May: Red Sox discussion, observations and trend tracking...AKA It's not all about the Benjamins

YTF

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Starting this thread as a place to discuss the actual on field aspects of the team while hopefully keeping the $$$ talk for other threads.
At the suggestion of a couple of well respected dopes in an attempt to avoid a megathread well be starting a new thread each month for discussion, observations and the tracking of current trends.

As the calendar turns to May we'll look to continue what has been some good discussion. 30 games into the season the Sox are 17-13. I think all of us would have signed up for that with a fully healthy team, let alone this Beantown version of a MASH unit that has been cobbled together. The pitching staff has been beyond anything we thought possible from this group, likewise the catching tandem of Wong and McGuire and let's talk about this outfield. As a group they have been solid on defense and rock stars on offense. The season's starting CF is settling in at SS, Duran has moved from LF to CF and is playing well. Abreu has taken over in RF and has absolutely made the most of his opportunity. Tyler O'Neill...y'all don't need me to tell you about Tyler FN O'Neill. Conventional wisdom would tell us this can't be sustainable, but that same "wisdom" told us that it wasn't even obtainable. As @InsideTheParker would say, "Geaux Sox!!! Now continue to discuss.
 

Rovin Romine

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The pitching staff has been beyond anything we thought possible from this group, likewise the catching tandem of Wong and McGuire and let's talk about this outfield. As a group they have been solid on defense and rock stars on offense.
Snapshots!

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By OPS+ we're 106, which is not bad at all, particularly given the younger players and the % of replacement ABs we've had thusfar due to an assortment of injuries.

By runs though, we're #4 in the AL.

81887

By ERA+ we're way way ahead, most of that due to the starting pitching.

WAR by position is a bit early to be fully useful (IMO), but it generally reflects what we're seeing in the raw numbers.

Relative to the other AL teams, our total WAR is #2, behind KCR.
We're #1 in pitching overall, but #10 in relief pitching.
C is 5 out of 15. (Better than expected.)
1B is 7. (Alas, Casas!)
2B is 15. (Completely Valdez.)
3B is 13. (Dalbec/Reyes have as many ABs as Raffy.)
SS is 11.
LF is 2.
CF is 1
RF is 3.
DH is 6. (He's not as bad as you think.)

The OF, C, DH, and 1B have kept us afloat offensively. Hopefully an IF of Devers/CR/Grissom/Cooper will stabilize things going forward.
 

RS2004foreever

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This is Abreu. His '23 and '24 numbers are almost identical. His Babip is unsustainable obviously. Still, zips projects a rest of the season flash line of .255/.343/.422 which given Abreu's defense is a very useful player.
81893

Rafaela is a different story (pun intended). He's been unlucky (.230 Babip).

81895
 

8slim

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Keep winning 17 of 30 and this would seem to be a Wild Card team. I really can't say enough about how they've persevered through injuries. Just need the bats to get going more, because the starting pitching is going to go through a rough patch or two at some point.
 

simplicio

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They need the bats to keep going really. Through 4/14 they had a team wrc+ of 94 (21st); since then it's been 118 (5th).
 

TFisNEXT

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This is Abreu. His '23 and '24 numbers are almost identical. His Babip is unsustainable obviously. Still, zips projects a rest of the season flash line of .255/.343/.422 which given Abreu's defense is a very useful player.
View attachment 81893

Rafaela is a different story (pun intended). He's been unlucky (.230 Babip).

View attachment 81895
Abreu is also trending in the right direction with his K/BB% and ISO numbers. So while he will regress on the BABIP front, those other improvements hopefully hold and lessen the sting.
 

Fishy1

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Yeah, if Abreu can cut that K rate even further, to like, 20% - watch out!
 

brandonchristensen

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At what point do we just accept Wilyer as a starting outfielder? A lot of talk about him being a platoon - but he has been so impressive.
 

simplicio

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He's talked about as a platoon cause he's not good at hitting LHP. 66 wrc+ currently.

That's the strong side of a platoon so he is the starting OF, but swapping in Ref vs LHP is still a good idea.
 

