Monday, April 11, 2011

Monday Pythagorean, 4/11/2011

Switching genres, from last week's spaghetti western, to the big budget disaster film, Titanic, as the "Unsinkable Boston Red Sox" continue to take on water. I don't expect to see Terry Francona standing at the top of the dugout steps shouting, "I'm King of the World!" any time soon.

  • 0-3 in Texas? Disappointing, but the Rangers are a pretty good team. 0-3 in Cleveland? That's when we start to wonder whether they're as good as we thought they were going to be.
  • How do you get to 0-6 or 1-7? By playing badly. Doing everything wrong. It's not enough to just pitch badly and hit poorly, you've also got to do that when it counts the most. Doing things like going 1-17 with the runners in scoring position, or walking the weak-hitting number 9 hitter leading off the 8th inning of a tie game, or having the potential tying run get thrown out rounding the second base bag too far to end a game, or allowing eight or nine runs in a game where you score four while scoring one in a game where you allow three and scoring none in a game where you allow one. Those are the things that 1-7 teams do, and the Red Sox did all of them on their way to 1-7.
  • One of the things that most people (well, many people) expect is that, with Crawford and Ellsbury, the Red Sox will lead the league in stolen bases this year. This week, they had two. Of course, the fact that Crawford and Ellsbury put up a .286 OBP for the week - if you add their separate .143s together - is going to keep them from running much, other than back to the dugout after that right turn at first base. On the whole, the Red Sox outfielders hit .181/.234/.194/.428 for the week, and only .115/.148/.115/.264 if you leave out Drew. There's room for much debate over where, exactly, to set the "it's good enough to win with" line, but any reasonable drawing of said line is way above that.
  • For the week, the team hit .246/.342/.322/.664. If you're going to hit like that, you have to get paranoid about leaving runners on base, because you don't have enough of them, and you can't score enough to win without getting most of them in. This team's going to score runs, not because they're going to perform better with runners in scoring position, though they will, but because they're going to perform better in all situations.
  • I said all winter that it was unrealistic to expect Buchholz to be as good this year as he was last year. Well, it's not unrealistic to expect him to be better than he's been thus far. Two starts, one so-so, one stinker. It's been a very Lester-April-ish performance thus far.
  • I have less confidence in John Lackey. Yeah, he got the win on Friday (which is just one more small addition to the mountain of evidence that pitcher wins are meaningless), but stunk in the process. I've got more confidence in Matsuzaka than Lackey right now. (Which is not the same as saying I'd rather watch Matsuzaka pitch. They both make for horrible viewing experiences...)
  • All that said, last night's performance changes the feeling of the week in a couple of important ways. Many people felt, coming in to the season, that the performance of Josh Beckett was going to be a key to their performance this year. Last night, he threw as well as he's thrown in two years, putting up a dominant performance against a team that, frankly, has owned him recently. The legend of "Josh Beckett, Yankee Killer" dates back to game 6 of the 2003 World Series, but his ERA against them in a Red Sox uniform is over 6, and, before last night, his last six starts against NY, dating back to mid-August 2009, had seen him allow 39 runs (37 earned) in only 34 innings. To watch that performance last night, to see Beckett completely shut down the Yankees, was so encouraging that it almost - almost - overshadows all of the negatives for the week.
  • Here's the other thing - by taking two of three against the Yankees, they've not only broken the ice, as it were, and kind of gotten the season rolling, they've stopped the deficit from growing. As bad as the first two weeks have been, they're four games behind Baltimore with 153 games to play. They're three behind Toronto and New York, and they're ahead of Tampa. It's easy to imagine them getting to the end of April within a game or two of .500 and within a game or two of first place. It was not the start that any of us were looking for, but it is likely to be only an interesting historical footnote by the time the All Star break rolls around.
  • Red Sox Player of the Week: - Dustin Pedroia led the assault on Yankee pitching with a .692/.733/1.154/1.887 weekend. For the week, he hit .458/.519/.708/1.227, with one HR and three doubles, while playing stellar defense and reminding everyone that he won an MVP just two years ago.
  • Red Sox Pitcher of the Week: - Yeah, you all think it looks obvious now, but I was pretty convinced that this was going to be Jon Lester, who was stellar in Cleveland with nothing to show for it. And Beckett, don't forget, gave up three runs while struggling to get through five against the Indians on Monday, and that counts for this week, too. But he was so dominant last night, against the Yankees, that Josh Beckett gets the nod (in a tight decision over Lester) and wins the coveted Lyford Red Sox Pitcher of the Week award, the first one of 2011.

AL Pythagorean Projection Report - 4/11/2011
Los Angeles4.33(8)3.78(5)0.562(5)54540
Kansas City5.44(5)5(9)0.539(7)54631
New York5.56(4)5.22(10)0.528(8)54540
Tampa Bay2.22(14)4.89(8)0.191(14)2718-1
Top 5 projections (using current winning %)
Kansas City10854
Top 5 projections (starting with today's record, using Pythagorean winning %)
Los Angeles9171
Standings for the week
Los Angeles4.2(6)2.6(3)0.706(3)41410
Kansas City5.6(2)5.4(13)0.517(5)32320
New York4.5(5)4.67(9)0.483(8)33330
Tampa Bay2.83(12)5.33(12)0.239(13)15150

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