Scoresheet 2024 Defensive Range and Eligibility Changes

Ed. note: The timing of Scoresheet's annual release of their player list was in conflict with the launch of our new web site. So, we've been delayed in getting the new 2024 data into the Scoresheet tab in Playerlink, and releasing Scoresheet-specific projection files. All of that is coming soon, though. We thank our Scoresheet-playing subscribers for their patience.

The Scoresheet 2024 Player Lists were released on January 26, and for this post, we will focus on defense. First, I’ll go over the major defensive range changes for 2024. Then I’ll identify some players losing, gaining, expected to gain, or retaining eligibility.

Controversy in the Offseason

The 2023 controversy was about Fernando Tatis Jr. (OF, SD) and what would happen with his position eligibility after missing all of 2022. In 2024 it had to do with Ezequiel Tovar’s (SS, COL) defensive range. His Scoresheet defensive range for 2024 is 4.72, which is .03 below average. The controversy is that he scored in the 99th percentile with a 16 Outs Above Average (OAA) on the Baseball Savant website.

This led Scoresheet owner Jeff Barton to post a detailed explanation on the Scoresheet-talk Google group:

“Most fielding systems you see include errors as part of their figuring. However, for Scoresheet range, we do *not* include errors in the calculations, because we base a player's errors made each week in Scoresheet games on how many errors the player made that week in MLB. So, a player such as Tovar, who made very few errors, might have a good fielding number in OAA or raw UZR. But to a large extent we use Fangraphs fielding tables, which have UZR in one column and error adjustment in another, making it easy for us to come up with UZR with the error component taken out. And when we do that we get a UZR minus error adjustment for him of 4.71. While we do not strictly use that adjusted UZR number for ranges since we base our range numbers on per game played, UZR is pretty iffy for guys with small sample sizes, and we also try and adjust for park effects. But of the various fielding numbers available these days, the one we base our number on the most is UZR minus the error component.”

Defensive Range Changes for 2024

These tables list notable players with a +/- .05 change in defensive range from 2023 to 2024. These are projected starting players measured for their defensive position from the Scoresheet list. The players are listed by descending improvement by position rather than just the improvement as in years past.

Nathaniel LoweTEX1B1.831.88+ .05
Brice TurangMIL2B4.224.32+ .10
Mookie BettsLAD2B4.194.27+ .08
Nico HoernerCHC2B4.254.32+ .07
Nick MadrigalCHC3B2.632.68+ .05
Anthony VolpeNYYSS4.754.84+ .09
Jon BertiMIASS4.734.79+ .07
Gunnar HendersonBALSS4.724.78+ .06
Johan RojasPHIOF2.102.19+ .09
James OutmanLADOF2.072.15+ .08
Kyle IsbelKCOF2.122.18+ .06

There are fewer increases in 2024 with 11 compared to 15 in 2023. One annual category of change each year are sophomore players. The “rookie” range is always average for the position, so the good defenders vastly improve, and the poor defenders decline. Anthony Volpe and Johan Rojas fall into this category. Volpe won the AL Gold Glove his rookie season and is in fact tied for the highest SS range, while Rojas was renowned for CF defense prior to his July 2023 call-up.

Another category for improvement most years is players who change positions. Most notably, this is moving from a primary position of SS to either 2B or 3B or moving from a corner OF role to primarily CF. For the infielders, Scoresheet will usually assign a below average range when first gaining eligible at the other position during the season and then adjust the next season when they have a performance track record at the position. Brice Turang and Nico Hoerner fit this exact scenario. Turang had the single highest increase at +.10, and Hoerner won the NL Gold Glove. For the OF, we have James Outman and Kyle Isbel who became CF in 2023.

A new category for 2024 is players who gained eligibility during 2023 at a vastly more difficult defensive position. They generally get issued a poor range until they establish themselves at the new position. We have two examples: Mookie Betts who moved from the OF to 2B and Gunnar Henderson from 3B to SS. Both improved to being above league average at their new positions.

The last group to mention are veteran players who just simply improved at their positions. This list includes Nathaniel Lowe, Nick Madrigal, and Jon Berti. Lowe and Madrigal are younger players, so it’s not a major surprise to see their improvements. Berti, however, is a highly unusual example because he is entering his mid-30s and SS is at the apex of the defensive spectrum.

Whit MerrifieldFA2B4.284.22- .06
Brett BatyNYM3B2.652.59- .06
Carlos CorreaMINSS4.824.77- .05
Masataka YoshidaBOSOF2.102.02- .08
Seth BrownOAKOF2.102.05- .05
Eloy JiménezCHWOF2.052.00- .05
George SpringerTOROF2.132.08- .05

This list holds at 7, same as the 2023 list. The positions are more varied. In 2023, there were only SS and OF on the list, while we have almost every position represented here. It might be a stretch to call Whit Merrifield a potential starter, but he should play his way into a regular position once he signs. He’s an aging player (35) who is simply following the expected deterioration of skills. Brett Baty is coming off the league average rookie range, so it’s not a great sign for him remaining at 3B to see him this far below average. Frankly, Correa’s excellent 2023 range was surprising, so this seems to be a correction.

Much like the SS last year, it is a mixed bag with the OF this year. Masataka Yoshida is moving off the rookie range and turned out to be a poor defender. Seth Brown appears to be deteriorating, while Eloy Jiménez is transitioning to being a fulltime DH. George Springer moved from CF to a corner role and saw the expected decrease, but he’s still above average for a corner OF.

Players Losing, Gaining, Expected to Gain, or Retaining Eligibility

This was an impactful section of the 2023 article, mainly because of all of the SS moving to 2B. For projected starters, the impact this year is in players losing 2B and C. Orlando Arcia (SS, ATL), Jazz Chisholm (OF, MIA), Wilmer Flores (3B, SF), DJ LeMahieu (3B, NYY), Nick Madrigal, and Trevor Story (SS, BOS) all lost 2B. Henry Davis (OF, PIT), Hunter Goodman (OF, COL), and Daulton Varsho (OF, TOR) lost C. Finally, Gavin Lux (2B, LAD) lost OF.

Some key additions to positional flexibility for starters are Mookie Betts added 2B as discussed in the defensive range increase section, Luis Rengifo (2B, LAA) added SS, and Trevor Story added SS. There are some players expected to gain positions possibly as early as the first week of the season. Gavin Lux is expected to gain SS, and Cavan Biggio (2B, TOR) expected to gain 3B.

There were a few notable players who actually kept positions they were supposed to lose. Thairo Estrada (SS, SF), Ha-Seong Kim (SS, SD), Nico Hoerner, and Brice Turang will all primarily play 2B but retained SS eligibility. Jake Cronenworth (2B, SD) will play mostly 1B but still qualifies at 2B.

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