Monday, June 01, 2009

Red Sox: May audit

Two months into the season, the AL East is shaping up as extremely competitive, albeit possibly at worse records than we expected. As for the Red Sox, they played better in April than they did in May. The pitching was slightly better in May, but the offense a lot weaker. From a runs scored/runs allowed perspective, they were the third best team in the AL in April, only the sixth best AL team in May. They actually finished April with the best record in the AL, but only had the sixth best AL record in May.

Standings:



AL Pythagorean Standings for the month of May
ProjectedActual

R/G(rank)RA/G(rank)Pythagorean(rank)WLWLLuck

Texas5.1(6)3.69(1)0.644(1)19102091

Detroit5.14(5)3.79(2)0.637(2)18101711-1

New York5.54(3)4.54(5)0.59(3)171117110

Minnesota5.6(2)4.6(7)0.589(4)18121416-4

Tampa Bay6.13(1)5.23(11)0.572(5)17131614-1

Boston4.86(7)4.45(3)0.541(6)16131514-1

Toronto4.41(10)4.45(3)0.496(7)141514150

Cleveland5.23(4)5.3(12)0.494(8)15151416-1

Los Angeles4.57(9)4.68(8)0.489(9)141416122

Baltimore4.62(8)4.97(9)0.467(10)141514150

Chicago4.11(12)4.57(6)0.451(11)131513150

Oakland4.34(11)5.69(14)0.379(12)111811180

Kansas City4(13)5.32(13)0.372(13)101811171

Seattle3.59(14)5.03(10)0.35(14)101911181


In the East, they were 1/2 a game behind the Rays and 2 1/2 behind the Yankees for the month, and 1 game better than the Blue Jays and Orioles.



AL East - May 2009
Tm W L W-L% GB RS RA

NYY 17110.607-- 155127

TBR 16140.5332184157

BOS 15140.5172.5141129

BAL 14150.4833.5134144

TOR 14150.4833.5128129


They began the month in a virtual tie for first with Toronto, two games ahead of the Yankees...



AL East - End of April 2009
Tm W L W-L% GB RS RA

BOS 1480.636-- 126107

TOR 1590.625-- 142112

NYY 12100.5452128136

BAL 9130.4095116144

TBR 9140.3915.5110103


...and finished it 1/2 a game behind New York.



AL East - End of May 2009
Tm W L W-L% GB RS RA

NYY 2921.580 - 283263

BOS 2922.5690.5267236

TOR 2924.5471.5270241

TBR 2528.4725.5294260

BAL 2328.4516.5250288


  • Part of the reason for the weakness of the Red Sox performance may be related to a schedule discrepancy. Over the past several years, they've been a decent team on the road but a great team at home. Well, in May, they played only 11 home games vs. 18 on the road. For the season, they've got five more home games remaining than road games.



Offense:

This table 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.)

The Red Sox scored 141 runs in May, an average of 4.86 per game.



Red Sox hitters - May 2009
PlayerGamesGSABRuns Hits 2B3BHRRBIBBSBCSSHSFGDPCIBAOBASPctOPSRCRC/25

Jason Bay 2828106192880103014300040.264.355.623.97822.36.8

Dustin Pedroia 272710422388011317511150.365.455.471.92622.07.4

Jacoby Ellsbury 27271201637710661141000.308.346.383.73016.94.8

Mike Lowell 28281141335904123000060.307.325.491.81615.64.6

J.D. Drew 27258917235041315010100.258.368.449.81715.35.6

Kevin Youkilis 16165511185041610000120.327.441.6361.07814.39.0

Jason Varitek 2222789184061210000210.231.311.513.82412.75.0

Julio Lugo 20187081921136100000.271.329.371.7009.24.5

Nick Green 17145351750084120030.321.368.415.7846.64.0

Jeff Bailey 19165971131266000040.186.304.373.6775.82.8

David Ortiz 242491613601615000030.143.278.242.5205.61.7

Rocco Baldelli 98323811251000000.250.273.531.8044.74.9

George Kottaras 117275740042000100.259.300.407.7073.54.2

Jonathan Van Every 2160200010000000.333.333.333.667.64.0

Gil Velazquez 1000000000000000.0001.000.0001.000.3 -


Team27826110041412746743513510921826280.273.350.452.802155.25.0


  • Kevin Youkilis and Dustin Pedroia are doing everything in their power to make Theo Epstein look like a genius. Youkilis has been hot from the word "go," and that continued in May despite missing two weeks to injury. Pedroia's been fighting a groin strain that's cut down on his swing and his power, but all he did in May was hit .365/.455/.471/.926.


  • They aren't the only ones hitting. Jason Bay had another very good month, as did J.D. Drew. And I didn't expect six home runs from Jason Varitek this year, never mind in one month, as he hit in May.


  • But there are problems. Jacoby Ellsbury hit .307 and stole bases, but hit for no power and took few walks. That's not good enough to make him a good Major League leadoff hitter. For him to be productive without significantly increasing his power, he's got to get his OBP up to at least .375. In order to do that, he's got to hit .330-.340, or he has to walk. There are people who think that he's a budding star. I'm more pessimistic about his future now than I have been at any time before now. He's an OK player, giving you good defense and exciting base-running, but he's not a good offensive player, and won't be without adding something to his game.


  • The team continues to miss Jed Lowrie. The SS tandem of LuGreen (or GreenGo - your pick) is not a problem offensively, though not a great asset either. The rest of the SS comment comes later.


  • The big problem is, of course, the BIG problem. Is David Ortiz done? He's certainly done nothing positive so far. Indeed, much to my shock and horror, he followed up an awful April (.230/.290/.333/.623) by doing something I'd not thought possible - having a worse - significantly worse - May (.143/.278/.242/.520). So, is he done? I don't know the answer, but I know this - I lived through the last days of Jim Rice, and this is frighteningly reminiscent of that. David Ortiz has been a tremendous hitter for the Boston Red Sox. The organization owes him consideration for all that he's done, and they still owe him money. What they don't owe him is continued at-bats if this is all that he's capable of. I'm not the one to make that decision, and I'm glad that it's not mine to make, but something has to be done, because right now he's hurting the team. Badly.


Pitching:

The Red Sox allowed 129 runs in May, an average of 4.45 per game.



Red Sox pitchers - May 2009
PlayerGamesGSCGGFW L WPctSvShoIPHRERHRBBKHBPBKWP ERAK9BB9HR9

Hideki Okajima 1100000-0012 1/3600021200008.761.460

Daniel Bard 600100-008 1/37110370001.087.563.240

Takashi Saito 1000900-00108220292001.88.11.80

Josh Beckett 5500301003428119312281002.387.413.180.79

Ramon Ramirez 14004220.50013 2/39441580012.635.273.290.66

Manny Delcarmen 1100301000912430282013820

Jonathan Papelbon 1100100107011 2/3114425151003.0911.573.861.54

Brad Penny 6600310.750036 2/346181726281004.176.871.470.49

Justin Masterson 74010200032351818413255015.067.033.661.12

Jon Lester 6600330.50035 1/3412323614411025.8610.443.571.53

Daisuke Matsuzaka 22000200010147715100046.394.50.9

Tim Wakefield 6600420.6670034 1/3432626519215016.825.54.981.31

Javier Lopez 300100-00474411200094.52.252.25

David H Jones 400000-003 2/377714200117.184.919.822.45


Totals1022902915143.417702552741291252693216180114.417.623.28.92


  • One of the early concerns was Josh Beckett, who finished the month of April at 2-2 with an ERA over 7. In 5 May starts, he averaged nearly 7 innings per game, going 3-0 with a 2.38 ERA. I'd say that we can stop worrying about Beckett for the time being.


  • The next concern would be Jon Lester, who also had a rocky April. Unlike Beckett, he had a rocky May as well. He had a couple of outstanding performances, but has far too often had decent starts ruined by one very bad inning, the kind of very bad inning that he never seemed to have in 2008. And he hasn't been able to "build momentum" by stacking solid starts in succession. There doesn't seem to be anything wrong with him, but he's giving up to many HR, too many big innings, and not showing the kind of consistency that he showed last year. Until he gets straightened out, he's the biggest concern in the starting rotation.


  • Well, many would disagree with that last comment and say that Matsuzaka is the biggest concern in the starting rotation. I disagree. He's come back from the DL and pitched close to the way he pitched last year. He's exasperating to watch, with too many baserunners, too many pitches, too much time between pitches and all the rest that comes with the Daisuke package. That said, I expect him to be fine, and effective and productive. Some of the criticism he'll take this year will relate to his W/L record, because too many people don't recognize how little that actually tells about a starting pitcher. It won't be as good as last year's, but he can, and I expect will, be an effective starting pitcher for the rest of this year without it being very good.


  • Tim Wakefield saved the staff in April. In May, his 6.82 was the worst on the club, save for Javier Lopez and Hunter Jones who are no longer here.


  • Brad Penny had a good month, going over 6 innings per start with a better than league average ERA, increasing his value to the team both staying and as a potential trade chip. Which is very possible, as John Smoltz is probably within two weeks of being ready, and they've already got eight starters (if you include Masterson, Buccholz and Bowden.)


  • The 'pen wasn't quite as stellar as in April, but they've continued to pitch well. They took four losses as opposed to two in April. (W/L is not particularly meaningful for starters, but losses can be a useful metric for relievers - they have to have been in late in a situation where their team was ahead or tied in order to get them.)


  • Daniel Bard made his Major League debut and has been outstanding, allowing only 1 run over 8 1/3 innings in six appearances. The depth of the system continues to shine.


  • "Pitching" includes, of course, defense. And they've got a problem here. I said earlier that they were missing Jed Lowrie - this is why. They've got two shortstops right now, and neither is capable of playing shortstop at a Major League level right now. But Lowrie should be back this month, and that should fix that problem...

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