Commentary

Previewing World Series defenses

A position-by-position comparison of the Rangers' and Cardinals' defenses

Updated: October 18, 2011, 2:28 PM ET
By Ben Jedlovec | Baseball Info Solutions
Adrian Beltre Jeff Griffith/US PresswireAdrian Beltre continually proves to be one of the best defensive third basemen in baseball.

As the Milwaukee Brewers proved in the NLCS, there's no substitute for a good defense. The Texas Rangers and St. Louis Cardinals will meet in the World Series, and neither would have gotten to this point without key defensive contributions.

We'll go position by position, breaking down the Rangers' and Cardinals' regulars with the help of Baseball Info Solutions' defensive runs saved numbers. Defensive runs saved (or "runs saved," for short) is an estimate of each player's contributions on the defensive side of the ball. Runs saved evaluates a fielder's range, errors, throwing arm, double plays and several other aspects of defensive play, and combines them into one number. Armed with this information, we can determine exactly how much each player is helping or hurting his team in the field.

The Rangers ranked third in the American League with 45 runs saved this season. The Cardinals started off the year as one of the National League's worst defensive teams, but thanks to some moves made at the trade deadline, they "improved" to minus-13 runs saved and cued a historic September surge that has led to the World Series. Here's how the two defenses that will be playing in the Fall Classic stack up against each other:

First base

Albert Pujols (three defensive runs saved) isn't as agile as he once was, but his play to nab Chase Utley in the NLDS was as smart a play as you'll ever see. Mitch Moreland (minus-2 runs saved) is nothing spectacular at the position, but he gets the job done. With the NL holding home-field advantage, Michael Young (minus-5 runs saved) will likely see some starts at first but is probably the weaker defensive option. Edge: Cardinals


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