10-14-2011: How much did Ellsbury change his projection?

Jacoby Ellsbury recently won AL Comeback Player of the Year, and with good reason. His MVP-caliber performance really buoyed this offense when they lost key contributors like Kevin Youkilis. He is definitely one of the bright spots in a season filled with bad news.

Here is what we projected for him coming into 2011, based on his previous three years of performance:

Age AB 2B 3B HR BB SO SB Avg OBP SLG wOBA wRAA
27 478 18 6 8 36 63 42 0.280 0.336 0.390 0.347 11.5
28 482 18 6 8 36 63 40 0.280 0.336 0.389 0.346 11.0
29 481 18 5 8 36 62 38 0.279 0.335 0.387 0.344 9.9
30 476 17 5 8 34 61 36 0.278 0.333 0.384 0.341 8.1
31 465 16 5 8 32 59 33 0.276 0.330 0.379 0.336 5.7
32 449 15 4 7 30 56 31 0.273 0.325 0.373 0.331 2.9
33 429 14 4 7 27 53 28 0.269 0.319 0.366 0.325 -0.1
34 404 12 4 6 24 50 26 0.265 0.312 0.358 0.318 -3.2
35 375 11 3 5 20 46 23 0.261 0.305 0.348 0.310 -6.1

Boy does that look dumb now. Once we factor in his amazing 2011, the projection now looks like this: Read more of this post

10-6-2011: The year that was

Alright, now that the initial sting has worn off a bit, I can go back and actually try to analyze this past season with some objectivity. We’ll cover our predictions, what went right and what went wrong.

First up, we predicted that the Sox would take the division with 92 wins. While the win figure was not off by much, the Yankees took it with 97 wins (not 90), and of course the Rays edged us out in the final game of the season with 91 wins (not 83). We also had Baltimore with 79 wins and Toronto at 76. Oops.

OFFENSE

We projected Boston to be 2nd best in the AL East at 820 runs behind New York’s 830 runs. In actuality, we led all of baseball by scoring 875 runs compared to 867 for the pinstripes.

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9-29-2011: RIP to the Red Sox

Last night was such a fitting end to the Red Sox’ 2011 season. With the Sox up 3-2 and the Rays trailing New York 7-0, it seemed like a foregone conclusion that, at worst, we’d be playing that one-game playoff today. But one rain delay, a Dan Johnson pinch-hit home run and a Jonathan Papelbon collapse later, it was suddenly gone. I just have no words. How do you explain a season where we were roundly picked as the best team in baseball, and we collapse like this? How do you explain THIS (image taken from FanGraphs.com):

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9-7-2011: Just how good are these prospects, anyway?

The Red Sox had a lot of their top prospects succumb to injury or slump in 2011, but not all the news is bad. Once these guys get up to the Double-A and Triple-A levels, it becomes possible to project what their batting lines might be based on their component rates (how often they walk, strike out, hit home runs, etc.).

Here’s a quick look at what we might get out of these guys next year, based on their track record so far (all numbers assume starting roles for the Red Sox next season, adjusted for Fenway Park).

Josh Reddick, RF (.261/.321/.433 with 35 doubles and 18 HR in 557 AB)

Reddick finally got healthy and got the chance to open some eyes this year with his bat, his glove and energetic play. While he had a great season, most of his batting average came from an unusually high rate of singles, as shown by his high-ish .329 BABIP. His projected 7.6 BB% and 20.9 K% rates for next year suggest that he might be on the cusp of a starting role. It’s worth noting that it won’t take much to better the .232/.304/.360 the Sox got out of their right fielders this season. I fully expect the Sox to give him a shot at the job in the offseason, but they should bring in a short-term veteran for him to compete with.

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8-12-2011 Links: Pedey vs Cano, Sabathia vs Sox, Gonzalez grounded, defense, prospects report card

Dustin Pedroia is in the midst of his best season ever, and it has sparked discussions about whether he or Robinson Cano is the best second baseman in baseball. Here is Jonathan Scippa’s interesting take. As for me, give me Pedey every time.

Coming into the year, we were worried about our lefty-leaning lineup and some very tough starters in our division. So why is CC Sabathia so bad against Boston this season? David Pinto takes a look.

Mike Axisa at FanGraphs has some nice plots which show how Adrian Gonzalez has fallen into hitting a ton of grounders since about June 18, and how that has directly sapped his home run power. He could be headed for about a 27 HR season, which is lower than most people predicted, but is pretty well in line with the 30 HRs I predicted.

As Sox Therapy points out, the Red Sox defense has gone from very good to great this season, and it’s been a huge reason for our success in June and July.

