Red Sox Players’ WBC Performances

The 2017 World Baseball Classic was one that will go down in history. The combination ofWBC Performances flare for dramatics, swag, and genuinely good baseball will make sure of that. The best players in the world getting to represent their country is always a special event. For the fans, their favorite players from their favorite teams don a new jersey. Following Team USA’s exciting victory over Puerto Rico, it officially became time for Red Sox baseball. The team has been playing in spring training games and tuning the roster up for Opening Day. The participants who are also Red Sox players missed time with the team to play for their home country. Let’s see what their WBC performances consisted of.

Xander Bogaerts’ WBC Performance

The Netherlands were a team that did not have much big league talent. Regardless, the team made a push in the tournament to reach the semifinal. They were defeated by Puerto RIco by a score of 4-3 in 11 innings. The team’s best hitter was a man named Wladimir Balentine, who hit a whopping .615 in the tournament. Xander Bogaerts ultimately went 5-22 (.227) in 17 games, scored 5 runs, and drove in 2 runs. He has always been a “put the ball in play” type of hitter, and managed to only strike out once all tourney long. Bogey had a OBP of .419.

Red Sox Players’ WBC Performances

Fernando Abad threw 2 & 1/3 innings for the DOminican Republic in the WBC. He got a win for one of the most exciting teams in the tournament. Abad was 1-0, had an ERA of 0.00, stuck out 1 while walking 1, and gave up 2 hits. We’ll have to wait and see if he finds a spot back in the Red Sox bullpen this year.

It certainly would have been interesting to see what Hanley Ramirez could have done in the WBC for the Dominican Republic. Ramirez decided to not partake in the event due to a lingering shoulder soreness. He plans on returning to playing the field for Boston by the end of spring training.

The same goes for Eduardo Rodriguez. E-Rod has been pitching for the Red Sox during spring training, and was on the Venezuelan roster as one of the pitchers they could pick up later in the tournament. The team requested Rodriguez, but he denied the request. The Red Sox will continue to monitor Rodriguez’s situation with his knee, as well as simply watch the young man progress.

No Red Sox players emerged as heroes in the World Baseball Classic like some thought they would. The leadership and determination of Xander Bogaerts had to have played a role in the Netherlands semifinal run. Fernando Abad pitched in one game, while Hanley Ramirez and Eduardo Rodriguez simply did not partake. Now that the WBC is over, it is time for Red Sox baseball.

Concerns for the Second Half

concerns

The season is 85 games old and Boston’s socks are soaked red with the blood of the rest of the American League. The only team with 50+ wins and the only team with a winning percentage above .600 are two titles that this year’s team can claim as of today.

However this doesn’t mean things are all rosy in Beantown. In fact, two of my biggest concerns for the second half are with two of the biggest hitters in the Sox lineup. David Ortiz, who carried most of the offense, has slipped a bit in his power production since the beginning of the season. He only has two home runs in his last 17 games, compared to three home runs in the 4 games before that 17 game stretch.

Another struggling star is Mike Napoli. We all remember getting Napoli to sign a discounted deal because of a mysterious hip ailment, however he showed no ill effects as he demolished April pitching like it was a breakfast buffet table. Now he has turned into a glorified singles hitter, having seen his slugging percentage drop from .500 on June 1st to .434 on June 30th, racking up only 1 home run and 1 double during that span. It would be a tough blow to the Red Sox if this is due to his hip flaring up again.

In other news, I just wrote a pessimistic article about the Red Sox and didn’t mention the word “bullpen” once! That’s a new record.

The Quick Six: Six Takeaways from Game 1 of 162

game

(courtesy of MLB.com)

1. The Debut of Jackie Bradley Jr. If you’ve been following this blog, chances are you’ve heard about this young prospect the Sox have who goes by JBJ. Well he impressed yesterday by scoring two runs, getting on base three times, and driving in a run. In left field, he tracked down a Cano fly ball with the prowess of a veteran, not a player who’s been playing the position for a week. However, perhaps his best play of the game was beating out a throw to second base on an infield single. It extended the second inning, which led to three more runs for the Sox.

