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

chrisfont9

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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.
Heh, we agree a lot. I even like mango salsa. We assume the Rays are tough but statistically at least they are bottom third of MLB in both hitting and pitching. It won't be an easy stretch but the Sox could definitely split all those games.
 

simplicio

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The strength of schedule question is interesting. It looks like the Rays may simply be a bad team (so far), and the Yankees seem like a bit of a paper tiger who have benefited from pretty easy competition in April (they've only played 9 games vs >.500 teams compared to our 17). But that MIL-NYY stretch May 24-June 16 is going to be tough.

One interesting quirk of the schedule is that all our division and wild card rivals are getting to beat up on Houston while they've been terrible early, but we don't see them at all until 6 games in August. They should have their boatload of injured pitchers healthy by then, but will they have sold them all off at the deadline or will they still be fighting then?

ESPN's relative power index is pretty interesting right now (we're 4th). Don't sleep on the A's? https://www.espn.com/mlb/stats/rpi
 

Big Papi's Mango Salsa

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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.
Maybe.

I just get the sense that (like Rafaela) Valdez would just go back to AAA; not be challenged, put up another wRC+ in the 115-130 area, come back up to the bigs and being facing the exact same issues (with the bat) he is now. Obviously this can't be proven, but he does have approximately 600 AB at the AAA level and is 25 and he's hit almost all the time. Though my gripe with him being in AAA was more toward May / June of last year while we cycled through the endless stream of "not really MLB players" like Arroyo, Reyes and whomever else.

If / when Grissom is ready and assuming the plan is to play Rafaela literally every inning at SS and Grissom every inning at 2b, and Short is here to play if and only if someone gets injured in the game while waiting for Valdez to fly from wherever he is to wherever the Sox are - fine. I guess I'd get that. But if there is any plan in which someone is "eased" in or there would be any manner of consistent (I'm talking 8 at bats per week) playing time, it should be Valdez to see if he can stick. (Which, again, is why DFA'ing Reyes made all the sense in the world. Valdez is still young enough that he might be a MLB player, Reyes is not).

Credit to Valdez - he isn't taking the suck with the bat to the field. Which is what one really hopes for from any MLB player, but especially a utility one.
 

Rovin Romine

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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.
As sort of a tangental response here, I think we ought to keep 2020 firmly in mind. Many of these guys lost an entire development year. Which, at times, could be seen to work for the club's favor, since that's also an extra year of control - often into the prime early-FA years if a player develops.

For example, age-23 Duran lost what would have been his AA-AAA season, or his first AAA season. So instead of maybe having an impact season at age 25 (2022), he has one at age 26 (2023). He's not going to be a FA until 2030, his age 32 season.

But anyway:

23 Grissom
23 Rafaela
24 Casas
25 Bello
25 Abreu
25 Valdez
26 Murphy
26 Campbell
26 Hamilton
26 Winckowski
26 Slaten
27 Walter
27 Devers
27 Duran
27 Criswell
28 Whitlock
28 Wong
28 Houck
28 Crawford

And by ages for years of control:

23-28 Grissom
23-31 Rafaela
24-29 Casas
25-32 Bello
25-31 Abreu
25-31 Valdez
26-32 Murphy
26-32 Campbell
26-32 Hamilton
26-30 Winckowski
26-32 Slaten
27-33 Walter
27-37 Devers
27-31 Duran
27-33 Criswell
28-30 Whitlock
28-32 Wong
28-31 Houck
28-32 Crawford

So if you think pitchers start to trail off in their 30s, we've got the best of: Bello, Houck, Crawford, Winckowski, Whitlock, Campbell, Murphy, Walter. Plus we've got a bunch of guys who are late bloomers that we effectively have control over into their late 30s: Cooper, Booser, Bernardino, Kelly, Weissert.
 

Rovin Romine

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Maybe.

I just get the sense that (like Rafaela) Valdez would just go back to AAA; not be challenged, put up another wRC+ in the 115-130 area, come back up to the bigs and being facing the exact same issues (with the bat) he is now. Obviously this can't be proven, but he does have approximately 600 AB at the AAA level and is 25 and he's hit almost all the time. Though my gripe with him being in AAA was more toward May / June of last year while we cycled through the endless stream of "not really MLB players" like Arroyo, Reyes and whomever else.

