Commentary

The Reds' defense is hard to figure out

The overall stats are pedestrian, but the Reds have a knack for spectacular plays

Updated: October 4, 2010, 12:56 PM ET
By Ben Jedlovec | Baseball Info Solutions
Jay BruceJeff Hanisch/US PresswireJay Bruce has really come on with the bat, but he might be most valuable in the field.

In a rundown of playoff contenders last week, I devoted just two short sentences to the Cincinnati Reds' defense, glossing over their good-but-nothing-special total of 25 defensive runs saved. Since then, the Reds have leapt to 35 runs saved -- fifth in the National League at the moment -- while clinching their first playoff berth in 15 years. On second glance, Dusty Baker's squad deserves far more than a two-line summary and is actually one of the most interesting defenses in the National League.

Although the Reds defense improved to 35 runs saved, it still ranks only 10th in the majors and fifth in the National League. According to Web Gem scorekeeper Mark Simon, the Reds have had 47 plays named Web Gems on "Baseball Tonight," the most of any team in baseball. Those 47 plays are good for 159 Web Gem points, a tally that also leads MLB. How can a team spectacular enough to lead the league in Web Gems be relatively mediocre according to one of the leading defensive metrics?