Baseball Toaster was unplugged on February 4, 2009.
If the regular season ended today, just one team from the American League East would make the playoffs. Indeed, with the Central Division emerging as the strongest division in baseball this year, it seems increasingly unlikely that the Wild Card will come out of the East. As a result, the closest thing we're likely to see to a playoff series between the Red Sox and Yankees this year is the five-game series in Boston that kicks off with the first game of today's double-header at 1:05.
With that in mind, I thought this would be a good occasion to drag out that old standby, the position-by-position comparison. You'll see that I do this a bit differently than most, preferring to compare the offense by position in the batting order rather than defensive position in order to avoid absurdities such as comparing Derek Jeter with Alex Gonzalez and Manny Ramirez with Melky Cabrera. That said, I'll fudge the line-ups slightly to produce closer comps. Also, I should point out that the statistics below, save for those of recently promoted Yankee relievers Octavio Dotel and Brian Bruney, are from Wednesday night. Right, on with it . . .
Leading off, the center fielders:
|Johnny Damon||CF||.287/.364/.474||.291||21 (75%)|
|Coco Crisp||CF||.276/.327/.389||.255||16 (80%)||missed a month and a half at the beginning of the season with a broken left index finger|
Both of these guys can be expected to perform better than the above numbers in this weekend's series. Damon has hit .309/.366/.505 on the road this year and is a career .309/.376/.462 hitter in Fenway Park. Crisp, meanwhile, is just hot, having hit .330/.358/.473 since July 23. No matter how you slice it, however, Damon has clearly been the better hitter both this year and over his career.
Next up, a pair of All-Star middle infielders:
|Derek Jeter||SS||.341/.419/.476||.318||26 (90%)|
|Mark Loretta||2B||.303/.359/.382||.263||3 (75%)|
No contest. Jeter is a Hall of Famer having his best season since he was robbed of an MVP the award in 1999.
We'll fudge a bit with the third place in the order by compare the teams' beefy, lefty slugging, clutch-hitting, creatively facial-haired, first basemen-turned-designated hitters, despite the fact that the Yankee version actually hits fourth or fifth:
Ortiz has far more impressive counting numbers than Giambi due to his having 75 more plate appearances, a by-product of several minor injuries suffered by Giambi and Jason's having played more first base and thus losing late-game at-bats to defensive replacements. Assume both will have equal playing time this weekend and, as their EQA's show, this is basically a draw. I'll give the edge to Ortiz as, while he's actually hit better on the road than at home this year, Giambi's home-road splits are even stronger in the other direction and he's historically his below his career averages at Fenway.
Next up two of the best hitters and most highly paid and therefore heavily criticized players in the history of the game:
|Alex Rodriguez||3B||.286/.388/.512||.307||11 (73%)|
|Manny Ramirez||LF||.323/.432/.625||.347||0 (1 CS)|
The simple fact of the matter is that Manny Ramirez is and has always been a better hitter than Alex Rodriguez. Consider their career numbers:
Rodriguez: .306/.388/.573 (.318 EQA), 2,023 H, 454 HR
Ramirez: .314/.410/.600 (.331 EQA), 2,052 H, 467 HR (in 122 more PAs)
Factor in Rodriguez's speed and defense and things get closer, but EQA already factors in base running and Alex's defense has been erratic this year, not quite Manny-level erratic, but enough to undermine any attempt to portray Rodriguez as anything approaching Ramirez's equal this season.
Having skipped the Yankees actual number three hitter, we'll drop him in here in a comparison of players whose primary skill is getting on base:
|Bobby Abreu||RF||.291/.430/.443||~.306*||25 (86%)|
|Kevin Youkilis||1B||.292/.392/.450||.297||5 (71 %)|
*combined EQAs adjusted for all time for multi-team players are not available; Abreu had a .305 mark with the Phillies and thus far has a .342 EQA as a Yankee
Youkilis has been great for the Sox thus far this year, but comparing him to Abreu is just not fair, though it's a credit to Youkilis that this is even close.
