Monday, September 02, 2013

Monday Pythagorean, 9/2/2013

A good 4-2 week on the road is followed by an even better 5-1 week at home...

  • Not only did the Red Sox play very well, the Rays struggled through a 1-6 week. That combination has the Red Sox now up by 5 1/2 games in the East, their biggest lead since early July.

  • It goes without saying (but I'm going to say it anyway) that the dictionary definition of "insurmountable lead" does not encompass a 5 1/2 game lead on September 2.

  • That said, I'd rather be in the Sox' position than the Rays'.

  • Felix Doubront's outing on Sunday (4 runs, 3 2/3 innings) broke a string of 11 consecutive games in which Red Sox starters gave up three runs or fewer. (In fact, even adding in the performance of the bullpen, the team as a whole allowed three runs or fewer in 11 straight games.) In ten of those 11, they went 6+ innings. It's not surprising that the team went 8-3 over that stretch.

  • The Red Sox have the best record in the AL at 82-56. They trail only the Detroit Tigers in run differential in all of Major League baseball, having outscored their opponents by 140 runs. (The Cardinals have also outscored their opponents by 140. The Tigers run differential is 165.) Their 698 runs scored are also second to the Tigers.

  • The Rays have still played one more home game, and four fewer road games, than the Red Sox.

  • If Boston goes 12-12 down the stretch, they'll finish the season at 94-68. Tampa would need to go 19-8 (.704) to get to 94 wins. Baltimore (72-63) would need to go 22-5. New York (72-64) would need to go 22-4. If Boston goes 14-10 (.583, a little worse than their season so far), they'd finish with 96 wins. Tampa would need to got 21-6, Baltimore 24-3 and New York 24-2.

  • Again, it's not over yet. But the Red Sox just need to play well.

  • I liked a lot of what Ben Cherington did in the off-season, but I didn't care for the Victorino signing. I thought it was too much money for too long for a not-very-good player. I was wrong in all aspects of that reaction, and Cherington was right. Victorino has been excellent.

  • I knew that Koji Uehara had pitched well this year. I knew that he'd been dependable and reliable as a closer, with a minimum of stress and strain associated with getting games finished. But I took a look at the numbers, and they're staggering. We're talking better-than-1980-Eckersley, better-than-1984-Willie-Hernandez, video game numbers. In his 29 appearances since being moved into the closer role, he's pitched 31 1/3 innings. He's allowed two (2) runs, of which one (1) was earned. (That earned run was allowed back in June.) He's faced 105 batters, of which 12 have reached - 10 hits and two walks. He's got 41 strikeouts. ERA: .287. WHIP: .383. His strikeout to walk ratio is 20.5. He's unscored upon in 21 consecutive appearances now, covering 24 innings. He has been as close to perfect, and as valuable as someone who only pitches the ninth, can possibly be.

  • At one point people were questioning whether Jon Lester should be the one bumped from the rotation when Clay Buchholz returned. But since July 1st, his ERA is 3.04 in 11 games. In his last five starts, Lester's averaged 7 innings per game with a 1.8 ERA. Maybe we gave up on him a little too soon.

  • David Ortiz' 4th inning single on Friday night ended a string of 23 consecutive hitless at-bats over six games. And while we haven't seen him go deep yet, he ended up going five for nine over the weekend against Chicago, so Papi's worst slump of the year appears to be over.

  • We're one good week away from magic numbers.

  • Of course, we're probably only one bad week away from meltdown panic. September 2011 is too recent to derive much comfort from any of the rest of these numbers.

  • The top 10 things that Boston Red Sox fans are not saying as September starts:
    Maybe the Red Sox should try Tim Tebow in the bullpen.
    Too bad they weren't able to make that Dodger trade without giving up Carl Crawford…
    I still don't know why the team is jerking around Alfredo Aceves.
    A 4 1/2 game lead on September 1st? The division is a lock!
    Major League Baseball really needs to stop picking on ARod.
    Why haven't they cut John Lackey yet?
    The rotatation would be much stronger if Beckett were still here.
    Koji who? They need a REAL closer!
    Wait 'til next year!

    And the number one thing that Red Sox fans are not saying as September starts...

    I miss Bobby Valentine…

  • What the heck. Magic number: Any combination of Red Sox wins and Tampa losses totalling 21 ensures that the Red Sox finish ahead of Tampa. Any combination of Red Sox wins and Baltimore losses totalling 18 ensures that the the Red Sox finish ahead of Baltimore. Any combination of Red Sox wins and NY Yankees losses totalling 17 ensures that the the Red Sox finish ahead of NY Yankees. Any combination of Red Sox wins and Toronto losses totalling 6 ensures that the the Red Sox finish ahead of Toronto.

  • Red Sox Player of the Week - Another great week for Shane Victorino (.435/.519/.870/1.388, 8.93 runs created, 17.16 RC/25 outs).

  • Red Sox Pitcher of the Week - As already noted, the starters, with the exception of Doubront on Sunday, were all good. But Doubront was the only one who got two starts, and the best starter candidate was Peavy, with two runs allowed in seven innings. So, with 3 1/3 innings over three good outings, this is a good week to award Koji Uehara for his sustained excellence.

AL Pythagorean Projection Report - 9/2/2013
Tampa Bay4.36(9)4.01(4)0.537(5)736275602
Kansas City4.1(10)3.8(1)0.535(6)73637066-3
NY Yankees3.99(12)4.02(6)0.496(9)676972645
LA Angels4.54(5)4.72(12)0.482(10)65706372-2
Chicago Sox3.8(15)4.33(9)0.441(12)60755679-4

Top 5 projections (using current winning %)
Tampa Bay9072

Top 5 projections (starting with today's record, using Pythagorean winning %)
Tampa Bay9072

Standings for the week
Kansas City5.29(4)1.57(1)0.902(1)6152-1
LA Angels4.17(7)2.83(2)0.669(5)42511
NY Yankees4(8)4.17(7)0.481(7)33330
Chicago Sox4.83(6)5.33(13)0.455(8)3324-1
Tampa Bay2.14(14)4.43(11)0.209(14)16160

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