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Wade Geraci
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Red Sox - what do we expect for the rest of the season?

05/23/2014 2:03pm
last edited:05/24/2014 4:14pm

Here's a look, position by position, to see if the Sox have been playing above, at, or below the projected level coming into the season. Toward the bottom, I look at what to expect for the rest of the season. All projections and WAR figures from BP. Would like to hear your thoughts:

C - Below: The combo of A.J. and Ross was expected to produce at or above a league average level. They haven't.

1st - Above: Napoli was suppose to be above average but is playing at a borderline all-star level thanks to his .400 OBP.

2nd - At: Believe it or not, Pedroia is on pace for just under 4 WAR (all-star) and that's exactly what BP projected.

3rd - At: Brock Holt, thanks to his .382 BABIP in limited playing time, has already contributed about 1/2 win but he's clearly not the answer following the Drew signing. So in a weird way, despite WMB's terrible season and injury, the Sox have actually received what they were expecting from third so far.

SS - Above: Anyone remotely disappointed with Xander's rookie season has no clue. This 21 year old is on pace to surpass 4 WAR in a completely sustainable way and has arguably been their best player without the benefit of hitting in a good lineup slot. And, despite the temporary (I believe this) move to third, at least one defensive metric (fangraphs) grades him out as above average. The strikeouts (on pace for 150ish) are somewhat alarming but it's coming in part because of his patient approach (.378 OBP).

LF - Below: Nava and Gomes were expected to provide a league-average platoon but thanks to Nava's horrible start (I love him but it was bad) the Sox haven't got much out of LF.

CF - Below: Jackie Bradley Jr. and Sizemore haven't contributed anything so far and JBJ was actually projected to be a league-average starter. I have a little faith that Sizemore and his .253 BABIP (.285 during his "hurt" seasons) will come around, although the defense hasn't been good. JBJ is another story.

Pedroia has a career line drive % of 20.5 and Z-Contact% (making contact when swinging at pitches inside the strike zone) of 93.3. Ellsbury is 20.6 and 87.7. Stephen Drew is 21 and 89.7 JBJ  is 15.3 and 73 in his 250 MLB at bats. At this time, he is over-matched by MLB pitching. Good news is that he still has some time to grow as a player. Bad news is he has a long way to go.

RF - Below: Victorino's injury combined with the bench's inability to provide enough value (like it did last year) has led to no production from this position.

DH - Above: Almost no 38 year old players are projected to produce 4 WAR (often because of expected injuries) and Ortiz is on pace for that. I have no idea if he'll keep hitting, stay healthy, etc.

SP - At: Lester has been great, Lackey has been really good, Buchholz somehow has a FIP and FIPx below 5.00 meaning he's technically accumulated some WAR while Peavy and Doubront have been replacement level.

RP - Above: Koji, Andrew Miller, Capuano and Tazawa have all been outstanding. Badenhop and Breslow have been solid. Only Mujica has been disappointing. It will be hard to keep up this level of productivity but we all know they have several arms in AAA who could be called upon if anyone loses it or gets hurt.

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"Below" positions - C, LF, CF and RF (OF has killed them). C may just be what it is, two old players who don't have good seasons. Vazquez is in AAA but not hitting much. Victorino's return almost guarantees more from RF. Not sure we can expect more from LF unless Nava completely returns to form (oh, and Boston). CF can be better, but as a group, the OF isn't going to be what we wanted.

"At" positions - 2nd, 3rd and the SP. I guess 2nd could be a little better. Sox could get a little more out of the SP's if one of the under-performing guys is replaced with a hot AAA arm.

"Above" positions - 1st, SS, DH and the RP. Napoli can hold his value with a better defensive end to the season. Ortiz is a coin flip in my eyes. The RP's could easily come down to earth but they've been pretty damn good for a while now and there are arms waiting in AAA.

SS and 3rd - Hard to say that they'll definitely receive more value even after adding Drew. However, moving WMB into a role where he only plays a few games a week against LH SPs makes this a really deep group capable of producing every night.

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The Sox are 20-26 right now. BP projects them to finish the season at 80 and 82, so BP sees some improvement but not enough to make the playoffs. The good news is BP projects the Blue Jays to win the AL East with 84 wins. Coming into the year, I believed the Sox were a mid-to-high 80's win team. What can they do to greatly improve their chances? Much better production from starters where possible, add a difference-maker to the roster (OF?), get a huge, unexpected 2nd half from someone (although every team has this possibility)? Anything else?

2 comments

Aaron Schulman
Posts: 62
Takes score: 8586
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05/23/2014 4:21pm
last edited:05/23/2014 5:14pm
The back end of the rotation is a significant problem right now. I think anybody who expected Buchholz to have an ERA under 4.00 was fooling himself, as he has always posted FIP and xFIP around 4.10, lucky in his good seasons and unlucky in his bad ones. This year his strikeout percentage is at a career low, and his line drive percentage is at a career high. Last year he struck out 23% of hitters, but at this point I think there is a long enough track record to accept his fate as a #4 starter capable of pitching in a playoff rotation. Doubtront's strikeouts are also down considerably with a noticeable loss in fastball velocity that is probably a full grade lower on the scouting scale than it was 2 seasons ago when he was throwing in the low 90's. There are enough players in the AL East that mash left handed pitching that I'm growing uncomfortable giving him the ball every 5th day. All the same things can be said about Peavy, a career low strikeout percentage, career high walk percentage, and as much as I enjoy his competitiveness it would be foolish to expect him to be a solid mid rotation starter this year.

I think as long as Peavy stays healthy he should keep getting the ball, and the same should be said about Buchholz and hope he pitches better. But they can't have an innings eater like Doubront in the rotation if they have any aspirations of being competitive to the end of the season.

I don't want to see this team go all-in and bring in guys from outside the organization though. This team looks like they're still hung over from the parade, and the Major League roster isn't currently constructed to support a run of 90 win teams.
Wade Geraci
Posts: 50
Takes score: 2393
Picks: 48.1%
05/23/2014 5:18pm
I always knew that while people touted Buchholz's stuff as elite that he never produced to that level. But didn't realize his FIPs were consistently that high.

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