2007 Sabermetric Year in Review: Boston Red Sox

I’ll try to be magnanimous, but these are the same Red Sox that broke my heart this past October.  And there’s only one… nevermind…   I went to Boston about this time last year.  I have to say, pretty town.  I walked around Fenway (it was before the season started, so no game and no “Sweet Caroline“ for me…) and felt a special little feeling in my heart.  Might have just been dinner.  Stop #27 on the tour is Boston.
Record: 96-66, 1st in AL East (beat Angels 3-0 in ALDS, beat Indians 4-3 in ALCS, beat Rockies 4-0 in World Series)
Pythagorean Projection (Patriot formula):  101.89 wins (867 runs scored, 657 runs allowed)
Team Statistical Pages:
Baseball Reference
Baseball Prospectus
FanGraphs
MVN Blog:
Fire Brand of the American League
More Red Sox Resources:
Latest News
Contract Status 
Trade Rumors
Overview: Somehow, it went from being tre chic in 2004 to be a Red Sox fan (and, of course, you’d been cheering for Boston since you were a kid… not, of course, as your favorite team since I know that you’re from Milwaukee originally, but your dad always kinda talked about how he liked the Red Sox and you got it from him) to being tre chic to hate Red Sox fans in 2007.  After all, they’re all so arrogant and pushy and entitled, right?  I mean, who do they think they are?  And I hate chowder.  And the Dropkick Murphys.  And The Departed wasn’t even good.
I say this as someone with no reason to say anything nice about the Red Sox.  I agree that the bandwagon jumpers were annoying with three Q’s.  But, I can’t hold it against someone who in all honesty had his or her heart broken by the Red Sox all those years if they want to celebrate a title.  So, when you see someone wearing a Red Sox hat, just smile and hope that you’re feeling the same thing they do some day.
What went right: Dustin Pedroia pulled off a rather rare feat in baseball.  He walked more than he struck out last year.  As a 23 year old kid, he had a .380 OBP (which would have put him in the lead on a lot of teams last year… he finished 4th on the Sox behind Ortiz, Manny, and Youk.)  Pretty good company.  Let’s not get carried away.  He’s not going to be the second coming of Manny Ramirez, but… the kid’s got some skills.  A well-deserved Rookie of the Year award on his part.
The Red Sox scored big when they brought in that pitcher from Japan.  And I guess that Dice-K guy did pretty well too.  If there was one baseball player that never quite got the kind of press that he truly deserved last year, it was Hideki Okajima.  Taking nothing away from Jonathan Papelbon, Okajima was just as good.  No big secret.  Few line drives + lots of strikeouts + few walks = good pitching.  If there was a “relief pitcher of the year” award (not that awful Rolaids relief man award), I think Okajima should have gotten serious consideration for it.  There are others from whom I could probably build a better case, but Boston fans, please note that you have two closer-quality guys in your bullpen.  Be proud.
What went wrong: Julio Lugo.  Oops.  What happened?  Would you believe me if I said that Lugo got a little unlucky last year.  His BABIP dipped well below his career average (as did his HR/FB).  Not many people talk about BABIP from a batter’s perspective.  BABIP is largely a repeatable skill with a batter, so when you see a player with consistent numbers over the years and then a sudden drop, treat it the same way that you treat a sudden spike.  Lugo’s not nearly as bad as he looked last year.  Don’t give up on him too fast.  Fantasy players, he probably didn’t get drafted in your league.  Keep tabs on him.  He might be a decent pick mid-year.
Looks like the Indians sold high on Coco Crisp.  Don’t worry.  It looks like the Red Sox sold high on Andy Marte.  To read Crisp’s stats is to see a guy who started striking out more and hitting fewer line drives when he got to Fenway.  2004-2005 is looking like a two year spike.  If you block those years out, 2002-2003 and 2006-2007 look about the same.  Sadly, Crisp has lost his spot to Jacoby Ellsbury and will spend the rest of the season pinch running and being a defensive replacement for Manny Ramirez.
Yeah, that about sums it up: They won the World Series.
Why Mike Lowell is not actually better than A-Rod: Do I really need to write this?  During the off-season when there was the briefest of flirtations between the Red Sox and A-Rod, sentimental Red Sox partisans pointed to the fact that Mike Lowell was also a free agent and that they’d rather Lowell than A-Rod.  I understand the emotion behind the desire, but I’ve never heard such a stupid sentence leave anyone’s mouth.  (And I hear myself talk all day.)  Pick any metric you want.  Mike Lowell is quite good.  A-Rod is stratospheric.  No one is worth $27.5 million a year, and so in that sense, Lowell might be the better bargain, but if that’s not an issue, sit down and tell me that given a choice between the two of them, you’d pick Lowell.  If you do, you’re managing with your emotions.  Now, does being a good “clubhouse guy” and a team leader have something to do with Lowell’s appeal.  Maybe… but you’ve never been in the Red Sox clubhouse… how do you know he’s a good leader?  Just about every team has a leader and there are nice guys in every clubhouse.  But, for a moment let’s grant that Lowell is the kind of guy who is sincerely a fantastic guy to be around and a great leader.  (I sincerely hope he is…)  Will someone tell me how that helps Julio Lugo hit the ball?
Would you believe: In 2007, David Ortiz was the fifth most un-clutch player in baseball.  You can look it up.
Outlook: Well, I suppose it’s as good a time as any to mention how hard it is to repeat as champions in baseball.  But then, it quickly becomes a game of who exactly will take the Red Sox down?  I suppose that there are a few candidates, but I can’t see any reason for the Red Sox not to start printing playoff tickets.  They are basically still the same unit from last year and it’s not like the Yankees got any better this off-season.

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5 Responses to 2007 Sabermetric Year in Review: Boston Red Sox

  1. Evan Brunell says:

    Gone Baby Gone was well done, though.

  2. Shane says:

    Come on now, The Departed was good.
    Other than that, great as usual.
    I agree that Mike Lowell is not a better third baseman than ARod, but 27 mil is absurd. Is ARod 2.25 times better than Lowell? Ok, maybe he is, but 27 mil a year?

  3. Pizza Cutter says:

    I really did like the Departed, which is odd for me, because I don’t usually watch mob movies or violent movies in general. And DKM is actually a lot of fun. But I do hate chowder.

  4. I don’t think you were magnanimous enough.

  5. Pizza Cutter says:

    Hey that’s between me and my wife. Oh, you said magnanimous… nevermind.

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