Stan Papi Was Framed

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At what point do we just accept Wilyer as a starting outfielder? A lot of talk about him being a platoon - but he has been so impressive.
Yes, Abreu has won the job and has been great. He deserves to start for the foreseeable future. I hope Cooper is back soon and that Grissom can play soon. The lineup could start to look quite solid with starting OF of O'Neill-Duran-Abreu, IF of Devers-Raffaela-Grissom-Cooper, and Wong-McGuire at C. A healthy Yoshida could slot in at DH of course.

edit: to simplicio's point, Abreu only has a handful of PA against lefties this year and last year. Makes sense to slot Refsnyder in sometimes v. lefties, but could also see how Abreu does with more chances v. lefties.
 
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Sandy Leon Trotsky

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He's talked about as a platoon cause he's not good at hitting LHP. 66 wrc+ currently.

That's the strong side of a platoon so he is the starting OF, but swapping in Ref vs LHP is still a good idea.
On a crazy small sample though. He's a rookie. This was said of Casas too at this point his rookie season.... these guys need time to see more LHP before the book gets written on them. And RFsnyder has been hitting well also even against RHPs. More likely he'll eventually regress to his mean after a much larger sample size than for Abreu to never gain some there.
 

Big Papi's Mango Salsa

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He’s considered a rookie yeah?
He is considered a rookie, but if you were thinking on it from the RoY and extra 1st round pick thing, he's not eligible. He didn't appear on top prospect lists. This is dumb, but it's the rule.

Eligibility is based on the preseason rankings. Eligible prospects have to appear on at least two of the three Top 100 Prospect rankings released by MLB Pipeline, Baseball America and ESPN. (https://www.mlb.com/news/prospect-performance-incentive-ppi-eligible-players)
 

Sandy Leon Trotsky

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He is considered a rookie, but if you were thinking on it from the RoY and extra 1st round pick thing, he's not eligible. He didn't appear on top prospect lists. This is dumb, but it's the rule.

Eligibility is based on the preseason rankings. Eligible prospects have to appear on at least two of the three Top 100 Prospect rankings released by MLB Pipeline, Baseball America and ESPN. (https://www.mlb.com/news/prospect-performance-incentive-ppi-eligible-players)
That's what I was wondering..... and wow what a dumb fucking rule. So because Keith Law didn't see him as a serious prospect he gets dinged????? I really hope that gets challenged
 

Fishy1

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Abreu's discipline seems to disappear against lefties. Tiny sample so far but there's a lot of waving at off speed stuff eight inches off the plate. I don't think he picks up left-handers nearly as well as he does RHP. He'll have to fix that if he's going to be anything more than a strong side platoon guy, but I agree he deserves a shot to figure it out.
 

Big Papi's Mango Salsa

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That's what I was wondering..... and wow what a dumb fucking rule. So because Keith Law didn't see him as a serious prospect he gets dinged????? I really hope that gets challenged
One of the dumbest I've seen (the rule about them being on those arbitrary lists, not the incentive thing, which I think is a cool idea but implemented poorly).
 

chrisfont9

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Keep winning 17 of 30 and this would seem to be a Wild Card team. I really can't say enough about how they've persevered through injuries. Just need the bats to get going more, because the starting pitching is going to go through a rough patch or two at some point.
+4 wins every month is like a 93ish win pace? I'll take that.

Those two off-days next week are so sweet. Just perfectly timed for the rotation to muddle through a moment longer before hopefully we have at least 4 starters back . What happens to Criswell after that? Maybe the idea of nobody being injured isn't worth contemplating just yet.
 

DeadlySplitter

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Uh... no thanks? I'd rather keep Bobby than Dom Smith - and that is saying something.

Did they not "dodge the bullet" on Cooper after all?
 

simplicio

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On a crazy small sample though. He's a rookie. This was said of Casas too at this point his rookie season.... these guys need time to see more LHP before the book gets written on them. And RFsnyder has been hitting well also even against RHPs. More likely he'll eventually regress to his mean after a much larger sample size than for Abreu to never gain some there.
It's a small sample consistent across last season and this one and his scouting from the minors. It doesn't mean he won't get past it, but it's not just a fluke either.
 

