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— Where Thinking Red Sox Fans Obsess about the Sox

Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Three Questions: June 2017

1. Can Boston win the division if they continue getting so little out of 3B?

2. What additive moves should Boston make?

3. Wasn’t this supposed to be a great defensive team?

1. Can Boston win the division if they continue getting so little offense out of 3B?

They’re 3 games out of 1st place right now, so… uh, yeah. Or it depends.

As is usual, when I start talking about one part of the team it inevitably leads me to talking about Xander Bogaerts. He is about 50 points above his projected OBP, maybe 35 points above his projected SLG. His walk rate is unchanged but his K rate is down, which means there are more balls in play. And his BABIP is close to .400, which is atypically high. It’s not coming from line drives, which I’d usually associate with sustainability of high BABIP. Rather, his GB rate is higher, as is his rate of infield hits: he has 11 this year, already half of his 2016 total. A more normal rate of infield hits would bring his BABIP down close to 30 points. So while I think he’s improved his plate coverage a bit, he’s probably not going to get as much out of it as he has had so far, unless he starts hitting more for power than he’s done so far.

If Bogaerts comes back to Earth, then yeah, it’ll be harder to sustain the crap they’ve gotten out of 3B. But yes, they can win this division getting crap from 3B. It just means they need more things to go right.

2. What additive moves should Boston make?

At this time I’d say… None for this year. As Jose has said a few times David Price just needs to be better than Kyle Kendrick. That’s a big enough improvement. Nothing on par with adding Chris Sale will happen without giving up prospects we all know they’re not giving up. Any player they can get from trading players they’re willing to give up will have a much lower impact. I’ve also been an advocate for not rushing prospects, and I anticipate there’s nothing Devers will do this year in AA (or AAA) to earn a real opportunity in MLB in 2017. They’re going to war with the army they have.

3. Wasn’t this supposed to be a great defensive team?

ERA-FIP
Sale +0.85
Porcello +0.65
Rodriguez -0.58
Pomeranz +0.69

FIP-xFIP
Sale -0.52
Porcello -0.33
Rodriguez -0.73
Pomeranz +0.61

My hot take from these differences is that Boston’s starters’ ERA is higher than their peripherals would suggest, despite giving up fewer HR than we might expect. That sounds to me like a defensive problem.

It’s not that the defense has been bad. They’ve been, at best, average. But here’s the breakdown by position, per UZR/150:

1B -2
2B +8
3B -12
SS +1
LF -12
CF +6
RF +22

There’s a substantial amount of variance here, the majority of the negatives coming on the left side. (For what it’s worth UZR has had trouble with Fenway LF before, but my understanding is that those issues have been addressed.)  I’m going out on a limb here, but I’d assume the impact of bad fielding is greater if the bad fielding is in adjacent positions. For example, and using the above numbers, something hit toward 3B is more likely to get through to the outfield, where it will be fielded by a LF and booted or thrown away or whatever. Thus the impacts of defensive shortcomings are compounded, much more than if Benintendi and Betts switched positions and all other things remained equal.

I think 3B was, to some degree, anticipated. 1B was not. Benintendi is probably in the neighborhood of what was expected, but it looks like Chris Young has been on a downward slope for a few years now. With Benintendi healthy I’d expect to see less of Young, which alone might make LF defense better and end the compounding effects. Sandoval’s return might negate that, but we’ll see.

villageidiom Posted: May 31, 2017 at 12:30 PM | 12 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
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   1. Jose is El Absurd Bronson Y Pollo Posted: May 31, 2017 at 02:57 PM (#5466258)
1. Can Boston win the division if they continue getting so little offense out of 3B?


There is a 2013 vibe to this question isn't there? I couldn't have been the only one thinking of Jose Iglesias' ridiculous run that year filling in for WMB could I?

2. What additive moves should Boston make?


I agree with what you said in response to this. I think the lack of options in the upper minors as well as the lack of meaningful trade bait means this is a WYSIWYG team. I'd be surprised to see any major moves.

3. Wasn’t this supposed to be a great defensive team?

There’s a substantial amount of variance here, the majority of the negatives coming on the left side.


On a pitching staff where over half of all innings (231 of 455.2) are being pitched by left handers that's going to be an issue. According to BBRef the Sox have also faced more right handed hitters than any team in baseball. I hadn't really thought of it being a "left side issue" until you raised it but it's a really good point. Given the construction of the roster I don't think the Sox should expect to face fewer RHB in the final 2/3rds of the season.

   2. villageidiom Posted: May 31, 2017 at 03:23 PM (#5466291)
There is a 2013 vibe to this question isn't there? I couldn't have been the only one thinking of Jose Iglesias' ridiculous run that year filling in for WMB could I?
I was actually thinking of Xander Bogaerts filling in for him in the WS. If they're going to get nothing offensively from a position they might as well upgrade to a no-hit elite defender type at SS and shift Bogaerts to 3B.

No, I'm not serious about that. I mean, I did think it. But moving Bogaerts off SS at this point would be absurd. If they can plug in a great defender at 3B who can't hit, that would already be an upgrade on what they've had. Marrero has been an upgrade, entirely because of his defense.
   3. Mike Webber Posted: June 01, 2017 at 09:20 AM (#5466726)
2. What additive moves should Boston make?


The Royals are in last place in the American League, and their ace pitcher, Duffy, just hit the DL for 6-8 weeks. Mike Moustakas as well as Hosmer, Cain, Escobar, and Vargas are all free agents after the season, and there has been conflicting reports on what the new bargaining agreement means as far as compensation picks. As I understand it - and take this with a big grain of salt because I've read/heard a lot of different things - If the Royals gave Moose the qualifying offer and he turned it down and signed elsewhere they would get a "sandwich" pick between round 1 & 2. Whatever it is, it isn't as juicy as it was previously.