Normally the teams' two catchers are an ideal pair for a break down like this, but with Jason Varitek on the DL, I'm going to stick with the plan and compare the two sixth-place hitters:
Posada has the edge in EQA, despite Lowell's doubles-aided advantage in slugging. Given that gaudy doubles total (37), one would think that Lowell has benefited greatly from being able to knock hits off the Green Monster. Well, it's true that Lowell has more doubles at home than on the road, but it's actually a pretty even split (20/17). Meanwhile, Lowell is hitting just .249/.315/.416 at home this year. That increases the advantage for Jorge, who roughly equals his career averages, which aren't a far cry from his line above, in Fenway.
Next up a pair of righty-hitting former National League platoon players:
|Craig Wilson||1B||.271/.333/.482||~.270||Wilson had a .272 EQA with the Pirates and has a .265 mark with the Yankees|
|Wily Mo Peña||RF||.364/.394/.669||.306||Peña missed nearly two months in the middle of the season with a wrist injury|
Update: It appears the Red Sox plan to platoon the righty Peña with newly-aqcuired lefty Eric Hinske, thus I've updated the above chart to add Hinske. The AVG/OBP/SLG numbers for Peña and Hinske are now their platoon splits against opposite-handed pitchers only, while their EQA's remain their overall season figures.
The addition of Wilson makes this less of a landslide than it would have been with Andy Phillips (.234 EQA) in Wilson's place, but it's still an easy win for the Sox, especially now that they have Hinske to give them a strong platoon advantage. That said, Hinske is ice cold right now, going .167/.310/.208 thus far in August. Curiously, Wilson, who has hit .283 with a .478 slugging percentage as a Yankee and has a career on-base percentage 90 points higher than his batting average, has yet to draw a walk since coming to the American League and has just one walk since June 23.
The last two spots are a bit of a muddle due to the Varitek injury, particularly as the Red Sox have been suckered into giving Doug Mirabelli (.234 EQA since returning to the Red Sox) the bulk of the starts behind the plate despite their recent acquisition of Javy Lopez. No matter how you slice it, Robinson Cano, who has a .282 EQA and has hit .353/.371/.676 since being activated from the DL, is clearly better than each of the Red Sox's catchers at the plate, Varitek (.258 EQA this season) included.
That brings us to the number nine hitters:
|Melky Cabrera||LF||.276/.353/.408||.268||9 (69%)||spent April in the minors|
|Alex Gonzalez||SS||.277/.325/.428||.261||1 (100%)|
Just squeaking by Alex Gonzalez doesn't reflect well on young Melky, but at age-21 he's improving on a monthly basis. Since July 1 he's hit .329/.386/.520 and is 6 for 8 (75%) on the bases. Thus far in August, he's upped that to .358/.433/.604 while smacking three of his seven career home runs. Gonzalez, meanwhile, has cooled off from a strong June and July showing to hit .186/.255/.372 thus far in August and has been forced to share his position with the lefty-hitting Alex Cora (.256 EQA) throughout the season. Thus, this isn't nearly as close as it looks.
So what's the conclusion? The Red Sox have the better big boppers in Ortiz and Ramirez (and, further down, former Yankee farmhand Peña), but the Yankees have the deeper line-up, with superior hitters in six of the nine spots in the line-up. Indeed, checking the gross totals shows just how evenly matched these two offenses are, with the Red Sox maintaining a slim lead in runs per game over the Yankees, 5.53 to 5.48, a lead that was held by the Yankees a couple of days ago.
As for the benches, faced with five games in four days the Red Sox had pared down to a three-man bench in order to add an extra pitcher, but yesterday they picked up former Rookie of the Year Eric Hinske from the division rival Blue Jays, giving them the edge here. Here are the four players on each bench along with their EQAs:
Eric Hinske (RF/3B/1B/LF): .288 or Wily Mo Peña (RF/CF/LF): .306
Gabe Kapler (RF/LF/CF): .262
Alex Cora (SS/2B/3B): .256
Javy Lopez (C): ~.251
Bernie Williams (RF/CF/LF): .262
Andy Phillips* (1B/3B/2B): .234
Sal Fasano (C): ~.221
Nick Green (2B/SS/3B): ~.197 (.293 with NY)
*Update: Andy Phillips has been placed on the DL with what I suspect is a phantom rib cage injury in order to allow the Yankees to add another bullpen arm in the person of T.J. Beam, giving the Sox an even bigger advantage in this department.
