The SF Giants have had one of the worst defenses and the defensive metrics agree. As a team, they have been worth -38 Defensive Runs Saved (DRS) and -29 Outs Above Average (OAA), which ranks as second-worst in both categories. That said, has it all been bad?
The 2022 SF Giants and the extremely volatile defense
Well, the short answer might be yes. By the way, if you are wondering who has the worst defense in baseball, it is the Washington Nationals with -52 DRS and -45 OAA. You can use that factoid the next time you want to impress someone at a party.
On the other hand, the Giants' outfield has contributed a lot to the poor defensive metrics. As a unit, Giants outfielders have combined to be worth -23 DRS and -16 OAA. Both of these metrics are the worst in baseball at that position.
There have been some bright spots as Mike Yastrzemski has been worth +3 DRS and +1 in the outfield, which includes 378 innings in center field. He has been the exception rather than the rule.
Second base and third base have been especially rough as well. Giants second basemen have combined to be worth -15 DRS and -7 OAA compared to -13 DRS and -5 OAA among Giants third basemen. This is all to say that San Francisco's defense has not been very good, which is something we all know. The eye test and the defensive metrics align in this regard.
Interestingly, the SF Giants defense has performed better as a whole lately while also being chaotically volatile in 2022. Below is a breakdown of the club's OAA and corresponding rank by month:
March/April: -1 OAA (15th in MLB)
May: -13 OAA (28th in MLB)
June: -14 OAA (30th in MLB)
July: 0 OAA (18th in MLB)
August: -1 OAA (20th in MLB)
The Giants' defense struggled badly in the early going and it has been better since then. That could be a product of the shortened spring training or the rash of early-season injuries. Regardless, every team had to deal with the same circumstances, so we cannot chalk it up as something unique to the Giants.
The good news is that the Giants defense has been improving since the beginning of the season. If you have noticed that there have been fewer mistakes in the field recently, there are numbers to support that observation.
It ay be cliché, but the numbers are what they say they are. That said, the Giants' defense was likely not as bad as the lows in May or June. It was a long stretch of subpar play with the glove, but what we are seeing now is likely closer to what we should expect in terms of defense.