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Wednesday, November 27, 2019

Dustin Pedroia’s sad connection to Jim Rice, and other surprising Red Sox numbers

Cover the Red Sox for a year and you’ll spend a lot of time staring at Baseball-Reference, the pre-eminent site for the kind of stats you would’ve found on a Topps card in 1986, as well as many of the advanced numbers that have transformed the modern game.

Over the course of a season, some numbers will occasionally jump out at you. Here are five, from lowest to highest, that caught my attention in 2019.

.001 — The difference in OPS between Rafael Devers (.916) in his superstar breakout year and Mookie Betts (.915) in his lackluster MVP follow-up. Anyone who watched the team knows that Devers was the more impactful offensive player, especially from May through July, when the Red Sox still believed they had a shot at the playoffs. And yet when all was said and done, their numbers were virtually identical. It turns out that context matters.

3 — Hits for Dustin Pedroia since the start of 2018. He’s had just 31 at-bats in that span, but that has been enough to drop his lifetime average from .300 to .299. He’s almost certain to become a victim of the Jim Rice Effect. The Hall of Fame slugger was a .300 hitter for almost his entire career, dropping below that threshold on May 5, 1989. He played only 29 more games, and finished at .298. Let the record show that Pedroia was still a lifetime .300 hitter (technically .299535, but baseball rounds up), until grounding to short to lead off his penultimate game against Baltimore’s Dan Straily. If this is it, he’ll finish his career two hits shy of .300.

A consideration of both numbers and the meanings that they can hold.

 

QLE Posted: November 27, 2019 at 10:33 PM | 17 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: dustin pedroia, numbers

Reader Comments and Retorts

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   1. Darren Posted: November 27, 2019 at 10:46 PM (#5904302)
Anyone who watched the team knows that Devers was the more impactful offensive player, especially from May through July, when the Red Sox still believed they had a shot at the playoffs. And yet when all was said and done, their numbers were virtually identical. It turns out that context matters.


Weird that the Red Sox didn't think they had a shot at the playoffs in March and April.



21 — Months that Jackie Bradley Jr. has hit under .220 with the Red Sox. Compare that to three crazy outliers that saw him hit over .350 and it becomes clear how misleading it is to call him streaky, a term that suggests roughly equal performance in both directions. Take away August of 2015 (.354), May of 2016 (.381), and June of 2017 (.353) and Bradley's career average dips from .236 to .221, which helps explain why the Red Sox are likely to move on from the defensive whiz this winter.


Jackie Bradley is one of those bizarre players that, if you take away the times where he played well, he doesn't look very good. ???

Here's a way more fun fact about JBJ: watching him hit from day to day, he is incredibly streaky, but over the course of the season, he's one of the most consistent hitters in baseball. Last three years of OPS+: 89, 92, 90.
   2. Rough Carrigan Posted: November 27, 2019 at 10:56 PM (#5904303)
When the season started they seemed to think they were were going to coast into the playoffs. After all they won 108 games last year and that alone gets you extra wins the year after.

Also, Jackie Bradley makes a handful of terrific catches every year but there isn't a system of measuring fielding that says he's more than just a little better than average.
   3. Darren Posted: November 27, 2019 at 10:59 PM (#5904304)
UZR says he's +6.5 runs above average /150 games in CF for his career (which would be something like +16.5 in a corner). How many OFs are that good?
   4. Itchy Row Posted: November 28, 2019 at 12:00 AM (#5904312)
That’s a much less sad connection than I expected.
   5. Darren Posted: November 28, 2019 at 10:27 AM (#5904334)
Yeah, who would have guessed that they both cried while watching the Notebook.
   6. PreservedFish Posted: November 28, 2019 at 10:34 AM (#5904336)
Jackie Bradley is one of those bizarre players that, if you take away the times where he played well, he doesn't look very good. ???


The point is even stupider. Apparently he's one of those bizarre players that, if you take away the times when he went on crazy streaks, isn't actually very streaky.
   7. Fernigal McGunnigle Posted: November 28, 2019 at 11:34 AM (#5904339)
The real tragedy in the Rice/Pedroia vein is Frank Demaree, who would've been a .300 career hitter if Luke Sewell had yanked him one PA earlier in his final game. Carl Furillo and Hardy Richardson also finished with one AB too many for a .300 average, but Furillo got a hit in his last career appearance while Richardson played before the Retrosheet era, so who knows his story.

