Money: (Marty) Barrett Strong ~ (Mark) Kriegel Weak.
Going into Friday night’s three-game set with the Yankees, the Red Sox have dropped 14 of their past 18 games. Still, despite what you think, what you feel, what you know deep in your bones, they are not — repeat not — choking.
Choking, like clutch-hitting, is an archaic expression. They are really counterintuitive notions rendered obsolete with the advent of sabermetrics. It’s worth reminding you that the Red Sox have for years employed one Bill James, who espoused and popularized the bloodless idea — I simplify, of course, but you get the point — that position players can be represented by their statistics, particularly those that take into account on-base and slugging percentages. It was “Revenge of the Nerds” meeting that least nerdy of endeavors, sports. And its gospel was spread through the book “Moneyball,” now a major motion picture starring Brad Pitt.
...The Red Sox, meanwhile, acquired the aforementioned Crawford (whose $142 million contract represents more than three times the Rays’ annual budget), and Adrian Gonzalez to go with John Lackey, whom they signed before the 2010 season. In his first year with Boston, Crawford has an on-base percentage of .295. Lackey, 32, in the second year of a five-year, $82.5 million contract, has an ERA of 6.49. Unfortunately, the geeks have yet to devise a statistic that measures the falloff in performance when one goes from the second team in town (the Angels) to the second team in baseball. Perhaps, that, too, is counterintuitive.
...Only two Boston players have been there that long — David Ortiz and Tim Wakefield. I don’t know if they subscribe to the theory of “Moneyball,” but they’re old enough to remember when the Red Sox were chokers.
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