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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9-22-2011 Link: A defense of Theo Epstein

For all of you who are laying the blame for our September meltdown squarely at Theo Epstein’s feet: Brian MacPherson of the ProJo points out that the injuries we’ve sustained to the rotation this year would have been devastating for any club. The fact that we’re still the favorites for the wild card is pretty impressive.

I’m not saying that Epstein is free from blame, not at all. But who could have foreseen the loss/implosion of 60% of our starting five? In my opinion, going into the season with Tim Wakefield, Andrew Miller, Alfredo Aceves, and Felix Doubront as depth starters was not unreasonable. They went out and got Kevin Millwood and Erik Bedard, but I think the front office could have done more to shore up the rotation, once they realized how bleak the situation was getting to be.

And don’t forget the devastating losses of Rich Hill and Bobby Jenks too. This bullpen went from being a real strength to a weakness pretty quickly with the loss of these two. Matt Albers and Daniel Bard are getting overexposed because they haven’t been there, and Dan Wheeler hasn’t been effective.

9-20-2011: Don’t panic

Just a friendly reminder from Dave Cameron that a two-game lead is still pretty significant in this stage of the season.

7-27-2011: What does Ryan Spilborghs have to offer?

One of the names that keeps coming up in trade rumors is the Rockies’ Ryan Spilborghs. He’s a 30-year old, medium-sized outfielder (6-1, 200) who bats righty and can play either corner; he can also run a bit, making him a fairly valuable bench player. He’s a second-year arbitration player who’s making $1.95m this year, and kind of extraneous on a Colorado team that has plenty of capable young outfielders.

Spilborghs has hit .273/.347/426 in Coors, but you can expect that to come down a bit with a move to the AL and to a park like Fenway.¬†Using our projections (updated with this year’s stats), we see him as a .264/.340/.403 hitter in a Sox uniform. He gets on base at a decent clip, but won’t give you too much in the way of batting average or power. That would still be a welcome improvement over J.D. Drew and his .219/.317/.305 batting line this year.

But the real question is whether Spilborghs is the right complement/platoon partner for Josh Reddick. His career split against lefties is .276/.361/.447, which is not bad but doesn’t really scream platoon to me. Looking at the defensive metrics, it looks like he is poor in right, and average in left. I’m not liking the fit for this guy so far; if we can acquire him for an organizational player, sure, let’s do it. But if he is going to cost a productive Major Leaguer, I say no dice.

7-23-2011: Sometimes the best deals ARE the ones not made…

ESPN’s Justin Havens makes the case that Mark Teixeira’s contract may not be panning out quite the way Brian Cashman planned when he signed the slugger long-term. His power remains the same (which, given his HR-friendly home park, is no surprise), but his batting average and defense have declined dramatically in his time as a Yankee. Looks like another fat cat getting comfortable after signing a huge contact.

Two points from this:

  1. It was probably a blessing in disguise that the Yankees swooped in and signed Big Tex away from us at the last minute.
  2. Adrian Gonzalez is not the kind of guy to let that happen to him.

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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