Monday, September 21, 2009

Monday Pythagorean, 9/21/2009

Despite the fact that they haven't poured champagne yet, this goes into the books as the week the Red Sox all but wrapped up their post-season berth.

  • Yes, yes, the magic number is still seven, and a statement like that above seems to be filled with hubris and begging the baseball Gods to play the part of Nemesis. But this week saw their lead in the Wild Card grow from 4 games with 20 left to play all the way to 8 games with 14 left to play, as Boston went 5-1 and Texas went 1-5. They have not yet mathematically clinched a playoff spot. But they only need to go 7-7, regardless of what anyone else does, even if the Rangers win out (which they won't) and the Sox got 11 left with Kansas City, Toronto and Cleveland. Realistically, it's over, and it's very likely that the champagne will have been poured when I post this report next week.

  • Not only have they opened up an almost certainly insurmountable lead in the Wild Card race, they've re-awakened the possibility of taking the East. With New York losing 2-of-3 to Seattle over the weekend, the Yankee lead is down to 4 in the loss column. The Yankees spend the next three days in LAnaheim, while Boston has four in Kansas City. It is certainly conceivable that the Yankee lead could be down to three when the Sox start a series in Yankee Stadium next Friday. If that's the case, the Red Sox actually have control of their own destiny with regards to the division. If the Red Sox were to sweep that series in New York, they'd leave tied in the loss column. Boston's seven games after that series are at home against Toronto and Cleveland. New York has three at home against the Royals and three in Tampa against the Rays. And, again, assuming a Boston sweep, the Red Sox would be division champions in the event of a tie. OK, it remains very unlikely. But it looked impossible a couple of weeks ago, and that is no longer the case.

  • Let's at least be clear about this much - the Red Sox are a lot closer to the Yankees than the Rangers are to the Red Sox.

  • There's no reason to think that anyone else is significantly more likely to win the World Series than the Red Sox.

  • Daisuke Matsuzaka appears to be back. This is a good thing. This is a guy who has been a good-to-very good Major League pitcher. Yes, it's been a wasted season for him. But if his four or five regular season starts get him ready to perform in the post-season, well, it's not a totally wasted season.

  • I think that the whole "the Red Sox are in the Angels heads" thing is vastly overrated. (Tell me that one team was ever more "in someone's head" than the NY Yankees were in the Red Sox' heads on the morning of October 17, 2004.) But it had to drive the Angels crazy that they lost 2-of-3 to a team whose beaten them in the post-season three times in the last decade, a team they expect to see in the post-season yet again in a couple of weeks, playing without their two best hitters.

  • The Red Sox held on to Clay Buchholz despite numerous attempts, some serious, by others to pry him away. We're starting to see why. In his last 9 starts, he's 5-2 with a 2.64 ERA and more than 6 innings pitched per start. And one of those was a 4 1/3 inning, 7 run bomb, so that tells you how good the other 8 have been.

  • All of the starters have been at least good. In September, the starters have an ERA of 3.21. In their last 12 games, they haven't had a starter go less than five or allow more than three runs, putting up an ERA of 1.98 over that span.

  • Red Sox Player of the Week: - Jacoby Ellsbury had another great week, hitting .423/.483/.692/1.175. I like the three walks more than the HR, frankly, because what he needs to do is reach base. But the player of the week is Jason Bay who fought off the flu and opposing pitching to the tune of .471/.550/1.000/1.550 with 3 HR.

  • Red Sox Pitcher of the Week: - While the staff as a whole pitched effectively for most of the week, and it seems unfair to keep going with the guy who got two starts, in this case it's appropriate. Daisuke Matsuzaka came off the DL to win twice in 6 days, going 11 2/3 innings and allowing 3 runs.

AL Pythagorean Projection Report - 9/21/2009



New York5.71(1)4.7(8)0.588(2)886295557

Los Angeles5.51(2)4.78(11)0.565(3)846589605

Tampa Bay4.97(4)4.58(6)0.537(4)81697773-4










Kansas City4.23(13)5.06(12)0.419(14)62876188-1

Top 5 projections (using current winning %)
New York10359


Los Angeles9765



Top 5 projections (starting with today's record, using Pythagorean winning %)
New York10260


Los Angeles9666



Standings for the week



Kansas City6.5(1)3.5(4)0.756(2)5142-1



Tampa Bay5.14(4)3.29(3)0.694(5)52520

Los Angeles4.29(7)4.14(7)0.516(6)4334-1

New York4.5(6)4.67(9)0.483(7)33330








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