2011 Player Review: Marco Scutaro

Marco Scutaro, J. Meric/Getty ImagesTrying to find negative story-lines within the Red Sox’ horrific September was about as easy as trying to find trees in the forest. However, trying to find a negative story about Marco Scutaro, in the context of a forest, was like searching for big foot.

Scutaro had an incredible month of September, in which he hit .387/.438/.581 with two home runs, 12 doubles and 21 RBI. He had 22.2 weighted runs created (wRC+) and a .434 weighted on base average (wOBA).

Based on his true talent level, Scutaro was playing well over his head in September, but that doesn’t take away from the fact that he did do it, .391 BABIP or not. Those incredible September numbers aided in his .329/.382/.467 post-all-star stat line. The exact opposite happened in 2010, as Scutaro faded in the second half bruised and worn down. He had also faded in the second half of 2009 as a member of the Toronto Blue Jays.

The 2011 season didn’t start out particularly great for the Sox or for Scutaro. The team struggled out of the gates and Scutaro himself hit .189/.283/.226 in April before he could no longer play through an oblique injury. That injury caused him to miss 26 games from May 8th through June 7th. While he had his ups and downs at the plate through June, July and August, Scutaro continued to get on base, posting OBPs of .365/.345/.313 respecively.

In the field, Scutaro was far from brilliant, but it was sort of what Sox fans expected as Scutaro saw a huge drop in the preseason fan’s scouting report from an overall score of 76 for 2009 to an overall score of 46 for 2010 (keep in mind that he played in Toronto in 2009, so it was an entirely different fanbase doing the scouting).  Scutaro comitted 12 errors at short this past season and posted a 0.7 ultimate zone rating (UZR), which would seem like a vast improvement from his -2.9 rating in 2010. His .972 fielding percentage was the eighth worst among 22 qualifying shortstops and his 0.7 UZR ranked him 13 out of those same 22. At times, it seemed as though his arm would just give out on him at any moment; that’s how little juice he had on his throws.

Despite is ineptness in the field, Scutaro put up enough positive offensive numbers to generate 2.9 wins above replacement as calculated at FanGraphs (fWAR). He was definitely worth the $5M the Sox paid him in 2011.

There is a big decision ahead for both Scutaro and the Sox’ front office. His contract holds a $6M club option and a $3M player option ($1.5M buyout). The free agent market at shortstop is thin aside from the top two in Jose Reyes and Jimmy Rollins and to sign either would require a huge commitment by the front office both in terms of money and years. In that sense, bringing Scutaro back makes a lot of sense. If defense becomes too big of an issue, the club still has slick fielding Jose Iglesias waiting in the wings, though the drop-off ofensively would be substantial.

My guess is that we see Scutaro back in Boston for his age 36 season, though given his age it would be a good idea to have some type of plan-B ready, which could be already in place with Iglesias and/or Jed Lowrie.

Categories: Boston Red Sox Jed Lowrie Jose Iglesias Marco Scutaro

Charlie first started writing about baseball back in 2008 when he opened Fantasy Baseball 365. Since graduating college with a degree in English, he has spent time coaching baseball as well as working in several minor league front offices. He also writes for The Outside Corner and contributes to Project Prospect and ESPN's Sweet Spot. Writer from August 3, 2010 - May 6, 2012

5 Responses to “2011 Player Review: Marco Scutaro” Subscribe

  1. Matt October 25, 2011 at 11:45 AM #

    I know he's still young, but Iglesias is an atrocious hitter. He posted a .554 OPS in AAA this season. The lowest qualifying OPS in the majors this season was .614 (Alex Rios). He needs to improve immensely at the plate to even be considered an option at SS in 2013.

    And I think Scuturo is their best option at short in 2012.

    • Gerry October 25, 2011 at 1:01 PM #

      Scutaro offered more than a good bat and adequate glove. He remains elite at swinging at pitches outside the zone, wears pitchers down, and is a good "pre-leadoff hitter" in the 9 hole. Assuming we lose a few veterans this year, Scoot is a quiet but strong leader, playing hurt,'playing to win, and playing for the team. Lowrie had a weirdly bad season, his worst in many categories, and assuming he bounces back, this pre-injuries SS of the future will have his back with better glove and bat. So might Aviles who had his best defensive #'s at SS and showed he can hit at Fenway. It's amazing and refreshing that SS is not an issue. Jose Iglesias? He would have good #s at the plate had he been given time in A and AA to hit at or near his age level. Age 20 in AAA with just a year+ of healthy 'pro' experience is a stretch. Run him thru high A and AA for a couple of months this season and my money is on him hitting very well, and returning to AAA a better hitter. I like to think that his current .333/.333/.333 in the majors shows he will be fine given time.

    • Ben October 25, 2011 at 7:18 PM #

      Actually, Adam Dunn's (.569) was lower than Rios's.

      Iglesias had a worse offensive year than Adam Dunn though, so I totally agree with you there.

      • Matt October 26, 2011 at 7:23 AM #

        I think he missed qualifying by a handful of at bats. But that doesn't take away from how bad Dunn was this season.

  2. Dale Sams October 25, 2011 at 1:14 PM #

    I'd like to know what the Sox got out of SS overall in 2011. Between Scoots steadiness, supplanted by Lowrie being hot for a bried period…it's got to be more than the Sox expected.

    Speaking of Lowrie…if healthy and mentally fit (I think his defensive play suffered at one point from 'awwdonthitittomeitis') he can still be an asset, but I admit those are fairly big IFS.