After an off season that centered around pitching and defense we had the standard jokes this April, but since May those jokes have not been about the defense. There has been some trouble finding solid options in left field and center field, but the defense has solidified to hold up its end.
According to UZR/150 the defense has been worth 6.0 runs for every 150 defensive games played. Last year the team was worth only 0.5 runs for every 150 games. Depending on how many innings they total that could be an improvement of 30-40 defensive runs.
The infield has had the boost Theo was looking for with Adrian Beltre posting a 6.0 UZR so far, which is best among all third basemen in baseball. Next to Beltre we have seen Marco Scutaro post 3.5 defensive runs. That is third best among short stops in the majors.
In the outfield, J.D. Drew has been forced to hold things together while Jacoby Ellsbury and Mike Cameron deal with a rash of injuries. Not something the Red Sox would have wanted to count on, but his glove has continued to be one of the best. While not flashy like Ellsbury’s diving catches, he gets to everything efficiently.
The big trouble spot has been center field as the team has largely counted on Darnell McDonald. So far that has cost them five runs defensively with a UZR/150 of -30.9. He has never played this many innings in center field, but in 314 defensive innings there, he has been a -6.3.
The return of Ellsbury will not only have a solid swing offensively from McDonald, but the defense should be a boost as well. This should continue the Red Sox ranking in the top six defenses.
This swing in defense has benefited the pitching staff. The team BABIP stands at .289 and helped them beat their xFIP by 0.23. With the struggles seen so far from the pitching staff the team will continue to count on the defense holding together.