The Cleveland Guardians weren’t expected to fight for the AL Central division title in 2022, yet they are right there in the thick of things as of Monday afternoon.
The Chicago White Sox were the clear favorites, but they aren’t the ones on top: the Minnesota Twins, who finished last in 2021, are leading the pack with a 32-24 record.
In second place, with a 24-25 record, we have the Guardians: they are 4.5 games behind the Twins for the lead, so they have been competitive with limited resources.
They are a good pitching team and some of their hitters are breaking out, but their defense is one of the main reasons they have been so competitive.
While many folks will argue that defense is not as crucial as pitching and offense, it can help teams win ballgames if it’s truly elite.
In the specific case of the Guardians, it has been truly elite.
An Elite Defensive Team
“MLB Team Leaders in Defensive Runs Saved: 1. Guardians; 2. Astros; 3. Yankees & Mariners; 5. Blue Jays; 6. Orioles & Red Sox; 8. Padres. Andrés Giménez, Myles Straw lead Guardians in DRS,” SIS Baseball tweeted on Monday.
MLB Team Leaders in Defensive Runs Saved
Andrés Giménez, Myles Straw lead Guardians in DRS
— SIS_Baseball (@sis_baseball) June 6, 2022
The Guardians have been getting some excellent defensive production in up-the-middle spots.
Straw is their starting center fielder, and while he doesn’t have much to offer offensively, he is already up to 7 DRS (Defensive Runs Saved) in 2022.
Austin Hedges, the catcher, is also excellent behind the plate.
While Cleveland waits for some young players and prospects to break out, their defense is helping them stay afloat.