Gleeman: The Astros have the best defense in baseball

From SABR member Aaron Gleeman at Baseball Prospectus on May 25, 2018:

The dominance of Houston’s pitching staff has been one of this season’s biggest stories. Not only do the Astros lead MLB with a 2.39 ERA—nearly a full run better than the next-best team—they currently have the lowest staff ERA in the history of modern baseball (since 1920). They’re also currently the all-time leaders in ERA+ (163), strikeout rate (10.4/9), and strikeout-to-walk ratio (4.24-to-1), along with batting average (.196), on-base percentage (.257), and slugging percentage (.321) against. Their rotation has a 2.25 ERA. Their bullpen has a 2.76 ERA. And each of the 11 pitchers to log at least 15 innings for them has an ERA under 3.50, with six under 2.00.

I’m not here to talk about their amazing pitching, though. At least not directly.

While looking through the Astros’ insane pitching numbers, I noticed that they’re also leading MLB in batting average on balls in play allowed, with a .259 mark that would be the lowest by an AL team since 1991. To be sure, the Astros’ pitchers deserve some credit for that. They’ve surrendered MLB’s fewest line drives (21.1 percent) and second-least hard contact (29.2 percent), along with an above-average number of infield pop-ups. Their average exit velocity allowed is an AL-best 87.3 mph. They’ve made life easy on the defense, which is why BP’s all-encompassing pitching metric, Deserved Run Average (DRA), has the Astros at an MLB-best 2.23—even better than their sparkling 2.39 ERA.

Read the full article here:

Originally published: May 25, 2018. Last Updated: May 25, 2018.