SirPsychoSquints

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I think there's room for both of them on the roster, and Dom is a significantly better hitter anyway.
I'm not sure Smith is a better hitter, let alone significantly. He hasn't had an average OPS+ in the last three years. 2021-2024, Dalbec is .222/.284/.416, Smith is .243/.311/.355. Zips projects Dalbec as a .312 wOBA hitter, Steamer projects Smith as .308 (Zips doesn't have Smith for some reason).
 

Rovin Romine

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I'm not sure Smith is a better hitter, let alone significantly. He hasn't had an average OPS+ in the last three years. 2021-2024, Dalbec is .222/.284/.416, Smith is .243/.311/.355. Zips projects Dalbec as a .312 wOBA hitter, Steamer projects Smith as .308 (Zips doesn't have Smith for some reason).
I'd agree. If you look at his monthly splits for the last 3 years, he's got exactly two which are over an .800 OPS. So since 2020 he hasn't really done more than occasionally flash above average hitting ability. Meaning he's not like a Yoshida type who had good numbers that were dragged down by bad months. He's had average (at best) numbers pretty consistently.

The more I look, the more I don't get this as anything other than a stop-gap.

That said, maybe there's some factor (injury?) we don't know about for assessing Smith. But it's not like he was tearing up AAA this year either.
 

Cassvt2023

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Not sure if this is the right spot for this, but….Rafaela is already worth the deal they signed him to. He has totally solidified the infield D with Story going down. That in itself has made this season competitive when it could’ve totally gone of the rails very early. His bat is a work in progress, but he is 23 yrs old and has all the tools to be an impact player. I love this kid going forward
 

simplicio

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I totally agree, he has the quick twitch for days to bring his bat around. I think his mental game will mature soon as he gets more comfortable and he'll fix the dumb fielding mistakes and swing decisions to turn into a true monster.
 

Petagine in a Bottle

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Another agree here. Feels like the defense has really been solidified and calmed things down when Rafaela was moved to SS.
 

Rasputin

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+4 wins every month is like a 93ish win pace? I'll take that.

Those two off-days next week are so sweet. Just perfectly timed for the rotation to muddle through a moment longer before hopefully we have at least 4 starters back . What happens to Criswell after that? Maybe the idea of nobody being injured isn't worth contemplating just yet.
After tonight's game a record of 18-13 puts them on a pace to be 90-65 with seven games left, just like we all predicted.

As some of you might imagine, I'm not really used to a team being substantially better than I anticipated. I'm left with a queasy Lucy with the Football kind of feeling. How much of this is real? Obviously some. Obviously not all. Beyond that, I've got a resemblance to a shrug emoji.
 

chawson

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Not sure if this is the right spot for this, but….Rafaela is already worth the deal they signed him to. He has totally solidified the infield D with Story going down. That in itself has made this season competitive when it could’ve totally gone of the rails very early. His bat is a work in progress, but he is 23 yrs old and has all the tools to be an impact player. I love this kid going forward
Yeah, I was on team keep Rafaela in CF but after Romy went down this was definitely the right move.

Abreu has me recalling the vintage Trot Nixon era quite a bit lately. It’d be incredibly valuable to establish him as a 3-4 win RF (even as a platoon) under team control until 2030 before Anthony’s ready.
 

nvalvo

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Another agree here. Feels like the defense has really been solidified and calmed things down when Rafaela was moved to SS.
Part of this is that Duran has been quietly excellent in CF, so we haven’t lost much defense in the outfield, either. We’ve basically traded Story’s bat for Refsnyder’s at the cost of some range in LF.
 

loneredseat

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I freaking love this team. How can you not? It's like they can do no wrong. I know it's early, but there's something about this season that feels special. Maybe it was the low initial expectations. Or the freaking awesome starting pitching. I think it's all these "non stars" playing like all stars. Either way, I'm truly enjoying it. GO SOX!
 

