Boston Red Sox - June audit
So, the month of June ends with the Red Sox 1 1/2 games behind the Rays in the AL East. I thought it would be interesting to see what actually happened in June, as the Red Sox played the entire month without David Ortiz, and with Daisuke Matsuzaka on the DL for most of it. In addition, they're as far behind as they've been all year (or at least close to it) and they're coming off three consecutive 1-run losses, each of which featured the winning run or runs being given up by the bullpen, so it feels like a down time.
And now, on to the numbers (mostly courtesy of the awesome Day by Day database at David Pinto's invaluable Baseball Musings, with some help from the also invaluable Baseball-Reference.com...)
Surprisingly, the Red Sox actually had a pretty good month of June. They played at a 96 win pace, going 16-11, and slightly underperformed their Pythagorean. And they only lost 1/2 game in the standings. In looking at their overall record and their place in the standings for March-May and June, I've included Tampa for comparison.
A couple of noteworthy things pop out:
- The Red Sox have had a better Pythagorean record than Tampa for the season. They had a better Pythagorean both through the month of May and in the month of June. Tampa has been "luckier" than Boston.
- Both teams played better in June than they had before then. One possible reason for this is the number of interleague games. The AL dominated the NL once again, indicating that the typical AL team is stronger than the typical NL team.
- Boston's offense, measured by runs/game, actually went up despite the absence of Ortiz. Tampa's offense also went up. It is not unreasonable to suppose that the NL pitching staff's had something to do with this.
- Tampa's runs allowed went up. Boston's went down.
I was surprised to see that the offense had actually gone up in June - that is not what I had expected to see. I was further surprised to see some of the individual numbers. Everyone knows that Drew had an outstanding month, but Manny must have been much hotter for the first week or so than I remembered, because he seems to have struggled greatly recently. And wow, did Varitek have a bad month!
This chart contains some standard offensive numbers and a couple of more advanced metrics. The last two columns are Bill James' Runs Created, and Runs Created per 25 outs, an estimate of how many runs per game a lineup would score with nine hitters performing the way that hitter performed. (The fact that it can end up negative is, indeed, an indicators that these are estimates.)
- Offensive odds and ends:
- Have I mentioned recently that I hate watching pitchers hit? Red Sox pitchers are 0-25 this year with no positive offensive contributions of any kind.
- Lugo was OK offensively in June, but I don't know if he was OK enough to offset the defense he's playing. I'd rather see Jed Lowrie there, at least until Lowrie convinces me that he can't handle the position.
- Ellsbury has been mediocre at best since I suggested, towards the end of April, that he wasn't as good as he'd played thus far. He was bad in June.
- Nothing like as bad as Varitek, however. An OPS of .381 is horrifyingly bad over 80 plate appearances. He was bad enough to make giving Kevin Cash at-bats over him look like a good idea. And he's caught over 1200 Major League games and he's 36. I don't know what their plan 'A' is for 2009, but I hope it isn't "back the dump truck up to Varitek's door for another two-year deal."
- On the whole, the starters, as a group, hit well. The role players, as a group, demonstrated that they're role players, but didn't embarrass themselves. And the pitchers, as a group, demonstrated that they're pitchers.
As noted earlier, the Red Sox runs allowed/game actually went down in June, despite the absence of one of their better starters.
- Pitching odds and ends:
- I don't generally look at pitching wins and losses. But it can be instructive. Both Beckett and Wakefield finished the month with only 2 wins and 1 loss, despite making 4 or 5 good to great starts. The bats and bullpen did not come on the days they started.
- And how good was Jon Lester? That 3.03 ERA for the month is actually inflated by one awful start.
- Beckett and Wakefield, in 10 games, combined for 9 quality starts and 2 wins. Colon and Masterson, in 10 games, combined on 3 quality starts and 5 wins.
- That last item is a textbook example of why looking at pitching wins and losses when evaluating starting pitchers is a bad idea.
- ERA can be deceptive. One dreadful start can result in a decent set of performance looking bad. Matsuzaka's ERA for the month is 10.5, but he had one dreadful start (7 runs in one inning) and one good start (0 runs in five innings.) You'd expect that to result in a .500 record despite the putresence of the ERA.
- That said, it is possible that Okajima and Timlin were even worse than their ERAs would indicate.
- The rest of the 'pen, however, had a pretty good month. Delcarmen and Hansen are both looking like good Major League relief pitchers at this point, and, for all that Javier Lopez is abused when not ignored, he had a real good month.