2. The Plate Discipline at the Back of the Lineup. The top of the order is supposed to whack the ball, get homeruns, and drive in runs. Those are the heavy hitters. An ideal lineup has plenty of these guys, but at the bottom of the order are guys that get pitchers tired by making them throw a lot of pitches. The five through eight hitters in the lineup worked a combined total of 8 walks. Carl Crawford had 3 walks all of last year. The plate discipline Monday helped knock Sabathia out by the sixth.

3. The Top of the Order is in Rare Form. The most impressive member of the local nine on Monday was definitely Shane Victorino. He drove in 3 RBI’s on 2 hits, while his teammates adjacent in the batting order, Ellsbury and Pedroia, combined for 5 more hits and 3 RBI’s.

4. A Good Start. Jon Lester struck out 7 in the five innings. This was the perfect opening day start. He got the win, pitched out of some adversity, and kept his count under 100 pitches. It also brings me great pleasure to share this fact; the Yankees’ Joba Chamberlain now has an ERA of 40.50.

5. The Bullpen had a nice day. The Sox used five relievers to close four innings on Monday. In total, they only allowed one hit, however Andrew Miller got into some trouble in the seventh after walking two. However he came back with two straight strikeouts, only to have the third out recorded by way of the K as well, courtesy of Andrew Bailey.

6. What to do with Drew? Stephen Drew would have been the starting Shortstop yesterday had it not been for the concussion he suffered in Spring Training. His replacement Jose Iglesias notched three hits, an RBI, and scored a run. We already know Iglesias is better than Drew in the field, if he keeps swinging the bat like this, then Stephen won’t be the first “Drew” in New England to lose his starting job while injured (looking at you Bledsoe).

Sabermetrics for Dummies: Part 2 – P.E.C.O.T.A.

sabermetrics

(Nate Silver, who developed PECOTA, is one of Time’s 100 Most Influential People in the World)

As stat-tracking technology becomes better and better, and budgets become tighter and tighter, baseball teams are starting to turn to numbers, or sabermetrics, to determine the worth of their players. These are a few of the statistics that all teams use to evaluate players.

Today’s stat: P.E.C.O.T.A.

It’s only part two of this series and the acronyms are already at six letters. If that doesn’t scare you off, learning the meaning of PECOTA will. It stands for “Player Empirical Comparison and Optimization Test Algorithm.” It was developed by statistician Nate Silver in 2002. If you don’t know who Nate Silver is, just know that he predicted the exact results, state for state, of the Obama vs. Romney 2012 presidential election weeks before Election Day. So he’s pretty good at this prognostication business.

PECOTA is a system for forecasting the performance and career development of baseball players. It does this by comparing current baseball players to a database of nearly every single major and minor leaguer that has had stats recorded since World War II.

When analyzing current players, PECOTA will match them with comparable major leaguers based on something called “similarity scores.” These scores are determined by four different factors: production metrics (batting average, walk rate, strikeout rate, etc.), usage metrics (plate appearances, innings pitched, etc.), phenotypic attributes (height, weight, age), and position (infielder, pitcher, etc.).

Players are then matched up with those they appear similar to. By looking at how the comparable players finished their career, it is easier to predict how the player in question will finish his.

PECOTA is unique to other projection sabermetrics because it analyzes players based on a three-year window that they are in compared to similar players in a similar three-year window.

Baseball Prospectus (the website that operates PECOTA) uses this projection system to predict what will happen days, months, and years into the future. In February they came out with their 2013 season predictions based on the PECOTA principles. In this prediction, the Sox finish second in the east and keep on playing after game 162. Nate Silver’s statistics we’re dead on about Massachusetts being an “Obama-Biden” state, let’s hope they’re right about it being a playoff baseball state as well.

