Red Sox Review: Evaluating the first third of the 2018 season
By Rick McNair
Last season the Red Sox were first in the AL in team defense, but a caveat was attached – Betts. Betts skewered the numbers somewhat with his usual defensive acumen. So far the results are a team that is statistically average with a collective 4.8 UZR/150. Another note of disappointment is a -19 on Defensive Runs Saved (DRS).
Two items should lead to a slow but steady improvement as the season moves forward. Dustin Pedroia is back and Hanley Ramirez is gone. Eduardo Nunez has a -7 DRS at second this season. That is the “highest” negative for DRS on the Red Sox. Moreland is a former Gold Glove Award winner and may not be a ballet performer at first, but Moreland is as steady as they come. That will help.
The Red Sox outfield has two issues. The first is the lack of defensive prowess of Martinez. This certainly has no shock value since Martinez has never been a noted defensive player. Martinez has a -5 DRS but compared to Jason Bay, Manny Ramirez, and Jonny Gomes he is more than competent.
The next surprise on the list and issue number two is one that makes you question defensive metrics versus what your eyes tell you. Andrew Benintendi and his -4 DRS. Benny isn’t that bad and Rafael Devers (-1 DRS) just isn’t that good. And -4 DRS for Christian Vazquez?
The left side of the infield is certainly one with a few leaks. Xander Bogaerts is average and Devers – with 11 errors – is a warning sign for late inning defensive changes. The right side is solid with Pedroia and Moreland. Defensive possibilities of Brock Holt and Nunez offer little over any weaker links.