Hey Statheads, Defense Counts Too

After just watching Manny Ramirez and Todd Walker cost the Red Sox 4-5 runs in a single inning, I’m feel compelled to rant about the casual stathead/sabermetric tendancy to ignore defense in favor of hitting when evaluating a player. A stathead friend of mine has said to me, "Heck, let Manny play shortstop if he wants to, his bat is just too valuable."

Everyone who’s read Moneyball knows how the statheads don’t much like the bunt, stolen base, anything that can cost the team one of their 27 outs. The theory is that outs are a precious commodity and should not be squandered to move runners along when they might just as easily score on a base hit or move up on a wild pitch or a :scare: productive :/scare: out. I generally agree with this.

The flip side is how important it is to not give the opposing any extra outs to work with. Errors and mis-played balls in the field do serious damage to a team. One effect people often overlook is an error means the pitcher has to throw more pitches in that inning – generally these are considered more high-stress pitches as well.

Last night (in game 1), Todd Walker’s error may have indirectly cost the Red Sox the series. It meant Pedro threw 130 pitches through 7 innings so he didn’t come back in the 8th inning (if he had, the Sox might have won last night, who knows). It means that Pedro cannot come back to start in game 4. No Pedro in game 4 means that Jeff Suppan or John Burkett will start a game in the series. This is not good news for the Red Sox nation.

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