Ok… let’s start out with something to keep in mind… a defense
of why it’s still early…
one ~ Geez… did everyone already forget 2009? Anyone
want to guess Boston’s record out of the gate in 2009? They started
with a win and then proceeded to drop 6 of the next 7 games. Yup…
they were 2-6 at one point before rallying. They ran off 11 straight
wins… beginning from that 2-6 record on the morning of April 15,
2009… and finished the month at 14-8. (Keep this in mind for later
though… they went 2-5 in games where they scored 3 runs or less
in April of 2009. Ok? Got that? Seriously… this will come up again.)
number one… easy folks. In fact, as we’ll see in a minute, not
only did Boston start slowly in 2009, they crashed in July and
August of 2009, and they still managed to clear 90 wins and make
two ~ Dad and I debate how to gauge a team and their
positioning for the stretch run all the time… and while “how many
games behind in the loss column” is a particular concept I simply
think of as silly, the general theme of things we discuss holds
true. We may not completely agree on the measurements to use,
but we do agree on the overall idea. Making up a game a week in
the standings is difficult but not obscenely unreasonable. Overcoming
a deficit when you still have more than that number of head-to-head
games with the team you are chasing is possible.
number two… a 5-game deficit with more than a dozen games remaining
against both New York and Tampa as well as five months of the
schedule to go isn’t hideous.
three ~ Jacoby Ellsbury. After playing Kansas City on
April 11th, the Sox were 3-3. Entering the ground-rule-miracle
opener against Texas at Fenway, they were 4-9. Let’s see… they
went 1-6 and got spanked by the Rays at home along the way… is
there anything we can point out about how they played in those
games? You know… some common factor or missing element? I’m mentioning
Ellsbury by name here, but the overall line of questioning is
easy to spot.
number three… be careful judging how something is running when
all the pieces aren’t in place.
needs to be considered is that at some point this season, both
the Yankees and the Rays… and let’s face it, in part any critique
of the Red Sox at this time does involve the play so far of these
division rivals… at some point both of these clubs are likely
to face a stretch or two where they play sub-.500 ball for a 10-game
run. That’s what makes baseball so amazing… things can change
dramatically over the course of just a week.
the first two games of the Red Sox – Rangers demonstrated… occasionally
it’s better to be lucky than good… Youkilis and Drew and others
that have struggled will have positive moments during the year
(Drew will simply have less of them)… some unexpected heroes will
emerge… and some moves will be made. The world evens out… a record
does tend to balance the realities of a full season.
of the good things that proved true in games one and two of Boston
hosting Texas will continue to develop or eventually be replaced
by more difficult losses. (All of the stupid things from those
games will probably be seen again as well.)
it up… don’t lose the thoughts of 2010 just yet because of April
troubles over the first 15 games.
that defense expressed… I think there is reason to be concerned.
Let’s get to the chart…
3 or less scored
3 or less scored record
3 or less scored
3 or less scored record
* At one point, between July 17th and August 9th, Boston went
1-10 in games when they scored 3 runs or less. In something that
should be considered scary heading toward July of 2010, between
July 18th and August 8th of 2008, Boston went 1-9 in games when
scoring 3 runs or less. When you look things over, and see that
they stayed remarkably consistent between the two seasons… winning
about 1 out of every 5 of such games and playing about 55 of them
each season… 2010 potentially holds quite a problem still waiting
the data itself is pretty simple… no smoke and mirrors… no funny
business. In fact, all I really did was count, one by one, two
years worth of games for three teams. (So bear with me if I’m
off a game or two on my counts. The basic idea remains consistent.)
In the years 2008 and 2009… how many games did the Red Sox, Yankees
or Rays play where they scored 3 runs or less during a game, and,
what was their record in those games?
notice… right away… of the three teams were focusing on, the team
that played the most games of this type didn’t make the playoffs.
And, the team with the best success rate in such contests went
to the World Series. (I’m just saying…)
2008, Tampa played 59 such games… and look at that, they also
won a remarkable one-third of them. That was the World Series
year, and what we see is that when they played, basically they
won. In 2009 they played 13 more games where they had trouble
scoring, and the record was much worse. World Series to out of
the playoffs. I don’t claim this is the only reason, but it sure
number that sticks out is that 38 for New York in 2009. We’ve
got six records to pick from, and no other record involved less
than 55 such games. In other words… they bashed everyone just
about all the time. (We’ll come back to this one in a second.
Because bashing teams didn’t always work out well for them. At
least… not as well as you might expect.)
there is likely more we can draw from this, but something funny
is already developing in 2010. Ready? Ok…
3 or less scored
3 or less scored recored
in games decided by 1 run
Both victories came over Texas, while this article was being
prepared but after it was started.
York isn’t playing any close games, and in the four contests they
didn’t score, they are breaking even. Tampa is winning close games,
lending some support to the idea that their bullpen has tied up
some loose ends that hurt in 2009. And Boston… well…
again they seem headed for about a third of their games to be
played with them scoring 3 or less… and when that happens, they
lose. (Unfortunately, given the pace they’re on, they could actually
be headed to 70 or more such games. And, we’ve already pointed
out what happens in this division when you play more games of
this sort than the other two teams. That said… check out the numbers.
They have been around 55 games scoring 3 or less for consecutive
seasons. Both times they won about 11 of those games. And both
times, they cleared 90 wins. That means they are winning 80% of
the games when they score that fourth run. In fact…)
York - 2008
York - 2009
Bay - 2008
Bay - 2009
all of this says to me is that the rumors are true… Boston is
a very boring, plodding, methodical team that just paces itself
to 95 wins.
check out New York… in 2008 they played better in the low scoring
games… in 2009 they actually played worse in the high scoring
games… and yet in 2009 they had a monster season because they
played so few of those low scoring games, where they lost more
often than they won. (Isn’t that something? Of the six seasons
we are investigating… three teams over two years… last year’s
New York team had the best overall record, and yet the worst winning
percentage when they scored lots of runs.)
I’m getting at is that in this very small sample size… but involving
arguably three of the best four or five teams in baseball over
the past two-plus seasons… two things become apparent…
It is better to score consistently. When you don’t cross that
3-run mark you lose far more than you win. And too many of those
contests simply makes it impossible to cover the ground you’ll
have to make up.
Taking your chances by trying to build your club for a full season
of low scoring games is pretty stupid. (Hmm… did someone say pitching
just toss in one final, funny thing…
per game average
we can take 2010 to date as an indicator of things to come… and
Tampa is going to once again win about a third of the time they
struggle to score, but is now going to add to that a good record
in close games (better bullpen) and a division-leading offense
(most runs scored to date)… then look out, because the Rays are
going to run away from the pack.
we put the finishing touches on this, Boston has played 15 games.
They have failed to score 3 runs 6 times… 40% of the games.
that mean things will get better? Or worse?
don’t know. I can only tell you history says to bet on 95 wins…
and that they had better improve their offense if that’s going
to happen, and not count on better pitching and defense.