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One of the areas where Tapia has had to focus for years has been on the defensive side of his game.
Heading into Sunday’s action, Tapia was at -1 in Outs Above Average, per Baseball Savant. He also has 0 Defensive Runs Saved (per FanGraphs and Baseball-Reference), which is league average.
However, he has a Def (which is “the combination of two important factors of defensive performance: value relative to positional average (fielding runs) and positional value relative to other positions (positional adjustment)” of -1.6, entering Sunday. That is second-worst on the Rockies (C.J. Cron was worst).
His UZR (Ultimate Zone Rating), which encompasses errors, range, and arm among other stats, was also third-worst among Rockies players at -0.6 (with Cron and Chris Owings being lower than Tapia).
But Black said that Tapia is putting in work every day to improve on that side of his game. And that’s on top of the improvement Black believes he has shown throughout his career.
"“I think from the time we got here to the big leagues, there’s been incremental improvement,” Black said. “Has it been has been a quantum leap of progress? Probably not, but he’s better now than he was a couple of years ago. “I think the fundamental play of hitting the cutoff man has improved, throwing to the correct base has improved, technique on charging a ground ball base hit has improved, so there’s been improvement, but still there’s room to grow on defense with Tap.”"
He also said that “I think there’s a tremendous diving catch in there somewhere” with Tapia, and Tapia showed that in the fourth inning of Sunday’s game.
Yes, there have been improvements with Tapia, as we have seen in recent years. Now, he just has to continue doing it.