St. Louis Cardinals: Standard Fielding Statistics In 2013 Are Deceiving

By Randy Holt
Pete Kozma
Robert Deutsch-USA TODAY

The St. Louis Cardinals are an incredibly well built team, from top to bottom. Whether you look at what they’ve built in terms of their pitching staff or at the plate, there’s a reason that they’ve managed to reach the 2013 World Series. However, there is one element of their team that is highly overrated, and has been all season.

That element is their defense. We know that a player like Yadier Molina is one of the best defensive catchers in the game, if not the top dog in that category. We can also read a simple box score and see that their fielding percentage for the season is .988, tied for third best in the league. Their 75 errors are tied for fourth best in the bigs as well.

At the same time, though, the advanced defensive metrics indicate that this team is not all that when it comes to flashing the leather. While there are some individual standouts on this team when it comes to making a play in the field, they’re actually not all that high of quality when it comes down to it, a rarity for this organization.

In fact, while the fielding percentage might be noteworthy for the Cardinals, the advanced numbers show that they’re really quite unimpressive in the fielding department. Their Ultimate Zone Rating (UZR), which measures how many runs they were able to prevent, was -49 for the season, which actually ranked 27th in the league.

A similar statistic, Defensive Runs Saved (DRS), reflects a similar sentiment. The Cardinals’ DRS in 2013 was -39. Their Revised Zone Rating (RZR), which shows how many balls hit into a defender’s vicinity that become outs, was at .830 during the regular season. It wasn’t as low in the league rankings as some of the other figures, but it still only ranked 20th.

Let’s get this straight. The Cardinals have players in their lineup that are quality defensive players on an individual level. However, as a team, they are not impressive in the slightest. In fact, it’s one of the areas in this World Series matchup that the Boston Red Sox may have a clear advantage. Just ask Adam Wainwright what he thinks of his defense.

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