If / when Grissom is ready and assuming the plan is to play Rafaela literally every inning at SS and Grissom every inning at 2b, and Short is here to play if and only if someone gets injured in the game while waiting for Valdez to fly from wherever he is to wherever the Sox are - fine. I guess I'd get that. But if there is any plan in which someone is "eased" in or there would be any manner of consistent (I'm talking 8 at bats per week) playing time, it should be Valdez to see if he can stick. (Which, again, is why DFA'ing Reyes made all the sense in the world. Valdez is still young enough that he might be a MLB player, Reyes is not).

Credit to Valdez - he isn't taking the suck with the bat to the field. Which is what one really hopes for from any MLB player, but especially a utility one.
I have a long post on Valdez somewhere. He's clearly using a different approach in his 2024 ML at-bats then he did in his 2023 ML at-bats. He needs to either stop doing that or perfect it. Because his OPS+ is 26. That's beyond miserable. He's got options and can work on one or the other in AAA.

Hopefully he figures it out and forces himself into being a ML roster option.
 

nvalvo

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I have a long post on Valdez somewhere. He's clearly using a different approach in his 2024 ML at-bats then he did in his 2023 ML at-bats. He needs to either stop doing that or perfect it. Because his OPS+ is 26. That's beyond miserable. He's got options and can work on one or the other in AAA.

Hopefully he figures it out and forces himself into being a ML roster option.
I think a combo of Fenway’s deep RF and the weather has cost him a ton. His SLG is less than half of his xSLG, and he has 7 fly ball outs that traveled more than 350 ft. If he had 5 or 6 HR instead of 2, the overall line would look pretty different.

Obviously all is not well in Valdez-land, but the biggest issue I see is a moderate spike in strikeouts. His hard hit rate is up, his expected wOBA is down a touch (because of the strikeouts), but his realized wOBA has halved.

I think we’re sending him to AAA so that he can pop 12 HR in the Worcester wind tunnel by the trade deadline. Some team will look at his much-improved defense and see a potential .250/.300/.450 type.
 

Rovin Romine

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I think a combo of Fenway’s deep RF and the weather has cost him a ton. His SLG is less than half of his xSLG, and he has 7 fly ball outs that traveled more than 350 ft. If he had 5 or 6 HR instead of 2, the overall line would look pretty different.

Obviously all is not well in Valdez-land, but the biggest issue I see is a moderate spike in strikeouts. His hard hit rate is up, his expected wOBA is down a touch (because of the strikeouts), but his realized wOBA has halved.

I think we’re sending him to AAA so that he can pop 12 HR in the Worcester wind tunnel by the trade deadline. Some team will look at his much-improved defense and see a potential .250/.300/.450 type.
I don't disagree that his new approach might have played better in another park or warmer weather.

That said, you'd hope that whomever proposed or green-lit his changes noticed that:

a) The Red Sox play in Fenway Park.​
b) The baseball season starts in March and continues into April.​
I mean, maybe the plan was that he'd be starting in AAA and get called up later in the spring. But at some point it should have been obvious he had contextually become an out-machine.


PS - I did a longer post on him somewhere. His launch angles are not ideal and he's pulling the ball far more than he used to. His new approach seems to maximize hard-hit percentage, so it's an abstract win. But the cart-drives-the-horse as its not enough to produce in-game results in a completely predictable context.
 
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Big Papi's Mango Salsa

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I don't disagree that his new approach might have played better in another park or warmer weather.

PS - I did a longer post on him somewhere. His launch angles are not ideal and he's pulling the ball far more than he used to. His new approach seems to maximize hard-hit percentage, so it's an abstract win. But the cart-drives-the-horse as its not enough to produce in-game results in a completely predictable context.
Genuine question here (meant with no snark or any such) as I don't know and I can't really find an answer on BBSavant (which is the only place I could think of to look) is he being pitched differently?

Ie - if he's pulling everything, is there a book out there on him that he can't identify breaking pitching and thus he's getting a lot of them and thus he's always early?

If he's not getting the same launch on ball, is he getting fed a steady stream of sinkers and cut fastballs not allowing him to elevate the ball?

I don't know this, but it seems anecdotally (and logically) possible and consistent - so I'm genuinely asking - is it more that MLB pitchers are capable of and have the advanced scouting that is forcing him to change his approach but he's too good for AAA pitchers to force him to change the approach?
 

Rovin Romine

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Genuine question here (meant with no snark or any such) as I don't know and I can't really find an answer on BBSavant (which is the only place I could think of to look) is he being pitched differently?

