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Red Sox: Offensive juggernaut


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#1 MyDaughterLovesTomGordon

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Posted 09 June 2013 - 11:01 PM

I will readily admit that this Red Sox 2013 performance is a surprise to me. I did not hazard a guess in the win prediction thread, but I'd peg my preseason expectations at something just about .500. 84-86 wins maybe. Competitive, but mostly just hanging around. I thought the team would be more likable, but potentially struggle to score runs and have to win a lot of 4-3 or 3-2 kind of games. Which would, of course, put a lot of burden on a pitching staff of which I was skeptical. 

 

But I could see the pitching staff having a great year. Sure, I thought, if Lester and Buchholz return to form (and Clay looked great at the end of last year), Doubront continues to have strikeout stuff, Lackey goes back to pitching the way he did before his elbow was shredded, and Dempster does 200 innings of 4.50 ERA, this staff could be pretty damn good. 

 

And they are. At a 3.76 ERA for the year, they've exceeded my expectations (though in this era of the pitcher, that's not as impressive a team ERA as it has been recently - it's only sixth in the AL).

 

However, there's no way I saw this offensive output coming.

 

Currently, the Sox are first in OPS+ (114), first in OPS (.804 - .050 better than #2 Cleveland), and first in runs (326, 13 better than Detroit - they're on pace for 775 runs or so. 808 lead the league last year. In 2011 the Sox lead with 875. Yanks lead with 915 in 2009 - if you need more proof things have swung toward pitching). 

 

As such, the team currently has the best record in the American League. 

 

The question is: Is this sustainable? 

 

There are reasons to think it's not. Is it possible Daniel Nava, Mike Carp, and Jose Iglesias with wind up with respective OPS+es of 135, 165, and 185? Is Ortiz really going to post a 1.000+ OPS at the age of 37? 

 

But the offense in some ways has room for growth. Drew is just starting to consistently hit after a bad start. Ellsbury has heated up considerably and may be getting a feel for his power and break out with some HRs. Middlebrooks may figure something out at AAA and inject some power into the lineup when Iglesias inevitably cools down. Gomes is heating up. Carp might actually be this good when healthy. 

 

So there are reasons to think the Red Sox do, indeed, have the best offense in the AL. Raise your hand if you saw this coming.



#2 Wilco's Last Fan

  • 383 posts

Posted 09 June 2013 - 11:59 PM

The Sox are currently first in the MLB in BABIP at .329, nine points ahead of the second-place Cardinals.  I'd assume they're due for some measure of regression.  

 

Still, there's a lot to like.  They're 1st in the league in walk percentage at 10.1%, a big reason why they lead the league in OBP.   They're tied for first with Baltimore in XBH% and slugging percentage.  

 

Three of their starters rank in the top 26 in baseball in P/PA (Napoli, who is first overall by a huge margin, along with Pedey and Nava).  One thing to watch is the strikeouts— the Sox rank just 11th in the AL in strikeout percentage.  Still, this team works pitchers deep into counts, gets on base and hits for power.  

 

While there's sure to be a stretch where the BABIP normalizes and we feel like they're hitting the ball right at people, this lineup has the patience and power to remain potent all season.  


Edited by Wilco's Last Fan, 10 June 2013 - 12:01 AM.


#3 DeJesus Built My Hotrod


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Posted 10 June 2013 - 12:15 AM

Nava's BABIP is .350 at present and while that is likely too high for him to sustain he has, excepting last season, had a BABIP in excess of .300 (and in some cases .400) for each one of his professional seasons save for 2012.   He may well regress but then again, this is a guy with a history of succeeding by adaptation.  We should all be skeptical but perhaps this improvement is real.


Edited by DeJesus Built My Hotrod, 10 June 2013 - 12:16 AM.


#4 Lose Remerswaal


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Posted 10 June 2013 - 06:20 AM

This is the "Month From Hell" we saw on the schedule.

