Baseball for the Thinking Fan

Login | Register | Feedback

btf_logo
You are here > Home > Sox Therapy > Discussion
Sox Therapy
— Where Thinking Red Sox Fans Obsess about the Sox

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

UnZiPSing the Hitters

OK, let’s start with the important thing here.  I don’t know about the title of this piece.  Should I have just done “Unzipping” or maybe “Unzipsing” without trying to follow Dan’s ZiPS formatting style?  I don’t know, I feel like this post is already up against it.  Anyway, let’s get on with it.

The 2017 came to an end on Monday with a 5-4 defeat at the hands of the Houston Astros.  In a way the 2017 Red Sox had something for everyone.  Do you want to be positive?  Hey, we got some of that.  Do you want to be negative? Sure, we can do that.  Do you just want to rant and rave? Hey, have we got that for ya’!  One perception I have had though is that for a team that won 93 games and won, danced and repeated as division champions (nope, that doesn’t work either) it felt like on an individual level there wasn’t a lot of “wow” factor.  Thinking back over the season the only player I felt like really performed to a level beyond expectation was Christian Vazquez. 

I took a look back at the pre-season ZiPS projections and found that I was not particularly off base.  Of the 17 players on the pre-season list (not counting Nunez and Davis) who had at least 10 PA only three players had an OPS+ better than forecast; Christian Vazquez (92-72), Rafael Devers (112-79) and Mitch Moreland (99-90).  Of the other 14 players, 11 of them had greater negative discrepancies than Moreland’s positive with particularly decreased performances from Brock Holt (91-47), Mookie Betts (129-108), Hanley Ramirez (120-95) and Jackie Bradley (105-89).

The Holt injury is one that I think never got nearly the attention it deserved for the impact to the roster.  A healthy Brock Holt doing Brock Holt things would have greatly offset the third base fiasco that was the first four months of the season.  By FanGraphs WAR Holt was 2 wins worse than expectations in 2017 and that is just based on when he was in there and does not factor in the replacement level performances of Marrero, Lin, Rutledge and Fat Panda.  The Sox suffered in the first half from cascading injuries, not so much the number but the way they piled on each other at positions.  The Sox went into the season with Sandoval-Holt-Hernandez as the expected third base mix (combined 1.5 WAR), those three all were injured early and combined with the aforementioned Marrero, Lin and Rutledge for a -1.1 WAR.  That’s a big drop at one position.

Another issue, and one that was a bit more teamwide, is a bit odder.  That is BABIP which on a teamwide basis declined from .320 to .300.  The Sox had several key players have big drops in BABIP with Mookie Betts (.322 to .268), Hanley Ramirez (.315 to .272) and Jackie Bradley (.312 to .294) all performing well below both 2016 quality and 2017 projections.  It is not unusual for some statistical noise but I have always had this belief that you go into a season expecting 3 of your 9 starters to do what you expect, 3 of them to overperform and 3 to underperform.  In the Sox case Christian Vazquez was the only member of the Opening Day roster to have a BABIP higher than what ZiPS projected.

The end result of all of this coming and going is that the Sox genuinely did underperform in 2017.  The only players to exceed their projected WAR were Devers (+0.7), Vazquez (+0.5), Moreland (+0.4) and Hernandez (+0.1). By contrast the Sox had seven players who underperformed by more than Devers overperformed ranging from Bradley at -0.9 to Ramirez at -2.2.

And still won the division.

So what does this mean going forward?  Are the individuals here going to repeat 2017 or 2016?  And what about John Farrell?  Is this “wow, he won a division despite the players underperforming” or is this “that moron, he’s not getting the most out of his players?”  What I think is optimistic is that I think there is more upside than downside going into 2017.  I think Betts (BABIP) and Bogaerts (health) are near certainties to be better in 2018 and Bradley seems to have effectively found his level.

The big X factor, with apologies to Bogaerts, may well be Benintendi.  At 2.2 WAR he is a perfectly useful player but if he can find a way to develop a bit more consistency and become a 3-3.5 WAR player the Sox become a much better team.

I’ll be interested to see what ZiPS forecasts for the position players in 2018 because I think it is going to be illuminating.  I think the Sox are well positioned to benefit from several players entering the prime years of their career and even slight improvements could make a meaningful difference.

Jose is an Absurd Doubles Machine Posted: October 10, 2017 at 03:45 PM | 18 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Related News:

Reader Comments and Retorts

Go to end of page

Statements posted here are those of our readers and do not represent the BaseballThinkFactory. Names are provided by the poster and are not verified. We ask that posters follow our submission policy. Please report any inappropriate comments.

