The Atlanta Braves have not been a great defensive club over the last few years, and while the infield defense has been pretty terrible thus far in 2012, the outfield has not. Not only does the trio of Martin Prado, Michael Bourn and Jason Heyward pass the ever-controversial 'eye test', but they also pass the numbers test with flying colors.
According to FanGraphs, the Braves have the best defensive outfield in baseball.
There are numerous advanced statistics and metrics that are used in this day and age of baseball to measure defense, but I prefer one called Defensive Runs Saved. DRS, as it is commonly referred to, basically measures how many runs a fielder 'saves' while playing, with 0-4 being average, 5-9 being above-average, 10-14 being great and 15+ being phenomenal.
Players can also accumulate negative DRS, meaning they are below average defensively. Players can either add or lose a 'run' to their number at any time throughout the year based on their play. You can read more on Defensive Runs Saved on FanGraphs.
Anyway, back to the Braves' awesome outfield. According to DRS, Atlanta has the best defensive outfield in baseball to this point in the season.
Michael Bourn and Martin Prado are both at +3 DRS on the season, with Jason Heyward at +2. That's the highest combined number (8) of any defensive outfield in the game. And while some teams have a similar combined number to what Atlanta has, no team has as much balance in the outfield as the Braves do with three players at +2 or above.
Yes, this is a small sample size, but all three of these players have reputations of being above-average (if not better) defenders in the outfield. The Braves' outfield defense in 2012 is really going to be a valuable asset for the club in the coming months.
For more on the Braves, check out Talking Chop.