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— Where Thinking Red Sox Fans Obsess about the Sox

Tuesday, April 17, 2018

Are The Angels A Real Team?

The headline seems like I’m trolling Angels fans, so let me dispel with that right away: yes, the Angels are a real team. My point with the headline was that the criticism of Boston in their 13-2 start has been that they haven’t faced a real team yet.

They started the season with Rays-Marlins-Rays, and as they built their win streak we were told “Yeah, but they haven’t faced a real team yet. The true test will be against the Yankees.” As soon as that series ended we got the message that the Yankees, despite many predictions of playoff glory in 2018, aren’t really playing like a real team yet, so they don’t count either. Oh, OK, they were to be considered a real team - the first true test of Boston’s abilities - until they faced Boston, at which point the narrative shifted.

Then came Baltimore, who took 3 of 4 from the unreal Yankees in the Bronx. Prior to coming to Boston the O’s were 5-8. That record consists of 5-5, plus getting swept in the World Champion Astros’ home opener series. Maybe a mediocre team with an imbalanced small sample of a schedule? Nope; nobody was going on record with the O’s being a real team. They were the worst, unless you don’t ignore the other teams Boston has played, who are apparently all the worst. (Spoiler: the Orioles are actually not the worst.)

So now come the Angels, they of the similar 13-3 record. Let’s look at how they’ve compiled their record.

2-1 vs. Cleveland (.636)
5-2 vs. Oakland (.444)
3-0 vs. Texas (.429)
3-0 vs. Kansas City (.300)

The parenthetical numbers above are those teams’ records against non-Angels opponents. If you line up Boston’s opponents in descending order by win percentage against non-Boston opponents, they all appear weaker than the corresponding team the Angels have faced. And the Indians, projected to be the 2018 AL Central champions on merit (although they have a good chance to be the champions by default), should be considered a real team despite their record’s similarity to New York, who apparently are not.

This is a long way of saying the Angels will be the second first true test for Boston. I’m not expecting Boston’s domination of opponents to continue in Lanaheim, but two possibly-evenly-matched teams should provide a good three days of baseball. Price vs. Ohtani tonight; Porcello/Skaggs tomorrow; Rodriguez/Tropeano Thursday. I’m looking forward to it. For real.

villageidiom Posted: April 17, 2018 at 11:09 AM | 32 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
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   1. Jose is an Absurd Force of Nature Posted: April 17, 2018 at 02:27 PM (#5655331)
It should definitely be a lot of fun. I have found that line of criticism to be nonsense. Beyond the whole "beat who gets put in front of you" idea that fact is that winning 87% of the time against ANY competition is good. If the Sox were to do that to Baltimore and Tampa only as the season went on they would go 33-5. Playing .500 ball against everyone else would still get them to 95 wins.

Tonight should be great. I'm going to try to stay up for it. I can't wait to see Ohtani and of course the Sox have been appointment viewing so far and in my opinion should continue to be. This is a good team.
   2. Jose is an Absurd Force of Nature Posted: April 18, 2018 at 08:36 AM (#5655805)
There were a lot of things I expected to see last night, that was not one of them.
   3. villageidiom Posted: April 18, 2018 at 10:33 AM (#5655856)
There were a lot of things I expected to see last night, that was not one of them.

Likewise. I mean, blisters happen, and it's hard for a pitcher to maintain command of his pitches when dealing with them. In retrospect it all makes sense. But I did not expect a one-sided home run derby to break out - and if I had, I wouldn't have expected the one side to be Boston.