There are 16 .299 hitters with 3000+ PAs. Pedroia is #4 on the list, while Jim Rice isn't even the most tragic American League outfielder named "Rice".

Player           AB      H       From    To    BA
Frank Demaree    4144    1241    1932    1944  .29946911
Carl Furillo     6378    1910    1946    1960  .29946692
Hardy Richardson 5657    1694    1879    1892  .29945201
Dustin Pedroia   6031    1805    2006    2019  .29928702
Bake McBride     3853    1153    1973    1983  .29924734
Rico Carty       5606    1677    1963    1979  .29914377
Jack Doyle       6055    1811    1889    1905  .29909166
Matt Holliday    7009    2096    2004    2018  .29904409
Kenny Lofton     8120    2428    1991    2007  .29901478
Frank McCormick  5723    1711    1934    1948  .29896907
Sam West         6148    1838    1927    1942  .29895901
Harry Rice       3740    1118    1923    1933  .29893048
Joe Start        4743    1417    1871    1886  .29875606
Dante Bichette   6381    1906    1988    2001  .29869926
Buck Jordan      2980     890    1927    1938  .29865772
Shane Mack       2857     853    1987    1998  .29856493 

   8. bachslunch Posted: November 29, 2019 at 05:41 AM (#5904450)
@7: was looking up Harry Rice, but couldn’t find sufficient detail about his career. It looks like his major league career ended early, but it doesn’t say why anywhere. Was interested to know what befell him. Thanks in advance.
   9. Fernigal McGunnigle Posted: November 29, 2019 at 01:55 PM (#5904459)
I don't know anything about him either. I called him "tragic" only in the sense that he was a couple of hits away from being a career .300 hitter.

Wikipedia has him on a list of minor league managers, and he spent a couple of years in his mid-30s playing D level ball, presumably as a player-manager.
   10. SoSH U at work Posted: November 29, 2019 at 02:29 PM (#5904464)
while Jim Rice isn't even the most tragic American League outfielder named "Rice".


And neither Jim nor Harry's tragic tales compare to the one endured by the other American League outfielder named Rice.
   11. AndrewJ Posted: November 29, 2019 at 03:18 PM (#5904472)
And this guy had the closest career BA below an exact .300. He was one/tenth of a hit away (in an eight-year career) from reaching it.
   12. Born1951 Posted: November 29, 2019 at 05:44 PM (#5904494)
There are 16 .299 hitters with 3000+ PAs.

Thanks Fernigal, I love lists like this.
   13. DCA Posted: November 29, 2019 at 07:12 PM (#5904497)
The real tragedy in the Rice/Pedroia vein is Frank Demaree, who would've been a .300 career hitter if Luke Sewell had yanked him one PA earlier in his final game.

I don't really think you can call .29954 a .300 hitter. I know it's conventionally rounded to three digits, but .29954 < .3 so it's hard to feel bad for a guy not getting undeserved credit. Especially since Demaree could have called it a career at the end of 1943, after three years of replacement-level performance in part-time play, and finished at .30002.
   14. Howie Menckel Posted: November 29, 2019 at 10:19 PM (#5904507)
the guy in post 11 was over .300 at age 27 but he left baseball - he made far more money as a railroad and coal tycoon than as a ballplayer.

then he returned after an almost four-year absence - and hit .215 in 93 AB and sneak under the fabled line. this guy also didn't live to see age 40.
   15. Gonfalon Bubble Posted: December 01, 2019 at 02:29 PM (#5904699)
The explanations behind Barry Bonds' 1,996 RBI or Lou Gehrig's 493 home runs are a lot more dismaying than Pedroia's career batting average.

At least Greg Maddux will always have 999 walks.
   16. the Hugh Jorgan returns Posted: December 01, 2019 at 08:47 PM (#5904734)
As a Red Sox fan I was always a little disappointed when Pedro picked up his 100th loss. I thought him ending his career with only 99 losses would've been kind of cool.
   17. 185/456(GGC) Posted: December 04, 2019 at 12:59 PM (#5905592)
Man, BA has fallen as a metric. I forgot that Rice dropped below .300 at the end of his career.

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