Wondering how our top prospects are doing on the farm? John Sickels has a summary for you. (SPOILER: It ain’t pretty.)

6-2-2011: May wrapup, a great month

The month of May was a good one for the Sox, a really good one. They began the month at just 11-15 on the year, scraping the bottom of the division. The offense was barely average, and the pitching was decent but inconsistent. What a difference a month makes. Now Boston sits at 30-26 on the year, and is in second place, just two games back of the Yankees, despite the recent three-game sweep at the hands of the ChiSox. What have been the keys to this turnaround?

Offense

The Red Sox offense was the most potent in the American League in May, and not by a little. Putting up 126 runs in 29 games (5.38 runs/game) is very impressive by 2011 offensive standards, where league average is just 4.30 runs/game. Just a year ago, the average was 4.45 runs/game, and the year before that, it was 4.82 runs/game. So you probably have to kind of mentally add a quarter to a half run per game onto that figure if you want to compare with previous years.

Month R/G Avg OBP SLG BABIP wOBA BB% K%
April 4.11 0.243 0.331 0.380 0.283 0.319 10.9 21.1
May 5.38 0.287 0.349 0.472 0.317 0.361 7.9 18.4

As a team, the Red Sox put up a .287/.349/.472 slash line and a .361 wOBA (second was the Yankees at .340) and were about 26 percent better than the average AL offense. Looking at the walk and strikeout rates, it looks like the Sox as a team got more aggressive, and it’s been paying off. also, the power is back on. They hit the most doubles with 61 and tied with New York for first with 39 HRs this month. Even the running game got started (along with Carl Crawford), as the Sox swiped 28 bases in May. Some of this extra production comes from that high .317 BABIP in May. With league average at .286 on the year, that’s going to fall back to earth a bit. Still, this offense has moved up to fourth on the year and has the potential to keep pushing up the ranks.

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5-22-2011: Farm report for Portland

The Portland Sea Dogs stand at just 12-26 on the season, sitting in the basement of their division of the Eastern League.

Offense

As a team, there’s a lot to like about this year’s Sea Dogs. They’ve averaged 4.5 runs per game, good for 5th in the Eastern League, but their team line of .270/.348/.399 shows that they have a dynamic offense that gets on base plenty. In fact, most of their regulars show up as being league average or better:

Name PA BB% K% AVG OBP SLG OPS BABIP wOBA wRC+
Alex Hassan 166 16.1% 12.5% 0.359 0.472 0.531 1.003 0.384 0.458 194
Jonathan Hee 85 9.9% 25.0% 0.309 0.413 0.441 0.854 0.400 0.400 155
Will Middlebrooks 145 5.0% 24.6% 0.299 0.333 0.500 0.833 0.365 0.376 138
Che-Hsuan Lin 161 12.4% 10.1% 0.268 0.373 0.333 0.706 0.298 0.344 117
Tim Federowicz 156 9.3% 17.8% 0.267 0.331 0.400 0.731 0.300 0.332 109
Mitch Dening 74 8.1% 25.4% 0.238 0.333 0.381 0.714 0.289 0.324 103
Ryan Lavarnway 158 9.2% 21.3% 0.235 0.307 0.404 0.712 0.245 0.323 103
Oscar Tejeda 140 8.8% 18.9% 0.262 0.331 0.361 0.692 0.313 0.323 103
Chih-Hsien Chiang 97 6.5% 21.8% 0.241 0.290 0.425 0.716 0.277 0.322 102
Jorge Padron 148 9.7% 10.1% 0.271 0.340 0.341 0.681 0.293 0.317 98
Ryan Dent 64 7.8% 19.0% 0.224 0.281 0.276 0.557 0.271 0.281 74

The lineup has been paced by LF Alex Hassan, who at age 23 continues to put up very good offensive numbers, despite lacking the HR totals you want to see in a legitimate prospect. He lacks the pure athleticism the Red Sox usually like in their outfielders, but he has always hit well and he can play in right field, so he has some flexibility. His minor league career has been limited by some injuries, but Hassan has always produced, and he does smack quite a few doubles, which means he could still become a pretty decent Major Leaguer.

Che-Hsuan Lin, recently promoted to Pawtucket, is a very good defensive centerfielder, and he handles himself well at the dish. Not much power to speak of, but a high OBP and low K rate are nice to have in a speedy slap hitter. Still just 22 years old, I could see him being a 4th outfielder type as early as next season.

Solid performances from both Tim Federowicz and Ryan Lavarnway, which means that our catching depth will be quite a bit better next year than it is this year.

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