Diamond: Baseball’s newest infatuation is with outfield defense

From Jared Diamond at the Wall Street Journal on April 17, 2017:

When the Kansas City Royals rode an otherworldly bullpen to consecutive World Series appearances in 2014 and 2015, the rest of baseball reacted the only way it knows how: by copying them. The three largest contracts ever awarded to relief pitchers were signed this winter, as teams look to imitate the Kansas City’s model.

But what if the most important takeaway from the Royals had nothing to do with closers and setup men at all? A couple of teams located in opposite corners of the country believe they have found the real key: outfield defense. And while it won’t show up in any box score, they hope it is the secret weapon that propels them to the playoffs.

“The Royals didn’t have the most highly touted players, but the guys could absolutely play lights-out defense,” said Kevin Kiermaier, the Tampa Bay Rays’ Gold Glove center fielder. “There’s no way other teams don’t look at what the Royals did the past couple years.”

Read the full article here: https://www.wsj.com/articles/baseballs-newest-infatuation-is-with-outfield-defense-1492446261

Originally published: April 17, 2017. Last Updated: April 17, 2017.