   1. Textbook Editor Posted: October 10, 2017 at 07:38 PM (#5549269)
Thanks Jose this was an interesting summary.

I'd be really curious to find out what the biggest year-over-year BABIP increases/decreases for teams that played in the same parks (more or less) in both years... is the Red Sox drop an outlier? Within normal expectations given the current BABIP environment?

Knowing the answer to that would go a long way towards figuring out signal from noise here...

   2. madvillain Posted: October 10, 2017 at 07:42 PM (#5549273)
The big X factor, with apologies to Bogaerts, may well be Benintendi. At 2.2 WAR he is a perfectly useful player but if he can find a way to develop a bit more consistency and become a 3-3.5 WAR player the Sox become a much better team.



Some nut on the White Sox forum the other week posted they would have preferred Benintendi to Moncada. Yikes. That said, Benintendi is a fine player. He's just limited as I don't think he's a true CF and is best in a corner OF.
   3. Jose is an Absurd Doubles Machine Posted: October 10, 2017 at 07:57 PM (#5549281)
I went back about ten years and I think .297 was the lowest point for the Sox with a high of .329 (I think). The generally were above .310 which I think is a park factor issue. Fenway is going to boost BABIP because of the Monstah.

MV - I’d disagree that Benintendi can’t hack center, in the little time I’ve seen him out there he looked more comfortable than he did in the first half in left field. He grew into left field and was considerably better in the second half but I don’t think CF is beyond him.

Moncada really came on in the second half I see. That’s good news. I think he’s a higher ceiling than Benintendi but Benitntendi is a higher floor. I think Benintendi at worst is an OK every day player. Conversely Moncada could be a star but the K rate is still frightening.
   4. Textbook Editor Posted: October 10, 2017 at 11:34 PM (#5549445)
I went back about ten years and I think .297 was the lowest point for the Sox with a high of .329 (I think). The generally were above .310 which I think is a park factor issue. Fenway is going to boost BABIP because of the Monstah.


Thanks, Jose. So--in theory--we were 10-15 points lower than a "normal" Red Sox BABIP season. I'm sure part of that could be due to Ortiz retiring + increased shift usage, but that still could be simply a season of bad luck.

I strongly suspect Dombrowski's gonna make a run at Stanton or Martinez (AZ version) in an effort to bring in more power; in either scenario I'm guessing/assuming we lose either Benintendi+ or Bradley+ (or possibly even both+ if it's Stanton).

Side note on Vasquez: He should be starting 4 out of every 5 games next season. Enough with this job split nonsense. If his bat plays in 2018 playing 120 games the way it did in 2017, that's a hell of a valuable C to have.

And while it frightens me to play Hanley at 1B for 100 games, if he's a better hitter doing that, I think you have to go that way with it--and who knows--maybe he gets hurt in doing so and doesn't meet the PA needed to trigger the option... Which they should actively, aggressively, make sure is not triggered.

   5. the Hugh Jorgan returns Posted: October 11, 2017 at 01:09 AM (#5549473)
I strongly suspect Dombrowski's gonna make a run at Stanton or Martinez


My ultimate wet dream is Votto. He'd look good in a Red Sox uni. And of course solve the 1B problem.

Not sure what it would take to get it done, but I reckon the entire team would just hit better by having this guy around; he is the master.
   6. Jose is an Absurd Doubles Machine Posted: October 11, 2017 at 08:32 AM (#5549508)
I think Hosmer/Martinez is the move they will look to make. It will be an either or situation.
   7. karlmagnus Posted: October 11, 2017 at 08:36 AM (#5549512)
You guys are too negative about Hanley. His ALDS performance was the true Hanley, free from injuries. Also, I find the OPS+ and WAR calculations very odd -- I've never seen a 750 OPS become a 95 OPS+ before, or negative WaR. IF not injured and playing first base, 2016 is the true Hanley, in which case we definitely want to trigger the option.
   8. jacksone (AKA It's OK...) Posted: October 11, 2017 at 09:24 AM (#5549563)
I strongly suspect Dombrowski's gonna make a run at Stanton or Martinez


Is JD Martinez enough of an upgrade over Benintendi or Bradley to spend the money it's going to take to get him? Let's say 75% of the time Martinez is a 3-6 WAR player & B&B are 2-4 WAR, anyone disagree? Why pay $18M+ per year for Martinez for that small of an upgrade?

Giancarlo has more upside for sure, but since 2011 (his first full season) he's only averaged 127 games a season. Is it all that good of an idea to sign on for 10 years at $30M per?