Ie - if he's pulling everything, is there a book out there on him that he can't identify breaking pitching and thus he's getting a lot of them and thus he's always early?

If he's not getting the same launch on ball, is he getting fed a steady stream of sinkers and cut fastballs not allowing him to elevate the ball?

I don't know this, but it seems anecdotally (and logically) possible and consistent - so I'm genuinely asking - is it more that MLB pitchers are capable of and have the advanced scouting that is forcing him to change his approach but he's too good for AAA pitchers to force him to change the approach?
That's a good question, and would have been even if it was a rhetorical one. It's a little too granular for me to drill down on, but I think it's certainly a valid possibility. My only reservation is that the swing/approach isn't a static thing - batters can and often do adjust.

I'm not saying I'm 100% right about Valdez. But the short version is that in 2023 he had some singles to the opposite field, but was most successful when pulling and hitting the ball hard. Overall it worked.

If he was told to "play to his strengths" whenever he could (or thought he should independently), those are the exact results he got in 2024. He pulled the ball more. He hit it harder when he did so. And harder generally. And in the air more often.

As @nvalvo pointed out - he'd have better results if warmer or in a park with a short right. Or. . .if he hit more line-drives into Fenway's big RF. But he's lofting the ball and does not have enough power to muscle it out at those angles. Not at Fenway in April at any rate.

Sometimes these things are low percentage outcomes. Because he's also putting balls in play up the middle and striking out and walking and all that. But to the extent you adopt a strategic approach in your at-bats to swing so that you pull the ball and hit it harder and elevate it. . .maybe that's good in the abstract. But in the real world, for Valdez, that means you're converting potentially viable hits into almost-certain fly-ball outs. It's going to kill your BABIP and plunge your overall numbers. In this case, an OPS+ of 26.

But in that sort of situation, you're not killing your BABIP because you're unlucky. You're killing it because you're selecting for a ton of almost-certain flyball outs.

So I think he can and will hit. He just needs to change his approach.
 

dynomite

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I agree with the consensus: the 2024 Sox have been (mostly) a joy to watch. After an offseason filled with acrimony and doom & gloom, it has been a revelation to watch the unheralded guys in the rotation all simultaneously take steps forward and the team play well.

And as others have said, the Sox continuing to win despite one of the most inexplicable run of injuries in anyone's memory -- again, to the 1B, 2B, SS, 3B, LF, and 4/5 of the starting rotation -- is nothing short of remarkable. Credit to Cora, credit to Breslow, credit to Bailey. It's May 2nd, but I think it's already enough of a sample to suggest that this new front office approach to pitching is paying enormous dividends, which is one of the best omens in years for the present and future of the team.

It's "fun" to be a Red Sox fan right now, which wasn't the case for most of '22 or '23 (or this offseason).

This is the only thing I want to add something to this:

These guys are very interesting. Isn't that what we should be hoping for?
"Very interesting" is important and a welcome change from past years when the team was filled with injured veterans and not good. No argument there.

And I don't think we're disagreeing, but wins are what we're hoping for, right? I'm thrilled the kids are playing well, and for the long-term health of the franchise you need young prospects to turn into good Major Leaguers. But if I wanted to just watch interesting kids growing into their talent, Worcester and Portland are a short drive from Boston.

After the indescribable blessings of '04, '07, '13, and '18, I'm mostly hoping to watch as much meaningful and hopeful baseball as possible. Don't end summer early by falling out of contention in July/August, give me some hope for the future while also making moves to improve the current team, and I'm content for a good while.
 

chrisfont9

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I agree with the consensus: the 2024 Sox have been (mostly) a joy to watch. After an offseason filled with acrimony and doom & gloom, it has been a revelation to watch the unheralded guys in the rotation all simultaneously take steps forward and the team play well.

And as others have said, the Sox continuing to win despite one of the most inexplicable run of injuries in anyone's memory -- again, to the 1B, 2B, SS, 3B, LF, and 4/5 of the starting rotation -- is nothing short of remarkable. Credit to Cora, credit to Breslow, credit to Bailey. It's May 2nd, but I think it's already enough of a sample to suggest that this new front office approach to pitching is paying enormous dividends, which is one of the best omens in years for the present and future of the team.

It's "fun" to be a Red Sox fan right now, which wasn't the case for most of '22 or '23 (or this offseason).

This is the only thing I want to add something to this:



"Very interesting" is important and a welcome change from past years when the team was filled with injured veterans and not good. No argument there.

