Pitchers and catchers have officially reported, which means baseball is getting closer. There hasn’t been much action in Yankees world yet, but throughout the week, we have seen videos of pitchers throwing their bullpens and catchers working out, as well. When Yankee pitchers were not throwing, they were fielding.
While watching these videos of pitchers fielding practice (PFP), it sparked me to wonder which arms on the team are the best when it comes to fielding. Whether it’s a chopper back to the mound or a hard-hit grounder, pitchers have to be ready for anything hit their way. Obviously some with be better than others, so let’s take a look at how the most prominent Yankee pitchers stack up against each other throughout their careers. Now there aren’t many defensive stats for pitchers, but we’ll work with what we have.
Without much question, the best fielding pitcher on the Yankees is Masahiro Tanaka. He’s recorded a positive amount of defensive runs saved each season of his six-year career. In fact, he is credited with saving the Yankees 27 runs since joining the team in 2014, which is the third-most in all of baseball during that span. Tanaka is also excellent at starting double plays, as he’s credited with 11 throughout his career. Turning two is something many pitchers seem to find difficult. He has never won a Gold Glove, but he was a finalist two seasons ago. Maybe 2020 could be the year he conquers his first.
After Tanaka, Luis Severino has shown he can flash the leather with the best of them. 15 DRS in four seasons (not counting his 12 innings in 2019). He has the athletic ability to hop off the mound and make a play when needed, and can start the turn of a double play as well. His six DPS is tied for the tenth-most since he entered the league in 2015.
One of the newest Yankees acquisitions, Gerrit Cole, ranks as an exceptional fielder. He’s coming off a year in which he did not make a single error in over 210 innings pitched. His 11 career DRS only furthers his case that he can do more than throw the ball when he’s on the mound. It really makes you wonder if there anything this guy can’t do.
Tanaka, Severino and Cole are the clear-cut top fielding pitchers on the Yankees. To round out the rest of the list though, Zack Britton, Aroldis Chapman and Chad Green hover around the mediocre level.
We now know which pitchers have excellent gloves, but now it’s time for the ones who don’t. Thankfully for the Yanks, this list isn’t as long.
While Adam Ottavino has a nasty slider, his leather is not. Over the course of his nine-year career, he’s cost his team 17 runs. That is not a pretty number whatsoever. In his first season as a Yankee, he was responsible for four runs in the field. There’s one crucial error that he made and it actually cost the Yankees the game as the go-ahead run scored on the play. It was so bad, it’ll make you laugh.
James Paxton is not known to be swift with the glove either. He has a career -10 defensive runs saved. However, he did not cost the Yankees any runs in his first season with the team, nor commit any errors. Besides, seven of his -10 DRS came within the first three seasons of his career. Maybe he’s fixed it up a bit.
The last guy on the naughty list is Tommy Kahnle. His numbers aren’t as harsh as the previous two, but he is in the negative category when it comes to DRS. -3 defensive runs saved in his career, but like Paxton, he has turned it around while on the Yankees. Since joining the team in 2017, Kahnle has actually saved New York one run. If Paxton and Kahnle can keep it up, they could be on the other side of this list in no time.