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— Where Thinking Red Sox Fans Obsess about the Sox

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   1. RB in NYC (Now Semi-Retired from BBTF) Posted: July 12, 2011 at 07:36 PM (#3875671)
The 2006 Red Sox – the ones that swept their interleague games but later dropped five straight at Yankee Stadium to blow the season
Hey, hey. That was at Fenway Park. Let's not be revising history here.
   2. Dale Sams Posted: July 12, 2011 at 08:21 PM (#3875703)
Hey, hey. That was at Fenway Park. Let's not be revising history here.


Not to mention the season was already blown when they dropped 5 out of 6 to the Royals, and Devil Rays. I'd have been happy with 1 out of 5 to the Yanks in Boston Massacre II.*

*Looking at the schedule (If anyone is) doesn't explain the whole thing. You just have to remember the feel for the team then. I was utterly unsurprised when they lost that 5 game series.
   3. Famous Original Joe C Posted: July 12, 2011 at 08:39 PM (#3875720)
*Looking at the schedule (If anyone is) doesn't explain the whole thing. You just have to remember the feel for the team then. I was utterly unsurprised when they lost that 5 game series.

I actually remember thinking coming into that series that there was a real chance they'd lose all five. Dale is right, the tone entering that series was that of a dead man walking. You could really feel it coming. Like a car accident in slow motion.

Also, Jason Johnson.
   4. Jose Is The Most Absurd Thing on the Site Posted: July 12, 2011 at 08:44 PM (#3875729)
To echo Dale, much like the 1978 Boston Massacre it wasn't the series against the Yankees that killed the Sox, it was their wretched performance against lesser teams in the surrounding weeks that killed them.

Matt - Thanks for doing this. I have been pondering this all year, it is an incredibly frustrating team to root for and one I find difficult to feel hyper-optimistic about. Despite their great record they have the ability to play horrible baseball for somewhat extended periods and that troubles me. This team reminds me of the 2005 team which by the final couple of months was basically the Manny Ortez show. It feels like if Gonzalez doesn't hit, this team doesn't score and they don't win.
   5. Famous Original Joe C Posted: July 12, 2011 at 08:56 PM (#3875739)
I appreciate the post as well, but I wonder whether there's really anything to read into here. Do we know anything about whether consistent teams do better in the playoffs than streaky ones? Couldn't you argue that a streaky team (if such a thing is really a thing) might be better suited for the playoffs, the idea being if you catch the streak at the right time you roll on through? I don't necessarily buy that line of reasoning, but I also don't think there's too much predictive value in it. The Red Sox have been a .600+ team. That's what they are. The distribution of those wins and losses - I think there's too much randomness to tease anything out.

It is interesting, though, looking at just how streaky they've been.

I am very optimistic about this team going forward, so long as the top three starters are healthy come October. They've played at a 110 win pace since the poor start. They have the best run differential of any Red Sox team at this stage of the season since the mystifying '02 club. There's just a lot to like.
   6. Matt Clement of Alexandria Posted: July 12, 2011 at 09:44 PM (#3875766)
For what it's worth, I mostly just wanted to demonstrate that the Sox have been crazy up and down all year, especially compared to Red Sox teams of the past. I don't have any particular take-away from it, other than that we're not crazy for finding this team kind of crazy.

The main thing, I think, is that the Red Sox haven't actually been the streakiest bunch of streakers that ever streaked. Lots of teams have up and down season like this - just this year, in just this league, the Twins and Angels and Indians have run off similar stretches of excellence and of crapulence. It's just that for whatever reason, the Epstein era Red Sox haven't had a half season run like this before.

I don't have any good theories on what might make a whole team streaky. The Red Sox up and down stretches don't really map to players' health or anything like that. My guess, as such, is that this is just the sort of thing that happens, and it's not predictive going forward. The Red Sox have been streaky, I'm not sold that they are streaky.
   7. Matt Clement of Alexandria Posted: July 12, 2011 at 10:05 PM (#3875778)
It's also my conjecture that the Red Sox are not some historically amazing 110-win team that happened to have a bad streak early, but a historically uninteresting very good team that has happened to be less consistent than most recent Red Sox teams.
   8. Famous Original Joe C Posted: July 12, 2011 at 10:29 PM (#3875799)
The Red Sox have been streaky, I'm not sold that they are streaky.