And I don't think we're disagreeing, but wins are what we're hoping for, right? I'm thrilled the kids are playing well, and for the long-term health of the franchise you need young prospects to turn into good Major Leaguers. But if I wanted to just watch interesting kids growing into their talent, Worcester and Portland are a short drive from Boston.

After the indescribable blessings of '04, '07, '13, and '18, I'm mostly hoping to watch as much meaningful and hopeful baseball as possible. Don't end summer early by falling out of contention in July/August, give me some hope for the future while also making moves to improve the current team, and I'm content for a good while.
Everyone's perspective on this may differ. I just think the game is played at such a high level now by the better teams and players that I just want the Sox to be part of that. Just incredible to watch, all over the diamond. Wins and titles are welcomed, but I'm both all set with the recent glories and not ready to think of this group in those terms. If the Kids come along and in 3 years we are a young juggernaut, I'll switch back into TITLE NOW!! mode. Oh, and I might not be so sanguine now if they were 19-14 with a softball style team. But the speed and athleticism around this lineup, plus being able to hang with almost everyone... it's so much more fun than the last few years.
 

nvalvo

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Everyone's perspective on this may differ. I just think the game is played at such a high level now by the better teams and players that I just want the Sox to be part of that. Just incredible to watch, all over the diamond. Wins and titles are welcomed, but I'm both all set with the recent glories and not ready to think of this group in those terms. If the Kids come along and in 3 years we are a young juggernaut, I'll switch back into TITLE NOW!! mode. Oh, and I might not be so sanguine now if they were 19-14 with a softball style team. But the speed and athleticism around this lineup, plus being able to hang with almost everyone... it's so much more fun than the last few years.
I will say that I find performance *relative to expectations* to be one of the most important factors driving my subjective enjoyment of a baseball season.

A team like 2013 that was generally expected to win ~80–85 games winning 97 is thrilling in a way that a team expected to win ~97 winning 97 wouldn’t be. I think I might find the win-now expectations stressful.

That said, a team you expect to win ~100 winning 108 is pretty great, too.
 

Heating up in the bullpen

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Genuine question here (meant with no snark or any such) as I don't know and I can't really find an answer on BBSavant (which is the only place I could think of to look) is he being pitched differently?

Ie - if he's pulling everything, is there a book out there on him that he can't identify breaking pitching and thus he's getting a lot of them and thus he's always early?

If he's not getting the same launch on ball, is he getting fed a steady stream of sinkers and cut fastballs not allowing him to elevate the ball?

I don't know this, but it seems anecdotally (and logically) possible and consistent - so I'm genuinely asking - is it more that MLB pitchers are capable of and have the advanced scouting that is forcing him to change his approach but he's too good for AAA pitchers to force him to change the approach?
He's popping up. Technically fly balls, but fly balls at 39+ degree launch angles. The hard hit stats are misleading. He's swinging hard, and making hard contact, high up into the air. The weather isn't keeping those balls in the park, the launch angle is.
As for pitch type, it's more fastballs up. He can't get on top of them, hence the lofty launch angles.
If he could get those LAs down to around 30 degrees with the same exit velocities, he'd be a monster.
 

Rovin Romine

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He's popping up. Technically fly balls, but fly balls at 39+ degree launch angles. The hard hit stats are misleading. He's swinging hard, and making hard contact, high up into the air. The weather isn't keeping those balls in the park, the launch angle is.
As for pitch type, it's more fastballs up. He can't get on top of them, hence the lofty launch angles.
If he could get those LAs down to around 30 degrees with the same exit velocities, he'd be a monster.
Agreed generally, except for the italicized. Flyballs at 39+ are 15 of his 43 field outs. 8 are 4-seam fastballs. 2 cutters. 3 changeups. 2 sweepers.

Fastballs:
3 middle in.
1 middle away.
2 upper in.
2 upper away.

Cutters:
1 upper middle
1 middle middle

Changeups:
2 middle middle
1 low in

Sweepers:
1 low middle
1 unknown


Watch the video clips - he's trying to pull and loft the ball. This is the typical Valdez swing: https://baseballsavant.mlb.com/sporty-videos?playId=679fc1cf-5c4a-434d-9d94-f16997d35b9d Don't pay attention to where the ball actually goes - just look at the swing. He's trying to pull it so much he needs to regain his balance.
 