Sandy Leon Trotsky

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I freaking love this team. How can you not? It's like they can do no wrong. I know it's early, but there's something about this season that feels special. Maybe it was the low initial expectations. Or the freaking awesome starting pitching. I think it's all these "non stars" playing like all stars. Either way, I'm truly enjoying it. GO SOX!
They’re fun and scrappy. Rafaela to SS seems to have stabilized the shitty defense which was making them barely watchable after Stort went down
 

loneredseat

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They’re fun and scrappy. Rafaela to SS seems to have stabilized the shitty defense which was making them barely watchable after Stort went down
I know- this has been huge, along with Duran playing good defense in center. Good pitching and good defense is like a nice warm sleeping bag.
 

Big Papi's Mango Salsa

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Strong agreement with the others about Rafaela. One of those "watching the games" vs "straight analytics" things that I don't think FG or BBRef or whatever has truly captured about him on the defensive side. In CF he already "saved" two games in Oakland that come to mind. At SS he's certainly allowed the defense to remain stable, and he of course seems to cover a lot of ground, allowing others (Devers and Valdez) to be better positioned as well. It might end up "hurting" him in some of the defensive ratings and asking him to make a lot of tougher than expected plays, but in terms of real baseball it's helped the team a lot.

It's also nice that wherever applicable, they're actually playing the youth. Struggles or not, Rafael, Abreu, Valdez and the like would be getting absolutely nothing out of continuing to torch AAA pitching that isn't good enough to make them adjust. Let them get their struggles out of the way and get MLB data on what they're going to be able to do - especially when the players they'd be replacing are a collection of "meh" (the Christian Arroyo's of the world). Truth be told with 2.5 starting pitchers in the rotation, I'm a little surprised Dickie Fitts isn't up as well, but with an 18-13 record, it's more an "I wonder why" as opposed to an actual complaint.

I guess if you can get a 3.32 FIP out of Cooper Criswell for 3 turns through the rotation, vaya con Dios and all.
 

chrisfont9

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After tonight's game a record of 18-13 puts them on a pace to be 90-65 with seven games left, just like we all predicted.

As some of you might imagine, I'm not really used to a team being substantially better than I anticipated. I'm left with a queasy Lucy with the Football kind of feeling. How much of this is real? Obviously some. Obviously not all. Beyond that, I've got a resemblance to a shrug emoji.
It's going to be hard to keep up historically great numbers (should they last all season) on the pitching side, but I think their reality is very solid. And their strength of schedule is 7th, so it's not an illusion based on opponents. But often April is a complete outlier for a lot of people who don't like cold weather, and things settle into a more durable reality after that. At least that's my impression.

It's interesting seeing the Giants across the way. A lot of people wanted the Sox to go after Soler, maybe Chapman, maybe Snell. None of those are working out just yet, and were all moderately expensive, though it's early for the Giants too. The difference is that the Sox as currently constituted can see what they have in all these kids, and then do something about it if there are major holes or thin areas of the roster, whereas if they had spent the money on Soler or Snell (and blocked guys like Wilyer or Houck), we would still be seeing what they have but very unlikely to bring in anyone else to fill holes.

This month should be a bit more telling as the weather warms up and the Sox' depth continues to be tested by some good teams, while also sprinkling in enough meh teams that the SOS doesn't give us false impressions. Oh and I'm a huge Celtics fan, like #2 in my Boston pecking order behind the Sox, but find myself more interested in watching baseball of late. These guys are very interesting. Isn't that what we should be hoping for?
 

Petagine in a Bottle

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Yeah, hard to find anything to complain about at this point- they are winning, getting a lot do contributions from all kinds of guys, weathering injuries and adding depth. A very appealing brand of baseball to watch, especially the past few weeks. So far, so good!
 

donutogre

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I know- this has been huge, along with Duran playing good defense in center. Good pitching and good defense is like a nice warm sleeping bag.
Seriously. I will readily admit that I was pretty doom and gloom during that stretch where Story was down, the D was a mess, and the bullpen was scuffling. They've righted the ship in really impressive fashion and continued playing solid ball despite the many losses. For as much criticism as Cora gets, it feels like he's doing a good job keeping everything together during a really difficult stretch.
 