My ultimate wet dream is Votto. He'd look good in a Red Sox uni. And of course solve the 1B problem.

Agreed.
   9. jacksone (AKA It's OK...) Posted: October 11, 2017 at 09:25 AM (#5549567)
IF not injured and playing first base, 2016 is the true Hanley, in which case we definitely want to trigger the option.


Even in 2016 Hanley was at 3 WAR. Seems like they could do better with the $22M not triggering the option would free up.
   10. Nasty Nate Posted: October 11, 2017 at 09:35 AM (#5549584)
Even in 2016 Hanley was at 3 WAR. Seems like they could do better with the $22M not triggering the option would free up.
Ugh, that triggering option is going to become a controversy, isn't it? I don't understand why teams/players don't anticipate these issues at the time of the signing and structure the deals differently.
   11. Jose is an Absurd Doubles Machine Posted: October 11, 2017 at 09:40 AM (#5549591)
Farrell out.
   12. Nasty Nate Posted: October 11, 2017 at 09:45 AM (#5549597)
Whoa. That's 3 managers let go after 90+ win seasons this century.
   13. Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Griffin (Vlad) Posted: October 11, 2017 at 09:46 AM (#5549598)
My ultimate wet dream is Votto. He'd look good in a Red Sox uni. And of course solve the 1B problem.

Not sure what it would take to get it done...


Pretty sure that's not happening. Votto has a full no-trade clause, has repeatedly refused to waive it (link, link2), and has said that he wants to finish his career in Cincinnati.
   14. jacksone (AKA It's OK...) Posted: October 11, 2017 at 09:47 AM (#5549599)
Farrell out.


I guess I have to reserve judgment until his replacement is hired, but my first impression is it's a bad move. Farrell may not be great, but he's not bad either.The Bobby Valentine nightmare is still too recent to ignore just how bad it can get.
   15. Jose is an Absurd Doubles Machine Posted: October 11, 2017 at 09:50 AM (#5549607)
Yeah. I mean dismissing 2014/2015 out of hand seems silly but we've won 2 straight division titles. All I can think of is Joe Morgan saying "they're going to find out these guys aren't as good as they think they are" and Butch Hobson coming in and proving it.
   16. Dillon Gee Escape Plan Posted: October 11, 2017 at 10:05 AM (#5549635)
You guys are too negative about Hanley. His ALDS performance was the true Hanley, free from injuries. Also, I find the OPS+ and WAR calculations very odd -- I've never seen a 750 OPS become a 95 OPS+ before, or negative WaR. IF not injured and playing first base, 2016 is the true Hanley, in which case we definitely want to trigger the option.


The league OPS in 2017 was .750 and BB-Ref's park factors had Fenway as a hitters park (shocking). I think the negative WAR has to do with his baserunning (-3 Rbaser) and positional adjustments (-11 Rpos).
   17. Dillon Gee Escape Plan Posted: October 11, 2017 at 10:10 AM (#5549647)
I would also expect a better season from Mookie next year. He had a BABIP of .310+ in his first 2 1/2 seasons and it was just .268 this year. He did hit fewer line drives this year in exchange for more flyballs, but his hard contact rate increased.
   18. Textbook Editor Posted: October 11, 2017 at 03:25 PM (#5550110)
Votto's on a 5/$132 contract (incl. buyout in 2024), which... looks fairly reasonable, all things considered. So my guess is (a) it would take a ton to get him and (b) as mentioned above, it seems unlikely he'd waive the NTC.

Still, I think you kick the tires on it. It would probably cost you BOTH of Benintendi & Bradley, and then also some pitching--say EdRod + ? (as pitching is their greatest need). Is losing all that worth Votto? Maybe?

The Red Sox are in a tough spot--the marginal upgrades they'd get at some positions with big name guys would cost them holes in other parts of the lineup (because they'd be included in trades).

"Play better" of course, isn't a strategy anyone wants to hear in the off season, but standing pat (except for firing Porcello into the sun) with the hitting (aside from finding a guy to play 2B assuming Pedroia misses significant time) wouldn't be the *worst* plan in the world... It's just that it's an *unlikely* plan for a guy like Dombrowski to follow.

I expect a lot of moves this off-season. Some of Dombrowski's comments today spoke to an attitude of "I got here and we've tried it your way for a couple years now... Now we're gonna try it my way..."

You must be Registered and Logged In to post comments.

 

 

<< Back to main

BBTF Partner

Support BBTF

donate

Thanks to
Harveys Wallbangers
for his generous support.

Bookmarks

You must be logged in to view your Bookmarks.

Syndicate

Page rendered in 0.2155 seconds
41 querie(s) executed