Thursday, March 19, 2015

Unzipping 2015: Comparing Boston and New York - Shortstop

In the last installment we saw statistically what we all knew instinctively:

  1. Dustin Pedroia is superior across the board to Stephen Drew.
  2. Yankee management was insane to sign Drew


Shortstop is going to be much closer. Boston has former top-prospect Xander Bogaerts entering his second full season while New York is replacing the legendary* Derek Jeter with four-year veteran Didi Gregorius.

What's interesting about these two players is how similar they stack up. Bogaerts was a little better with the bat but Gregorius was a little better in the field. So how are they projected this year?

Boston: Xander Bogaerts

2015: 147 G | 144 H | 53 RBI | .263 BA | .322 OBP | .409 SLG | .731 OPS | 2.5 WAR | Cost per WAR: $217,200 | Age: 22

New York: Didi Gregorius

2015: 132 G | 123 H | 48 RBI | .251 BA | .307 OBP | .369 SLG | .676 OPS | 1.8 WAR | Cost per WAR: $281,389 | Age: 25

As you can see, Bogaerts has the edge here in plate production. But this is definitely the closest we have seen when it comes to value.

Some people were dismissive of the Yankees when they traded for Gregorius. But he is actually a pretty smart signing for New York. And here is why: 0.9 WAR. That is the average WAR per year that Derek Jeter provided to the Yankees from 2010-2014. Gregorius doubles that amount for literally pennies on the dollar compared to Jeter and his salary. And Gregorius's glove should be better as well (a low bar to clear, to be sure). As dumb as the Stephen Drew signing was...that is how smart Cashman was to trade for Gregorius.

That said, however, won't change the fact that the Red Sox come out ahead here. And not only because Bogaerts should provide more bang for the buck. Bogaerts is also a home-grown player, which gives the Red Sox more financial flexibility for the next few years. He is also three years younger than Gregorius.

The only wild-card that could change this outlook is Bogaerts' glove. Last year he got jerked around between short and third and he suffered for it. Bogaerts never looked comfortable at all in the field in 2014 and it showed. If that deficiency in the field continues and Gregorius performs to his standard (slightly above league average) that will even these two players out. Preventing runs counts as much as scoring them.

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* If slightly over-rated. Yes, he played hard and was great at the plate. But then we should also be able to admit his glove was average at best. He exceeded the league average for Range Factor at his position exactly once in 2005. That's not the hallmark of a great fielding shortstop.

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