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Braves One Of The Top Five Defensive Teams In Baseball

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Another week and another great Stat of the Week from John Dewan's site (hat tip: Eaheckman10).

Last Stat of the Week, we presented the individual Defensive Runs Saved leaders. This time, we take a look at which teams top the Defensive Runs Saved leaderboard. Right now, the Rays are the best defensive team in baseball by a large margin. Here are the top five teams according to Defensive Runs Saved:

2010 Runs Saved Leaders
Team P C 1B 2B 3B SS LF CF RF Total
Tampa Bay Rays 0 0 4 25 7 7 15 -4 6 60
San Diego Padres 9 -1 3 0 13 6 4 12 5 51
Colorado Rockies 9 8 3 0 4 18 11 1 -9 45
Atlanta Braves 4 3 -4 3 8 18 0 -3 11 40
Oakland Athletics 10 4 13 2 12 5 -5 -8 5 38

All of these teams are playoff caliber teams, save for Oakland, which has fallen off recently. The Braves of the early 90's were built around defense and pitching, and we certainly know the investment that this 2010 Braves team has made in pitching, so it's good to know that they're backing this up with great defense. The first thing that jumps out is obviously the big boost the Braves get at shortstop with Yunel Escobar accounting for almost half of the team's runs saved -- more reason NOT to trade him.

Beyond that I was surprised to see third base so high and center field so low. I've always said that the defense of Chipper Jones at third base is a bit underrated. He may not have the quick reaction or above average range at the hot corner that he once had, but he's still got a great arm and he makes that play coming in on the ball better than anyone else I've seen. It's good to know that he's not costing us runs in the field... quite the opposite.

It's also interesting to see that the trifecta of players we've used in center field has not lived up to their defensive expectations. All are overrated defenders, not to mention overrated hitters.

On the whole it's great to see the Braves with solid defense (according to this metric), and mentioned along with the other surprise teams of 2010. The Braves have made their share of errors in the field, so it's not all roses, but at least they make up for that with defensive runs saved.