 

So far:

vs. Yankees in NY: 2W-1L

vs. Rangers in BOS: 2W-1L

vs. Angels in BOS: 2W-1L

 

very small sample size, but no one can be disappointed in those numbers.

 

Now it's off to Tampa for 3, Baltimore for 4, and off day, then TB here for 3 (including a day/night DH), then to Detroit for 4.  One more off day is followed by 2 here against a better than expected Rockies team and 4 at home vs. Toronto.

 

If the Sox can go 12 and 8 over this stretch, then I think we'll all be in line for a very enjoyable summer.



#5 Drek717

  • 1989 posts

Posted 10 June 2013 - 09:23 AM

On the topic of BABIPs, Dustin Pedroia has a BABIP of .371 with a career BABIP of .315.  Oddly enough, it was .402 in March/April and dropped nearly .050 points to .356 in May but his batting average stayed more or less the same.  His season long numbers also show an exceptionally high walk rate (12.6%, versus a 9.4% career average).  His season long ISO is a very low .129 versus a career .156 and that is drug down by a .125 ISO in 2007.

 

Interestingly enough his ISO for May is .160, very close to his career norm, and with a 9.8% walk rate.  This while still keeping a .336 BA for the month.  He's in a power surge early this month with a .219 ISO.  So while his BABIP and high walk rate might suggest that the production so far might be unsustainable the ISO jump in May coupled with BABIP and walk rate regression suggests that maybe what hid did in May is close to the "real" Dustin Pedroia for 2013.  If so that would be VERY impressive as his slash line for May was .336/.398/.496.  Even if his BA regressed closer to his career .305 BA he'd still be on track for one of the best offensive seasons of his career.

 

Looking at Nava's walk and K rates meanwhile yields some interesting trends.  This year he's got a walk rate of 12.2% and a K rate of 17.6%, along with a BABIP of .333.  In 2010 they were 10.1%/24.5% respectively with a BABIP of .333 as well, and in 2012 they were 11.7%/19.9% and a BABIP of .295.

 

Meanwhile his 2010 AAA numbers (first time at AAA) were 8.6%/19.7%/.340 BABIP which then advanced in 2011 to 13.4%/16.9%/.311 BABIP and in 2012 to 13.3%/12.5%/.333 BABIP.  So a multi-season learning curve for walk and K rate is something he displayed at AAA, and his BABIP isn't crazy outside what he did in AAA or in previous MLB samples.  A good bit of this offensive surge Nava is showing could legitimately be attributed to a far better approach at the plate and having adapted to MLB pitching.  The ISO and BABIP suggest that some regression is heading his way, but it might not be anything too drastic and it will likely focus more on his BA and SLG than his OBP, meaning that he could likely remain a very valuable bat.

 

Carp's sample size is very small and there is no way he'll be rocking a .398 BABIP in another 100 or so ABs, but there are positives to mine from his statistics as well.  His K rate is a crazy 29%, higher than any of his previous MLB samples (25.9% being the next highest, from 2011).  Even his pre-season ZIPS and Steamer projections were 23.2% and 22.0% respectively, and those weren't very pro-Carp estimates.  He also consistently landed at about 20% in his very large AAA sample size.  I can't imagine that once he stops crushing everything he touches that he won't display a bit more discipline.

 

His walk rate is also a bit lower than what we'd expect at 7.5%.  This is on the nose with ZiPS pre-season projection, Steamer projected an 8.4%.  His 2011 MLB sample was a pathetic 6.1% BB rate, but every MLB sample before and since was closer to the 10% range (low of 9.8% in 2010, an 11.1% in 2012).  In AAA he had a 7.8% in 2012 but every other season was more similar to his fragmented MLB samples, ranging from 8.9% to 11.8%.

 

So even when Carp's ISO and BABIP face the inevitable strong declines we might see the damage partially padded with a bounce back in his plate discipline.  What Carp is as a player now is still up in the air, but his numbers aren't all just crazy career highs, some things actually might bounce in a positive direction.



