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Stat of the Week: MLB Trade Market is Rich in Shortstops

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The July 30 MLB trade deadline is gradually approaching and, as usual, there are plenty of notable names on the market.

In particular, the shortstop market is plentiful, and with defense being our company’s specialty, it’s worth pointing out that this is a defense-rich shortstop market.

The top two shortstops in Defensive Runs Saved since 2019 – Javier Báez of the Cubs and Trevor Story of the Rockies – are likely both available given that their teams are not in playoff contention and that they are free agents at season’s end.

Báez has won four Fielding Bible Awards for defensive excellence, the most recent being his first at shortstop in 2020 (the other three were for multi-position play). His defensive numbers are down from his usual standard, but he’s still above-average having saved 3 runs in 2021.

Báez has also bounced back offensively from a rough 2020, though he’s still short of his 2017 to 2019 numbers when he hit .282, averaged 29 home runs, and had an .845 OPS. He entered Thursday hitting .244 with 21 home runs and a .772 OPS this season.

Story is also at 3 Runs Saved, not very close to the 21 he had two seasons ago. His propensity to make the 'wow' play is still there, but it has slowed down a little. He’s made 13 Good Fielding Plays, far from the MLB shortstop-leading 37 he made in 2019 (Good Fielding Plays are a stat we track to note Web Gems and prominent plays like keeping the ball in the infield to prevent a run from scoring).

Story has had a down year at the plate too. A 6-for-39 slump with 16 strikeouts in his last 10 games has dropped his batting average to .243, though he does have 11 home runs and 17 stolen bases.

Both Báez and Story will be pricey acquisitions given their track records, but there are two other shortstops with notable defensive histories that will be less costly.

One of those is the standard-setter for defensive performance at the position, Twins shortstop Andrelton Simmons. From 2012 to 2018, Simmons saved an average of 25 runs per season. He’ll turn 32 in September and his numbers have declined both at the plate and in the field as he has gotten older. He’s totaled 8 Runs Saved the last three seasons.

Freddy Galvis of the Orioles is another option. Galvis had a run of four straight seasons with positive Defensive Runs Saved at shortstop from 2016 to 2019, peaking at 10 Runs Saved in 2019. However, he’s cost his teams 2 runs in 105 games the last two seasons. Galvis is hovering around being a league-average hitter, with a .720 OPS and 9 home runs in 72 games.

Teams such as the Phillies, Athletics and Reds have posted below-average defensive numbers at shortstop and could look for improvement there. They’ll certainly have plenty of players to pick from.

Most Defensive Runs Saved – Shortstops Since 2019

Name Current Team DRS
Javier Báez Cubs 40
Trevor Story Rockies 30
Paul DeJong Cardinals 27
Nick Ahmed Diamondbacks 24
Carlos Correa Astros 21

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