Heating up in the bullpen

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Agreed generally, except for the italicized. Flyballs at 39+ are 15 of his 43 field outs. 8 are 4-seam fastballs. 2 cutters. 3 changeups. 2 sweepers.

Fastballs:
3 middle in.
1 middle away.
2 upper in.
2 upper away.

Cutters:
1 upper middle
1 middle middle

Changeups:
2 middle middle
1 low in

Sweepers:
1 low middle
1 unknown


Watch the video clips - he's trying to pull and loft the ball. This is the typical Valdez swing: https://baseballsavant.mlb.com/sporty-videos?playId=679fc1cf-5c4a-434d-9d94-f16997d35b9d Don't pay attention to where the ball actually goes - just look at the swing. He's trying to pull it so much he needs to regain his balance.
Thanks for adding the detail
 

Rovin Romine

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Thanks for adding the detail
It's pretty easy with Savant, which is amazing. Some of their zone locations for pitches are a bit off, but it takes literally ten seconds to click on each video clip.

I really do have high hopes for Valdez. He's only 25, and he clearly worked very hard to improve his 2B defense. I just hope he's paired with someone in AAA who can optimize his batting approach.
 

chrisfont9

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The Red Sox are currently three wins below their XW-L, which has them at 22-13. Only the Astros and DBacks have also lost three wins off their expected W-L, nobody has more. XW-L is a blunt tool that just takes your run differential and calculates win %, but if the Sox have been unlucky somehow, maybe some regression is due. On the other hand, Fangraphs' projections say that they still expect the Sox to flatline the rest of the season and end up at 83-79, apparently expecting regression to their player-by-player projections? I'm not an expert on Fangraphs standings, obviously, but assume they haven't revised their projections player by player.
 

sean1562

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I think the 17-0 win against the Cubs is going to mess with our expected win total. 6 of those runs were off 1B Matt Mervis.
 

chrisfont9

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I think the 17-0 win against the Cubs is going to mess with our expected win total. 6 of those runs were off 1B Matt Mervis.
Yeah, and we've had a few lopsided wins without the corresponding lopsided losses to cancel out the weighting effect. That said, other than the six runs off a position player, we are still +35 against actual major league pitchers. Back of the envelope I think that still gets us an XW-L of 21-15.
 

Sandy Leon Trotsky

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I think the 17-0 win against the Cubs is going to mess with our expected win total. 6 of those runs were off 1B Matt Mervis.
Should the assumption be that every team will have a few stupid lopsided wins and losses both, and that levels out across the season?
 

Red(s)HawksFan

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Should the assumption be that every team will have a few stupid lopsided wins and losses both, and that levels out across the season?
That is usually the case. Pythagorean W-L is generally pretty close because of it. League-wide, the average pyth wins per team is usually 81...exactly .500, same as actual wins.
 

Sandy Leon Trotsky

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That is usually the case. Pythagorean W-L is generally pretty close because of it. League-wide, the average pyth wins per team is usually 81...exactly .500, same as actual wins.
From my admitted small amount of reading of Pythag, the two things that really can throw off the actual record from the expected is a good bullpen and bad defense. In the Sox case this season, it's pretty obvious that what's screwing up their expected/actual is/was the poor defense especially in the stretch between when Story went down and Rafaela took over (and settled in). I don't think the bullpen has cost them anything more than what is expected from any bullpen at this point.....
 

Petagine in a Bottle

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From my admitted small amount of reading of Pythag, the two things that really can throw off the actual record from the expected is a good bullpen and bad defense. In the Sox case this season, it's pretty obvious that what's screwing up their expected/actual is/was the poor defense especially in the stretch between when Story went down and Rafaela took over (and settled in). I don't think the bullpen has cost them anything more than what is expected from any bullpen at this point.....
Has anything really been proven about what throws off the Pythagorean record? If you outperform it, it simply means you are winning by a slimmer margin than than you are losing- which could be a function of a lot of things, or nothing at all.

Last year’s teams that underperformed vs the Pythag the most incl SD (-10), KC (-8), Cubs (-7), and Twins (-6), while the best were Miami (+9), Baltimore (+7), Cincy (+5), Detroit (+5), and Pittsburgh (+5). Seems pretty random.
 

