Red Sox second baseman: Trevor Story
How will his speed play in a team that doesn’t like to steal bases?
Will his defense rebound upon the move to second base?
Can he keep up his elite offense outside of Coors Field?
Let’s start with the first question. What sets Story apart from his fellow power-hitting shortstops is his ability to steal bases. Story has averaged 21 swiped bags over the last four years, including leading the league with 15 steals in 2020.
This makes for an interesting fit on a Red Sox team that was one of the worst baserunning teams in the majors last year. The Sox ranked 29th in the majors in both stolen bases and stolen base percentage, and it was the slow-footed Christian Vazquez who lead the team with just eight steals.
With so many slow-footed sluggers batting behind Story in the lineup, he may not get the same amount of green lights that he got in Colorado. He’ll still likely lead the team in steals, but his speed may be best served in beating out ground balls and taking the extra base.
The answer to the second question really depends on what defensive metrics you choose to believe. By Statcast’s Outs Above Average metric, Story was one of the worst defensive shortstops in baseball, accounting for -7 OAA. Yet by Fangraphs Defensive Runs Saved metrics, he was nearly ten runs above-average, just as he had been his entire career.
What’s not controversial is Story’s arm, a tool that is universally regarded as below-average. A bout of elbow inflammation last year only exacerbated the issue and may have contributed to his terrible OAA. A move to second base and a full offseason of rest should make Story’s arm a non-issue, and with his elite hands and range, Story should be a well-above-average defender at the keystone.
The third question is one that has followed many hitters who have departed Colorado over the years. Coors Field is famously the most hitter-friendly ballpark in the major leagues, and many Rockies hitters have extreme home road splits. Story is no different. He has a career .972 OPS and .752 OPS on the road.
Yet what they don’t tell you about calling a high-altitude environment home is that it makes it much harder to hit on the road. In the thin air of Colorado, breaking balls don’t have the same break and fastballs don’t have the same run, making it difficult to adjust when back road. Many other Rockies stars have had the same home-road splits only for the differences to disappear when they left Colorado:
Road OPS while with the Rockies: .793
Road OPS while with the Cardinals: .885
Road OPS while with the Rockies: .673
Road OPS while with the Yankees: .784
Story likely won’t post the same .970 OPS that he did in Colorado, but it would be foolish to assume that he will immediately regress to the mediocre output he posted on the road.
One thing that is more worrisome is his righty/lefty splits. Story is by no means bad against righties, as his .258/.324/.485 will attest to, but that .809 OPS is nearly 200 points lower than his total vs lefties. With Gerrit Cole, Jose Berrios, Kevin Gausman and Luis Severino looming in the division, not to mention the Rays never-ending abundance of right-handed relievers, those struggles against righties could be costly.
Nevertheless, Story’s combination of skill gives him an extremely high floor even if his offense takes a slight dip. Expect him to be well worth his contract in 2022 and beyond.
Stat Prediction: .276/.343/.507, 31 HR, 77 RBI, 12-15 SB, 4.5 WAR