Red Sox prioritize defense by starting Deven Marrero at third base
By Sean Penney
The Boston Red Sox turn to Deven Marrero to shore up their infield defense despite his lack of production at the plate. Is he the answer at third base?
Third base has been a wasteland for the Boston Red Sox this season. The team has shuffled a handful of different options through the position, but either by injury or poor performance, all have failed to stick in the lineup.
Forget what they’ve done, or haven’t done, at the plate. Red Sox third basemen rank last in the American League with a collective .584 OPS. Don’t expect much offense at the position no matter who they put there.
The bigger problem has been the defense at third base, which manager John Farrell hopes to solve by turning to the sure-handed Deven Marrero on Saturday.
Red Sox third basemen have committed 13 errors through 35 games, more than double the league average at the position. No other team has tallied more than 8 errors at the hot corner.
The team has been going primarily with Josh Rutledge at third base this month. The utility infielder is responsible for three errors and has -2 defensive runs saved in only nine games.
Looking back at Friday night’s one-run loss to the Tampa Bay Rays, the fourth inning provided the latest example of how Boston’s miscues in the field can cost them games. The inning started with Evan Longoria reaching on a throwing error by Rutledge, which proved costly when he would later become one of two Rays to cross the plate that inning after there were two outs. Both runs were unearned in a game the Red Sox would go on to lose by one run.
This has to end. The Red Sox can’t keep trotting out options that continue to butcher their defensive responsibilities.
More from Red Sox News
- Red Sox Nation deserves far more from Fenway Sports Group
- Bizarre trade deadline comes back to haunt Red Sox after Nathan Eovaldi departure
- Red Sox’ Moneyball-style offseason continues with Corey Kluber contract
- Rich Hill’s Red Sox departure puts him within striking distance of unique MLB record
- Red Sox offseason takes another nasty hit with Nathan Eovaldi departure
That’s where Marrero comes in. He provides almost nothing offensively, owning a career .189 average and .480 OPS in parts of three seasons at the big league level. He’s been even worse this year, slashing .169/.178/.211 in 19 games down in Triple-A Pawtucket and going 1-for-9 in his brief time in Boston.
Marrero is essentially an automatic out, but at least he’s a capable fielder. He’s committed only 1 error in 22 carer games at third base and has a .966 fielding percentage at the position. Only three AL teams have a higher fielding percentage than that at third base this season.
Boston has enough offensive firepower in the lineup that they can get by with a black hole at he bottom of the order. It’s not ideal, although if the alternative is to keep testing their luck with defensive liabilities then they are better off giving Marrero a shot.
Farrell can always pinch-hit for Marrero late in the game if his turn in the order comes up in a big spot where the team needs to rally. If the defense isn’t putting the team in a hole to begin with then it should help limit the number of times that they need to worry about making a comeback.
Once Pablo Sandoval and Brock Holt return from injury it will give Farrell more options to consider, at which point he may consider going with the hot hand. At the moment, the options are limited, with only deeply flawed fringe players available to play third base.
Next: Farrell deserves credit for use of Kimbrel
The Red Sox aren’t going to lose many games simply because one guy in the lineup can’t be counted on to deliver a hit. They have lost games due to fielding mistakes and will continue to do so if they prioritize offense over defense. Farrell seeks to rectify that by turning to Marrero this afternoon, which is what he should continue to do until a more appealing option comes along.