Going into the series I took my usual stance for a west coast swing with evenly-matched teams: I expect Boston to take 1 of 3, and anything better than that is a bonus. Winning the first game puts them in a great position. I don't expect the next couple of games to be anything like last night - except maybe the Rodriguez game if the scores are reversed, because running up an absurd pitch count quickly is kinda his thing. But taking game 1 is awesome.
   4. BDC Posted: April 18, 2018 at 11:31 AM (#5655895)
To the main question, though, no, they are an imaginary team from a Disney movie, much like the Mighty Ducks.
   5. villageidiom Posted: April 19, 2018 at 09:56 AM (#5656382)
As I indicated in #3 I didn't expect last night's result, either.
   6. Jose is an Absurd Force of Nature Posted: April 19, 2018 at 10:51 AM (#5656418)
I think the Sox are enjoying playing in temperatures above freezing.
   7. Batman Posted: April 19, 2018 at 11:02 AM (#5656423)
Yeah, they've got uniforms and everything. It's really great!
   8. Jose is an Absurd Force of Nature Posted: April 19, 2018 at 11:23 AM (#5656444)
I'm surprised they didn't start selling Red Sox logoed balaclavas at Fenway. Missed opportunity.
   9. Bad Fish Posted: April 19, 2018 at 09:38 PM (#5656852)
Their record is cartoonish, and it will come back down to earth. That said, a lot of winning streaks start take on a desperate, augered out stench in the late stages and I don't get that feeling with this streak, it feels pretty organic. I guess when you combine good hitting with good pitching good things happen.
   10. villageidiom Posted: April 19, 2018 at 11:29 PM (#5656910)
And good defense, BF. Whatever information they have tucked away on laminated index cards under their caps, it seems to be helping.
   11. Jose is an Absurd Force of Nature Posted: April 20, 2018 at 07:21 AM (#5656950)
16-2. They could play .500 for the rest of the year and finish 88-74, probably earning a Wild Card berth. Obviously they want a third straight division title and .500 the rest of the way would be a bummer but that just highlights the impact this has. They haven't won anything yet of course but they've bought themselves some wiggle room for the inevitable slump.
   12. villageidiom Posted: April 20, 2018 at 09:31 AM (#5656977)
The 1998 Yankees were 61-20 in the first half. Boston would match that if they go 45-18 from here on out. This is just to say that the 1998 Yankees had an insane first half.
   13. SoSH U at work Posted: April 20, 2018 at 09:43 AM (#5656983)

The 1998 Yankees were 61-20 in the first half. Boston would match that if they go 45-18 from here on out. This is just to say that the 1998 Yankees had an insane first half.


And they had more losses after three games than the Sox have had through 18.

(I don't think that's remotely meaningful. I just find it even crazier that the Yankees went 61-20 in the first half after starting the season 0-3).

   14. DavidFoss Posted: April 20, 2018 at 10:14 AM (#5656994)
16-2. They could play .500 for the rest of the year and finish 88-74, probably earning a Wild Card berth.

That's usually the way I look at it. They've got 14 games above .500 in the bank.

For the franchise, the 1946 Red Sox started 15-3 on their way to 21-3 and eventually 41-9.
   15. Darren Posted: April 20, 2018 at 01:03 PM (#5657103)
Conclusion: no.
   16. villageidiom Posted: April 20, 2018 at 01:21 PM (#5657108)
Conclusion: no.
Snark aside, they're a real team, just as Boston was a real team in 2017. But despite that, in 2017 we knew Boston didn't compare to Houston. Houston was unreal. So far in 2018 Lanaheim is real, Boston is unreal, and the Mets are... undead?

That was one big dose of adversity for Ohtani. In the series he had 3x as many Ks hitting as he had pitching. Blisters suck.
   17. Darren Posted: April 20, 2018 at 01:35 PM (#5657115)
All true.
   18. Jose is an Absurd Force of Nature Posted: April 21, 2018 at 07:57 PM (#5657716)
He was playing Indy ball and wasn’t likely to ever make it back to the show but Ryan Kalish officially retired according to Peter Gammons. He asked for one last at bat, singled and that was that. Man I had such high hopes for him.
   19. Jose is an Absurd Force of Nature Posted: April 25, 2018 at 09:15 AM (#5659745)
Well it's over now. Fire Cora, trade Mookie, build for the future.

Joking aside, what in the #### was Febles doing last night? I don't think I've ever seen a runner out by that much. Early season but he's had a few really bad sends in my opinion.
   20. Jose is an Absurd Force of Nature Posted: April 26, 2018 at 09:04 AM (#5660815)
For the second straight night....what the #### was Febles doing last night? I refer to the play where Benintendi couldn't see the right fielder and didn't tag up in the 7th inning. I realize that ideally the runner makes that read himself but it's not like Febles is loaded with responsibilities, he should be giving Benintendi some help there.

