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Tuesday, August 07, 2012

Valentine isn’t to blame for the Red Sox’ struggles | Hit and Run

It’s the injuries, stupid!

Jim Furtado Posted: August 07, 2012 at 03:22 PM | 31 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: red sox

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   1. Stately, Plump Buck Mulligan Posted: August 07, 2012 at 03:29 PM (#4202498)
Your 2012 Boston Red Sox: the most fascinating 4th place, .500 winning percentage team in baseball history?
   2. DKDC Posted: August 07, 2012 at 03:59 PM (#4202570)
So other don’t waste time RTFAing, the main premise is that the Red Sox have struggled due to injuries, as proven by a stat that measures the percentage of a team’s payroll that has been on the DL (pro-rated for how long the player was on the DL).

Of course, 70% of this stat for the Red Sox comes from Crawford, Lackey, Dice-K, Jenks, and Bailey, who combined to produce -2.3 WAR last year.
   3. SoSH U at work Posted: August 07, 2012 at 04:11 PM (#4202584)
Of course, 70% of this stat for the Red Sox comes from Crawford, Lackey, Dice-K, Jenks, and Bailey, who combined to produce -2.3 WAR last year.


I'm sure it also ignores that two of their better offensive performers this year wouldn't have been in the lineup if it hadn't been for injuries befalling other players. I just don't see injuries as being a big factor in their mediocrity. The players they expected to play well haven't.
   4. Crispix reaches boiling point with lackluster play Posted: August 07, 2012 at 04:41 PM (#4202623)
Indeed, Carl Crawford is certainly a player who we know would have been terrible this year if he had played the whole season.
   5. jmurph Posted: August 07, 2012 at 04:46 PM (#4202630)
Yes, let's roll it over again next year and see if we can make it 4 consecutive years with no post-season.
   6. Srul Itza Posted: August 07, 2012 at 04:59 PM (#4202646)
Just because Valentine is not to blame for the Red Sox struggles is no reason not to fire him.
   7. Guapo Posted: August 07, 2012 at 05:35 PM (#4202692)
Based on the byline of the article, it appears to have been written by Bobby Valentine, which is too awesome to be true.

EDIT: Oh, it's Jay Jaffe. I thought that was a banner ad, not the byline.
   8. Matt Clement of Alexandria Posted: August 07, 2012 at 05:43 PM (#4202696)
Of course, 70% of this stat for the Red Sox comes from Crawford, Lackey, Dice-K, Jenks, and Bailey, who combined to produce -2.3 WAR last year.
Crawford projected as an above average player. Jenks, Dice-K and Lackey were bad last year because they were injured. The fact that the injuries happened in 2011 doesn't mean that the injuries haven't hurt the 2012 Sox.

They also lost a month of Kevin Youkilis, six weeks of Dustin Pedroia, a month of David Ortiz, and several months of Jacoby Ellsbury. The notion that this club hasn't been hit hard by injuries is just insane.
   9. Matt Clement of Alexandria Posted: August 07, 2012 at 05:45 PM (#4202697)
To add, this is now three straight seasons in which the Red Sox have lost several extra games a year because of injuries. I am entirely convinced this is not "luck". This is bad scouting, bad training, bad medical care, bad communication between players and medical/training staff.

But the injuries have been a big part of the problem with the 2010-2012 Red Sox.
   10. DKDC Posted: August 07, 2012 at 06:51 PM (#4202725)
I wasn’t making the point that the Red Sox weren’t hurt by injuries or that those five guys were all going to be terrible if they were healthy.

My point was just that the “DL Salary” stat invented in this article is a stupid stat that doesn’t measure what it is supposed to measure because it makes the simplistic assumption that player salary is a good proxy for the contribution a player was expected to make to the team absent injury.

I think the Red Sox were probably hurt more than the average team by injuries, but not nearly by the margin suggested in this article. And much of that was offset by the unexpectedly good performance of some of the fill-ins.
   11. Jittery McFrog Posted: August 07, 2012 at 07:32 PM (#4202743)
Crawford projected as an above average player.

Do the projections take into account psychic damage from having batted 7th that one time?

I think the Sox have managed to both be more injured than expected and to underperform on a DL-adjusted basis. Some of that underperformance may be due to injured guys playing rather than going on the DL, so score that as you will. As MCoA mentions in #9, when we attribute underperformance to injury, it doesn't follow that it can be simply regarded as bad luck. I think that there is an organizational component.
   12. villageidiom Posted: August 07, 2012 at 08:26 PM (#4202777)
My point was just that the “DL Salary” stat invented in this article is a stupid stat that doesn’t measure what it is supposed to measure because it makes the simplistic assumption that player salary is a good proxy for the contribution a player was expected to make to the team absent injury.
It is generally a good proxy for that, yes. It's likely a better proxy than their 2011 stats. There are exceptions, but exceptions don't make the stat stupid; they make the stat imperfect.