Sabermetrics for Dummies: Part 1 – W.A.R.

w.a.r

Miguel Cabrera (left) and Mike Trout (right) elevated W.A.R. to a national discussion during their AL MVP race (ESPN the Magazine)

As stat-tracking technology becomes better and better, and budgets become tighter and tighter, baseball teams are starting to turn to numbers, or sabermetrics, to determine the worth of their players. These are a few of the statistics that all teams use to evaluate players.

Today’s stat: W.A.R.

War… what is it good for? Sorry about that, I had to. It turns out that W.A.R. is actually good for something. In fact, it’s the most significant statistic in all of the sabermetric community. W.A.R. is an acronym for Wins Above Replacement. This stat is used to quantify the effect that single players have on the number of wins a team earns. A player’s W.A.R. number is the amount of wins the team would lose if the player in question were to be replaced by a minor leaguer or bench player.

For offensive players, W.A.R. is a combination of batting, base running, and defensive data. All of this data is converted to take into account the position that is played and the quality of potential backup. For pitchers, defensive data along with runs vs. innings pitched statistics calculate their W.A.R.

A baseball player with a W.A.R. between 0-2 is regarded as anywhere from a scrub to a reliable bench player, however that person shouldn’t be a major league starter. A solid starter would score between a 2 and a 3. A good player would achieve between 3-4, an All-Star 4-5, a superstar 5-6, and finally an MVP would have a W.A.R. above 6.

Last year’s AL rookie of the year Mike Trout earned the highest W.A.R. of 2012 with an astounding score of 10.7. The American League MVP Miguel Cabrera finished fourth in the AL in W.A.R. with 6.9, right behind his teammate Justin Verlander (7.5) for the AL champion Detroit Tigers. The best a Red Sox player could muster up was Dustin Pedroia’s 4.7, which ranked 10th among AL position players in 2012.

Baseball might be the only context where this declaration is accepted, but here’s to hoping for more WAR in 2013.

Point/Counterpoint on Jackie Bradley Jr.

jackie bradley jr

(bostonherald.com)

Jackie Bradley Jr. is the future of the Red Sox. Everyone agrees on that. However, is he the present as well? It depends on who you talk to. Here is the definitive pro vs. con list of having Jackie Bradley start the season in Boston.

Pro: He is playing very well in spring training, batting an unbelievable .429 average. His bat could definitely help the major league team immediately.

Con: Spring training is a very small sample size, and it is occurring in a place 50 degrees warmer than Boston in April. It is much harder to hit in colder temperatures and might be too much of a change for the young 22 year old to handle.

Pro: This young 22 year old has handled EVERY single thing thrown at him in March.

Con: The Boston media, Yankee Stadium on opening day, and an outfielders nightmare, the Green Monster are lurking.

Pro: Even if he gets out to a slow start, he can benefit from the mentoring of Dustin Pedroia, who spent his first month in the majors batting a .172 average. Now look at him… laser show, relax (for reference: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DPvMOVFshyI).

Con: JBJ has only ever been a center fielder, which is his natural position. However, the Sox already have a dynamic center fielder in Jacoby Ellsbury. So to play Bradley, he is going to have to play a different position. This off season, the Red Sox gave a lot of money to Shane Victorino to come to Boston and patrol right field, so obviously that’s not an option either. This leaves left field open, which presents a problem because left field at Fenway is unlike any left field ever (see Monster, Green). With the likely exit of Ellsbury after this season, do the Red Sox really want to have their future center fielder spend a whole year tormented in left and possibly risk ruining the confidence of a 22-year-old kid? Manager John Farrell doesn’t think so. He says that Bradley will only be a center fielder, and if need be, he can play right once in a while, but no left field for the prospect. So there you have it, Jackie Bradley Jr. will not play with the Red Sox on opening day, he will not start, and he will never play left field. Repeat, he will never ever, ever, play left field for the Red Sox.

Pro: Jackie Bradley Jr. is starting in left field today (March 24th).

(twitter.com)

(twitter.com)

See you opening day.