By MARK SIMON
With one out and nobody on in the second inning of Game 2 of the ALCS, Astros shortstop Carlos Correa hit a ground ball in the shortstop-third base hole. Xander Bogaerts got to the ball, but took his time in making a throw to first base. Correa beat it out for what was scored an infield hit.
Two batters later, Josh Reddick popped out for what would have been the third out of the inning had Bogaerts made the play. Instead, George Springer doubled, plating two runs in what could have been a huge moment in the game.
Baseball Info Solutions received a few inquiries on Twitter as to why Bogaerts has the worst Defensive Runs Saved total of any shortstop in the majors (-19).
Simply put: It’s because he doesn’t make plays like that one. And that’s whether he gets to the ball or he doesn’t.
Bogaerts rates worse getting outs on balls hit in the shortstop-third base hole than any shortstop in the 16 years that BIS has collected data. He was 36 plays below average, breaking the mark of 34 below set by Jimmy Rollins in 2013.
In fairness to Bogaerts, some of this is due to where he’s positioned (he often cheats up the middle), it doesn’t factor in how he fares in shifts (which would likely help him a little), and he’s pretty good at fielding balls hit up the middle and the area in which a shortstop typically plays.
Let’s explain via example: If we divided the area between second base and third base into thirds, it would be important for our purposes to know how Bogaerts gets outs in that middle-third area, which would cover a lot of the shortstop-third base hole. Here’s the answer in context.
The average team gets an out on a ground ball hit into that middle-third area by a right-handed batter about 77 percent of the time (the Astros are right at the average).
The Red Sox got an out about 68 percent of the time on the nearly 400 balls hit to that spot. The difference of about nine percentage points accounts for about 35 fewer balls turned into outs than average over the course of the season.
To the Red Sox and Bogaerts’ credit, they’ve turned 20 of 22 ground balls and bunts hit into that area into outs this postseason.
But as we saw in Game 2, one missed play can mean a couple of runs that sent Red Sox Nation into a bit of a panic.
|Fewest Defensive Runs Saved – Shortstops in 2018|
|Xander Bogaerts||Red Sox||-19|
|Manny Machado||2 Teams||-13|