Taking salary out of the equation... At the All Star Break the Red Sox had logged around 1100 person-days on the DL during the 2012 season. That works out to an average of 12-13 players on the DL every day. I'm sure the salary thing is meant to convey that it's not just a litany of fourth outfielders and middle relievers being affected.
   13. Buzzards Bay Posted: August 07, 2012 at 08:31 PM (#4202783)
how may the pyth W-L be associated with the DL
what is the median DL time
what is the moving ave.
Homer Bailey was huge for a stretch after Votto went down
Ludwick too
   14. Monty Posted: August 07, 2012 at 11:17 PM (#4202885)
Taking salary out of the equation... At the All Star Break the Red Sox had logged around 1100 person-days on the DL during the 2012 season.


Where does that rank among the other teams? I think it's an interesting stat, but it would be even more interesting with context.

That works out to an average of 12-13 players on the DL every day.


Wait, what?
   15. DKDC Posted: August 08, 2012 at 12:48 AM (#4202934)
It is generally a good proxy for that, yes. It's likely a better proxy than their 2011 stats. There are exceptions, but exceptions don't make the stat stupid; they make the stat imperfect.


I guess we'll just have to disagree on that. I don't think it could be any more obvious that salary is a bad proxy for a reasonable expectation of player contribution at the beginning of a season, and that it's particularly distortive in the case of the Red Sox who are paying a significant amount money to players who were not expected to be major contributors (or even play at all) this year.

I think it would be interesting to see a ranking based on preseason WAR projections for players who ended up on the DL and compare that to the actual WAR of their injury replacements. I think that would tell a very different story but I certainly could be wrong about that.
   16. Swedish Chef Posted: August 08, 2012 at 07:11 AM (#4202969)
It is generally a good proxy for that, yes. It's likely a better proxy than their 2011 stats. There are exceptions, but exceptions don't make the stat stupid; they make the stat imperfect.

Are you saying that salary is a better predictor of performance than a bog-standard projection? If not, is there any reason to use salary instead of the projection? If that is what you are saying, please cite where you got that idea from.
   17. Matt Clement of Alexandria Posted: August 08, 2012 at 07:19 AM (#4202970)
If not, is there any reason to use salary instead of the projection?
Salary data can be found on the internet in two seconds. Projected WAR you can get in some spreadsheets posted to the internet months ago, but it isn't nearly so readily available.

Also, the projections don't account for players who were already injured in 2011 - those hurt their projections for 2012, but it happened because of injuries. If you're counting the impact of injuries on the team, that's part of the issue.
   18. DKDC Posted: August 08, 2012 at 08:07 AM (#4202974)
Also, the projections don't account for players who were already injured in 2011 - those hurt their projections for 2012, but it happened because of injuries. If you're counting the impact of injuries on the team, that's part of the issue.


I guess it depends on what you're trying to measure. The article doesn't really say, but it's written to deflect blame from Valentine for the team's disappointing season. The season has been disappointing because back on April 1, everyone expected the Red Sox to be one of the best teams in the league that would be challenging the Yankees for a division title and were all but a lock to grab one of the two wild card spots.

Maybe those expectations were unfair, but they were there, despite the fact that Lackey had already had TJ surgery back in October.
   19. tfbg9 Posted: August 08, 2012 at 08:25 AM (#4202978)
I read in Pete Abe's blog that the Red Sox have had more guys on the DL in 2012 than any team going back to at least 1987.

Edit-at least I'm pretty sure I did...anybody else catch that blurboid?
   20. Matt Clement of Alexandria Posted: August 08, 2012 at 08:44 AM (#4202987)
I guess it depends on what you're trying to measure. The article doesn't really say, but it's written to deflect blame from Valentine for the team's disappointing season. The season has been disappointing because back on April 1, everyone expected the Red Sox to be one of the best teams in the league that would be challenging the Yankees for a division title and were all but a lock to grab one of the two wild card spots.

Maybe those expectations were unfair, but they were there, despite the fact that Lackey had already had TJ surgery back in October.
That's a fair point. I was just responding to the claim that injuries haven't much hurt the Boston Red Sox.

On Bobby V, there is no question that beyond (a) the significant toll that injuries have exacted, the Red Sox have further underperformed because (b) their stars other than Papi have been way below expectations and (c) they have significantly underperformed component runs (they've been un-clutch). There are a whole bunch of stories about poor communication and ill will in the clubhouse, and the Red Sox appear to have traded away a needed OBP bat because of his clashes with Valentine. It's not crazy to attribute some blame for problems (b) and (c) to Valentine, or generally to the dysfunctional management structure of the Red Sox.

So I'd say that injuries have significantly hurt the Red Sox, costing them several wins this season, but beyond that they've also lost several wins to player underperformance and clutch underperformance. The Sox are 8 games under a 92-win pace. There's blame to go around.
   21. Joey B. Posted: August 08, 2012 at 09:02 AM (#4203001)
Honestly, is there a single team in the majors this year that hasn't been hit hard by injuries at some point or another? There have been more injuries around the league this year than I can ever remember there being in my lifetime.
   22. Bob Tufts Posted: August 08, 2012 at 09:45 AM (#4203030)
I've had the pleasure of being on vacation in Rockport MA this week and watching, reading and listening to the over the top lunacy that is Red Sox Nation (disclaimer: I grew up here and attended 156-20 games per year as a kid).