This, and [7], we agree on.
   9. Fancy Pants Handles lap changes with class Posted: July 12, 2011 at 10:47 PM (#3875819)
All-Star Break Content II: Streakin’

Great, now I have the image of Youkilis running the bases naked stuck in my head...


I appreciate the post as well, but I wonder whether there's really anything to read into here. Do we know anything about whether consistent teams do better in the playoffs than streaky ones?

Heh. I actually came to the conclusion a few weeks ago, that the Sox are either going to get swept in the ALDS, or go 11-0 in the playoffs.
   10. John DiFool2 Posted: July 12, 2011 at 11:21 PM (#3875856)
historically uninteresting


I don't understand what you're trying to imply by this phrase. At all.
   11. Matt Clement of Alexandria Posted: July 12, 2011 at 11:40 PM (#3875869)
Not interesting in a historical sense.
   12. Joel W Posted: July 13, 2011 at 12:03 AM (#3875879)
10 teams have won 105 games or more since 1954: '54 Indians, '61 Yankees, 69-70 Orioles, 75 Reds (ugh), 86 Mets (ugh^2), 98 Yankees and 98 Braves, 2001 Mariners, 2004 Cardinals (woo!). Other than the Cardianals those are "historically interesting teams" by any measure. I bring these teams up because the Red Sox, according to Prospectus and Fan Graphs are a .650+ team, i.e. 105 wins+.

Now obviously their actual winning percentage is much lower than this, but I think it's reasonable to think that they're close to historically great if they bring their W% in line with their W3%. It has certainly felt at times, with all the pitchers healthy, that we could expect a win every day. I say this not just in the sense that they've been streaky, but in the sense that they've just seemed that good.
   13. Biff, highly-regarded young guy Posted: July 13, 2011 at 12:07 AM (#3875883)
I actually remember thinking coming into that series that there was a real chance they'd lose all five. Dale is right, the tone entering that series was that of a dead man walking. You could really feel it coming. Like a car accident in slow motion.

My grandfather was in the hospital at the time too. Nothing quite like watching that trainwreck on hospital TV...
   14. Famous Original Joe C Posted: July 13, 2011 at 12:10 AM (#3875885)
Not interesting in a historical sense.

Here's what I mean by that, and what I think MC means, too:

Say they go 47-25 (.652) to finish the season. They go 102-60 in that scenario - and so even if they win the World Series, no one who is not a Red Sox fan is likely to remember them unless they sweep the Yankees in the ALCS or go 11-1 in the playoffs or something. They would obviously be interesting to us, and in the argument for greatest Red Sox team ever, but in a larger historical sense, relative to other champions or great teams of the past, and to fans of baseball who aren't Red Sox fans? They will be a footnote, at best.
   15. Famous Original Joe C Posted: July 13, 2011 at 12:26 AM (#3875919)
My grandfather was in the hospital at the time too. Nothing quite like watching that trainwreck on hospital TV...

Bruins up 3-0 vs Philadelphia last Spring and Nursing Home for me. I understand what you mean.
   16. Joel W Posted: July 13, 2011 at 12:32 AM (#3875929)
OK but say they go 50-22 and they're a 105 win team, but actually had a pythogrean record of 108 wins. What then?
   17. Hugh Jorgan Posted: July 13, 2011 at 01:59 AM (#3876125)
I don't have any good theories on what might make a whole team streaky

Well just from watching/following the games, without any proper analysis at all, it would seem to be the complete lack of XBH's during the losing streaks. It seems everytime they go into one of these losing spells that they are banging out heaps of singles, garnering BB, but leaving at least a ten guys on base over the 9 innings.
During the winning streaks, when they seem to be scoring 6+ per game, they seem to have at least 4 doubles to go with a couple of HR every game. Some of that(well the doubles) is obviously a function of Fenway, but I'd be interested in seeing if this has any merit or I'm just talking out my arse...again.
   18. Famous Original Joe C Posted: July 13, 2011 at 02:05 AM (#3876137)
but actually had a pythogrean record of 108 wins

I would argue that one but people who post here and at Fangraphs remember things like this. That would be pretty awesome, though. :-)

