The Cardinals try to force a Game Seven while the Red Sox attempt to seal the deal.
One would think that it’s very difficult for a team to go on the road and win the final two games of the World Series with their backs up against the wall, as the Cardinals are facing right now. However, history tells us otherwise. If you make an assumption that most World Series teams are somewhat evenly matched, you’d expect a specific team to win two games in a row around 25 percent of the time. Throw in the heightened atmosphere and lack of home field advantage, and you might expect that number to go down, but it turns out it’s exactly 25 percent. In World Series history, there have been 24 teams facing a 3-2 deficit as they went on the road for Game Six. That road team has prevailed six times. Can the Cardinals make it seven? They’ll turn to their rookie sensation to get them there.
Can Boston's Goliath-like offense defeat David Price?
After a 12-2 drubbing of the Rays in Game One of the American League Division Series, the Red Sox look to put themselves firmly in the driver’s seat with another victory today in Boston. Unfortunately for them, if they want to do so, they’ll have to go through the reigning American League Cy Young Award winner. Here is a look at the PECOTA odds and projected lineups for Game Two.
Bret looks at the quintet of hurlers that has met the strikeout, walk, and ground-ball benchmarks that generally ensure a pitcher's success.
About a month ago, Russell Carleton talked about pitcher stats and when they stabilize. And now that we’re two months into the season, the time has come where we can look at some of the high-ticket items my eyes drift toward on the stat page without worrying about being distracted by small sample sizes. These performances are real and whether or not they continue, we will always be able to look back upon them through sepia tones and Instagram filters.
If you’ve read my stuff from a previous life, you’ve undoubtedly heard me talk about the Holy Trinity as it comes to starting pitchers. It encompasses the three skills that are most important to the art of pitching: getting strikeouts, reducing walks, and keeping the ball on the ground. Any pitcher who does at least one of these things well can be a major leaguer. Just two of these qualities are enough to be a star, but the pitchers who can do all three are the ones who are special, because they have the largest amount of control over their downside risk.
Well, sure, these conversations explain everything.
It’s no secret that there have been some problems with the Red Sox recently. Or, if it is a secret, whoops. Sorry. Cat’s out of the bag. So now you know if you didn’t already. There are issues in Red Sox land. Some have regarded those issues as holdovers from last season when things turned bad like cheese left out during a month long vacay to Maui. To others, the peculiar peccadilloes of this particular… uh, season, can be traced back to once single source: manager Bobby Valentine.
Valentine took over the team from Terry Francona, who was adept at handing the personal interaction side of managing in Boston. He was good with the players, he was good with the press. But those strengths belied a laissez faire attitude that permeated the Red Sox clubhouse, an attitude that some say led to the team’s downfall last September. That and also some incredibly awful baseball.
If you're looking for a scapegoat for Boston's struggles, skip the manager's office.
Tensions remain high in Boston following the Red Sox’ September collapse, and the departures of Terry Francona and Theo Epstein are still fresh in mind. The Red Sox’ slow start has exacerbated the situation, leading some to condemn the easiest scapegoat: Bobby Valentine. Even if the Red Sox’ season had started on more positive footing, Valentine’s return to the dugout was going to be an uphill battle—10 years is a long time to be out of a major league clubhouse and still have credibility with players who are too young to be aware of your illustrious credentials or too old to care. But in an organization plagued by injuries, struggling pitching, an inconsistent offense, and inexplicable strokes of bad luck, the hostility Valentine has received has been disproportionate to any possible responsibility he could have had for the state of the team.
The team’s struggles have left some nostalgic for Francona, who received a standing ovation and chants of “We want Tito” at Fenway’s 100th anniversary celebration Friday. Those chants are a sure sign of lost perspective: Francona managed the 2011 Red Sox to the team’s worst start since 1945 and an unprecedented September collapse, then departed in the wake of questions regarding his ability to control the clubhouse, and reports of beer-guzzling and chicken-eating pitchers.
Fourteen days of futility in Boston is more than some reasonable fans can take.
The Red Sox this year were expected to compete with the Yankees and the rest of the American League. They have instead imploded as much as any team can within the constraints of 14 games. The starting pitching has been monkey-with-irritable-bowel-syndrome putrid, the manager’s in-game decisions haven’t backfired so much as they’ve taken their weapons and joined the other side, and to see the relief work as remotely viable one must hearken back to a time before people could read and write and therefore did not know what “remotely viable” means. But the bench has been decent. So there’s that.
While they don’t have the worst record in baseball—that belongs to the Royals—they are third. That would have shocked the projection systems. Our own PECOTA had the Red Sox at 89 wins. My projection system, IMADETHISUP, had the Red Sox winning 120 games. Instead, the team is on a 46-win pace. The difference between PECOTA and the Red Sox’ actual pace is equivalent to the difference between last year’s playoff Rays and the 1962 Mets.
As the example of John Lackey makes clear, baseball isn't completely devoid of compelling characters, even if they're only likely to show their true colors at trying times.
Last week at this website, Adam Sobsey opined that baseball players are less interesting now than they used to be. That may be so, though I think it is at least arguable (as Mr. Sobsey mentions in the article) that much of their oddball nature has been pushed underground, suppressed by a culture that seeks either to worship or destroy its athletes.
A case in point is Boston Red Sox pitcher John Lackey. Lackey (and his contract) generated high expectations when they came to the Red Sox from Anaheim. Whether those expectations were justified is another issue, but his pay and previous success pointed toward at least adequate things, if not great ones. For the most part, the results haven’t been either great or adequate. The John Lackey Boston received has been, in order, adequate, historically awful, and now, injured.
Evaluating single high-profile signings against more scatter-shot solutions to team needs.
In the first twoparts of this series, I explained my new approach to contract valuations and whether MORP should be linear with respect to WARP. Basically, this entailed asking the question of whether Matt Holliday, perhaps a six-win player, could be just as easily replaced by signing two three-win players or three two-win players. The issue is roster space and playing time. The alternative argument to doing MORP linearly is that a team can sign Holliday and concentrate all six of those wins on one spot of the diamond, and then they could improve themselves more by filling their other openings with decent players as well.