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Daily Red Sox Links: The Red Sox’s defense is traditionally good, sabermetrically bad

Are the Red Sox good at defense? It depends whom you ask. Plus Mookie Betts is the real MVP, Rafael Devers learns from mistakes and Andrew Benintendi lives in struggleville.

MLB: Boston Red Sox at Tampa Bay Rays Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

The gap between the “old school” and the “new school” when it comes to baseball statistics has been closing steadily for the last decade. While it used to be people only cared about batting average, home runs, RBI, wins, losses and ERA, more advanced statistics like wins above replacement, OPS+ and FIP have entered the mainstream, at least to an extent.

However, the fight between these two schools of thought has always been about evaluating players more in the middle of the spectrum. Nobody needs fancy numbers to know that Clayton Kershaw can pitch really well or that Mike Trout is excellent. But advanced stats can illustrate why players like Austin Hedges are actually extremely valuable despite having a BA/HR/RBI line that would make you puke.

Even as sabermetrics become more accepted and only enhance the traditional stats we grew up with, there can still be some major gaps between what the advanced statistics think of a player or team and the traditional statistic’s evaluation. One of the most striking this season is that of the Boston Red Sox’s defense.

Boston has several very good fielders, especially in the outfield where Jackie Bradley Jr. and Mookie Betts roam. Additionally, Rafael Devers has developed nicely at third base, as he currently leads the team in defensive runs saved (3). But even with all those guys, the Red Sox have been a pretty bad defensive team. They are tied for 23rd in MLB in defensive runs saved (-7) and 25th in ultimate zone rating (-3.1) and FanGraphs defensive rating (-5.1). That’s not all that bad in the grand scheme of things, considering the Nationals, Yankees, Mets and Astros are all among the bottom 10 teams in some of those categories as well, but, when you look at it, the Red Sox are not a good defensive team.

That is until you flip to the traditional stats page of your choice. The Red Sox have committed the fewest errors in MLB (5) and lead all of baseball in fielding percentage. Those are both very good things. Without many errors, teams have fewer opportunities to score runs and, ultimately, stopping teams from scoring is the point of defense. But the fact that there is such a drastic difference between the two sides of the coin shows that you can’t always rely on one set of numbers to evaluate a team.

Mookie Betts won the game for the Red Sox last night. He is an early MVP favorite and that’s due to his unceasing drive to get better. (Christopher Smith; MassLive)

I mentioned above that Rafael Devers leads the Red Sox in defensive runs saved. However, he had some trouble earlier this week. He will take that experience and use it to improve. (Peter Abraham; Boston Globe)

In the last four games, Andrew Benintendi has gone 0-for-18. What’s going wrong? (Cam Ellis; BP Boston)

Yawkey Way should have been renamed a long time ago. A vote today by a Boston city commission will take that into account. (Tovia Smith; NPR)

Bobby Dalbec is a prospect with some wild numbers. (Damian Dydyn; Call to the Pen)