I think, in all seriousness, that's the minimum number to meet the criteria for "historical interest". They need to get to 105. However, I think that a 50-22 finish, while more possible than most years, is still pretty unlikely. I ultimately expect their final numbers to look something roughly like the 2007 team - 96-98 wins, but maybe a bit better than that by run differential.
   19. villageidiom Posted: July 13, 2011 at 12:30 PM (#3876420)
10 teams have won 105 games or more since 1954

For 1954-1960 (-1961 in the NL) teams played 154 games, so the .650 win % equates to 100 wins, not 105, in those years. You need to add to your list... uh... no other teams. Never mind.
   20. Steve Balboni's Personal Trainer Posted: July 13, 2011 at 12:39 PM (#3876425)
I think the reason Red Sox fans are so bullish on this team's chances of running off something crazy in the second half because of a few factors:

1) The 2-10 start is masking how ridiculous they've played since then. They are 53-25 since then, about a .680 pace over about half a season (110-win pace). Keeping that pace would mean going 50-22 the rest of the way - and I think regular followers of the Red Sox this year think that is possible...

2) The team has NOT been playing on all cylinders. Crawford's been pretty awful, and Drew has been lousy. Lowrie got hurt (surprise!). Lackey has an ERA in the high 6's, and Matsuzaka did nothing before getting injured. Papelbon has been inconsistent, and Jecnks and Wheeler have been ineffective. Meanwhile, which players on the team do you think are due for a second-half swoon? Maybe Ellsbury, a little, though I think his play is for real. Gonzalez is ridiculous, but can he hit .350 for a season? Bard has been awesome...but he has always been awesome, so that's not a big surprise.

3) Outside of Tampa and the Yankees, who else are the Sox going to play that should derail them. A quarter of their remaining schedule, for example, is against KC and BAL...if you take care of business in games like that, you're going to win close to 100 games.
   21. Jose Is The Most Absurd Thing on the Site Posted: July 13, 2011 at 01:18 PM (#3876455)
Lackey has an ERA in the high 6's


My reaction upon reading this: "Wow, is it really that good?"

who else are the Sox going to play that should derail them.


Part of the frustration with this team is this is where they've gotten derailed. The recent whooping of Toronto and Baltimore has made them look better but they've actually been middle of the pack record wise against below .500 teams most of the year.

Meanwhile, which players on the team do you think are due for a second-half swoon?


I think the rotation as a whole is likely to decline as long as they have to piece it together. If Buchholz and Lester come back healthy I think this becomes a pretty potent team.
   22. Famous Original Joe C Posted: July 13, 2011 at 02:00 PM (#3876490)
I mean, don't get me wrong, I'm excited. I think they've been the best team in baseball in the 1st half, and I expect them to be that or close to it in the second half. I just don't think they are a true .680 or .700 team or something. Those first 12 games do count. I sure hope I'm wrong, though.
   23. Matt Clement of Alexandria Posted: July 13, 2011 at 03:34 PM (#3876582)
A true .600 team should win 97 games or so. That's the pace the Red Sox are on. That's how good they projected to be in the preseason. I'm excited about that. There's no need to write off the first twelve games or whatever to be very optimistic about the Red Sox.
   24. Joel W Posted: July 13, 2011 at 05:02 PM (#3876692)
In not writing off the first 12 games of the season, the Red Sox are still a better than .600 true talent team that has suffered, to my eye, at least an average-above average, time lost to injuries to some of its best players (isn't there a metric on this that I can't find?).

I guess what I'm asking is if you actually believe they are a .600 talent team, or .625 or .650? I think it's closer to the upper range of those numbers. Since they "should" be something like 58-22 rather than the current 55-25, then I think we should at least consider that maybe it is/can be a "historically great team".
   25. Jose Is The Most Absurd Thing on the Site Posted: July 13, 2011 at 05:15 PM (#3876714)
I don't think the Sox have been especially unlucky in their injuries. They've only had two regulars on the DL (and neither Scutaro nor Crawford spent a lot of time there) and the pitching staff has been a bit banged up but not especially badly. Other than Matsuzaka no one has really been badly injured (knock on wood).
   26. tjm1 Posted: July 14, 2011 at 05:45 AM (#3877231)
2) The team has NOT been playing on all cylinders. Crawford's been pretty awful, and Drew has been lousy. Lowrie got hurt (surprise!). Lackey has an ERA in the high 6's, and Matsuzaka did nothing before getting injured. Papelbon has been inconsistent, and Jecnks and Wheeler have been ineffective. Meanwhile, which players on the team do you think are due for a second-half swoon? Maybe Ellsbury, a little, though I think his play is for real. Gonzalez is ridiculous, but can he hit .350 for a season? Bard has been awesome...but he has always been awesome, so that's not a big surprise.


