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The 2012 Red Sox in Context with Past Red Sox Teams


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#1 ScubaSteveAvery


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Posted 09 October 2012 - 07:39 AM

I decided to have some fun with numbers last night and rank the 2012 squad with previous Red Sox teams from 1946 to present. While this team may be the most loathed team it wasn't the worst hitting Sox team (1993 probably takes those honors) in the post-War era, and it wasn't the worst pitching team in the post-Era (1996?). However, this team didn't cover itself in glory either. From striking out the most in team history, to allowing the most home runs in team history, this team provided regularly bad play no matter what they were doing on the diamond.

This isn't a highly scientific approach, but I simply looked at each major stat that BRef provides in historical data, and compared it with previous Red Sox teams from 1946 to present to achieve the rankings. This was really to see how the team did on a stat-by-stat basis relative to other teams. I'll start with hitting:

Red Sox Hitting in Context 1946 - 2012
2012 Red Sox Batter Rankings
Statistic Result Rank Worst Since
BA 0.260 52/67 1992
OBP 0.315 64/67 1968
SLG 0.415 33/67 1993
OPS 0.730 50/67 1993
R/G 4.53 45/67 1993
Runs Scored 734 40/67 1993*
H 1459 37/67 1993*
2B 339 9/67 2009
3B 16 67/67 Tied with 2006 for least ever
HR 165 28/67 1993*
BB 428 67/67 Least since 1946*
K 1,197 1/67 Most in team history


Asterisks represent that it was the worst since 1994, but since those are counting stats, and 1994 was a shortened season, I used the next worst season available. For hits, the previous worst team was the 1995 Sox, but as Jose noted, that season was short as well. For walks in a season, the asterisk is because 1994 and 1981 were both behind the 2012 teams; however, those were both strike years, making the Sox last among full season teams.
  • The 2012 team struck out the most in team history, and almost walked the least since 1946.
  • Based on runs scored per game, the 2012 team was in the lower half of scoring teams, and worst since the 1993 team.
  • The 2012 Red Sox: We hit doubles!
  • Oddly enough, the 2007 team only hit 1 more HR over the course of the year. But the 165 home runs is a far cry from the 2003 and 2004 juggernauts. Even the 2009-2011 teams hit over 200 home runs per year. This team hit 38 less home runs than last year's team.
On to pitching:

Red Sox Pitching in Context 1946 - 2012
2012 Pitcher Stats Rankings
Statistic Result Rank Worst Since
ERA 4.70 60/67 2005
Shutouts 4 66/67 1994 (Shortened Season)
SV 35 35/67 1987*
Hits Allowed 1449 46/67 2009
Runs Allowed 806 62/67 2006
Earned Runs Allowed 754 63/67 2006
Home Runs Allowed 190 67/67 Tied with 1987 for most in franchise history
Walks Allowed 529 34/67 2011
SO 1,176 6/67 2011
WHIP 1.371 34/67 2009
K9 7.33 6/67 2011
HR9 1.19 67/67 Tied with 1987 for highest in franchise history


The asterisk represent that it was the worst since 1994, but since saves are counting stats, and 1994 was a shortened season, I used the next worst season available.
  • The 2012 team now holds dubious honor of allowing the most home runs allowed in team history (shared with the 1987 team).
  • ERA is not a perfect stat by any measure, but what I took away here is how I'm amazed the 2005 team made the playoffs with one of the worst ERAs since 1946, while this team finishes in last place in the division. I love stuff like this.
  • The save stat isn't that telling, since the 1987 team only had 16 saves. The 2003 and 2004 teams had 36 saves and obviously did very well.
  • This pitching staff did strike out a lot of batters. The 2001 team struck out the most batters in team history, but after that the next five teams on the all-time list are from 2008-2012, with the 2012 team taking 6th. Strikeouts have been rising in the MLB for the last 10 years, so this isn't that surprising, but it is worth nothing that from 2008 to present, these teams have been strikeout machines.
  • Only 4 shutouts. Take away 1994, and its the least in team history.
Like I said, this wasn't scientific, but more a fun and interesting look into this team. I do think though that the 2012 team probably ranks in the top 10 worst teams since 1946, mostly due to poor pitching. Take away the inability of this lineup to draw a walk, and its a bad, but not terrible offense. However, not even a high number of strikeouts could save this rotation from getting manhandled on a nightly basis.

Edited by ScubaSteveAvery, 09 October 2012 - 01:58 PM.


#2 jose melendez


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Posted 09 October 2012 - 09:38 AM

You need to put an asterisk on 1995 for shortened season.

#3 ScubaSteveAvery


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Posted 09 October 2012 - 10:18 AM

Thanks Jose. The next worse hitting team then is the laughably bad 1993 team. I added an asterisk to represent a shortened season.

#4 ScubaSteveAvery


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Posted 09 October 2012 - 10:28 AM

I wonder how much of the 1993 team is brought down by Tony Pena's and Carlos Quintana's awful seasons at the plate? Pena put up a .502 OPS that year in 347 plate appearances, and Quintana put up .587 OPS in 343 plate appearances. Bob Melvin spelled Tony Pena at catcher, yet only hit .564 OPS in 190 plate appearances.

Hobson also let Bob Zupcic get 326 plate appearances (.668 OPS) and Ivan Calderon get 239 plate appearances (.582 OPS).