SirPsychoSquints

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The Red Sox are currently three wins below their XW-L, which has them at 22-13. Only the Astros and DBacks have also lost three wins off their expected W-L, nobody has more. XW-L is a blunt tool that just takes your run differential and calculates win %, but if the Sox have been unlucky somehow, maybe some regression is due. On the other hand, Fangraphs' projections say that they still expect the Sox to flatline the rest of the season and end up at 83-79, apparently expecting regression to their player-by-player projections? I'm not an expert on Fangraphs standings, obviously, but assume they haven't revised their projections player by player.
The depth charts & projections obviously ding us for our injured players. If we feel Casas will get more than 230 PA the rest of the way, Yoshida more than 285, or Refsnyder more than 159, we might project the team to do better than Fangraphs does right now. Similarly, they project Bello/Krawford/Houck/Pivetta/Whitlock to combine for 548 IP - expectations could be raised or lowered based on how you think that'll play out.
 

Rovin Romine

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Has anything really been proven about what throws off the Pythagorean record? If you outperform it, it simply means you are winning by a slimmer margin than than you are losing- which could be a function of a lot of things, or nothing at all.

Last year’s teams that underperformed vs the Pythag the most incl SD (-10), KC (-8), Cubs (-7), and Twins (-6), while the best were Miami (+9), Baltimore (+7), Cincy (+5), Detroit (+5), and Pittsburgh (+5). Seems pretty random.
You're only winning by a slimmer margin in the abstract. In terms of actual games, it can have a few shapes (and different factors causing it), but overperformance usually means no blowouts in your favor (but some against), and/or more 1-run wins. Both of those more closely level the total runs scored v. allowed, and the latter often correlates with a strong bullpen - not overall, but as selectively deployed in those 1 run games.

Underperformance is usually the opposite.

SD's total numbers were: 752 RS, 648 RA. In terms of RA - starters 372, relievers 276.
MIA: 666 RS, 723 RA. Starters 395, relievers 328.

The W/L for starters v. relievers:
SD starters 60-50 v. relievers 22-30.
MIA starters 39-51 v. relievers 49-27.

Last year San Diego was 9-23 in 1-run games (100 RS v. 114 RA). In blowouts of +5 runs, they were 33-20 (339 RS v. 238 RA).
Miami was 34-14 in 1-run games (195 RS v. 176 RA). In blow outs, 17-24 (206 RS v. 269 RA).

If we pythag those groups, SD should have been 15-17, 35-18.
MIA: 26-22, 16-23.

Or in total, SD: -6 in 1 run games, -2 in blow-outs.
MIA: +12 in 1 run games, -1 in blowouts.


The losses by role are pretty evenly distributed for such a different inputs over the course of the whole season. But the basic story is SD had far more blowouts but underperformed in tight games. MIA had fewer blowouts but more tight games which they performed better in. And there you see the W total shift to their relievers (who in some measure held on for the win which wouldn't be credited to a starter.) Unsurprisingly, MIA also hit better in close&late games than SD did.
 
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nvalvo

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Has anything really been proven about what throws off the Pythagorean record? If you outperform it, it simply means you are winning by a slimmer margin than than you are losing- which could be a function of a lot of things, or nothing at all.

Last year’s teams that underperformed vs the Pythag the most incl SD (-10), KC (-8), Cubs (-7), and Twins (-6), while the best were Miami (+9), Baltimore (+7), Cincy (+5), Detroit (+5), and Pittsburgh (+5). Seems pretty random.
I guess the theory would be that a team with a lockdown bullpen is in position to win close games at an above-average rate because they can optimize when they deploy those resources. But yeah, I’m not sure I really believe that.

More plausible is that SD had a 2-12 record in extra innings, which I think we can agree is pretty flukey for what on paper was a pretty talented club. And look, that’s the entire discrepancy right there!
 

Rovin Romine

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I guess the theory would be that a team with a lockdown bullpen is in position to win close games at an above-average rate because they can optimize when they deploy those resources. But yeah, I’m not sure I really believe that.

More plausible is that SD had a 2-12 record in extra innings, which I think we can agree is pretty flukey for what on paper was a pretty talented club. And look, that’s the entire discrepancy right there!
Eh. Something that's actually flukey might swing a game or two out of 14.

But the rest of the time it comes down to matching up pitchers and batters, issuing IBBs, moving the Manfred Man over, etc. etc.
 

HfxBob

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Eh. Something that's actually flukey might swing a game or two out of 14.

But the rest of the time it comes down to matching up pitchers and batters, issuing IBBs, moving the Manfred Man over, etc. etc.
You seem to be saying that if a team has a disproportionately bad record in extra innings it must be attributable to bad management.

