Monday, June 01, 2009

Monday Pythagorean, 6/1/2009

At 3-4, for the Red Sox this was the worst week since the first week.

  • I've written, many times, on the role of luck and sequentiality in baseball. This week was a great example. The Red Sox offense was, from a runs scored perspective (and that's really the bottom line number), very weak. Even including Sunday's eight run outburst, they scored fewer than four runs per game, 10th in the AL. But the component's of that offense weren't quite that bad. Using Bill James Runs Created metric, they produced enough hits, extra-base hits and walks to score a little over 35 runs. Instead, because of the sequences in which they produced the offense, they were limited to 27 actual runs scored.

  • Some would argue that this means that they were chokers this week. That they couldn't get a hit with runners in scoring position because they were mentally weak, that they weren't focused or something. I think it's just luck. That's the way it goes. Sometimes you create 35 and score 43, sometimes you create 35 and you score 27. Simple variation, law of averages stuff.

  • I'm not sure what, exactly, the point of moving Ortiz down in the lineup was. Some said it was "to take the pressure off and get him started," but, for someone concerned about who is batting behind him, taking him out from in front of Youkilis strikes me as counter-productive. Others said it was, "because you can't win with a number 3 hitter as bad as Ortiz has been." Which is true long term, but not an argument for moving him down - if this is what he is as a hitter, you've got to replace him, because you can't win getting that performance from any of your hitters. Getting that performance from your number six hitter may be marginally less damaging than getting it from your number three hitter, but only marginally, and we're talking about really small margins. No, if Ortiz is done, if this is his real performance level now, you can't keep him in the lineup at all. If he isn't, the question is, "how do you get him going again?" I'm skeptical that moving him down in the lineup does that. So, while I understand that there was enormous fan and media sentiment for the kind of move Francona made this week, I'm very skeptical about its potential efficacy.

  • While the Sox were playing this desultory and dreary brand of ball, the Yankees continued a streak that saw them win 14 of 17 to move into first place in the East. If Boston were 3-2 against the Yankees instead of 5-0, the Red Sox would currently be 4 1/2 games out of first place.

  • It looked like a three-team race when the season started, but with Tampa's loss of Iwamura, Percival and Kazmir, and the slow start leading to the current 5 1/2 game deficit despite having outperformed Boston and New York in the pythagorean standings, we could conceivably be, once again, looking at a two-team race in the AL East. A lot depends on what David Price's growing pains look like. If they're short and mild, Tampa may climb back into contention. If he goes the Buccholz/Hughes route, well, probably not.

  • Toronto's losing streak ended at nine, but that was enough, I think, to remove them from first permanently in 2009.

  • Red Sox Player of the Week: Getting monotonous, but until someone else steps up, it is, once again, Keven Youkilis, who hit .292/.400/.625/1.025 with two more home runs. Youk is making a case to follow-up his teammate's MVP award with one of his own.

  • Red Sox Pitcher of the Week: Tough call. Three good-to-excellent relief performances for Okajima, two for Bard. Penny made two decent starts, Beckett one excellent one. Going to go with quality over quantity among the starters, and quantity over quality between the starters and relievers, and give it to Josh Beckett this week, one start, seven innings, three hits, one run, eight strikeouts.

AL Pythagorean Projection Report - 6/1/2009





Tampa Bay5.55(2)4.91(9)0.556(4)29242528-4


New York5.66(1)5.26(12)0.533(6)272329212


Los Angeles4.76(10)4.98(10)0.479(8)232625242



Kansas City4.18(13)4.62(5)0.454(11)232723270




Top 5 projections (using current winning %)

New York9468




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




New York8973

Standings for the week



New York6.67(2)3.5(2)0.765(2)5142-1








Tampa Bay4.43(8)5.43(10)0.408(10)3425-1


Los Angeles3.67(11)6.5(13)0.26(12)24240


Kansas City3.17(13)7.5(14)0.171(14)15150

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