Monday, April 29, 2013

Monday Pythagorean, 4/29/2013

The most memorable game of the week, for those of us in attendance, was a 13-0 loss in freezing mist on Tuesday night. Yet somehow, as they went 6-1, it was a good week anyway...
  • It's easy to look at the Pythagorean standings for the week and say, "well, the Red Sox are really lucky to have gone 6-1." And in one sense, that's true. But sometimes, it's not that straightforward. Sometimes, you can juggle a team's runs scored/allowed on a per game basis and come up with very different results. Not this week. The one loss was a) by 13 runs, b) in horrible weather conditions, c) allowed by two pitchers who are no longer on the roster, d) in a game in which they were down badly early against a good pitcher and never scored. So, you could say, "if they'd allowed 13 the night they scored 9, and scored 0 the day they allowed 1, they'd have lost two games." And that's true. But the other five games, they scored 6, 6, 7, 7 and 8, while allowing 2, 3, 4, 5 and 6. This was a week in which the actual record was more representative of their performance than the Pythagorean record was.
  • Of course, it didn't hurt to have that four-game home series against Houston. Or the three home games against the suddenly-struggling A's.
  • At 18-7, the Boston Red Sox have the best record in baseball. But they haven't been able to open up any breathing room in the AL East, with a lead of just 2 1/2 over the Yankees. Because the rest of the East, Blue Jays excepted, have been just as hot. Over the last 10 games, the Red Sox are 7-3. So are the Yankees, Orioles and Rays.
  • They also have, despite the one 13-run loss this week, the best run differential (+40) in the game, 12 runs better than the 2nd place Texas Rangers. I don't know whether the performance of the Red Sox has been a "fluke" thus far. Lester and Buchholz are obviously not going to maintain these numbers the whole way through, and some of the offensive performances may not be sustainable, either. (On the other hand, some of the offensive performances are bound to improve, and they're likely to get better performances out of the Lackey/Aceves spot in the rotation than they've gotten so far.) But what I can say, confidently, is that given they way they've performed thus far, the record is definitely not a "fluke." It's not built on an unsustainable perfect record in one-run games or anything like that.
  • Pre-season favorite Toronto, on the other hand is 9 1/2 games out already. April's not yet over, so the season's got a long way to go, but things don't look good for the Blue Jays for a couple of reasons. First, if they were as good as people expected them to be, it's unlikely that they would actually be 9-17 right now. Second, they're behind four other teams that are probably pretty good in their own division. Many things are possible, but this is a dreadful and dispiriting start for the Blue Jays.
  • I was tempted to give the Pitcher of the Week award to Alfredo Aceves. His epic third inning on Tuesday night (6 runs, 2 balks, mental and physical errors galore) made it easy for us to ward off frostbite by leaving the park after four innings. But decided that it wasn't a good enough reason.
  • That third-inning Aceves performance was memorable. Special. Four-pitch walk to the number 9 hitter to start the inning. Single and another walk to load the bases followed by walking in a run. Failing to cover on a ground ball to first, then throwing the ball away at home plate. Balking not once but twice.
  • David Ortiz is back. Not just in a "off the DL and back in the lineup sense," where his name gets written in and we get at-bats without production, but in the "holy cow, this guy can carry a team" sense. Can he keep it up? Obviously not at this pace, but can he be one of the best 10-15 hitters in the league? He looks like it, and if he is, this suddenly has the potential to be a very good offensive team, and an excellent team overall.
  • Will Middlebrooks (.269/.296/.577/.873) hit the ball better this week. And even walked once. And the .269 BA is fine, and the .577 SLG is very good. But the .296 OBP is not good, and if that's what they're going to get - tons of outs with occasional power and decent defense - they can probably live with it for a while down at the bottom of the lineup, but it's much less than what they hope for out of him. And they need to be looking for the next 3rd baseman. In fact, his approach is such that, with his OBP (.232) so far under water, it's unlikely to get to .300 before the All Star break.
  • A bit of a down week for Daniel Nava (.280/.333/.400/.733) still featured two walks and three doubles. And a fantastic catch to end Sunday's game.
  • Red Sox Player of the Week - Welcome back, David Ortiz (.478/.500/.913/1.413), who had four doubles and two HR among his 11 hits on the week, and looks, at least in the tiny sample we've seen so far, like the Big Papi of 9-10 years ago.
  • Red Sox Pitcher of the Week - If for no other reason than his return relegates Alfredo Aceves to the PawSox, this would go to John Lackey this week. But we got more than that, as he continued to build upon his strong spring and decent first appearance with 6 innings of one-run ball in his return to the mound. Honorable mention to Andrew Bailey, who allowed two baserunners in three scoreless one-inning appearances, while striking out 5.

AL Pythagorean Projection Report - 4/29/2013
Kansas City4.36(7)3.59(3)0.588(5)1391390
NY Yankees4.67(5)4.04(6)0.565(6)14101591
Tampa Bay4.12(10)3.88(4)0.527(8)13121213-1
Chicago Sox3.46(14)4(5)0.434(11)101410140
LA Angels4.04(11)4.96(13)0.408(12)1014915-1

Top 5 projections (using current winning %)
NY Yankees10161
Kansas City9666

Top 5 projections (starting with today's record, using Pythagorean winning %)
Kansas City9567

Standings for the week
Tampa Bay5(6)3.14(1)0.7(3)5243-1
Kansas City5.6(3)4.4(10)0.609(5)32320
NY Yankees3.43(11)3.43(4)0.5(8)43521
Chicago Sox3.67(10)4.83(11)0.376(13)24331
LA Angels3.29(14)5.14(13)0.306(14)25250

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