Every now and then, I like to just futz around with random baseball statistics.
And while I don’t think my hobby will qualify me for any Dos Equis “Most Interesting [Wo]Man in the World” commercials, it occasionally turns up a nugget or two worth looking at.
During the All-Star break, I killed time by checking out WAR — wins above replacement, a metric that includes offense and defense and weights the final score according to how defensively challenging a player’s position is. It is an easy-to-use and nearly complete measure of player performance, allowing you to compare players at all positions. The higher the number, the more overall value the player has contributed this season.
The Red Sox’ WAR leader in 2010? Adrian Beltre.
I find Adrian Beltre’s position as Boston’s WAR leader interesting given that a meme has been developing of Beltre-as-outfielder-destroyer. Collisions with Jacoby Ellsbury and Jeremy Hermida has cost both left fielders playing time. Given his wrecking-ball rep and his short contract, Beltre has hardly become a fan favorite in Boston, though he did play in the All-Star Game — where he injured his left hamstring, forcing him to miss Thursday night’s game against Texas.
Beltre has been a key contributor to Boston’s run-scoring: Advanced metrics show him first in overall run production. Standard measures have him easily leading the team in batting average. And while Boston’s torrid offense — the Sox were the first team in the majors to score 400 runs this season and are poised to become the first to hit 500 — has fans joking about the “run prevention” strategy, it’s worth remembering that Boston’s defense has, in fact, improved markedly over last year’s ballclub. While the Sox finished 28th (out of 30 teams) last year at converting batted balls into outs, they rank ninth by that metric so far this year — and that’s without the benefit of Ellsbury in left or, for much of the season, Mike Cameron in center. One big reason for that improvement has been the contribution of Beltre.
Why has Beltre become The Guy? First, he’s stayed healthy; missing time lowers WAR and other “value” metrics. Second, he’s hitting extremely well both home and away. Finally, he’s played good defense at a position where defense really matters, behind only Kevin Kouzmanoff in UZR among AL third basemen.
Adrian Beltre may also not be the Most Interesting Man in the World, or even on the Red Sox. But he is the team’s statistical MVP — and a player they can’t afford to lose for long.
– Sarah Green also writes for UmpBump.com.
Follow her on Twitter @skgreen.
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