Cheap leather

As defensive metrics gain relevance, these players won't be underpaid for long

Originally Published: April 16, 2014
By Doug Mittler | ESPN The Magazine

Gerardo ParraJim McIsaac/Getty ImagesThe Diamondbacks Gerardo Parra is currently paid more than $8M under his 2014 value.

MLB execs claim to value defense, yet the big contracts, like Miguel Cabrera's $292M deal, routinely go to sluggers, not glovemen. Last year Cabrera had the worst Ultimate Zone Rating -- a metric that measures how many runs a player saved through his fielding -- among all qualifying third basemen. No matter. Says Mets GM Sandy Alderson, "The market is established by offense because defensive numbers are difficult to ascertain." But that's changing. Stats like UZR are gaining traction, and this season MLB is debuting technology that tracks every defensive play in glorious, granular detail. By 2015, the system will be in every MLB park. Until then, catch these defensive bargains.

Doug Mittler

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