#6 Frisbetarian


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Posted 11 June 2013 - 10:22 AM

I will readily admit that this Red Sox 2013 performance is a surprise to me. I did not hazard a guess in the win prediction thread, but I'd peg my preseason expectations at something just about .500. 84-86 wins maybe. Competitive, but mostly just hanging around. I thought the team would be more likable, but potentially struggle to score runs and have to win a lot of 4-3 or 3-2 kind of games. Which would, of course, put a lot of burden on a pitching staff of which I was skeptical. 

 

But I could see the pitching staff having a great year. Sure, I thought, if Lester and Buchholz return to form (and Clay looked great at the end of last year), Doubront continues to have strikeout stuff, Lackey goes back to pitching the way he did before his elbow was shredded, and Dempster does 200 innings of 4.50 ERA, this staff could be pretty damn good. 

 

And they are. At a 3.76 ERA for the year, they've exceeded my expectations (though in this era of the pitcher, that's not as impressive a team ERA as it has been recently - it's only sixth in the AL).

 

However, there's no way I saw this offensive output coming.

 

Currently, the Sox are first in OPS+ (114), first in OPS (.804 - .050 better than #2 Cleveland), and first in runs (326, 13 better than Detroit - they're on pace for 775 runs or so. 808 lead the league last year. In 2011 the Sox lead with 875. Yanks lead with 915 in 2009 - if you need more proof things have swung toward pitching). 

 

As such, the team currently has the best record in the American League. 

 

The question is: Is this sustainable? 

 

There are reasons to think it's not. Is it possible Daniel Nava, Mike Carp, and Jose Iglesias with wind up with respective OPS+es of 135, 165, and 185? Is Ortiz really going to post a 1.000+ OPS at the age of 37? 

 

But the offense in some ways has room for growth. Drew is just starting to consistently hit after a bad start. Ellsbury has heated up considerably and may be getting a feel for his power and break out with some HRs. Middlebrooks may figure something out at AAA and inject some power into the lineup when Iglesias inevitably cools down. Gomes is heating up. Carp might actually be this good when healthy. 

 

So there are reasons to think the Red Sox do, indeed, have the best offense in the AL. Raise your hand if you saw this coming.

 Actually, the Red Sox were on pace to score 838 runs when you wrote that (with 326 runs in 63 games). After scoring 10 runs in each of the last 2 games, however, they are now on pace to score 862 runs!



#7 Merkle's Boner

  • 619 posts

Posted 11 June 2013 - 10:48 AM

FWIW, Salty's .872 OPS places him #2 among the starting catchers in the AL, behind Mauer.  Pedey's .873 OPS is tops at 2B.  Nava's .869 is tops amongst LFs and Papi's 1.018 is first of the DHs.  Even Drew's .726 is #5 among starting SS.  A lot of depth and this doesn't even include Iglesias and Carp who would be #1 at SS and LF if you included them.



#8 OttoC


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Posted 11 June 2013 - 01:11 PM

 Actually, the Red Sox were on pace to score 838 runs when you wrote that (with 326 runs in 63 games). After scoring 10 runs in each of the last 2 games, however, they are now on pace to score 862 runs!

 

And they are right on pace to have a 40 and 25 record according to the Pythagorean winning percentage (with an exponent of 1.83). Well, 40.38-24.62.



#9 bosockboy


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Posted 11 June 2013 - 04:08 PM

Greg Colbrunn should be getting some props for this terrific offense.

#10 MetSox1

  • 316 posts

Posted 11 June 2013 - 04:20 PM

FWIW, I plugged the team batted ball stats (which are scorekeeper based and not entirely perfect by any means) into an xBABIP calculator that Fangraphs has, and it has the teams xBABIP at .326.  The current BABIP is .331 so this isn't necessary crazy talk stuff.

 

EDIT:  Looking further, Im not in love with their calculator.  Seems to skew everyone high..  Still, Sox are in the upper tier of xBABIP amongst the league as a whole.


Edited by MetSox1, 11 June 2013 - 04:25 PM.





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