Friday, January 21, 2011

Sox Fielding The League's Top Defense?

I'm going to start off by posting each players career fielding percentage at their position, and in parenthesis the league average for 2010. Kevin Youkilis is moving from 1st to 3rd so I'm obviously going to post his Career Fielding% at that position.

C. Varitek: .994 (.992)

1B. Gonzalez: .994 (.994)

2B. Pedroia: .990 (.984)

SS. Scutaro: .974 (.972)

3B. Youkilis: .966 (.952)

LF. Crawford: .991 (.984)

CF. Ellsbury: .997 (.989)

RF. Drew: .984 (.985)

That's 8 out of the 9 projected starters who are above the league average for their position, with a lot of them playing above their career average, but despite those numbers I see two players that could be the Sox weakness. JD Drew and Marco Scutaro should be looked at as temporary options for the franchise. With both of them in their mid-30's and dipping below expectations, this team could be held back defensively in right field and more importantly at short stop.

In the event that either of these guys drop off even more in 2011, The Red Sox do actually have some guys that could possibly come up and take over. Who knows? Maybe the threat of losing their starting job may raise a players caliber of play, But then again, Terry Francona is known to stick with his guys through long slumps.

If Scutaro starts missing plays that he should be making they'll have Jed Lowrie. Jed has started 84 games at shortstop for the Sox and was actually quite successful during that time, posting a .993 Fielding%, while hitting just over .250. (Sox Prospect Jose Iglesias is expected to be the shortstop of the future, but won't be ready in 2011.)

Now if JD Drew starts to falter it could get a bit more interesting. With Drew set to make 14 Million in 2011, no one really wants that much salary sitting in the dugout, but if the productivity drops too much it just may have to happen. That's where the question comes up of, who exactly plays right field. Some feel that Josh Reddick is set to take over for JD Drew once he's gone, some feel that he could play at some point this season, but neither would argue that his plate discipline needs to show huge improvement if he's to take over a major role in 2011.

In 2011 I'm expecting for Jacoby and Crawford to make some amazing plays in the left side of the outfield, Drew to pull up on some balls I expect him to grab, Gonzalez, Youkilis, and Pedroia will contend for gold gloves, Scutaro won't, Varitek will make all the right plays but fail to throw out anyone, and The Boston Red Sox will easily prevent enough runs to be at the top when it comes to run differential. And of course win the division.

Will The Nation sit as the best defensive team in baseball for 2011? Probably not. But they'll be at the top, and will stay there for quite a while.

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