Tampa Bay Rays: Kevin Kiermaier > Jackie Bradley Jr.
By Seth Carter
Comparing Tampa Bay Rays center fielder with the Boston Red Sox center fielder.
The Tampa Bay Rays have one of the best defenders in baseball over the past few seasons. Kevin Kiermaier is known for having one of the best gloves around.
The division rival Boston Red Sox claim to have one of the best defensive center fielders in the game, Jackie Bradley Jr.
Who is the best player of the two? Both are known for their defensive legend and both are below-average hitters. Today, we take a look at the numbers to see how these two alleged defensive wizards stack up to one another with both the glove and the bat.
We will use a few statistics that may require a brief explanation.
UZR or Ultimate Zone Rating – Per Fangraphs: “The number of runs above or below average a fielder is in both range runs, outfield arm runs, double play runs and error runs combined.”
UZR is an all-encompassing defensive metric. A score of zero is considered right at average. Anything positive is above average and negative is below average.
UZR/150 averages the number out over 150 games played.
Defensive Runs Saved – How many runs a player saves or costs their team with their defensive prowess over an average player.
Over the past three seasons of center fielders with at least 2500 innings, here’s where Bradley and Kiermaier rank:
- Kevin Kiermaier – #1 in MLB with an 11.4 UZR/150
- Jackie Bradley Jr. – #6 in MLB with a 4.1 UZR/150
A huge advantage to Kiermaier.
This is a calculation that figures runs saved by throws stopping runners from advancing or throwing runners out.
- Kevin Kiermaier – #2 in MLB with 8.2 ARM
- Jackie Bradley Jr. – #1 in MLB with 9.2 ARM
These two are easily ranked the top two. KK is nearly a full point ahead of third place at 7.3. By the time you get to fifth place, the ARM rating drops all the way down to 3.5.
This is pretty easy to understand, how many runs saved above average based on the player’s range.
Over the past three years, nobody is close to Lorenzo Cain with a 27.1 RngR. To find Kiermaier or Bradley you have to go all the way down to number two on the list.
Kevin Kiermaier comes in at second place in RngR with 13.5.
Jackie Bradley was surprisingly not so hot in this category as he registered a 0.7 RngR over the past three seasons.
Defensive Runs Saved
According to Fangraphs’ Defensive Runs Saved calculations, it’s not even close.
Kevin Kiermaier has amassed seven times the amount of Jackie Bradley’s defensive runs saved over the past three seasons. Kiermaier has totaled 49 DRS over that timespan while Bradley has a total of seven.
I guess we gotta do this. Here are their career slash lines.
- Jackie Bradley: .236/.317/.409.
- Kevin Kiermaier: .249/.306/.416
Yikes… It’s a good thing these guys are elite defenders…or at least one is.
Advantage: Kevin Kiermaier and the Rays
Having KK in centerfield is like cheating.
Is Jackie Bradley overrated?