I was glancing at Fangraphs’ leaderboards last night — I had no idea Nick Evans had, by some accounts, the best defensive season of any first baseman in the majors last year. Evans played only 337.2 innings at first base this year, but tied for the major league lead in defensive runs saved as a first baseman anyway:
And he led the majors in UZR per 150 games:
As you might have noticed, Daniel Murphy also makes both lists. And UZR and defensive runs saved also love Ike Davis’ defense at first base, for whatever it’s worth. So maybe something weird is going on with these numbers and how much they love the Mets’ first basemen. But Nick Evans’ high rating passes the first sniff test, in that he looked by my eyes to make all the routine plays and then a good number of the difficult plays. The numbers seem to agree with the subjective consensus. On the other hand, defensive metrics are often flukey in small samples and this is just 300 innings — not a great statistical predictor for future fielding success or even an accurate measurement of what he did this season. With that said, it’s probably better to rate extremely well in a small sample than rate extremely poorly, and Evans’ defense at first rated extremely well this season. Color me surprised. (Is that a saying? That might not be a saying. Maybe I should write it with a British accent.) Colour me surprised.