Thursday, April 15, 2010

You'd Think They'd Know Better

I don't know. This post has gone in three different directions. When it looked like Okajima was going to blow another 3-2 lead Wednesday afternoon, I was going to flip out about how this offense and bullpen are so bad that John Lackey doesn't have enough room for error to give up a freaking hit to Joe Mauer, something that everyone in baseball does. Then when the Sox erupted against the Minnesota bullpen, I was going to say that the results don't lie and that loyal commenter Jason was, at least so far, right about how the offense isn't that bad. Then I was going to talk about today's game, with it being the best day in Matsuzaka's season and it being an embarrassment for the offense, especially for JD Drew, who now has the second-highest...STRIKEOUT total of all AL hitters...behind Big Plagiarizer David Ortiz (can I get a...).

While researching the facts to make this punchline, I came up with my real topic.

And that is that you'd think the arrogant, smarter-than-thou sabermetric number-crunchers in the Red Sox front office would know better than to construct a team like this. I read several years ago that if you look at run expectancy (the average number of runs, on the aggregate, a team can be expected to score in any given situation with runners on and number of outs), the most inefficient thing a hitter can do is strike out. This is not true--if you look at the matrices, a double play is far less productive. But the strikeout never advances any runners, so other than two outs being made at the same time, the easiest way to prevent your team from scoring runs is to strike out. Ground outs advance runners. Fly outs sometimes advance runners. Strikeouts don't unless we're talking about extenuating circumstances.

So the Red Sox put together a team that currently has the top two league leaders in strikeouts. In additon to those two guys, they acquired a former league leader in strikeouts who K's 24% of the time he's up. They've preached this sense of plate patience to their entire organization, so that the team's new leadoff hitter is taking called strike 3's down the middle of the plate twice a game. The current leadoff hitter would NEVER experience an at-bat like Coco Crisp's at-bat in the 2008 ALCS, because the organization has tought him to have either walked or struck out looking on a marginal pitch far before that. Same with JD Drew, which probably goes without saying.

What I'm saying is that this team, its acquisitions, and its philosophies foster widespread strikeouts. And you'd think that the organzation who spends more time on fangraphs.com than my boys (but JD/SABR apologists) Craig and Jack Sox combined would try to cut down on the strikeouts. Maybe this is part of the "run prevention" scheme.

A final thought for the week, and it's relevant because of the two AL league leaders in strikeouts: At some point, Francona has to give up the loyalty garbage and realize that every game, including the ones in April, count. Therefore, he has to throw the best baseball players out there. The best DH is Mike Lowell. And the best right fielder once Number Two and Cameron come back is Jeremy Hermida. I am dead serious about both of those things, and once Francona starts getting serious about winning baseball games, both should be considerations.

6 comments:

Anonymous said...

DV

Strikeouts have been a big issue on both ends. Not only have the hitters been striking out a lot, but Red Sox pitching hasn't been striking many batters out at all. Even in Wednesday's win the Sox struck out 10 times and Sox pitching only managed to strike out two batters. You see more than two K's in a slow-pitch softball game.

JD Drew and David Ortiz are killing the offense right now. Pedroia has been red hot. Youkilis is doing his job. So is Victor Martinez. Adrian Beltre has been a pleasant surprise thus far (albeit without much pop) and Jeremy Hermida has looked good. But when your 5 and 7 hitters strike out half the time and the other half don't hit the ball with any authority, the offense is never going to get going.

--the Gunn

the gm at work said...

Word is that Ortiz is going to represent himself in Jay-Z's lawsuit against him. "I ain't passed the bar, but I know a little bit," the .154 hitter told the Boston Globe overnight.

the gm at work said...

Gunn,

As far as the pitchers not striking out opposing batters goes, leaving pitching largely dependent upon fielding (yeah, I have my sabermetrician's hat on today) is theoretically less of a problem if your entire team can field well. The Red Sox' run prevention model eases some of the concerns about the lack of strikeouts. I mean, this is a team that definitely won't commit three errors in a game.

JD Drew is, quoting Kaplan, "a f[rea]king disaster." This is not new. If I wanted to JD out at work all day, I could probably point to about 10-15 stretches over the past three seasons where he's performed EXACTLY how he's performed in the 2010 season to date. Which is to say, he's been a complete drain on the team.

That said, as 1) he works just hard enough to not get fired and 2) it's Friday night, he'll probably go 3-4 tonight.

Ross Kaplan said...

I can't ever recall calling Nancy "a f[rea]king disaster," maybe just an absolutely horrendous ballplayer. As for Ortiz he's got 99 problems, and an inability to hit is 1. I suppose he's in a Bay State of Mind. And those are the only Jay-Z songs I know.

the gm at work said...

Tankenstein,

I believe you used the term "f[rea]king disaster" in reference to a study break in the year 2006. And I believe you used it in an email to our class reps. You are a clown.

Look, Ortiz told me he's going to "come back like Jordan wearing the 4-5" and it "ain't to play games wit you." I've also heard that 50 Cent is pissed that Ortiz ripped off his facial hairstyle, his idea of foraying into the overpriced Gatorade alternative market, and the idea of taking a s***load of steroids, getting rich, or dying tryin'.

jason said...

i didnt get to watch thursdays game live as usual.. but anyways did liriano look good? i mean from the stats it looks like he had a really good start but then again they only tell so much