MLB.com: Diamondbacks boast most improved outfield unit
There’s no doubting the Arizona Diamondbacks have started off the season on a tear.
They won their first nine series to start the season, something that hadn’t been done in the National League since the Chicago Cubs did it in 1907, and hold the third best record in MLB at 21-11 (.656), trailing only the Boston Red Sox and New York Yankees.
In a breakdown of every MLB team’s outfield defense, MLB.com found that Arizona came in as the most improved outfield.
And while the bats have been relatively hot for the D-backs — looking at you A.J. Pollock — the team’s defense has improved greatly from last year.
In 2017, Arizona spent the first half of the year with Yasmany Tomas (who should be a designated hitter), Daniel Descalso (who is an infielder) and Chris Herrmann (who is mainly a catcher) in left field. Center fielder A.J. Pollock missed more than a month with a groin strain, and when he returned, he’d soon find that next to him in right field was J.D. Martinez, who is far better known for his massive bat than his unremarkable glove. It wasn’t a strong group, reflected in the D-backs’ minus-6 OAA, tied for 17th in the Majors.
Flash forward to this year and there’s a different look in the outfield.
Descalso went back to the infield, Pollock is at full strength and Peralta is out in left field, while Chris Owings has had some work over in right.
And how could anyone forget newcomer Jarrod Dyson?
— FOX Sports Arizona (@FOXSPORTSAZ) May 5, 2018
In terms of catch percentage, the four outfielders have excelled.
Dyson holds the highest expected (93) and actual (95) catch percentage on the team, according to Statcast.
Pollock holds the highest outs above average mark with three, while Owings comes in with two.
Out of the four infielders, no one has improved their catch rate than Owings. He has an eight percent jump from his expected catch percentage (80) to actual catch percentage (88).
He also made the outfield’s highlight reel.
What a great play by Chris Owings in the right-center gap. But he collides with A.J. Pollock and comes out of the game. Hopefully just precautionary. pic.twitter.com/PXUQIN4af7
— FOX Sports Arizona (@FOXSPORTSAZ) April 20, 2018
And while the outfield has been solid for the D-backs, it wasn’t even at full strength yet.
After injuring his shoulder in Spring Training, the D-backs’ offseason acquisition, outfielder Steven Souza Jr., was reinstated from the 10-day disabled list on Thursday.