We went over both the offensive and pitching MVP's and LVP's over the past few days. Tim Hudson seems to be the near unanimous choice for pitching MVP and rightfully so. Defensively, the Braves struggled for a good part of the year, likely costing them at least a few regular season wins and of course a few post-season games. Does Brooks Conrad's poor defense make him the defensive LVP or does Troy Glaus' immobility at first for a majority of the season take the cake? For the MVP, does it go to the athletic young right-fielder or the utility man that played everywhere around the diamond? Let's take a look.
The Braves cycled through a ton of players, which limits the possibilities for defensive MVP. Brian McCann and Jason Heyward were the only regulars at both the beginning and end of the season, and we all know McCann's defense, while improved, is not the best on the team.
Jason Heyward is the defensive MVP, as he was the offensive MVP, due to athleticism and ability to read a baseball. He sprinkled in a few terrific catches with solid throws to third and home, and always seemed to be camping under balls hit into the gap. He had a few gaffes, which will happen as a 20-year-old, but his defense was top notch throughout the year.
For right fielders, Heyward ranked first in Dewan's +/- for a majority of the season, but he ended up finishing second behind Jay Bruce with a +23 mark -- Bruce was +24. In terms of UZR/150, Heyward ranked fourth in the majors behind Bruce, Ichiro, and Justin Upton, making him the third best right fielder in regards to that metric.
Heyward's defense was so good in right field that many called for a move to center -- Wren and Bobby acknowledged it as possible -- near the trade deadline so that the Braves could net a solid corner bat . Instead, the Braves traded for Rick Ankiel and were able to keep Heyward's stellar defense in its appropriate spot. He was not the best right fielder in the game, but he was the best fielder on the Braves, which earned him the right to be the defensive MVP.
#22 / Right Field / Atlanta Braves
Aug 09, 1989
Defensive LVP is after the jump...
Since the MVP award is voted on before the playoffs begin, it is only right that we follow that process and decide the MVP and LVP the same way, so playoff performances are not included -- Conrad gets a pass.
Troy Glaus finished with a -9 +/- and a -12.3 UZR/150. Obviously, those are terrible numbers. In fact the only National League first basemen with a worse UZR/150 was Ryan Howard, a notably horrific defender. First base defense is more important than many believe. We saw on his poor performances on fielding pick-offs and with his statue-like range for a large part of the season.
Some of Glaus' immobility can be attributed to knee problems, but learning a new position late in a career is likely a reason as well. He had decent hands for the most part, but his poor range is the biggest reason for him earning defensive LVP.
Next year we should see closer to Teixeira-esque defense than what we had this year with Glaus. Freddie Freeman should be an extreme improvement over Troy at first, something the Braves could certainly use given the defensive problems that plagued them throughout the year.