Glove story: Defensive improvement keys Angels’ fast start

ANAHEIM — The day Perry Minasian was hired as the Angels’ general manager, he was quick to add the phrase “run prevention” whenever the topic turned to pitching.

Although the pitchers tend to get the credit or blame for how many runs a team allows, the total package of run prevention is significantly influenced by the other eight players in the field.

The defense has been a critical element to the Angels’ 26-17 record.

“It’s been a big part of it,” Manager Joe Maddon said. “I think we recognize that here. I don’t think maybe on a national scope it’s understood. Our defense is probably the biggest reason why we’re in this position right now.”

Just ask right-hander Noah Syndergaard.

“It’s really encouraging when you give up a laser beam and you look behind you and someone is making an all-out play to get an out,” Syndergaard said. “It’s pretty awesome to be a part of.”

Quantifying defense has been a challenge for baseball for decades, but there are simple ways to judge an entire team’s defense that don’t require any high-tech analytics at all.

Defensive efficiency is simply the rate at which all balls in play become outs. It is a measure not only of the quality of the defensive players but also of the accuracy of their positioning.

The Angels lead the majors in defensive efficiency, with a rate of .736. That means 73.6% of balls in play…

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