RS2004foreever

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This will seem odd - but they remind a bit of the '75 Red Sox in one respect. In '75 the Red Sox saw a Rookie win the MVP (Lynn) and another look very good (Rice). They had other young players (Burleson/Evans) who emerged as well.
The parallel is what is happening with the pitching staff. Houck/Crawford are not rookies - but they both have taken enormous steps forward in their careers and now both look like front end starters to the extent that if this continues in relative terms the entire Red Sox organization looks very different than it did before. And like Lynn/Rice/Evans/Burleson Crawford/Houck/Bello are not going anywhere. Add into this mix Casas/Abreu/Duran/Grissom and the team got interesting in a hurry - which is kind of how I remember '75.
 

Big Papi's Mango Salsa

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It's going to be hard to keep up historically great numbers (should they last all season) on the pitching side, but I think their reality is very solid. And their strength of schedule is 7th, so it's not an illusion based on opponents. But often April is a complete outlier for a lot of people who don't like cold weather, and things settle into a more durable reality after that. At least that's my impression.

It's interesting seeing the Giants across the way. A lot of people wanted the Sox to go after Soler, maybe Chapman, maybe Snell. None of those are working out just yet, and were all moderately expensive, though it's early for the Giants too. The difference is that the Sox as currently constituted can see what they have in all these kids, and then do something about it if there are major holes or thin areas of the roster, whereas if they had spent the money on Soler or Snell (and blocked guys like Wilyer or Houck), we would still be seeing what they have but very unlikely to bring in anyone else to fill holes.

This month should be a bit more telling as the weather warms up and the Sox' depth continues to be tested by some good teams, while also sprinkling in enough meh teams that the SOS doesn't give us false impressions. Oh and I'm a huge Celtics fan, like #2 in my Boston pecking order behind the Sox, but find myself more interested in watching baseball of late. These guys are very interesting. Isn't that what we should be hoping for?
Agree with this totally.

I obviously wanted Montgomery (and Nola, but that ship sailed very early) and I'd still be more than thrilled to have Montgomery. But its why I never thought the one year deals to old players made a bit of sense at all and had no interest in any one year deal to any old player. See what the younger players had - especially because not all of them were all that young (most are 26 or 27). Find out what they have and if they're going to be part of the future, which can't really be done at the AAA level in their cases.

I get what you're saying about 7th for strength of schedule, but getting 1/3 of your games against Oak and LAA is a nice way to start. Which, you have to make hay in those games, and the team did, but it's not exactly the Yankees, Orioles and Braves there.

The part of the schedule that I think will be telling is the middle of May through end of June stretch: 7 against TB in 10 days; 6 in 6 days vs the Brewers and Orioles; 4 against the Braves (split up nicely by getting the ChiSox around them both times) then 9 games in 9 days against the Phillies, Yankees and Jays.


They've been better than I thought (yay) and they've been much more fun to watch (which I kind of assumed because Breslow seemed committed to the youth, which is a good thing), so nothing but good things to say about what they've done. The schedule starts to get really interesting in about a week and a half though. That should give us a better grasp on if they're really something close to an 88 win team or if they're more like a 78 win team - hopefully that stretch has 4/5 of the rotation healthy.
 

Sandy Leon Trotsky

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Struggles or not, Rafael, Abreu, Valdez and the like would be getting absolutely nothing out of continuing to torch AAA pitching that isn't good enough to make them adjust. Let them get their struggles out of the way and get MLB data on what they're going to be able to do -
Generally agree with you almost across the board but I'm taking an exception to Valdez who I think would actually get some improvement back to facing AAA pitchers. Abreu looks good at this point despite his SSS "struggles" against LHP which I'd rather see him continue to face rather than get assigned a platoon partner- unless we're in the playoffs or a cutthroat race to that spot- and he still hasn't improved. Rafaela is obviously still struggling but looking better the last week or so but again, I just don't see him beating the snot out of AAA pitchers as a way to help him.
Hard to say why I think AAA assignment would help Valdez exactly... he really looks like he's lost more than struggling.