Also, Pedroia, Gonzalez and Youklis all came off major surgeries and all had slow starts, but have since heated up.
   27. TomH Posted: July 18, 2011 at 01:18 PM (#3880071)
Meanwhile, which players on the team do you think are due for a second-half swoon?


Um, the guy with a career AL ERA of >4, and who had an ERA last year of almost 6. This season his BB/K ratio is right about his career norm, so that 2.12 ERA to date in 2011 is due for a Significant adjustment.
   28. Jose Is The Most Absurd Thing on the Site Posted: July 18, 2011 at 01:39 PM (#3880081)
Beckett will decline some obviously but he's proven he can put up a great season. His AL ERA is high but in his five AL seasons he has three with an ERA+ over 110. Obviously 191 is a bit silly.

I think Gonzalez and Youkilis are going to decline a bit. Gonzalez simply because what he has done so far is just obscene and Youkilis because he's been battling injuries all year and I think that's going to catch up with him. I don't think either guy will go in the tank or anything but I think they'll be below where they've been.

And presumably Daniel Bard will give up a run again sometime this year though so far there is nothing to indicate such an event occurring.

Thinking about this I feel like the Sox are a group of guys roughly doing what they should be doing. There's no one I look at right now and think "wow, where is that coming from?" (Albers I suppose but relievers have these years).
   29. Matt Clement of Alexandria Posted: July 18, 2011 at 01:53 PM (#3880086)
Ellsbury's having the best season of his career, both offensively and defensively. I think he should continue to be very good, but I doubt he's actually one of the ten best players in the major leagues.

I think it's reasonable to expect weaker performance from all of the 1st half superstars - Gonzalez, Youkilis, Ellsbury, Pedroia, Ortiz - but it should be matched by larger improvements from the corner outfielders and fewer replacement level performances from the starting rotation.
   30. Avoid running at all times.-S. Paige Posted: July 18, 2011 at 01:58 PM (#3880088)
I think it's reasonable to expect weaker performance from all of the 1st half superstars - Gonzalez, Youkilis, Ellsbury, Pedroia, Ortiz - but it should be matched by larger improvements from the corner outfielders and fewer replacement level performances from the starting rotation.


To counter this idea, it appears Pedroia has decided to play like Albert Pujols for the second half.
   31. John DiFool2 Posted: July 18, 2011 at 02:12 PM (#3880097)
Um, the guy with a career AL ERA of >4, and who had an ERA last year of almost 6. This season his BB/K ratio is right about his career norm, so that 2.12 ERA to date in 2011 is due for a Significant adjustment.


Disingenuous much? That ERA "over 4" includes an injury-plagued year last year, and ignores that his ERA was 3.71 from 07-09, when he was healthy and the league as whole had significantly more runs scored. And, yes, said ERA got adjusted last night from 2.27 to 2.12. If and when the correction comes, it might drift slowly towards 3. I don't doubt that his BABIP has been almost absurdly low, but I think a decent chunk of that is on him and his new approach (they showed a bunch of balls in play last night on pitches just outside the zone), and some is due to the D behind him (last night Reddick and Pedroia were the heroes on D).
   32. Matt Clement of Alexandria Posted: July 18, 2011 at 03:15 PM (#3880151)
Beckett has a FIP of 3.06 and an xFIP of 3.67. He has a history of underperforming his component stats, not overperforming them. He's pitched extremely well this season - if Beckett's ERA were 3.30 to match his components, he'd be having a really good season. I don't think he resembles the injured-and-adjusting-to-lost-velocity Beckett of 2010, as it looks like he's learned how to pitch with diminished stuff, but he's surely due for a correction in his runs allowed.
   33. Dan Posted: July 18, 2011 at 03:34 PM (#3880175)
Sure, but even if he corrects to a 3.30 ERA over the rest of the year he's going to end up with an ERA under 3. He'd have to really implode to ruin his overall line after the amazing performance he's had in his innings so far. Just the same way that even if Lackey has a second half like last year's, his seasonal ERA is still going to look awful because he's put in half a season with an ERA over 6.

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