Since Statcast made its appearance to track MLB stats in 2015, fans and media have a better idea of how to evaluate players’ performance using the right tools and metrics.
Evaluating defensive performance has always been a challenge.
We already know that fielding percentage is not a good way to assess fielding performance, and through the years, stats such as Ultimate Zone Rating (UZR), Defensive Runs Saved (DRS), and Outs Above Average (OAA) have gained popularity.
The latter, OAA, is one of the most accurate ways to determine how good a player is while fielding.
“According to Statcast, Steven Kwan had more Outs Above Average this season than any other MLB left fielder!” Codify Baseball tweeted, with a video of the AL Rookie of the Year finalist making a diving catch deep in left field.
— Codify (@CodifyBaseball) November 26, 2022
First of all, a tip of the cap to Kwan for that marvelous catch.
The young left fielder deservedly won a Gold Glove in the American League because there wasn’t anyone better than him with a glove on his hand.
The OAA King
He had 10 OAA and 21 DRS in 2022, both incredible impressive numbers.
For reference, MLB defines Outs Above Average as “a range-based metric of skill that shows how many outs a player has saved.”
For outfielders, OAA “starts with Catch Probability, which takes the distance an outfielder must go, the time he has to get there, and the direction he travels to put a percentage of catch likelihood on each individual batted ball. OAA for outfielders is the season-long cumulative expression of each individual Catch Probability play.”
Having explained the essence of the stat, we can firmly say that Kwan’s range in left field has no peers in the junior circuit.
Both the numbers and the eye test have him as the American League’s elite defensive performer.