Defensive Runs Saved
Stat of the Week
by Peter Liubicich
Defensive Runs Saved
This post was written by Peter Liubicich on February 4, 2013
Posted Under: Stat of the Week

After our last series on the offensive statistic Clutch, this week we’ll look at a defensive statistic that is useful when comparing it against a player’s Ultimate Zone Rating (UZR).  This statistic is called Defensive Runs Saved and was developed by John Dewan and the good people at The Fielding Bible” the preeminent source in the baseball industry on defensive baseball statistics.

Like UZR, DRS is measured in terms of runs and how many runs a player saves over the course of a season.  UZR gives run values based on a player’s ability to make plays in different zones relative to the position they play in the field, which DRS also does.  The one difference between the stats that I picked up from FanGraphs is how each statistic uses those zones.  UZR measures the percentage of players at that position to get to a ball hit to a certain zone of the field, and uses data from over many years, while DRS is season specific and measures how many players at that position reach a ball in a zone of the field in just one season.

Here is an explanation of how DRS is measured over the course of a season:

“as I understand it, the numbers determines (using film study and computer comparisons) how many more or fewer successful plays a defensive player will make than league average. For instance, if a shortstop makes a play that only 24% of shortstops make, he will get .76 of a point (1 full point minus .24). If a shortstop BLOWS a play that 82% of shortstops make, then you subtract .82 of a point. And at the end, you add it all up and get a plus/minus.” (Joe Posnanski, Sports Illustrated)”

Here is how to evaluate a player based on their DRS:



Gold Glove Caliber




Above Average




Below Average






Whenever looking at DSR, FanGraphs suggests to look at the past three years of data and average it up to get a better sense of how that player has performed and also compare it against other defensive statistics such as UZR, which is what we will begin to do on Thursday.

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