The Vision of St. Louis…or Something.
The St. Louis Cardinals’ defense appears to be better this year than last, but manager Mike Matheny is reluctant to give all the credit to Sabermetrics-inspired shifts the team has used this season.
He said the coaching staff does a good job of pre-game discussions about hitters and how they are going to be defended in certain situations. While the Cardinals may have used shifts more this year, Matheny said it’s only one component to the defense. And, although helpful, Sabermetrics don’t yet tell them things like where the defensive players started from when they made a play, the route they took, where they went, etc.
He said the Birds still use a lot of traditional methods to defend hitters, including spray charts, pitcher match-ups, and history. He also said that moving players defensively has been going on forever. When those subtle positioning moves become a shift has never clearly been defined.
Overall, he is pleased with the teams’ defensive performance. “We see good defensive ability (with current Cardinal starters).” The Cardinals are second in the National League in defense with just 46 errors for a .987 fielding percentage. Matt Carpenter and Jhonny Peralta lead the team in errors with 8 each, but, according to Sabermetrics, have saved nearly as many runs above average for that position.
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