The Cleveland Guardians weren’t scheduled to challenge for the AL Central Division title in 2022, but they are in the thick of the action as of Monday afternoon.
The Chicago White Sox were the clear favorites, but they’re not the best: the Minnesota Twins, who finished last in 2021, lead the pack with a 32-24 record.
In second place, with a 24-25 record, we have the Guardians: they’re 4.5 games behind the Twins for the lead, so they’ve been competitive with limited resources.
They’re a good pitching team and some of their hitters are exploding, but their defense is one of the main reasons they’ve been so competitive.
While many people will argue that defense isn’t as crucial as throwing and attacking, it can help teams win ball games if it’s truly elite.
In the specific case of the Guardians, it is a real elite.
An elite defensive team
“MLB team leaders in defensive runs saved: 1. Goaltenders; 2. Astros; 3. Yankees and Sailors; 5. Blue jays; 6. Orioles and Red Sox; 8. Padres. Andrés Giménez and Myles Straw lead the DRS Guardians,” SIS Baseball tweeted on Monday.
MLB team leaders in defensive runs saved
Andrés Giménez and Myles Straw lead the DRS Guardians
The 30 teams ranked here: https://t.co/ZuywrRFPuL pic.twitter.com/HpMaVTtDGT
— SIS_Baseball (@sis_baseball) June 6, 2022
The Guardians had excellent defensive production in the middle positions.
Straw is their starting centre-back, and while he doesn’t have much to offer offensively, he’s already at 7 DRS (Defensive Runs Saved) in 2022.
Jose Ramirez is also an elite defender at third base, and Andres Gimenez’s escape with the bat earns his excellent regular playing time at second base.
Austin Hedges, the receiver, is also excellent behind the plate.
While Cleveland waits for some young players and prospects to burst, their defense helps them stay afloat.