Jody Reed – 1992 Upper Deck

February 12, 2011

Now Appearing At The Bolshoi…Jody Reed

Those are some mighty fine ballet skills there, Jody. You know, I could look up ballet terms on Wikipedia like arabesque, brise, echappe and the like, but I won’t except for one sidebar:

I did not know derriere was a ballet term. I thought it was a Match Game term.





Well, back to Mr. Reed.

Was it just me or were most of the Red Sox second basemen from Doerr to Pedroia either unappreciated or over-appreciated?

Billy Goodman – underrated, though he got a lot of All-Star votes.

Pete Runnels – underrated.

Mike Andrews – underrated.

Doug Griffin – overrated. Won a Gold Glove when he had -1.1 defensive wins against replacement  in 1972.

Denny Doyle – overrated, but thanks to his 1975 no one will say so.

Jerry Remy – overrated. Sorry Red Sox Nation, but as a player he wasn’t that much.

Marty Barrett – overrated. Got MVP votes for being the David Eckstein of the 1986 Red Sox.

Reed – overrated.

Scott Fletcher – underrated, due to his excellent defense, especially in 1993, when his 2.1 DWAR was almost half of his total WAR. That ain’t hay!

Jeff Frye – underrated. His injury killed what could have been a fine career.

Jose Offerman – underrated, though that’s because he was the devil incarnate in 2000 and 2001. He had a fine 1999, though.

Mark Bellhorn – underrated though he whiffed way too much and that forced him out of the league after his great 2004.

Except for Fletcher, the underrated players were perceived as offensive players stuck at second base, while the overrated players looked good as second basemen and hit like a middle infielder ‘should’.

Pedroia has kind of wrecked that, because he’s a good defender who isn’t a slappy.

When players bunted all the time, teams put their second best infield defender at third, and second base was more of an offensive position. When teams stopped bunting, and cared more about turning the DP, they moved that player to second. So even today, the perception of a second baseman is more of a smaller, scrappy type than a hitter. And that’s even after Ryne Sandberg, Lou Whitaker and others.

Perhaps Pedroia, Chase Utley and this generation will change how we perceive second basemen. Maybe we should not ‘perceive’ what players ‘should’ be and revel in what players actually ‘are’.

I’m not saying that defense isn’t important – it is. But offense matters more, and unless you can get a Scott Fletcher in there at second I’d rather have someone who can put runs on the board than someone who ‘looks good’ with the glove. If the guy has defensive struggles at second then that’s why you have utility players for defensive replacements (and why you need to stop the 12-man pitching staffs!).

That’s not to say that you should put Adam Dunn at second base (though I don’t think anyone would try a take-out slide on him), because you do need to have some basic defensive competency at the position. But Mark Bellhorn’s 2004 (3.5 WAR) was better than any season Jody Reed put up.

If I was building a major league team, I would worry about defense at catcher (I’d most likely platoon two decent offensive catchers as long as one was an excellent defender for late innings), shortstop, and center field for my starting nine (but not overly so), and at the rest of the positions I would put the best overall hitters (or platoon) that can reasonably play the position. And I’d make sure I’d have one fast guy who can play three infield positions well on the bench, and not care if he hits just .122 as long as he can pinch run and play defense in the late innings. I’d also have a fifth outfielder who can play all three positions and has a good arm, and then the other subs could play the corners and just mash.

I guess this is a long way of saying that Jody Reed wouldn’t be my first choice at second base. Well, especially not now, he’s 48 years old, for crying out loud!




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