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Another High Mark for Dodger Defense
2004-11-09 04:04
by Jon Weisman

Even accounting for the fact that their ballpark is conducive for good defense, the Dodgers fielded, by a wide margin, the top defensive team in baseball in 2004, according to James Click of Baseball Prospectus.

Dodger Stadium was the sixth-easiest major-league park to play defense in, behind Cinergy Field, Network Associates Coliseum, Miller Park, ProPlayer Stadium and Camden Yards. Surprisingly, SBC Park in San Francisco was the most challenging place, ahead of Coors Field in Colorado. That propelled the Giants' defense to third-best in baseball.

However, the Dodgers still topped the charts, with St. Louis coming in second.

"What I found most interesting," writes Click, "was that the Dodgers and Cardinals - baseballís two best defensive teams - managed to hold their top spots despite park factors that suggest some of their prowess is a result of friendlier confines than other teams. Also, despite some of the more well-publicized gaffes of the post-season, the Red Sox come out in the top tier of defenders. If the Soxís braintrust truly was focusing on defense this season they accomplished their goals, as Bostonís new World Series champions flashed a great deal more leather than could have been expected.

"The rest of the playoff field seems to run the full range of defensive ability as the Cardinals, Dodgers and Red Sox finished well ahead of the pack while the Yankees, Astros and Braves finished well behind," he adds. "With the Angels and Twins both slightly below average, we can chalk up another point for those who feel that defense isn't a good predictor of who will reach the playoffs. However, considering how well the Cardinals and Red Sox did in October with their superior defenses, the idea that defense wins in the playoffs could be argued. Of course, considering some of the 'defense' we witnessed in these playoffs, it's tough to say that that had anything to do with who won the games."

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