I cannot fathom why firing Valentine now or in the off-season does anything to address the health, talent, and underperformance issues of this team - and sends far too strong a message to the roster that players are not accountable. In the long run that will kill this team and turn it into the 25 guys 25 cabs squad of yore. That impetuous firing of V would be an example of dysfunction by management.

5 games out of a wild card? Take some medications, Sox fans!

   23. villageidiom Posted: August 08, 2012 at 09:52 AM (#4203040)
I guess we'll just have to disagree on that. I don't think it could be any more obvious that salary is a bad proxy for a reasonable expectation of player contribution at the beginning of a season
When we do a fantasy draft for 2013, I'll take the 20 players with the highest 2013 salary, and you can take the 20 with the lowest 2013 salary. Both of us will have injured players. But all your players* will be in the minor leagues for at least half the season, if not the whole season. So good luck with that.
   24. The District Attorney Posted: August 08, 2012 at 10:18 AM (#4203059)
there is no question that beyond (a) the significant toll that injuries have exacted, the Red Sox have further underperformed because (b) their stars other than Papi have been way below expectations and (c) they have significantly underperformed component runs (they've been un-clutch). There are a whole bunch of stories about poor communication and ill will in the clubhouse, and the Red Sox appear to have traded away a needed OBP bat because of his clashes with Valentine. It's not crazy to attribute some blame for problems (b) and (c) to Valentine, or generally to the dysfunctional management structure of the Red Sox.
Of course it's crazy. Let me add some non-crazy points to your crazy list, you crazy person.

(d) A manager should be paid millions of dollars for figuring out who should start the game and which relievers to use. Other than doing those things, a manager doesn't affect the team's won-lost record.

(e) A manager should only be fired if all of the following factors apply: the team was expected to do well pre-season, all of the players are healthy and having good seasons, and yet the team is doing poorly.
   25. SoSH U at work Posted: August 08, 2012 at 10:33 AM (#4203077)
(e) A manager should only be fired if all of the following factors apply: the team was expected to do well pre-season, all of the players are healthy and having good seasons, and yet the team is doing poorly.


So if everyone on the team is healthy and underperforming, you should keep the manager? I'm sticking that one in the crazy file.

Getting your players to play closest to their best (which Valentine was actually pretty good at in his younger days) is the most important thing a manager does, and what truly separates the greats (like a TLR or, in small doses, Billy Martin) from the average or below-average skipper.
   26. Matt Clement of Alexandria Posted: August 08, 2012 at 10:36 AM (#4203082)
The DA is kidding, right?

(e) also directly contradicts (d).
   27. Crispix reaches boiling point with lackluster play Posted: August 08, 2012 at 10:36 AM (#4203087)
When we do a fantasy draft for 2013, I'll take the 20 players with the highest 2013 salary, and you can take the 20 with the lowest 2013 salary. Both of us will have injured players. But all your players* will be in the minor leagues for at least half the season, if not the whole season. So good luck with that.

Hard to argue with that. And their stats will be at best erratic. Why, Brooks Raley has the lowest 2012 salary so far, and he has a career ERA of 15.75.
   28. Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Griffin (Vlad) Posted: August 08, 2012 at 10:48 AM (#4203104)
Honestly, is there a single team in the majors this year that hasn't been hit hard by injuries at some point or another? There have been more injuries around the league this year than I can ever remember there being in my lifetime.


See, this is what happens when you take drugs out of the game.
   29. The District Attorney Posted: August 08, 2012 at 11:32 AM (#4203172)
The DA is kidding, right?

(e) also directly contradicts (d).
Yes, but I think I've satirically summed up most discussions of manager firings on this site. You would think managers were Pavement or something.

[BTW, (e) also directly contradicts (e).]
   30. SoSH U at work Posted: August 08, 2012 at 11:37 AM (#4203182)
Yes, but I think I've satirically summed up most discussions of manager firings on this site. You would think managers were Pavement or something.

[BTW, (e) also directly contradicts (e).]


Sorry DA. I think I've read too many of those serious arguments.
   31. DKDC Posted: August 08, 2012 at 11:37 AM (#4203184)
When we do a fantasy draft for 2013, I'll take the 20 players with the highest 2013 salary, and you can take the 20 with the lowest 2013 salary. Both of us will have injured players. But all your players* will be in the minor leagues for at least half the season, if not the whole season. So good luck with that.


Of course there’s a correlation between salary and expected performance. But it’s not a particularly strong correlation compared to many other readily available statistics.

I just spend 10 minutes pulling some readily available data for 544 players:

A) Fangraphs projected 2012 WAR based on fans expectations
B) Actual 2011 WAR
C) Actual 2012 Salary

The correlation between C and A is 38%.
The correlation between B and A is 80%.

So last years stats are a much better proxy than salary for expectations about this years performance.

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