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.

Looking at our individual projections, here’s what we see:

Name xPA xwOBA xwRAA Actual Diff
Jacoby Ellsbury 519 0.356 18.0 50.0 32.0
David Ortiz 558 0.373 28.9 42.9 14.0
Marco Scutaro 499 0.327 2.7 9.6 6.9
Josh Reddick 110 0.331 1.1 4.1 3.0
Adrian Gonzalez 693 0.392 49.3 51.2 1.9
Jason Varitek 189 0.314 -1.2 0.4 1.6
Jarrod Saltalamacchia 286 0.321 0.1 0.9 0.8
Dustin Pedroia 629 0.379 36.3 35.7 -0.6
Yamaico Navarro 43 0.310 -0.5 -1.2 -0.7
Lars Anderson 39 0.331 0.4 -1.3 -1.7
Darnell McDonald 132 0.330 1.1 -1.7 -2.8
Jed Lowrie 420 0.336 6.2 -5.3 -11.5
Mike Cameron 365 0.347 9.4 -8.5 -17.9
Kevin Youkilis 566 0.407 48.9 20.6 -28.3
Carl Crawford 620 0.374 33.1 -5.3 -38.4
J.D. Drew 522 0.380 30.7 -9.3 -40.0

What I’ve done here is calculate expected offensive runs above average (xwRAA) using forecasted wOBA and expected plate appearances. That’s roughly what we projected each player to contribute offensively. The column marked “Actual” lets you know how the player did in reality, and the “Diff” column tells us who exceeded expectations the most (positive) and who failed the most (negative).

Jacoby Ellsbury came out of nowhere to post a near-MVP caliber season offensively. Instead of producing roughly two wins with his bat, it was more like five, as he clubbed 42 doubles and swatted 32 HR atop the order. David Ortiz was the next overperformer, producing about 50% more with his bat this season than we had a right to expect from him. Offensive contributions from Marco Scutaro and Josh Reddick round out the pleasant surprises of 2011. We got about what we expected from Adrian Gonzalez, Jason Varitek, Jarrod Saltalamacchia, and Dustin Pedroia. And in terms of expected production, the players who hurt the team most were J.D. Drew, Carl Crawford, and Kevin Youkilis, in that order. Drew and Youkilis were injured most of the year, but Crawford’s precipitous drop hurt a lot.

PITCHING AND DEFENSE

We predicted that the Sox would ride a strong rotation and amazing defense to allow only 706 runs, but in reality we gave up 737 runs, which was below average in the AL. Instead of posting a 4.01 ERA, the team figure was 4.20. Injuries to Clay Buchholz and Daisuke Matsuzaka, combined with John Lackey’s ineffectiveness, sunk what was supposed to be a great rotation. Also, while the defense enjoyed a great middle of the year, it suffered quite a bit in the early going and then again in September as fundamental baseball went down in flames with the whole team.

Name xIP xERA Actual IP Actual ERA IP-Diff ERA-Diff
Tim Wakefield 122.7 4.70 154.7 5.12 31.9 -0.42
Matt Albers 54.6 4.50 64.7 4.73 10.1 -0.23
Daniel Bard 63.6 3.61 73.0 3.33 9.4 0.28
Josh Beckett 183.9 4.08 193.0 2.89 9.1 1.19
Dan Wheeler 51.5 4.09 49.3 4.38 -2.2 -0.29
Jonathan Papelbon 68.5 2.95 64.3 2.94 -4.2 0.01
Jon Lester 201.5 3.49 191.7 3.47 -9.8 0.02
Scott Atchison 51.9 4.54 30.3 3.26 -21.6 1.28
John Lackey 187.0 4.15 160.0 6.41 -27.0 -2.26
Randy Williams 37.7 4.87 8.3 6.48 -29.3 -1.61
Rich Hill 41.9 5.21 8.0 0.00 -33.9 5.21
Dennys Reyes 40.3 3.94 1.7 16.20 -38.6 -12.26
Bobby Jenks 60.8 3.59 15.7 6.32 -45.1 -2.73
Hideki Okajima 56.9 3.85 8.3 4.32 -48.6 -0.47
Junichi Tazawa 64.2 4.61 3.0 6.00 -61.2 -1.39
Andrew Miller 137.2 3.77 65.0 5.54 -72.2 -1.77
Clay Buchholz 166.1 4.23 82.7 3.48 -83.5 0.75
Felix Doubront 109.8 3.57 10.3 6.10 -99.4 -2.53
Daisuke Matsuzaka 141.4 4.28 37.3 5.30 -104.0 -1.02
Michael Bowden 131.9 3.72 20.0 4.05 -111.9 -0.33
Alfredo Aceves 114.0 2.61

We are doing a similar exercise here, but since runs above average isn’t so straightforward for pitchers, we’re comparing expected innings pitched with actual IP and expected ERA with actual ERA. If you concentrate on innings, you’ll see that we used Tim Wakefield, Matt Albers and Daniel Bard more than expected, due to the loss of personnel in the rotation and in the bullpen. Those extra innings are not good for relievers, and generally hurts their performance, as we saw in September for both Albers and Bard. We lost a lot of expected innings from Daisuke Matsuzaka and Clay Buchholz, and we had to limit our usage of guys like Andrew Miller due to ineffectiveness. The loss of innings from guys such as Bobby Jenks and Hideki Okajima was also a big problem. Thank god for Alfredo Aceves and his 114 innings! We would have seriously been up a creek without him. He was the Bronson Arroyo on this staff, always taking the ball whether as a spot starter or a mopup guy or a medium-high leverage situation.

Looking at ERA difference (positive numbers are good), the starter which hurt us the most is John Lackey. A 6.41 ERA is one thing for a reliever, but if you extend that over 160+ innings, it means that you’re basically tripling the effect of a bad reliever. Ouch. We see a number of guys that just didn’t pan out, in light of their career numbers. For some of them, it was the injury bug, but for others… It makes me question what Curt Young was doing all season long. On a positive note, Scott Atchison was reasonably effective out of the bullpen (last year too), and I don’t know why we don’t pitch him more.

Yeah, so some of these differences are just bad projections by me, like expecting over 100 innings from Michael Bowden, for example. That was done to hedge against him possibly being used as a starter this season. But others show a serious problem with our pitching staff. How do we solve the issue? To be continued…

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: