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As mentioned earlier on in the Nick Swisher slide, the Indians' defense is also a loser this offseason.
While the team was able to provide themselves a significant upgrade behind the plate by clearing the way for Yan Gomes to take over full-time catching duties, the rest of the defense will take a step back in 2014.
So far this season, the Indians have seen their defensive alignment shuffle a bit, and the current infield has Gomes behind the plate, Swisher at first, Jason Kipnis at second, Carlos Santana at third and Asdrubal Cabrera at short. The outfield will have Michael Brantley in left, Michael Bourn in center and David Murphy in right with Ryan Raburn working as a bench bat/fourth outfielder.
Last year, as a team, the Indians ranked ninth in the AL in RF/G and their 4.09 mark was also lower than the 4.29 league average. Additionally, their defensive efficiency percentage—the percentage of balls in play converted to outs—clocked in at a paltry .683, good for 12th in the AL.
The Indians were a below-average defensive team in 2013, and it's going to get worse in 2014.
Last year, Cabrera finished with a DRS of -16, and a UZR/150 of -16.8. This year, his range will be tested even more as Santana shifts to third base.
Santana wasn't a very good defensive first baseman, and if his career Rtz rating of -8—taken from his minor league games as a third baseman—is any indication, then he's not going to be a very good third baseman either.
We've already highlighted Swisher's shortcomings as a first baseman, but even Kipnis has some deficiencies in his game. For his career, Kipnis owns DRS and UZR/150 ratings of 0 and -4.2 respectively.
In short, the Indians infield defense is a disaster outside of Gomes. Unfortunately for the coaching and pitching staffs, the outfield defense isn't great either.
We've already examined Brantley as an average left fielder, and Bourn is coming off one of his worst defensive seasons—3 DRS and -0.9 UZR/150. In right field, Murphy is adequate, given his career DRS of 5 and career UZR/150 of 10.3.
Murphy has played left field more throughout his career, but it's likely that he'll shift to right to accommodate the younger player in Brantley. With Murphy in a less familiar position, the Indians outfield defense still looks better than the infield.
Decreased defensive capabilities around the diamond lead to more runs on a pitcher's stat sheet, and higher ERAs could easily translate to more losses for a team that had to play lights out over the final few weeks in order to make the playoffs.