A deep dive into newest Red Sox star Trevor Story

DENVER, COLORADO - JULY 12: Trevor Story #27 of the Colorado Rockies (wearing #44 in honor of Hank Aaron) smiles while announced for the 2021 T-Mobile Home Run Derby at Coors Field on July 12, 2021 in Denver, Colorado. (Photo by Matt Dirksen/Colorado Rockies/Getty Images)
DENVER, COLORADO - JULY 12: Trevor Story #27 of the Colorado Rockies (wearing #44 in honor of Hank Aaron) smiles while announced for the 2021 T-Mobile Home Run Derby at Coors Field on July 12, 2021 in Denver, Colorado. (Photo by Matt Dirksen/Colorado Rockies/Getty Images) /
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Red Sox infielder Trevor Story
DENVER, CO – JULY 24: Trevor Story #27 of the Colorado Rockies plays defense against the Atlanta Braves at Coors Field on July 24, 2016 in Denver, Colorado. (Photo by Dustin Bradford/Getty Images) /

How Story fits with the Red Sox defense

When looking through Story’s numbers to put together this article, one number stood out to me: Four. That’s the percentile that Story was in according to Statcast’s Outs Above Average metric last year, meaning that he was a worse defender than 96% of shortstops. The -7 OAA that he totaled in 2021 was the worst of his career, indicating that his defense may be on a sharp decline.

Before freaking out that the Red Sox just gave a long-term deal to a plummeting defender, it’s essential to put context into their numbers. The Rockies had some of the worst pitching in the major leagues and allowed some of the highest exit velocities. That could explain why Story got fewer chances, as balls whizzed by him without him even having a chance to make a play. Story also dealt with a nagging leg injury that may have affected his range but won’t hamper him in the long term.

It’s also important to remember that defensive metrics are notoriously wonky. Story may have had a disastrous defensive season by Statcast measures, but according to Fangraphs, it was the second-best of his career. By every defensive measure, Story has been well above-average over the course of his major league career, totaling 47.5 defensive runs saved over by Fangraphs metrics and 18 Outs Above Average by Statcast’s.

Story should also benefit from the move to second base. While he has excellent hands and plus range, his arm has always been considered the weakest part of his game. That was especially true last season, when an elbow inflammation problem bothered him all season long and resulted in a short IL stint. An offseason of rest and a move to a position where arm strength is less of a priority should transform Story from an above-average defensive shortstop to an elite second baseman.