clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Fantasy Defense

Is it time we find a way to add the missing piece of the game to fantasy?

Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports

Something I've always wondered was "is there a way to put defense into fantasy baseball?" To me it has never made sense that defense is all but ignored in fantasy, but I think I may have found a solution, or at least a new way to view it.

The issue has always been, you probably can't measure fielding effectively, per player, on a weekly basis.  With that major issue, fielding is very difficult to measure in all formats that use a weekly scoring system.  But what if we broke away from the defense per player idea?

As fantasy football has done for years, a weeks worth of defensive stats for a team, would be far easier to track, and perhaps a solution to a glaring problem with fantasy baseball.  Here are my 5 stats I'd like to use for team defenses, with their formulas for how to calculate them if they aren't standard stats, according to

1)   Defensive Efficiency Ratio

A new ratio for all the stat lovers.  Defensive Efficiency Ratio is the rating of team defensive outs recorded in defensive opportunities. To determine Defensive Efficiency Ratio for a team, divide the total number of hits in play allowed (subtracting home runs and times reached on error) by the total number of defensive opportunities (all balls hit into play, not including home runs), and subtract from one: 1-(((H+ROE)-HR)/(PA-(SO+HBP+HR)))

2)   Double Plays

A simple measure of all teams ability to get defensive plays off quickly.  As a Yankees fan, I've watched an older infield, get beat by younger hitters on opposing teams for years.  When I looked at the leader board, I was not surprised that the Yanks were second to last in DPs. Obviously this would be the stat for teams with slick fielding middle infielders.

3)   UZR/150

Since this is technically a counting stat, scaling this would make winners and losers more obvious, and better, if you were in a roto league, UZR would replace UZR/150.  I've always been a fan UZR, as it seems my perceived best defenses are always at the top of it.

Defensive Ability


Gold Glove Caliber




Above Average




Below Average






I've read about this stat being difficult to trust, but every time I check leaderboards, I become more confident in the men and women at Fangraphs ability to calculate it.

4)   Steals- Caught Stealing+ Pass balls. (Unnamed stat that I just invented, so it's now the Jack Score)

Obviously, having a catcher that deters teams from running, or advancing on him all together would be ideal.   But the best SB% in baseball was owned by the Nationals with a 62.5% last year, and with such a high percentage of runners making it, the percentage lost value to me. I originally thought that number would be the best, but since net steals would always be a positive number besides a few outlier weeks, net steals grew on me.  I decided to include pass balls, because those are obvious opportunities to give up an extra base, and receiving along with throwing skills should be measured when judging catchers.  When I calculated this number the top 5 teams were:

1) Nationals

2) Cardinals

3) Reds

4) Royals

5) Diamondbacks

I think all of those teams have good catching, so perhaps this simple metric would be a good way to measure catchers on a weekly basis.  The only issue I could think of was how knuckleballers would destroy teams ability to have good pitching stats, and I wasn't surprised when I saw the Blue Jays near the bottom of this list.

5)   Range Runs

As Fangraphs puts it, "Is the player an Ozzie Smith or an Adam Dunn? Do they get to more balls than average or not?"  This is that closest thing to HR or XBH for the defense.  Big play ability is something that is cherished on offense, and big K numbers are loved from pitchers, so why shouldn't we have something like this for the fielders.  This stat is actually part of the UZR formula, so I'm not sure if having a smaller part of one of the other stats is a good or bad idea, but I wanted to be able to measure range, and the reliability of a players glove.

So what do you think?  Its obviously ratio heavy, which I wasn't sure about, but after looking at all the options, I decided these were the stats I'd like to have the most.  I considered others, (fielding %, SB%, Outfield Arm Runs [ARM], putouts, and assists.  I also think a 4 game start minimum would have to be instituted to make sense out of this, but what do you think readers, if you have any other stats you'd consider, tell me.  I've always been interested in adding fielding to fantasy, and while it may not be perfect now, neither are the standard 5x5 stats.  I think this would just be another test of a managers knowledge, and it would be cool to have everyone drafting teams with their last pick to try and scramble for those necessary fielding stats.