With the departures of J.D. Drew, Josh Reddick, and Marco Scuturo the Red Sox will have new faces in right field and at shortstop. Instead of making a splash in free agency and bringing in a big name, the Red Sox have opted to bring in some lesser known players to fill the holes. I think that their strategy was a sound one. In 2011, the Red Sox led Major League Baseball in runs scored with 875. And despite their disastrous September, they still managed to score 146 runs during the month which was good for 3rd in the American League.
So, how big of a contribution at the plate did the team get from their shortstops and right fielders? Marco Scuturo and the others who played short in 2011 combined for a .730 OPS. Which is slightly above average at that position (110 OPS+). Their right fielders, primarily J.D. Drew and Josh Reddick, fared much worse logging a .652 OPS which is well below league average (68 OPS+).
Their potential successors will have no problem replacing the production the Red Sox got in 2011. Cody Ross (.779 career OPS) and Ryan Sweeney (.720 career OPS) will be upgrades in right field from last season. Mike Aviles, with his .737 career OPS, seems to be the front runner for the job at short and should be able match Scuturo’s production. Nick Punto will likely settle into the utility role. A wild card in the situation at short is Jose Iglesias. He is gifted in the field but has yet to prove he get hit professional pitching, logging a pedestrian .624 OPS in the minors. He should start the year in Triple-A with the hopes of improving enough at the plate to warrant a late season call-up.
With slightly above average hitting at short and well below average hitting in right the Red Sox managed to lead baseball in runs scored. With the rest of their lineup coming back the Red Sox will have no problem scoring runs in 2012. This is why I believe they made the right choice in going the cheaper route at those positions in the off-season.