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Red Sox focusing on defense

Posted by Peter Abraham, Globe Staff  December 10, 2009 12:40 PM

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In the end, run differential is what really matters. The object of the game is to score more runs than the other teams.

The top run differentials in 2009 were:

Dodgers +169
Yankees +162
Red Sox +136
Angels +122
Phillies +111

Those teams, of course, all made the playoffs. It sounds simple, just score more runs. But the thing is, it doesn't matter how you get to that differential. Run prevention is just as effective as run production.

The Red Sox, to be charitable, were bad defensively last season. But having Marco Scutaro and Adrian Beltre on the left side of the infield instead of Shortstop Du Jour and Mike Lowell would go a long way to solving that.

If the impending trade of Lowell to Texas leads to the Sox signing Beltre, don't just look at Beltre's numbers at the plate. Look at his ability to prevent runs. Based on advanced defensive metrics (UZR and UZR/150), Beltre was roughly the second or third best defensive third baseman in the game last season.

That means fewer singles into left, more double plays, less pitches thrown, etc. There's value in that.

The question is whether it's worth eating $9 million on Lowell and paying whatever Scott Boras is going to demand for Beltre. That I'm not so sure of.

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