On the flip side this Mookie Betts cat is adequate and EdRod is looking strong.
   21. Nasty Nate Posted: April 26, 2018 at 09:08 AM (#5660818)
I may be mistaken, but I think that's all on Benintendi. The coach will presumably help him decide if it's deep enough, but I don't think they tell runners GO when catches are made.
   22. jmurph Posted: April 26, 2018 at 09:18 AM (#5660823)
I'm familiar with the general statheadish thinking on batting order not mattering that much, but it's still hard to shake the feeling that Mookie's power is being wasted at the top.
   23. Jose is an Absurd Force of Nature Posted: April 26, 2018 at 09:23 AM (#5660829)
I may be mistaken, but I think that's all on Benintendi. The coach will presumably help him decide if it's deep enough, but I don't think they tell runners GO when catches are made.


Normally yes but evidently Benintendi was blocked by the 2B ump. I'd think the coach should be able to help there.

I'm familiar with the general statheadish thinking on batting order not mattering that much, but it's still hard to shake the feeling that Mookie's power is being wasted at the top.


I'd love it if we could have people on base for those homers but with Hanley, JD and Devers we should have some power bats inthe middle of the order and Mookie is that good mix of getting on base and speed as well. I don't mind that our best player is the one who is going to get the most plate appearances.
   24. jmurph Posted: April 26, 2018 at 09:45 AM (#5660857)
I don't mind that our best player is the one who is going to get the most plate appearances.

Yeah I probably lean that way, too, as long as 7-9 aren't total sinkholes.
   25. Darren Posted: April 26, 2018 at 10:37 AM (#5660921)
Perhaps it was my frustration with the offense's ineptitude, but I thought Vazquez should have been sent on Mookie's fly in the 5th. Was that crazy?

Mookie is good. He seems to thrive at the lead-off spot. I would be tempted, though, to bat him second and have Benintendi lead off, or put Pedroia there when he returns.
   26. Jose is an Absurd Force of Nature Posted: April 26, 2018 at 10:45 AM (#5660932)
Perhaps it was my frustration with the offense's ineptitude, but I thought Vazquez should have been sent on Mookie's fly in the 5th. Was that crazy?


I think so. Watching the play I thought he was a sure out. Also there was still only one out and you and Benintendi-Hanley-JDM due. I liked our chances of getting Vazquez home there. If it was the second out of the inning I think you take more of a chance. Or if someone like Vazquez or JBJ is coming up, you don't have the same likelihood of scoring.
   27. jacksone (AKA It's OK...) Posted: April 26, 2018 at 11:41 AM (#5661024)
Mookie is good. He seems to thrive at the lead-off spot. I would be tempted, though, to bat him second and have Benintendi lead off, or put Pedroia there when he returns.


I think this is one of the larger blind spots we have here. By the numbers the ideal lineup doesn't produce that many more wins than the least ideal lineup, and conversely players DO care where they hit. Why mess with a good thing?
   28. jmurph Posted: April 26, 2018 at 11:56 AM (#5661047)
Is it Mookie's preference to lead-off? I wasn't aware of that. Either way I'm fine with whatever outcome.
   29. Nasty Nate Posted: April 26, 2018 at 12:00 PM (#5661055)
Mookie batted 2nd, 3rd, and 4th over different stretches in 2016 and 2017. I suspect part of his current spot is a R-L-R thing.
   30. jacksone (AKA It's OK...) Posted: April 27, 2018 at 07:20 AM (#5661488)

Is it Mookie's preference to lead-off? I wasn't aware of that. Either way I'm fine with whatever outcome.


I don't know if Betts has a preference for lead-off, but from the sounds of a few articles that came out prior to the season he did seem to want to be in one spot for the season, and Cora agreed with that. Put him #1 and leave him there.
   31. jacksone (AKA It's OK...) Posted: April 27, 2018 at 07:23 AM (#5661489)
Anyone else concerned Sale still seems to be struggling? Obviously he is still good - but he just does not look like the unbeatable monster he did at this point last year.
   32. villageidiom Posted: April 27, 2018 at 08:20 AM (#5661495)
Since 2016 Betts has led off the 1st with a HR 4 times in games the Red Sox eventually lost. One of those was a game he left early from due to injury. Another they scored 9 but lost by 4.

I'm not worried about sequencing.

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