2009 Projections: How did we do?


Now that the regular season is over, we can take a look back and compare our expectations with what we really saw. Here are the predictions I made on this blog before this season, and how it all turned out. Back in January I predicted that we would score about 835 runs, allow 729 runs and end up with a 92-70 record, winning the wild card. We got the wild card, but actually ended up with 95 wins, mainly due to the unexpected struggles of the Rays. Going into a bit more detail:

Lineup

Player        Projection              Actual
Ellsbury, CF  .298/.346/.419, 10 HR   .301/.355/.415, 8 HR
Pedroia, 2B   .316/.368/.462, 12 HR   .296/.371/.447, 15 HR
Ortiz, DH     .289/.407/.587, 35 HR   .238/.332/.462, 28 HR
Youkilis, 1B  .297/.384/.487, 18 HR   .305/.413/.548, 27 HR
Bay, LF,      .260/.353/.479, 27 HR   .267/.384/.537, 36 HR
Drew, RF      .270/.384/.470, 15 HR   .279/.392/.522, 24 HR
Lowell, 3B    .309/.365/.492, 19 HR   .290/.337/.474, 17 HR
Lowrie, SS    .274/.360/.416, 4 HR    .147/.211/.265, 2 HR
Varitek, C    .242/.333/.397, 13 HR   .209/.313/.390, 14 HR
Baldelli, OF .268/.309/.470, 12 HR    .253/.311/.433, 7 HR

Everyone was shocked by the collapse of David Ortiz, and sorry to say it, but I don’t see much chance of him regaining the form that made him one of the most feared hitters in baseball just two years ago. The offense was buoyed by several hitters outperforming their projections. And if one season wasn’t enough to prove it, now we have two full seasons’ worth of evidence that Kevin Youkilis has evolved into an elite player.

After much deliberation, the Sox brought back Jason Varitek, and he got off to a pretty strong start; however, he just fell off the table in the second half, and is now the backup to Victor Martinez, who was acquired at the deadline from Cleveland. Obviously the loss of Jed Lowrie for much of the season hurt Boston a lot, mostly defensively. The Red Sox got a composite .234/.297/.358 line out of their shortstops this season, and that’s including Alex Gonzalez’s surprising above average production in September.

Pitching

My projections were rather bullish on the pitching staff, pegging the rotation for a 4.08 ERA in 1069 IP. I also predicted the bullpen to be one of the best in the Majors with a 3.73 ERA. It turns out that those figures were a bit optimistic, but the Sox pitching staff was still pretty good. Due mainly to the unexpected loss of Daisuke Matsuzaka and the eventual failure of both Brad Penny and John Smoltz, the rotation finished with a mediocre 4.63 ERA. The bullpen was strong and finished 2nd in ERA at 3.80 on the year behind Oakland.

Player      Prediction           Actual
Beckett     193 IP, 3.79 ERA     212.1 IP, 3.86 ERA
Lester      176 IP, 4.13 ERA     203.1 IP, 3.41 ERA
Matsuzaka   186 IP, 4.05 ERA     59.1 IP, 5.86 ERA
Wakefield   171.2 IP, 4.75 ERA   129.2 IP, 4.58 ERA
Masterson   160 IP, 3.99 ERA     72 IP, 4.50 ERA
Buchholz    120 IP, 4.38 ERA     92 IP, 4.21 ERA
Papelbon    65.1 IP, 2.16 ERA    68 IP, 1.85 ERA
Okajima     65.2 IP, 3.47 ERA    61 IP, 3.39 ERA
Ramirez     52 IP, 3.35 ERA      69.2 IP, 2.84 ERA
Delcarmen   57.1 IP, 3.31 ERA    59.2 IP, 4.53 ERA
Lopez       38.2 IP, 4.18 ERA    11.2 IP, 9.26 ERA
Aardsma     44.2 IP, 4.71 ERA

Jon Lester finally cemented his status as a top-flight starter this season, and together with Josh Beckett gives us a two-headed beast for the playoffs. Tim Wakefield really upheld the rotation early on when Lester was struggling, pitched his most gutsy year to date, hobbling on to the field and earning his first All-Star selection. What a guy. Dice-K missed almost the whole year, but is finally looking like himself just when we need him most.

To the surprise of many, David Aardsma was traded away to Seattle and became one of the best closers of 2009. Even more stunning, Justin Masterson was traded away at the deadline to acquire Victor Martinez (though I doubt anyone will argue now that that was a bad move). Still, the addition of Ramon Ramirez and the emergence of Daniel Bard more than made up for any losses there.

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