Boston's Best Tools: Round Up

 

In case you missed any of the Best Tools pieces here are the links to start us off.

Hitting: Best Power,  Best ContactBest Batting EyeBest BaserunnerBest Hitter

Pitching: Best FastballBest Breaking BallBest ControlBest Stuff

Best Defender

Each piece in this series began with some of the relevant statistics, using un-weighted three year samples whenever possible and explored each of the leading candidates. I reached my own conclusions and invited the fans here to voice their opinions in the polls. In general, there was a lot of agreement. Here are the results (after the jump)-

 

 

My Pick

Most Votes

My Runner Up

Fans Runner Up

Best Power

Adrian Gonzalez

Adrian Gonzalez (71%)

David Ortiz

David Ortiz (17%)

Best Contact

Marco Scutaro

Dustin Pedroia (58%)

Dustin Pedroia

Kevin Youkilis (26%)

Best Batting Eye

Kevin Youkilis

Kevin Youkilis (66%)

J.D. Drew

Dustin Pedroia (16%)

Best Baserunner

Jacoby Ellsbury

Carl Crawford (47%)

Carl Crawford

Jacoby Ellsbury (47%)

Best Fastball

Daniel Bard

Daniel Bard (76%)

Jon Lester

Jon Lester (9%)

Best Breaking Ball

Buchholz's Change

Lester's Curve (29%)

Bard's Slider

Buchholz's Change (19%)

Best Control

Jon Lester

Jon Lester (59%)

Jonathan Papelbon

Clay Buchholz (21%)

Best Stuff

Jon Lester

Jon Lester (63%)

Daniel Bard

Clay Buchholz (18%)

Best Defender

Carl Crawford

Dustin Pedroia (35%)

Dustin Pedroia

Carl Crawford (31%)

 

Of the nine categories here, we agree on the top spot five times and the number two spot twice. My top pick finished second in the voting twice and the fan’s top pick came in second by my analysis twice as well. Some of the differences of opinion are interesting and worth taking a look at.

The first area of disagreement was best contact. Looking over the numbers, it was very clear to me that Marco Scutaro is not only the best at making contact on the team, but one of baseball’s elite contact hitters overall. Scutaro swings and misses at remarkably low number of pitches and makes contact at the highest rate of any player in baseball, yet the fans remain unconvinced. Among the comments to this article was one very instructive: Alskor said "As for contact, I voted Petey. I’ll take the guy with the 92% contact rate AND the ability to consistently hit .300 plus and Slug [over].450 on the balls he makes contact with." That seems very reasonable to me. I may have taken contact too literally. Pedroia holds a batting average on balls in play .020 higher than Scutaro and his slugging percentage dwarfs Marco’s considerably. Pedey does seem to make better contact and still stay close on the rates. Good Call.

The Best Baserunner vote was decided by one vote. With 785 people voicing the opinion, there is still no consensus here. That is probably because there is almost no difference between Ellsbury and Crawford on the base paths; they both burn them up. The most interesting to come out of this piece though concerned extra bases taken. The Red Sox undisputed master of that skill is Kevin Youkilis. Youk adds excellent heads-up base running to his already incredible arsenal of skill. Beyond the speed that Crawford and Ellsbury bring to the mix, the Red Sox should run the bases well as a team. They will be conservative about it, but they will take bases when they can.

On the pitching side of things, nobody can step to Bard’s fastball. He took the largest percentage of the votes in any of the polls with his blazing, occasionally triple-digit heater.

The best breaking ball was by far the most difficult piece to write. The subject has so many possible approaches and the data is extremely dense. In the end, I went with my gut and picked Buchholz’s change up. Fans liked that choice enough to make it the runner up in the voting, but they picked Jon Lester’s curve. I can’t argue with that. It is a great pitch, especially when coupled with his heater. I was glad to see that Beckett’s curve got some support too. That pitch haunts many a professional hitter’s dreams and I am not sure I gave it enough consideration.

Best defense was the source for a lot of interesting debates. I think next year I will include the position adjustments and replacement levels in the considerations as a result. Many of the commenter’s just felt that the value of Pedey’s defense trumps the advantage Crawford has in all the advanced metrics. I am not sure I agree, but I love watching the little man play second as much as one, so I can understand. I am very interested to see if the fans’ view and the statistics change for Carl after a full year on the Sox.

I hope everyone enjoyed reading this series as much as I enjoyed writing it. Thank you to all those who took time to weight in.

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