Red Sox fans are giddy at the thought of the type of offensive production the team will be able to generate, and how relentless their lineup should be now, even following a season where they scored the second-most runs in all of baseball.
However, not only are the Sox getting two of the best offensive players at their respective positions, they’re also getting two of the better defensive ones as well.
When you add Gonzalez and Crawford to the mix, you take a solid defense and you make it elite — the best in baseball, perhaps.
Starting with Crawford in the outfield, the Red Sox now have what some may consider the best defensive outfield in all of baseball. With Crawford manning left field, the Sox will likely start the season with Jacoby Ellsbury moving back to center, flanked by J.D. Drew in right.
Crawford is a Gold Glove winner. His speed is incredible, he has great instincts and is an absolute game-changer. There are simply very few balls he can get to.
And for the ones he can’t get to, at least in the gaps, Ellsbury will be there with his own lighting-fast speed to help track it down. And while Drew lacks the superior speed both Crawford and Ellsbury possess, he also has great defensive instincts and is a solid outfielder, with a pretty strong arm. Not only that, he now has four years of experience tracking down balls in a tricky right field.
Even the Red Sox’ projected fourth outfielder– Mike Cameron — is a former Gold Glover and could prove to be valuable assuming he’s not moved before the season starts.
On the infield, the Red Sox are just as good defensively.
Gonzalez is one of the best defensive first baseman in baseball. He’s got solid range, he throws left-handed (a nice advantage for a first baseman when turning a double play) and, like Crawford, he should make those around him better. Red Sox fans have seen how good Kevin Youkilis can be around the bag, especially when it comes to digging throws out of the dirt and they now have someone who is just as good, likely even better than Youkilis.
Speaking of Youkilis, the addition of Gonzalez allows him to move back over to third base, where he started his career. With how well he’s played on the opposite side of the infield, it’s easy to forget that he was at one point a great defensive third baseman as well.
At second base, Dustin Pedroia is a Gold Glove winner, also. There won’t be much that him and Gonzalez don’t get to, making the Red Sox’ right side of the infield arguably the best in the game, right up there with Mark Teixeira and Robinson Cano in New York.
Shortstop Marco Scutaro, who is not a terrible defensive player, is likely the “weak link” for lack of a better term, which is saying a lot. If he’s healthy following a 2010 season in which he battled injuries for seemingly the entire season, he’ll only be better.
Some will say that the Red Sox’ pitching needs to be better than it was in 2010. That is certainly the truth, but they will definitely get a strong boost from a revamped defense that now features some of the best defenders baseball has to offer. Fewer fly balls and live drives will fall in the outfield, and fewer ground balls will escape the infield. Those facts alone will help contribute to a better team pitching performance in 2011.
It may have come a year after it was promised, but run prevention is here.
Do the Red Sox have the best defense in baseball? Share your thoughts below.