Could the Halos Have the Best Defense in Baseball?

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Updated: February 10, 2017

If there’s one area the Angels absolutely, unequivocally improved this season, it’s their defense. Newcomers Cameron Maybin, Ben Revere, Danny Espinosa, Luis Valbuena, and Martin Maldonado are all plus defenders, and instantly upgrade the Angels’ defense. They’ll join Gold Glove winners Andrelton Simmons, Kole Calhoun, and Albert Pujols, (although he’s not expected to play a lot in the field this season,) and Gold Glove finalists Carlos Perez and Mike Trout. Even C.J. Cron showed a bit of improvement at first base last season, and third baseman Yunel Escobar is capable of making at least one fantastic play for every five times he botches a routine play.

There is a direct correlation between having good team defense and being successful; the best teams in baseball are generally strong defensively. There are a lot of different metrics that could be used to measure how a team is performing defensively, but by one metric eight of the top ten defensive teams in baseball made the playoffs last season, and the best defensive team by any metric, the Chicago Cubs, won it all. The Angels generally finished below league average, which should be no surprise to anyone who watched the team; they struggled in the field.

Historically, the World Series winners have great defenses. The Kansas City Royals, Boston Red Sox, and San Francisco Giants all won World Series in part thanks to a strong defense. It should come as no surprise that in 2014, when the Angels won ninety-eight games, they had a top-ten defense, something they haven’t had since. The best teams are the best teams because they avoid  those killer mistakes, bad baserunning and bad fielding.

The simplified object of the game is to score more runs than the other team; another way to look at it is to have less outs than the other team. What that means is that you are getting the other team out while limiting your own outs.

If you aren’t creating outs, i.e. putting runners on base any way you can, it stands to reason that you would eventually create runs if you string together enough non-outs. Giving the other team more outs by not playing good defense is a killer, and something that good teams just don’t do regularly. It’s something that happened far too often to the Angels last season, as they gave the other team far too many opportunities by not taking the outs given to them.

As far as being the best in baseball, it will be hard to compete with the Cubs; even with the loss of Dexter Fowler in center, they still boast a Gold Glove at almost every single position. However, the Angels could definitely end up boasting the best defense in the American League, and the Angels can use all the help they can get. It isn’t hard to envision the Angels winning three to four Gold Gloves, (Calhoun, Simmons, Perez, and Trout all have realistic chances.) If the Angels defense steps up, it will help a shaky pitching staff, which will go a long ways towards pushing the Halos into contention.

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