Red Sox position players on the fringe of making 2018 Opening Day roster
By Paul Doran
DEVEN MARRERO; UTL INFIELDER
2017 with Boston: 71 G, 4 HR, 27 RBI, .211 BA/.259 OBP/.333 SLG (.593 OPS)
2017 with Pawtucket: 50 G, 3 HR, 14 RBI, .240 BA/.266 OBP/.361 SLG (.626 OPS)
Deven Marrero is the first to come to mind because he had longest stay with the Red Sox in 2017.
His bat was both a surprise and a headache, depending on the day. His power numbers saw a huge uptick last season. He saw his slugging percentage and home run total rise to Major League career-high, reaching heights he hasn’t seen at any level since 2015 at AAA. He was also able to hit nine doubles, and swipe five bags.
The headache came in the categories that should be Marrero’s bread and butter: hitting for average and getting on base. Marrero’s overall batting average barely made it over the Mendoza line at .211. His Batting Average on Balls in Play (BABIP) sat at a subpar .296. His strikeout to walk ratio was 61/12. It was a weird year from the 27-year old. Everything you expected him to do, he didn’t. But, Marrero’s bat has always been his secondary talent, taking a backseat to his ability in the field.
In 470.2 innings in the field (2.2 innings at first base, oddly enough,) Marrero shined. Fangraphs has Marrero at a 5.1 Ultimate Zone Rating (UZR.) In 151 defensive chances at every infield position, he only committed three errors, all at third base. His overall fielding percentage sat at .980%. Marrero’s defense could be his saving grace in getting him playing time in 2018.
As I’m sure you all know, Dustin Pedroia underwent knee surgery in October and is projected to miss at least seven months. That leaves the Red Sox without their starting second baseman until May at the earliest. Marrero is the best candidate to fill that hole in a platoon. He finished 2017 on the postseason roster, even starting Game 2 of the ALDS. He’s running out of options. His glove plays at a major league level, even if his bat needs some work.
VERDICT: Starts 2018 in MLB, platoon at 2B.