An arguable yardstick for measuring the effectiveness of a particular player in the field, the SABR Defensive Index was quite unkind to the Toronto Blue Jays in 2018.
It was, all told, disappointing, yet unsurprising that the Blue Jays did not have a Gold Glove Award winner in 2018. While Justin Smoak was a finalist, he didn’t have that much of a shot given his incredibly tough competition. But what about the other members of the Toronto Blue Jays? By some standards, even worse.
The SABR (Society for American Baseball Research) Defensive Index is an aggregate sabermetric figure that, according to the official SABR website, is one of the factors that determine who wins the Rawlings Gold Glove Award for a given position. Here’s how the Blue Jays fared in that category this season, courtesy of SABR:
Smoak, who finished with an SDI of -1.3, was seventh among American League first baseman. Devon Travis, who placed 14th among AL second baseman (or second-last among qualified players), tallied an abysmal -7.1 SDI score.
Teoscar Hernandez, widely criticized for his subpar defensive play this season, finished second-last among American League left fielders with a score of -5.0. Kevin Pillar ranked fifth among centre fielders with a 2.3 SDI, while Randal Grichuk fared equally decently, tallying a score of 3.3, good enough for sixth among right fielders.
Pitchers and Catchers
Russell Martin, who, despite a disappointing season at the plate, was solid defensively, was close to the middle of the pack among AL backstops. With an SDI score of 0.3, he was ninth among catchers. No Blue Jays pitchers finished among the top 30 for qualified pitchers.
All in all, no Blue Jays finished among the overall top 25 by SDI, regardless of position. Perhaps this statistical representation, while by no means definitive, should signal that perhaps more emphasis should be put on defence in the near future.
This team’s defence wasn’t “bad” by any stretch, but teams like the Red Sox, Athletics, and Brewers, all of whom made the playoffs, excelled at this aspect of the game. Even teams who didn’t make the playoffs had players in the top 25, with the Royals and Tigers, both of whom finished with abysmal records, having two names each on the list.
Regardless of the level of competition the team strives to achieve next season, it would certainly serve them to concentrate at least a little bit on defence. While it’s not a massive deal, it could, if carried out correctly, help them a lot in the long run.