildt. Shildt is reportedly “very hopeful” that Wong can return to the starting lineup tomorrow. That’s in line with good news about the situation coming out of the Cardinals’ camp- the club believes that the cramping was due to dehydration, not a hamstring strain. Wong’s in the midst of the best season of his career by fWAR, having reached base in a third of his plate appearances while playing excellent defense in 869 2/3 innings at the keystone for St. Louis.