The Red Sox seem to have this fascination with Julio Lugo. Until today, I didn't even know he is only one of three Lugos to play in the majors, another being his brother Ruddy. Why the obsession with Lugo? Is he a terrific player, or does he just have pictures of the front office?
In the similarity scores at Baseball Reference, Lugos ten comps include Adam Kennedy, Rafael Furcal, David Eckstein, Eddie Bressoud, Pat Meares, Cristian Guzman, and Rafael Furcal. Not a whole lot of household names there, unless your household is Baseball Prospectus.
Last year in split duty with Tampa and the Dodgers, he had 12 homers, 24 stolen bases, and was .341/.421/.762. His batting numbers with the Dodgers were hideous, .278/.267/.548. His fielding percentage at shortstop was .957 (Alex Gonzalez was .985 I think), with an average range factor. In other words, he was a decent stick, but not so great with the leather. Ordinarily he had a higher fielding percentage and range factor, but the fielding percentage was mostly on turf, not the Fenway pressurized grass.
So why are the Sox pounding the pavement and opening the checkbook for Julio Lugo? Frankly, I don't know. I can't recall him hitting for the cycle or fielding like Ozzie Smith against the Red Sox. Maybe he did, I just can't remember. For a team that has profited from the Moneyball approach, the Sox seem to be playing Looneyball.
Lugo is on the wrong side of 30 now, has never had a season OPS over .780 and only once did his OPS exceed the league average.
There must be something more, somewhere. Let's check out Hardball Times. Aha. Lugo had 20 and 24 Win Shares in 2004 and 2005, both at putative All-Star levels, but then collapsed to 13 last season, with only 1 for the Dodgers. This has Bill James' laudable fingerprints all over it, BUT goes against the trend, so near and dear to John Henry.
Well there you have it, the case against, and maybe for Julio Lugo. He's a versatile player, with more of a bat than A-Gone, but who certainly can't carry Gonzalez glove. Maybe he's ready for a breakout in a big market, but he didn't prove it with LA, and it's not like somebody's paying us to take him, like the Sox did with Renteria. By the way, Hanley Ramirez had 25 win shares, Renteria 19, David Eckstein 12 last year, and A-Gone 9.