I think most would agree that Bochy is a good manager. Last year the Rangers were 88-64 in 9 inning games and 2-8 in extra inning games.

I think it's mostly randomness that accounts for such disparities. If you think it has to do with management, is there any data that can possibly back that up?
 
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joe dokes

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Has anything really been proven about what throws off the Pythagorean record? If you outperform it, it simply means you are winning by a slimmer margin than than you are losing- which could be a function of a lot of things, or nothing at all.

Last year’s teams that underperformed vs the Pythag the most incl SD (-10), KC (-8), Cubs (-7), and Twins (-6), while the best were Miami (+9), Baltimore (+7), Cincy (+5), Detroit (+5), and Pittsburgh (+5). Seems pretty random.
When BaseballProspectus looked at this, they came down on the side of "bad bullpens are a major cause of pythag underperformance," but, IIRC, were a little more circumspect about whether good bullpens are equally consistent with overperformance. (dealing from memory here....)
 

Rovin Romine

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I think it's mostly randomness that accounts for such disparities. If you think it has to do with management, is there any data that can possibly back that up?
You mean like, actually watching the game? Observing that managerial choices have outcomes? That splits exist, and some hitters and pitchers are better than others? That sort of thing?
 

HfxBob

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You mean like, actually watching the game? Observing that managerial choices have outcomes? That splits exist, and some hitters and pitchers are better than others? That sort of thing?
Wow, you are the champ. Purely anecdotal armchair evidence, got it, thanks.
 

Rovin Romine

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Wow, you are the champ. Purely anecdotal armchair evidence, got it, thanks.
Things actually happen in the real world. Specifically in the context of a sport where the participants actively seek to maximize the chances the outcomes resolve in their favor.

This is not the context of a guaranteed even chance. And even if it were, the deviation in outcomes (2-12 instead of 7-7) would cause one to look for what actually impacted the outcome.

So here's a suggestion for you. Why don't you look at the extra innings of those 14 games under discussion. You could see if there was data that showed true randomness. You could catalogue all those fluky incidents - all those dropped balls and blooped singles in 5 or the 14 games. You could note any countervailing luck in the two wins. Or you could see, say, if Melvin intentionally walked a shit-ton of guys and how that worked out for him.
 

Petagine in a Bottle

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It seems like a fair question, if one wants to assert that a team’s record in extra inning games is anything more than randomness (hell, bref attributes the different in actual vs expected wins as “luck”), shouldn’t the onus be on them to do so? A retort of “watch the games” seems unhelpful; it would be challenging for someone to watch every teams games.
 

HfxBob

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It seems like a fair question, if one wants to assert that a team’s record in extra inning games is anything more than randomness (hell, bref attributes the different in actual vs expected wins as “luck”), shouldn’t the onus be on them to do so? A retort of “watch the games” seems unhelpful; it would be challenging for someone to watch every teams games.
Thank you, I thought it was a perfectly fair and reasonable question too.
 

Rovin Romine

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It seems like a fair question, if one wants to assert that a team’s record in extra inning games is anything more than randomness (hell, bref attributes the different in actual vs expected wins as “luck”), shouldn’t the onus be on them to do so? A retort of “watch the games” seems unhelpful; it would be challenging for someone to watch every teams games.
Why should the baseline be "randomness?"

Suppose the following. Two cloned teams. 14 games.

Team A is managed more or less randomly. A coin flip is used to determine which bench player to PH with, when such should occur, and what pitching changes will be made.​
Team B is managed tactically. Meaning decisions are made about the current game in context of not only that game, but the upcoming one. PHs and relief appearances are used to their maximum effect.​

Nobody seriously thinks Team A and Team B will split the series, or that the derivation in outcomes is just "luck."

Ergo, what we all already know. Baseball decisions matter in discrete games. They also matter over a series of games.

If you want to know why a team under or over performed in a discrete set of games, you first have to actually observe those games and see what patterns there are. There's really just no getting around that. If a particular series is won or lost on a series of bloop hits - that's what it is. If the teams are grossly outmatched in talent and that reflects normally - that's what it is. If the losing team makes sub-optimal decisions that impact the games - that's what it is.
 

Rasputin

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Why should the baseline be "randomness?"

Suppose the following. Two cloned teams. 14 games.

Team A is managed more or less randomly. A coin flip is used to determine which bench player to PH with, when such should occur, and what pitching changes will be made.​
Team B is managed tactically. Meaning decisions are made about the current game in context of not only that game, but the upcoming one. PHs and relief appearances are used to their maximum effect.​

Nobody seriously thinks Team A and Team B will split the series, or that the derivation in outcomes is just "luck."

