Monday, June 22, 2009

Monday Pythagorean, 6/22/2009

All things considered, this was the worst week of the past three1 for the Red Sox. When you're going 4-2 in your down weeks, things are going well.

  • Well, when the week started I said that Boston needed to sweep Florida to maintain their two-game lead over the Yankees, as New York was hosting the woeful Nationals. I could not have been more wrong, as Boston took 2-of-3 and extended their lead from 2 to 3 games in the AL East. Not only did the Yankees drop 2-of-3 to Washington, they flew to Florida and dropped 2-of-3 to the Marlins2, as well.

  • So not only are the Sox still in first, they've actually started to build a real lead, pushing it out to four games. They're headed out on the road for 9 games with bad (Washington, Baltimore) and so-so (Atlanta) teams, before coming home for a 10-game homestand prior to the All Star break, also against relatively weak competition. It's not unreasonable to hope and suppose that they might be up by 6 or 7 in the East when the All Star break gets here, and if so, they'll be very tough to catch.

  • According to the Baseball Prospectus Posteason Odds report, the Red Sox are one of three teams (the Cardinals and Dodgers are the other two) who are currently better than 50-50 to win their division.

  • Those other two teams are playing in significantly weaker divisions. By Pythagorean record, the four best teams in the American League are all in the AL East.

  • There was some grumbling from the Red Sox players after Thursday's 5-inning 2-1 loss to the Marlins, and that's understandable. The playing conditions were bad right from the start, and they played just long enough for the game to be official, at which point they called it with Boston down by only one. So that seems like some bad management and bad luck. But they really can't complain too much - this was a week in which the Yankees lost 2-of-3 to both Florida and Washington, and the Red Sox won a game on a Nick Green walk-off homer. As frustrating as Thursday was, the Baseball Gods were, on the whole, very generous to the Sox.

  • The offense was weak. All of the guys who were hot early are cold now, as Bay, Pedroia, Youkilis, Varitek and Lowell combined to hit just .184/.254/.301/.555 for the week. Fortunately, Mr. Ortiz has returned and if he isn't going to be peak Papi again, which I don't expect, he's likely still a good Major League hitter.

  • How good has Ortiz been in June? For the month, he's played in 17 games, and hit .308/.400/.654/1.054 with five HR. That's very good. I suspect that the real performance level isn't quite that high now, but it's sure nice to see. And it's come at a good time, as many of their best hitters have struggled this month.

  • So there's something actually physically wrong with Matsuzaka, which makes sense. I still think he's had some bad luck, but he's clearly not been right, and they reached a point where they had to deal with it. This is why you accumulate pitching depth, and they've got a ton of it. So Smoltz just fits into the rotation, everyone else keeps going, and they still have Buccholz and Bowden at Pawtucket, and Masterson in the 'pen.

  • Even with Matsuzaka struggling, the starting pitching has been excellent. In the last month (28 games), the starters have averaged 6.05 innings pitched with an ERA of 3.88. Without the guy who is now on the DL, they've averaged 6.4 innings pitched with an ERA of 3.19.

  • Every year in which Nick Green has hit a walk-off HR during a Braves-Red Sox game has finished with the Red Sox winning the World Series.

  • Red Sox Player of the Week: With 2 HR and a .316/.409/.737/1.146 line, it's David Ortiz for the second straight week. Honorable mention to Nick Green, who hit .353/.421/.647/1.068 in 19 AB, and closed out the Braves with a shot around the Pesky Pole on Sunday.

  • Red Sox Pitcher of the Week: For his 5-hit complete game shutout against the Braves on Saturday night, this one clearly goes to Josh Beckett.

1 - Why was this worse? Well, last week they went 5-1 against first place teams. The week before, they went 4-2 against first place teams, half of the games on the road. This week, they went 4-2 at home against weaker teams.

2 - Well, the Yankees lost 2-of-3 in Florida unless their protest of Sunday's game is upheld. There was a substitution irregularity, and apparenly one pitch thrown with a should-have-been ineligible outfielder in left. Doesn't seem to have affected the outcome, and it would be surprising to see the game replayed from that point, but until MLB rules, we don't know for sure.

AL Pythagorean Projection Report - 6/22/2009


Tampa Bay5.65(1)4.58(7)0.595(1)42293734-5



New York5.48(2)4.96(12)0.546(4)383138310




Los Angeles4.91(6)4.84(10)0.507(8)343336312






Kansas City4.15(13)4.93(11)0.422(14)293929390

Top 5 projections (using current winning %)

New York8973




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

Tampa Bay9171


New York8973


Standings for the week






Tampa Bay5.67(3)4.17(10)0.637(5)4233-1


Los Angeles5.5(4)4.33(11)0.607(7)42420





New York3(14)3(2)0.5(11)3324-1


Kansas City4.33(8)8.83(14)0.214(14)15150

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