Monday, May 25, 2009

Monday Pythagorean, 5/25/2009

Now we've passed the quarter pole of the season, and the Red Sox have moved into sole possession of first place in the AL East for the first time. Not, I think, for the last.

  • Baseball is very sequence-dependent. A team can string together a couple of singles, a walk and a home run and score 4 runs or 1 run - it all depends on the order in which the events occur. Well, this was a sequence-dependent week. Objectively and overall, a 4-2 week which includes a three-game sweep over a team that was leading you by 3 1/2 games when the week started is a good week. But because the Toronto sweep was followed by losing two of three to the Mets, and because that featured a game that they absolutely should have won on Saturday night, and because the Yankees also went 4-2 with several late-inning come from behind wins so there's no additional separation, it feels more like an OK week than a really good one.

  • It didn't feel like a really good week, or even an OK one, for the Toronto Blue Jays, who won on Monday to raise their lead in the AL East to 3 1/2 games, and proceeded to lose their next six. For the first time since April 14, they'll take the field without a share of first place in the East. It's possible, and maybe even likely, that they've spent their last day in first for 2009.

  • For the first time this year, the Red Sox have strung together a bunch of good to very good starting pitching performances. Before Matsuzaka's start on Friday night, they'd had five straight starts with 2 or fewer earned runs allowed. Beckett followed with another outstanding performance on Saturday. And Matsuzaka wasn't bad on Friday, but was hurt, as they so often have been, by the defense being subpar behind him.

  • How much of this streak is due to Boston pitching, and how much is due to Toronto and NY Mets offensive weakness is not clear. Whatever the cause, this is probably the best 10 game stretch the starters have had this year. They've pitched 65 1/3 innings over the last 10 games, with an ERA of 3.58. They had a slightly lower ERA (3.45) from April 18-April 28, but only threw 57 1/3 innings. The 10-game WHIP of 1.31 is easily the best stretch of the season thus far. This is far more like what we expected to see than much of what we've seen.

  • The next 10 could be tough. They're heading out on the road for 11 days to visit three venues where they've not traditionally had unlimited success. But, while they haven't played the best ball in the AL so far, I still see them as the best team in the AL, and still expect them to win the East.

  • Red Sox Player of the Week: This is a tough call. Too tough, and so I'm going to split the award and give out co-Player of the Week honors. The more spectacular numbers were from Jason Varitek, who hit .385/.429/1.077/1.506 with three home runs. Dustin Pedroia hit .409/.500/.545/1.045. Varitek's numbers are, as already noted, more spectacular, but OBP is more valuable than SLG, and the key factor in the decision to split was Pedroia's performance covered 26 plate appearances and all six games that the team played, while Varitek only had 14 plate appearances in four games.

  • Red Sox Pitcher of the Week: Josh Beckett. They ended up losing the game Saturday night, but not because of Beckett, who allowed only one run, none earned, in eight excellent innings of work.

AL Pythagorean Projection Report - 5/25/2009




Tampa Bay5.72(1)4.83(8)0.577(3)27192323-4




Los Angeles4.91(9)4.77(7)0.513(7)222123201

Kansas City4.32(12)4.23(1)0.51(8)222222220

New York5.52(2)5.5(12)0.502(9)222225193






Top 5 projections (using current winning %)




New York9270

Top 5 projections (starting with today's record, using Pythagorean winning %)




Tampa Bay9072

Standings for the week



Tampa Bay7.86(1)4.29(7)0.752(2)5243-1


New York6.43(3)4.29(7)0.677(4)52520

Los Angeles5.14(5)3.57(4)0.661(5)52520







Kansas City2.83(13)5.17(12)0.25(12)15241



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