Photo: Scott Winters/Icon Sportswire

I’ve written a lot about the Royals this year, whether it be a preseason piece about Bobby Witt Jr., a look at Kyle Isbel’s penchant for catching deep fly balls or their second base by committee approach.

My interest in this team isn’t some sort of ‘Middle America bias’ as it is a middle-of-the-diamond bias. I like writing about teams with good defense up the middle. And I’m writing about the Royals yet again because of their defense at an up-the-middle position that we might not think about – pitcher.

Royals’ pitchers rank 1st in MLB with 14 Defensive Runs Saved this season. No other team is in double figures. That’s Zack Greinke-like contributions there*.

* Greinke has the most Runs Saved of any pitcher (98) dating to the first season the stat was tracked, 2003.

How does a team’s pitching staff help itself defensively as much as the Royals have?

I’m glad the Apple announcing team praised this play from May 9 because it is a terrific play, one worth 0.6 runs saved by our measures. Props to Daniel Lynch for making it.

But Lynch is not the only one who is athletically adept off the mound. Here’s a play John Schreiber made against the Angels the very next day, valued at 0.45 runs.

Here’s another one by Angel Zerpa a week earlier.

Lastly, this looks like nothing much for Seth Lugo, but there are plenty of pitchers whose follow-through would make this a tougher play or one requiring the second basemen to try to make it. But because Lugo’s in position to make the play, he can without issue. Thus, the play has a value of 0.5 runs.


Now, sometimes the Royals get a little lucky, though I’m sure Chris Stratton would say this play was all skill.

And if you’re going to be as good as the Royals have been, sometimes you’ve got to use more than your glove, as Brady Singer demonstrated.

In all, an MLB-best 9 of the 14 Runs Saved for the Royals pitchers come from their turning batted balls into outs. Some of this is the product of opportunity. They’ve fielded 91 batted balls this season, the most in MLB and 20 more than the average team. And they’ve, for the most part, made the most of those opportunities.

As for where the other 5 Runs Saved come from, that’s a credit to the team’s success limiting opponents stolen bases. But that feels like something where I’ve got to give credit to the catchers too.

Looks like I have an excuse to write about the Royals’ defense if I want to again sometime in the near future. 😊