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Where the Astros' Defense Excels: Young Arms and Turnin' Two

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Overall, the Astros defense leaves a lot to be desired. We're not the worst in baseball, but after being more than respectable last season, the squad has fallen into disrepair in 2009.

Age has caught up to Miguel Tejada, who should probably be playing third base at this point in his career- although the Rangers' Michael Young was in a similar position last season and is still terrible after moving to third base.

Carlos Lee needs not be discussed.

There are some bright spots on defense though. For starters, our young outfield combo of Michael Bourn and Hunter Pence are ranked very highly in terms of their Arm Strength. Fangraphs measures how many runs above average an outfielder's throwing arm is, and the results for Bourn and Pence are nice to see:

Player Position ARM Positional Rank
M. Bourn CF 5.0 2nd
H. Pence RF 2.3 9th

 For their positions, both Bourn (9th) and Pence (8th) rank in the top ten in UZR/150. Their defensive range may be in question, but their arms sure are not. In the case of Bourn, UZR may not tell the whole story, as Clack noted last week. There is definitely something to be said for Bourn's ability to track down balls outside of his normal CF zones, as well as playing a difficult centerfield in Houston.

One last area where the Astros have mitigated their defensive shortcomings is converting double play opportunities. Fangraphs defines DPR as:

The number of runs above or below average a fielder is, based on the number double plays versus the number forces at second they get, as compared to an average fielder at that position, given the speed and location of the ball and the handedness of the batter.

This is obviously an infielder's stat, one that caters primarily to those that start double plays:

Player Position DPR
Jeff Keppinger 3B .7
Edwin Maysonet 2B .6
Kaz Matsui 2B .6
Geoff Blum 3B .5
Miguel Tejada SS .2
Jeff Keppinger 2B .1

It's interesting to note that Edwin Maysonet ranks so highly, despite having played only 102 innings at 2B this season. Also, Jeff Keppinger has played a nice second base this season. Ditto Geoff Blum at 3B. Kaz and Miguel contribute veteraniness at all times.