Boston Red Sox second baseman Dustin Pedroia hears the chatter about his declining defensive metrics, but he doesn’t put much stock into those numbers.
How do you measure the quality of a player’s defense? It used to be that as long as they didn’t commit a lot of errors then we assumed they must be good. If they had a habit of making highlight worthy plays that got them featured on SportsCenter then they must be great.
It’s that line of logic that led to Derek Jeter winning a handful of Gold Glove awards. Now we know better. The analytics revolution had introduced a number of advanced statistics to help quantify the value a player can add with their glove. While these metrics are hardly perfect, they serve to provide a more accurate view of defensive performance that extends beyond the archaic reliance on fielding percentage. Sure, preventing errors is an important part of playing defense, but you can’t be credited with an error if you never got to a ball that the average fielder would have. This is where many of these advanced stats come in handy.
Unless you are Dustin Pedroia. The Red Sox second baseman has taken the old school hardliner approach against the wave of analytical data sweeping the sport.
Pedroia hears the murmurs about his regression in the field. He’s read about how the numbers show a significant drop off last season, when his -3 defensive runs saved put him below average for the first time since he became a full-time big league second baseman in 2007. His 2.1 UZR was the lowest of his career and far below what he produced in recent years. Pedroia has historically produced an All-Star caliber WAR thanks in part to the 1.7 dWAR he averaged in his career through the 2014 season, but last year he was merely average with 0.0 dWAR. These are not the type of numbers we are used to seeing from the four-time Gold Glove award winner.
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