Pedroia, Phillips differentiate with glove, bat

It took 14 innings for the Boston Red Sox to outlast the Tampa Bay Rays, something that would not have happened without the defense of Dustin Pedroia.

Pedroia made two huge plays, a catch on a pop up and a snag of a bunt hit attempt in key spots for the Red Sox to preserve the tie game.

Pedroia picked up another Web Gem from Baseball Tonight, giving him five this season. That’s second-most among second basemen behind Brandon Phillips, who had seven.

Phillips had quite the day as well.

Let’s review the pivotal moments for each on Monday night.

Pedroia’s Plays

Pedroia entered Monday with eight Defensive Runs Saved (for an explanation of the stat, click here), the most in the majors among second basemen.

Pedroia’s 37 Defensive Runs Saved dating back to the start of the 2011 season also rank most among second basemen. In fact, only three players have more than that at any position in that span—Mariner shortstop Brendan Ryan (50), Royals leftfielder Alex Gordon (47) and Blue Jays third baseman Brett Lawrie with 39.

Most Defensive Runs Saved
2nd Basemen (Last 3 Seasons)

What makes Pedroia so good is that he maximizes great plays while minimizing his mistakes.

Baseball Info Solutions does video-tracking, crediting fielders for more than 30 categories of Good Fielding Plays (think Web-Gem nominees) and penalizing them for more than 50 categories of Defensive Misplays & Errors.

Pedroia’s ratio of Good Plays to Misplays & Errors is 40 to 6 (he’s yet to make an error this season). By comparison, three of the game’s best defensive second basemen- Barney, Phillips, and Robinson Cano, all have ratios of around 3-to-1. In other words: about half of Pedroia’s ratio.

Pedroia’s defensive value is integral to what he brings to the game. And he’s recognized for it. Entering Monday Pedroia was worth 3.7 Wins Above Replacement this season, edging out Miguel Cabrera for the highest among position players in the American League.

Phillips’ power

Phillips had a day on the offensive end that was just as good, if not better as Pedroia’s on the defensive end.

Phillips drove in all six of the Reds runs in their win over the Chicago Cubs, four by way of his fifth career grand slam.

The day put Phillips in pretty good company. He’s the first Reds player to account for all of his team’s runs with at least six RBI since Johnny Bench did so in a 6-2 win over the Braves on September 12, 1974.

Phillips has been been extremely productive with the bases loaded this season, going 5-for-7 with a walk and a sacrifice fly. He’s hitting .435 (27-for-62 with runners in scoring position.

The grand slam came on a curveball from Scott Feldman and one of the keys to Phillips success is making pitchers pay for those pitches. He’s 13-for-21 with four doubles and the grand slam in at-bats that end with a curve or slider with runners in scoring position.

This is also part of a run of being consistently clutch. In each of the previous two seasons, Phillips hit better than .300 with runners in scoring position.

There’s a good chance he’ll do that again. Consider this: If Phillips went 0-for-his-next-27 with runners in scoring position, his batting average in such situations this season would still be above .300.