Monday, May 12, 2014

Monday Pythagorean - 5/12/2014

4-1 is a always a good week, and the Red Sox continue to climb out of the early hole for which they dug themselves.
  • Sisyphus triumphant!

  • You knew that was coming, right? When the Red Sox won on Tuesday to get to one game under .500 - again - the probability of a Sisyphus reference appearing in this article this week rose to approximately one.

  • On their ninth try, they made it back to .500. They immediately fell back, but then won their next two to get back to .500 and then go over it.

  • They are still negative in run differential, having been outscored by four on the season. But they are coming back, from a low point of -17 on April 24.

  • They have finally swept a series, taking two of two from the Reds. But they still have not put together a winning streak longer than two games on the season. Having won the last two in Texas, they'll take the field in Minnesota tomorrow night with the opportunity to erase that particular blemish.

  • The offense continues to be hit-or-miss. [Ok, that's pretty much the definition of offense in baseball, but I use it here in a metaphorical sense.] They have been inconsistent at best. Of course, the 4.2 runs/game average on the week, which is only 9th best in the AL, is largely the result of a) a spectacular performance from Yu Darvish on Friday night and b) the fact that they only played five games, so it represented 20% of the week's performance, as opposed to 16% if they had played six or 14% if they had played seven. They were shut-out in that game, nearly no-hit, but in the other four, they averaged 5.25 runs, which would have been good for 2nd in the AL on the week. That's the way it works with small sample sizes - one game can have a disproportionate impact.

  • Darvish was absolutely outstanding, but a couple of things - the perfect game should not have been intact in the seventh, because he threw ball four to Pierzynski in the third, and the umpire called it strike three. And Ortiz should have had two hits on the night, because that ball that dropped in the seventh, without being touched, with miscommunication causing neither fielder to make a play on it, is always ruled a hit. Everyone knows that it really shouldn't be, but mental errors are never ruled errors, and the no-hitter would have been tainted by a gift ruling from the official scorer.

  • The big dogs carried their weight, and then some, offensively this week. The team created only 18.4 runs this week, though they managed to score 21. Nearly 60% of the runs created (11.0) came from two players, David Ortiz and Dustin Pedroia. They combined to hit (.400/.500/.675/1.175, 11.02 runs created, 10.20 RC/25 outs) while the rest of the team produced (.192/.279/.223/.502, 7.67 runs created, 1.71 RC/25 outs).

  • I mentioned at the time that I thought we might look back on the 14-5 loss to the Yankees as the low point of the season. It's still too early to tell, but it's worth noting that, in the 2 1/2 weeks since then, they've gone 9-5, tied with the Orioles for the best record in the East. Their .601 pythagorean record over that stretch is the best in their division and 3rd best in the AL, behind Detroit and Oakland. They've averaged 4.64 runs/game, sixth best in the AL, and 3.71 runs allowed/game, 3rd best in the AL. And they've played no games against Houston or Minnesota in that stretch (but they have played three with Texas)...

  • After Dustin Pedroia led off Sunday's game with a double, Shane Victorino sacrified him to third. And, with a left-handed pitcher on the mound, the Rangers then intentionally walked David Ortiz. At which point I turned to my son and said, "both of these teams are trying to lose. The Red Sox are trying to minimize their run scoring, and the Rangers are trying to inflate it back up..." I'm not a fan of sacrifice bunts or intentional walks as a general rule, and in the first inning of a game in May in Texas? Preposterous...

  • I do not know what's the matter with Clay Buchholz. It looked, for a time, as if he might be getting back into form, but every time that happens, we seem to get another stinker like Friday night's disaster in Texas. That was the third time in his seven 2014 starts that he's allowed 6 earned runs without getting through the fifth inning. They cannot keep putting him out there if he's going to be this much of a disaster. I don't know whether there is something physically wrong with him or mentally wrong with him or mechanically wrong with him, but there is clearly something wrong with him, and they need to get it fixed. They don't need him to be what he was at the start of the 2013 season (though that would certainly be nice) but they need him to be a competent and consistent Major League starting pitcher, and right now, he is not. He's been ok-pretty good (four starts, 6 1/3 innings per, 2.84 ERA) or dreadful (3 starts, 3 2/3 innings per, 14.72 ERA). They can't keep putting that 14.72 ERA out there every 10th day, which is what's happened thus far.

  • He's still got pretty good numbers for the season, but it was a rough week for Xander Bogaerts (.063/.118/.063/.180, -.75 runs created, -1.24 RC/25 outs).

  • Even a good performance from Felix Doubront, as we got this week against Cincinnati, still feels shaky, with five hits and three walks in 5 1/3 innings of work. Only one run allowed, and the bullpen and offense got the team (though not Doubront) the win. If you get a 5 1/3 inning, one-run performance from your starter, you should be in pretty good shape, but I'd love to think that that's not the ceiling for Doubront, and I'd love for it not to feel so tenuous when it happen.

  • Red Sox Player of the Week - As mentioned above, there really were only two candidates. David Ortiz (.421/.522/.684/1.206, 5.58 runs created, 11.63 RC/25 outs) was slightly more productive offensive, but when you consider total value, including defense, the award clearly has to go to Dustin Pedroia (.381/.480/.667/1.147, 5.43 runs created, 9.05 RC/25 outs).

  • Red Sox Pitcher of the Week - Jon Lester was pretty good in Texas on Saturday night, and John Lackey was excellent on Sunday. But there was something special out of the bullpen that I want to acknowledge this week. Badenhop and Uehara and Breslow were all good, each pitching 3 innings over 3 appearances without allowing a run. But Andrew Miller, who also made three appearances, pitched 3 1/3 innings, facing 10 batters, hitting one, but allowing no hits, no walks and no runs, and striking out seven. Dominating and outstanding, and this week's Pitcher of the Week.

AL Pythagorean Projection Report - 5/12/2014
LA Angels5.17(1)4.28(6)0.586(3)21151917-2
Chicago Sox5.05(2)5.03(14)0.502(6)20191920-1
Kansas City4(14)4(3)0.5(7)19181819-1
Tampa Bay4.21(9)4.47(9)0.472(11)18201622-2
NY Yankees4.31(7)4.61(10)0.469(12)171919172

Top 5 projections (using current winning %)
LA Angels8676
NY Yankees8676

Top 5 projections (starting with today's record, using Pythagorean winning %)
LA Angels9369

Standings for the week
Kansas City4.57(4)2.71(1)0.722(1)5243-1
NY Yankees4.67(3)3.83(8)0.589(5)4233-1
LA Angels4.5(6)3.83(8)0.573(8)33421
Chicago Sox4.86(2)4.14(10)0.572(9)43430
Tampa Bay3.67(12)4.17(13)0.442(12)3315-2

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