Red Sox defense continues to disintegrate on a daily basis
By Rick McNair
The Boston Red Sox defense and pitching continues to implode.
Baseball is rather unique in sports since the way the game is played the defense controls the ball. There are two components to the defense – fielding, and pitching. The Boston Red Sox have accomplished little with both. A tight defense can save runs for sloppy pitching and a lax defense can cost runs and emotional stability for arms that deserve better.
For those whose passion is tradition metrics, the Red Sox are dismal and the same applies to the more advanced fielding metrics. Choose your statistical poison situation with the results the same. The team collectively is ninth in the American League with a -1.9 UZR/150. They have managed to have 13 errors – behind the Angels (16) and the Royals (17). The team Fielding Percentage is 13th at .977. Just scan the categories and you will find the Red Sox mired into the negative.
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A far more descriptive rendition of the bumbling is available thanks to BSI’s Sean Penney who described some recent adventures or misadventures. This has not been an isolated game or series, but a mark of unwanted consistency from this team all season. Pitchers have a fragile psyche and a botched play does little to give comfort to arms that are borderline MLB material.
With the absence of Mookie Betts, as in Gold Glove Award Betts, the outfield has taken a real dive with former GG Award winner Jackie Bradley Jr. owning a -24.9 UZR/150 and Andrew Benintendi giving chase at -14.1 UZR/150. This reverberates throughout the defense with one lone exception – catcher Christian Vazquez who is the number one ranked backstop in the AL.
Gliding through the remainder of the metrics swamp (DEF) the Red Sox are last in the AL at third, 13th at second, a sixth at shortstop, and a not surprising second at first base thanks to Mitch Moreland. But statistics is one aspect and what is usually absent from either traditional or advanced metrics is the bonehead play or non-play. The simple measure of throwing to the right base and all the minutia taught from when a player was first introduced to a ball and glove.
The Red Sox staff has recently extricated themselves from a negative fWAR and are now last in the AL with a 0.1 fWAR. This is a real effort on the part of the bullpen which is 14th at 0.1 fWAR and the rotation that is also 14th a 0.0 fWAR.
The above numbers are certainly not lifting a veil off of what Red Sox fans have already witnessed in this short season. Daily pitchers are shuffled between Boston, Pawtucket, and oblivion in hopes that someone may actually respond to the opportunity and provide – even temporarily – a glimmer of hope for the present and future. In the trial by fire, the staff has self-immolated.
Chaim Bloom has his work certainly cut out for him. His former team has treated the Red Sox like a Whack the Mole game. Losing is acceptable, but embarrassing your self is not and the Red Sox do that with remarkable consistency. The remainder of the season will be focused on improvement in those two critical areas and I just don’t see that happening.