by Matt Trueblood
on February 15, 2010 @ 00:00:00
Fenway Park affects everyone differently. In general, though, flyballs are good things in Boston: While the Green Monster suppresses homers slightly, no park in the league yields more doubles or sees a lower percentage of flies land in fielders' gloves.
New outfielder Mike Cameron is, for example, a perfect Fenway fit: He bats right-handed, hits flyballs like they're going out of style and (per manager Terry Francona's preference) can draw a walk or steal a base when needed.
Shortstop Marco Scutaro and third baseman Adrian Beltre, the new left side of the infield, also can and will run. Jason Bay, Kevin Youkilis and J.D. Drew combined for 33 stolen base attempts last season.
Jon Lester and Josh Beckett are examples of the types of pitchers well-suited to this environment. Both keep the ball on the ground, as does new multimillion dollar man John Lackey, perhaps dismissing the rampant anxiety about his prospects. Lester is, incidentally, exceptional at controlling the running game.
The Sox emphasize strikeouts from their staff, which could help Lackey: His strikeouts per nine innings have fallen in every season since he set a career high in that category in 2005.
Although Boston had an above-average fielding percentage in 2009, advanced defensive metrics suggest the traditional numbers lie: Boston's .681 Defensive Efficiency Rate (the percentage of balls in play converted to outs) was the AL's lowest. Third baseman Mike Lowell and outfielder Jason Bay were especially bad, so adding Beltre and Cameron marks a crucial upgrade.
Scutaro started a sparkling 49 double plays in 2009. Will he change Fenway fortunes? Fenway has consistently seen spoiled double-play opportunities. Perhaps owing to long infield grass, groundballs in Boston have turned into twin killings 7 percent less often than at the average park. Conversely, such batted balls have gone for fielder's choices 7 percent more often over the past five seasons.
About Matt Trueblood
Matt is a journalism student at Loyola University Chicago. The guest contributor is a featured Chicago Cubs columnist on the Bleacher Report as well as a contributor to hotstove.com. Matt envisions himself as both a writer and analyst and strives to deliver pieces that are both well-researched and thought-provoking. He work first appeared on KFFL.com in February 2010.
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