The Miami Marlins need a solid defensive season from shortstop Miguel Rojas as the team prepares for an 82-game season in 2020.
While MLB.com has spent time away from baseball and talking in great detail about the best at each position of the Miami Marlins and other MLB teams, I have finally come across a topic that never crossed my mind.
Who is the best fielder on the Marlins current roster?
Thanks to Betelhem Ashame and Joe Frisaro, both of MLB.com, it was answered for me, although I was thinking in a different direction. Based on the analysis, Miguel Rojas gets the nod for his slick glovework at shortstop. And if the seasons proves to be anything like it is predicted, the team is going to need that defensive presence in the infield of a short, yet exciting 2020 MLB season.
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“Of the five tools scouts use to evaluate players (hitting, power, speed, fielding and throwing), the two that tend to show up most often on postgame highlight reels are power and fielding,” Ashame writes. “And while towering blasts out of the park attract the most fanfare, there is equal admiration for home run robberies, dazzling double plays, outfielders stretching out to make a catch in the grass and infielders diving into the stands to snag a foul ball.”
Rojas isn’t going to wow fans with his bat, swinging for the fences. What he is going to do is provide clutch hitting and contact at the plate. He is also going to show off a solid defensive skillset and act as a mentor to the younger players on the roster.
That means with a shortened season and the potential of a larger roster, his work on the field and in the clubhouse for the Miami Marlins is going to be quite larger in 2020.
“There’s a whole ceremony devoted to the best fielders in baseball, after all. And while the Gold Glove Awards are the highest of honors, they aren’t the only measure of the defensive value players bring to the field, with metrics such as Defensive Runs Saved (DRS), Outs Above Average (OAA) and Ultimate Zone Rating (UZR) gaining traction throughout the game,” she adds.
Rojas has shown the ability to play multiple positions for the Marlins in his time on the roster but has settled in on the left side of the infield. He and Isan Diaz are expected to become a solid double-play combination this season.
Having a veteran on the field like Rojas, when many of the Miami Marlins position players will need a scorecard to become familiar with each other, is a huge help for manager Don Mattingly.
“Before becoming the Marlins’ regular shortstop last year, Rojas was used in a utility role. And for the last couple of seasons, Rojas has widely been regarded as the club’s best defensive player,” Frisaro wrote.
“It was common the past few seasons to see him switch from shortstop to first base in the late innings as a defensive replacement.”
I am not as savvy with analytics as some on FanSided.com, but the numbers bear what these two have stated. Rojas is good at what he does and provides a bit of comfort for the Miami Marlins defensively. And it’s possible his bat will become a proven commodity if he can get off to a hot start with the shortened season in 2020.
“Rojas became Miami’s regular shortstop in 2019, and he ranked among the best in the NL at his position,” Frisaro wrote.
“Advanced metrics back that up. His UZR and UZR/150 were either at or near the top among all shortstops last year. UZR puts a run value on defense, attempting to quantify how many runs a player saved or gave up. And UZR/150 scales an average number of chances for a season. In 2019, Rojas had a 7.3 UZR, fourth among MLB shortstops, and his 12.8 UZR/150 mark was the best.”