The KC sports radio has already had guests linking Moose to Boston, Buster Olney for example, and the local hosts seem to think of Boston as a landing spot for Hosmer. The local hosts have already zeroed in on Devers, because they can read a Baseball America prospect list as well as anyone.

Since I follow both teams I can see the flaws in the radio host grand scheme, but here's a small truth that might make the Moose to Boston move work. The Royals do not value prospects in the same way much of baseball does. While their analytics department seems to be pretty strong from what I've read, it still seems as if they are valuing things differently than most. It is possible that if Boston says, "We're not budging on Devers" that the Royals may ask for a group of prospects that the Sox would be comfortable moving.

Don't get me wrong, KC will want Devers - and would have wanted Mocada and Groome. They aren't dumb. But they also like toolsy guys and don't seem to care that much if they draw walks.

With Hosmer leaving Sam Travis could be a key piece in a deal, and then a couple more prospects. And that would be fair really for both sides. Travis is WAY more likely to be worth something than a sandwich pick.

   4. Jose is El Absurd Bronson Y Pollo Posted: June 01, 2017 at 09:46 AM (#5466744)
You hit the big issues with such a trade. In theory the Sox and Royals line up well but I don't see the Sox having a good exchange for Moose (actually this is a deal I'd make for Johnson but the caveats noted by vi about rotation depth are not to be ignored). I'd be surprised if the Sox traded Devers for Moose or Hosmer. I could be wrong but I think the Sox are genuinely high on him. I could be wrong but I think the fact that the Sox haven't moved Devers or Travis speaks to Dombrowski's opinion of those guys. God knows he hasn't been shy about moving prospects historically (and often with results that favor his club) so that he held those guys makes me think he is high on them.

Or maybe there just wasn't a deal to be made. I think if Dombrowski wanted to deal Devers he could have done it at any time. Travis missed much of last year with injury so his value was probably lower than the Sox internal valuation of him.
   5. Dock Ellis Posted: June 01, 2017 at 09:49 AM (#5466747)
What's the rationale for not bringing up Devers right now? There's games to win. Didn't Dombrowski say something about how if a guy is killing AA ball (like Andrew Benintendo), then AAA doesn't really that much..
   6. Jose is El Absurd Bronson Y Pollo Posted: June 01, 2017 at 10:00 AM (#5466760)
Devers isn't killing AA ball is the biggest issue. He's playing well (.287/.355/.503) but he's been slumping at the end of May. I think the Sox would want to see him snap out of this before they rush him up. Just anecdotally when I saw him on Saturday he was really struggling with the slop the Yankee pitcher was throwing. It was reminiscent of Moncada struggling with the off-speed stuff last year. I don't think it's any kind of "this guy is a bust" material so much as "this guy has things to learn."

He's still about a year younger than Benintendi was at this time last year and clearly not as polished. I'm high on him but I don't think he's ready yet.
   7. villageidiom Posted: June 01, 2017 at 11:03 AM (#5466838)
I think the other big issue with a trade for Moose is that I really don't picture Dombrowski trading for a 3B while Sandoval is still on the roster, nor do I picture him just releasing Sandoval. If, say, Hanley were out for the year I could see it: shift Panda to DH and trade for a few months of Moose. But I'm not seeing it.

Sandoval went 3 for 4 last night, in his first game back from the DL. He's played 18 games, the first nine with a 548 OPS and the next nine with an 873 OPS. Neither of those is the final word on what we can expect from him this year, but I don't think he's seen as having played himself out of a job.
   8. Mike Webber Posted: June 03, 2017 at 10:54 PM (#5468477)
Price, 7 IP, 3 hits, 1 BB, 1 ER, 7 Ks.
It's all fixed now, I'm ordering my playoff tix. :)

Seriously, I didn't see the game, did he look as good as his line? Did he labor at all?
   9. Jose is El Absurd Bronson Y Pollo Posted: June 03, 2017 at 11:48 PM (#5468485)
I saw very little bit I thought he looked great. He see,ed to be using his change up better and more often than at any point last year.
   10. Jose is El Absurd Bronson Y Pollo Posted: June 05, 2017 at 11:31 AM (#5468943)
That was a fairly encouraging weekend. Nice to see Benintendi have a good day yesterday. It's worth noting that a big part of his slump is BABIP related, a .213 BABIP since May 6 until yesterday. He's still drawing walks so I feel pretty confident that he's going to be alright and obviously yesterday was a nice one.
   11. Mike Webber Posted: June 05, 2017 at 09:29 PM (#5469417)
E-Rod (knee) likely shut down for 3-4 weeks
Evan Drellich of CSN New England reports that Dr. James Andrews has recommended that Eduardo Rodriguez (knee) be shut down for 3-4 weeks.
The hope is that Rodriguez's right knee would feel better after the shutdown period and he'd be able to avoid surgery, but a season-ending operation would be on the table if he doesn't recover as hoped. If he does eventually go under the knife, the recovery period would be 5-6 months. Even if he successfully rehabs, it looks like we won't see Rodriguez until at least late July at the earliest. Rodriguez is dealing with a right knee subluxation, which is a fancy way of saying he has a dislocated kneecap. It's something that's bothered him a few times off and on since last season. Brian Johnson is in line to fill Rodriguez's spot in the Red Sox' rotation, assuming his ailing hamstring is well enough.
Source: CSN New EnglandJun 5 - 5:20 PM
   12. Jose is El Absurd Bronson Y Pollo Posted: June 05, 2017 at 10:25 PM (#5469457)
Well ####. He was really having a great year.

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