Ergo, what we all already know. Baseball decisions matter in discrete games. They also matter over a series of games.

If you want to know why a team under or over performed in a discrete set of games, you first have to actually observe those games and see what patterns there are. There's really just no getting around that. If a particular series is won or lost on a series of bloop hits - that's what it is. If the teams are grossly outmatched in talent and that reflects normally - that's what it is. If the losing team makes sub-optimal decisions that impact the games - that's what it is.
I'm not sure 14 games is enough to show this difference. Consider a game where all your regulars are playing and you pinch hit. The difference between the best pinch hitter and the worst is pretty small. If instead of having a randomizer as manager, you just have a bad manager who mostly makes sub-optimal but not egregiously terrible decisions--which is what most bad MLB managers do--the difference is going to be even smaller.

The closer the game, the more likely the determining factor is to be luck. If you took your two hypothetical teams above and played a thousand games that started in the 10th inning, I'm pretty sure the team with the real manager would come out on top, but their record would be damn close to .500.

Over 162 games that start in the 10th inning, I'm not sure managerial competence would make a noticeable difference, especially if you're not positing a deliberately terrible manager. Say, one who bats Darren Lewis at leadoff.
 

Rovin Romine

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I'm not sure 14 games is enough to show this difference. Consider a game where all your regulars are playing and you pinch hit. The difference between the best pinch hitter and the worst is pretty small. If instead of having a randomizer as manager, you just have a bad manager who mostly makes sub-optimal but not egregiously terrible decisions--which is what most bad MLB managers do--the difference is going to be even smaller.

The closer the game, the more likely the determining factor is to be luck. If you took your two hypothetical teams above and played a thousand games that started in the 10th inning, I'm pretty sure the team with the real manager would come out on top, but their record would be damn close to .500.

Over 162 games that start in the 10th inning, I'm not sure managerial competence would make a noticeable difference, especially if you're not positing a deliberately terrible manager. Say, one who bats Darren Lewis at leadoff.
I don't disagree with the points you're making, but Petagine was arguing that the difference was only randomness. Hence the example - it is not only randomness. Decisions matter.

You're right about the arbitrariness of the example re: the real world. You're likely to have a sort of replacement level manager in place (cough-Jimy-Grady-cough). The teams are also (obviously) not going to be clones.

But the point remains. If you want to find out why SD went 2-12, you need to actually look at those games. If a particular series is won or lost on a series of bloop hits - that's what it is. If the teams are grossly outmatched in talent and that reflects normally - that's what it is. If the losing team makes sub-optimal decisions that impact the games - that's what it is. If there's a massive sting of injuries that weakens and unbalances the team for a chunk of those games - that's what it is.

You don't just throw your hands up and say, "even though I could look I think these specific outcomes are random because other unrelated baseball concepts seem to work that way."
 

Petagine in a Bottle

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Oh, I don’t think it’s only luck. But I do think over a large sample, a team’s record in extra inning games (or one run games or at night on the weekend or whatever) would likely look like their record in nine inning games. Sometimes teams are really good or really bad in extra innings and I’m not so sure it is indicative of the makeup of that team (or of good or bad costing). It’s usually a really small sample of games. Rangers were awful in extras last year, Dodgers horrible year before that.
 

Over Guapo Grande

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Could it possibly be tied to deep bullpen depth? So If team A is up 2-1 in the 7th, they go the Embree-Timlin-Williamson route... except there is a blown save. Now it is in extras and you are pitching guys down your depth chart- maybe your long relievers, or your (non Sox) Rule 5 guy/
 

Sandy Leon Trotsky

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Could it possibly be tied to deep bullpen depth? So If team A is up 2-1 in the 7th, they go the Embree-Timlin-Williamson route... except there is a blown save. Now it is in extras and you are pitching guys down your depth chart- maybe your long relievers, or your (non Sox) Rule 5 guy/
Would the rules in XI started last season have any affect on it? Teams with good base runners may also have an advantage?
 

Over Guapo Grande

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Would the rules in XI started last season have any affect on it? Teams with good base runners may also have an advantage?
I think so. Guys that can go 2nd to 3rd on a ground ball to short where the SS has to go to his left. Reading a flare to RF as a hit rather than waiting to tag up and only advancing one base, etc. So Not random noise, I'd say.