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Rays Defense is Most Definitely Improved

Over at Baseball Think Factory Chris Dial has unveiled his defensive ratings based on LWZR - Linear Weight Zone Range - I'll let him explain it but here's how the players are ranked:

So here are the LWZR Awards.  Run values (Defensive Runs Saved - DRS) are "compared to league average", and are an approximate value - players within a handful of runs can be considered approximately equal.

The good news for the Rays is that Jason Bartlett was first amongst shortstops with over 1,000 innings and third overall behind John McDonald - no surprise - and Bobby Crosby.

In left field Carl Crawford saved 16 more runs than the runners-up in left field which is a pretty good estimate on just how much ground Carl's legs allow him to cover.

As we know the shortstop defense last year was horrible, and it doesn't help matters when you get to see John McDonald and Aaron Hill make a play on everything hit on the ground near them. With the Rays' new duo of Bartlett and Akinori Iwamura's bats shouldn't be an issue - assuming Bartlett either goes back to his 2006 or second half of 2007 performance and Iwamura either progresses or maintains what he did last year, if so the Rays are looking at an above average middle infield in both the field and at the plate - something the team has never had.