#5 reggiecleveland


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Posted 09 October 2012 - 11:42 AM

The low BB total almost tells the entire story. So many batters with terrible approach.

#6 joyofsox


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Posted 09 October 2012 - 12:58 PM

OPS+

1993 - 90
2012 - 94

#7 ScubaSteveAvery


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Posted 09 October 2012 - 01:56 PM

Lurker Mdipalma78 sent me this:

I noticed that this year the Sox had the fewest walks since 1981. '81 was a strike year, so you might want to keep going backward until the next worst year. I think you'd have to go all the way back to 1931 (405 BB)


And that means that since 1946, the 2012 Sox are last in walks in a season, and even out-did the pared down teams during WWII.

I've updated the chart in the initial post.

#8 Paul M


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Posted 09 October 2012 - 04:07 PM

The 1996 Red Sox were above average in ERA as measured by ERA+. This year's team was significantly worse: 92 vs. 101. Realize that wasn't the measure evaluated here but I gave up trying to find a worse pitching year than this one but has to be historically dreadful.

#9 ScubaSteveAvery


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Posted 09 October 2012 - 05:41 PM

I decided to grab some more data from Fangraphs to give a broader picture of how bad the 2012 Red Sox were.

Hitting:
Red Sox Hitting in Context 1946-2012 (Fangraphs Data)
2012 Red Sox Batter Rankings
Statistic Result Rank Worst Since
BB% 6.90% 67/67 Lowest since 1946
K% 19.40% 67/67 Highest since 1946
BB/K 0.36 67/67 Lowest since 1946
ISO 0.155 27/67 1993
BABIP 0.301 19/67 2010
wOBA 0.316 64/67 1992
wRC 710 54/67 1992*
wRC+ 94 56/67 1993*
wRAA 6.5 59/67 2000
WAR 20.8 56/67 2006
  • As we saw, the plate discipline from this team was historically bad when compared with other Sox teams.
  • No hard luck brought this team down as BABIP was a normal .301.
  • wRC+ is like OPS+, which actually match each other this year. The offense was 6% below league average.
  • And for those who like it, the offense's WAR was among the lower end of Red Sox teams, post 1945. To compare, the 2011 squad produced 38.1 WAR, the 2007 team 30.3 WAR, and the 2004 team 25.8 WAR.
Pitching:
Red Sox Pitching in Context 1946-2012 (Fangraphs Data)
2012 Red Sox Pitcher Rankings
Statistic Result Rank Worst Since
K/BB 2.22 10/67 2008
K% 18.90% 8/67 2006
BB% 8.50% 30/67 2011
BABIP 0.296 54/67 2009
LOB% 69.60% 54/67 2005
ERA- 110 64/67 1965
FIP- 102 65/67 1966
FIP 4.41 62/67 2006
ERA-FIP 0.31 16/67 2011
xFIP 4.14 No Rank No Rank
xFIP- 101 No Rank No Rank
WAR 13.7 59/67 1969*
  • As seen with the BRef data, this pitching staff struck out lots of batters, and was merely average with walks (relative to other Sox teams).
  • BABIP was a bit lower than average, which is surprising, but further reinforces the suck of this pitching staff.
  • ERA- and FIP- work like ERA+, but in reverse. Numbers below 100 are considered x% better than average.
  • Using just ERA, this pitching staff was 10% below average, but FIP shows only 2% below average, indicating that the pitching staff was hurt by the defense and luck. Given the lower BABIP, I'm guessing the fielding was that bad.
  • As you can see, the ERA-FIP shows a similar trend, where FIP is .31 points lower than the ERA.
  • Because the pitching staff tied with the worst HR/9 in team history, I decided to throw in xFIP to see how the staff looks when home run rates are normalized. xFIP does help the pitching staff with a total of 4.14, compared with an ERA of 4.70; however, xFIP- shows that even with normalized home run rates, the pitching staff is still a touch below average, which is bad news going forward. Because xFIP only goes back 10 years, I didn't rank the teams.
  • And again, for those who like the stat, the pitching staff produced a measly 13.7 WAR. It was the worst since 1981, but since that was a strike year, I had to go back all the way to 1969 to find a Sox pitching staff that produced such a low WAR over the course of the season.

Edited by ScubaSteveAvery, 09 October 2012 - 05:53 PM.


#10 ScubaSteveAvery


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Posted 09 October 2012 - 05:49 PM

The 1996 Red Sox were above average in ERA as measured by ERA+. This year's team was significantly worse: 92 vs. 101. Realize that wasn't the measure evaluated here but I gave up trying to find a worse pitching year than this one but has to be historically dreadful.


BRef didn't include ERA+ in their big pitching data set. When I have more time I'll try and dig up all the years. I used 1996 by a really quick and dirty look up of the worst WHIPs, K9, BB9, HR9, and ERAs and noticed that 1996 was near the top, or at the top, of most of those lists. It was just a wild guess. Fangraphs ERA- (the reverse ERA+ if you will) had the 2012 team as the worst since 1965. It had 1996 at 97, which 3% above average, so even better that BRef's ERA+.

The only 3 years that ERA- showed as worse than 2012 was 1965 (113), 1960 (115), and 1964 (117). BRef has the ERA+ for those years at 88, 88, and 87 respectively. So, it is possible that this was the worst Red Sox pitching staff since the 1960s.