The Top Defenders at Each Position by the Metrics: April 2024

These were MLB's best defensive players over the first month of the season, according to Defensive Runs Saved and Outs Above Average.

Marcus Semien of the Texas Rangers poses during Photo Day at Surprise Stadium.
SURPRISE, ARIZONA - MARCH 17: Marcus Semien #2 of the Texas Rangers poses during Photo Day at Surprise Stadium on March 17, 2022 in Surprise, Arizona. (Photo by Kelsey Grant/Getty Images)

Defensive metrics are far from perfect, and they should all be taken with a grain of salt – especially over a sample size as small as a single month.

Nonetheless, it’s interesting to see who the top defenders have been at each position through the first four weeks of the MLB season. These were the best defenders in April according to Defensive Runs Saved (DRS) and Outs Above Average (OAA).

Metrics and league leaders calculated prior to first pitch on April 30.


Defensive Runs Saved: Cal Raleigh, Seattle Mariners

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With 7 DRS, Raleigh is by far the leader among catchers so far this season. His closest competitors are Patrick Bailey of the San Francisco Giants, Gabriel Moreno of the Arizona Diamondbacks, and Travis d’Arnaud of the Atlanta Braves, all of whom have 3 DRS. Raleigh had 2 DRS a year ago but 14 DRS in 2022, so this early-season success is a welcome sign for the Mariners.

Note: Outs Above Average is not tracked for catchers.

First Base

Defensive Runs Saved: Christian Walker, Diamondbacks

Walker has 7 DRS so far this season after finishing second among all first basemen with 9 DRS last year. Bryce Harper and Vinnie Pasquantino are tied for second place with 4 DRS.

Outs Above Average: Walker

Walker also leads all first basemen with 5 OAA. He’s won Gold Glove Awards in each of the past two seasons, so it’s no surprise to see him leading the pack once again.

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Second Base

Defensive Runs Saved: Marcus Semien, Texas Rangers

A natural shortstop, Semien moved to second base on a full-time basis in 2021 during his lone season with the Toronto Blue Jays. He won a Gold Glove Award that year and hasn’t looked back. His 7 DRS put him mere decimal points ahead of Ketel Marte.

Outs Above Average: Semien

Semien also leads all second basemen with 7 OAA. Thairo Estrada and Andrés Giménez sit behind him with 5 OAA apiece.


Defensive Runs Saved: Bobby Witt Jr., Kansas City Royals

Witt has been one of baseball’s best overall players in the first month of the season, and that includes his 6 DRS. Mookie Betts of the Los Angeles Dodgers and Masyn Winn of the St. Louis Cardinals rank second with 5 DRS. Betts has done remarkable work in his first season as a shortstop, while Wynn is off to a strong start in his rookie campaign.

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Outs Above Average: Anthony Volpe, New York Yankees

Volpe won the AL Gold Glove at shortstop in his rookie season thanks to his 15 DRS. This year, it’s his 6 OAA that are most impressive. He ranks just ahead of Nick Ahmed of the Giants and Orlando Arcia of the Braves who currently have 5 OAA.

Third Base

Defensive Runs Saved: Trey Lipscomb, Washington Nationals

Lipscomb has already been sent down to Triple-A twice this season, but that hasn’t stopped him from racking up 4 DRS. Ryan McMahon of the Colorado Rockies and two-time Platinum Glove winner Matt Chapman of the Giants rank second with 3 DRS.

Outs Above Average: Nolan Arenado, Cardinals

Last year was the first time in Arenado’s career that he didn’t win the Gold Glove Award at third base, with the honor instead going to Ke’Bryan Hayes of the Pittsburgh Pirates. Arenado’s 3 OAA in 2024 suggest he’s going to make a run at his eleventh Gold Glove Award – and perhaps his seventh Platinum Glove.

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Left Field

Defensive Runs Saved: Riley Greene, Detroit Tigers

Greene is leading qualified left fielders with 7 DRS, and it isn’t particularly close. Daulton Varsho, of the Blue Jays has 5 DRS, while Alex Verdugo of the Yankees, Brandon Marsh of the Philadelphia Phillies, Steven Kwan of the Cleveland Guardians and Evan Carter of the Rangers each have 3 DRS.

Outs Above Average: Daulton Varsho, Blue Jays

Varsho doesn’t have quite enough innings in left field to count as a “qualified” defender because he’s also played some frames in center. Still, his 5 OAA are the top mark among all left fielders. Colton Cowser, another “unqualified” left fielder, ranks second with 3 OAA.

Center Field

Defensive Runs Saved: Parker Meadows, Tigers

Five different center fielders have 3 DRS. Two have 4 DRS. Meadows stands above the rest with 5 DRS in center field this season. He had 3 DRS a year ago in just 315.2 innings in center for the Tigers.

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Outs Above Average: Julio Rodríguez, Mariners

J-Rod already has AL Rookie of the Year, two All-Star Game appearances and two Silver Sluggers on his resume. Could he add a Gold Glove in 2024? After posting 12 OAA last season, he already has 4 OAA in 2024. He’s certainly on the right track.

Right Field

Defensive Runs Saved: Wilyer Abreu, Boston Red Sox

Abreu has been one of the better players in the Junior Circuit in early 2024. He has an .838 OPS to go along with his 4 DRS in right field.

Outs Above Average: Lawrence Butler, Oakland Athletics

Butler is the only right fielder in baseball who currently has more than 1 OAA. The 23-year-old is off to a solid start in his second big league season with a 101 wRC+ and 2 OAA over 28 games.

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