With the hitting out of the way, here's a quick look at the defense, starting with the two teams' defensive efficiencies with their major league ranks:
NYY: 70.8% (4th)
BOS: 69.1% (19th)
That advantage exists despite the fact that the Yankees have committed nearly twice as many errors as the Sox, with 54 to the Sox major-league low 28.
For fun, here are the Rates of the eight starters for each team:
That takes care of the regulars. I'll address the starting pitchers on a game-by-game basis with my usual game previews. That just leaves the bullpens.
First the closers:
|Mariano Rivera||54||1.19||6.19||1.27||0.28||31 (91%)||1.83||4.589|
|Jonathan Papelbon||53||1.15||9.30||1.77||0.44||32 (86%)||0.89||5.757|
I don't think there's any denying that Papelbon has been the surer thing this year, though the difference between the two is slight to be sure. Yankee fans can point to Mo's higher save conversion rate, but Red Sox fans can counter by pointing out that Mo has five losses to Pap's two. The problem, of course, is that loses and blown saves can and often do occur in the same game. Looking over their game logs, both closers have exactly six outings that resulted in a loss, a blown save or both. Papelbon, however, has one outing on his log in which he blew a save but held on to earn the win (no, David Ortiz had nothing to do with it, he actually went 0 for 4 with four men left on base in that game), while Mo has none. But one could also point out that two of Papelbon's five blown saves have come in August, a month in which he has posted a very human 3.38 ERA. Another fun stat from the game logs is that Papelbon has had 13 outings that have lasted more than an inning, Mo has had 15. All of which simply illustrates just how slim the margin is by which the Red Sox rookie has the edge here.
Here are their support teams:
|Ron Villone (L)||54||1.20||7.52||4.45||0.42||2.23||1.572|
|Mike Myers (L)||40||0.47||6.27||2.89||0.96||2.89||0.938|
*relief appearances only
We can see that the Yankee bullpen has a small issue with walks while the Red Sox pen has had a bit of problem with home runs, but overall the Yankees have the better, deeper collection of relievers. This is partially because of the unexpected performances of Ron Villone and Scott Proctor, the latter of whom has rediscovered his dominating April form since the All-Star Break (1.31 ERA, 0 HR, 20 2/3 IP, 15 H, 21 K, 5 BB). But it is also because Julian Tavarez and Rudy Seanez have been awful while Craig Hansen continues to disappoint, perhaps because the Red Sox continue to rush him out of desperation.
So the starting line-ups are in a dead heat, the Sox have the better bench, and the Yanks have the better bullpen. So what else is new? About the only new development here is that the Yankees have a vastly improved team defense. At least we know more about the players we'll be watching this weekend.
For reference, here's the Red Sox roster the usual way, minus the bells and whistles:
Boston Red Sox
2006 Record: 69-50 (.580)
2006 Pythagorean Record: 65-54 (.550)
Manager: Terry Francona
General Manager: Theo Epstein
Home Ballpark (2005 Park Factors): Fenway Park (101/101)
Who's Replaced Whom?
1B Kevin Youkilis (R)
2B Mark Loretta (R)
SS Alex Gonzalez (R)
3B Mike Lowell (R)
C Doug Mirabelli (R)
RF Wily Mo Peña (R)
CF Coco Crisp (S)
LF Manny Ramirez (R)
DH David Ortiz (L)
L Eric Hinske (UT)
L Alex Cora (IF)
R Javy Lopez (C)
R Gabe Kapler (OF)
R Curt Schilling
L David Wells
R Jason Johnson
L Jon Lester
R Josh Beckett
R Jon Papelbon
R Mike Timlin
R Manny Delcarmen
R Julian Tavarez
R Rudy Seanez
R Craig Hansen
R Kyle Snyder
15-day DL: S Jason Varitek (C), L Trot Nixon (OF), R Tim Wakefield, R Keith Foulke
60-day DL: R Matt Clement, L Lenny DiNardo
S Coco Crisp (CF)
R Mark Loretta (2B)
L David Ortiz (DH)
R Manny Ramirez (LF)
R Kevin Youkilis (1B)
R Mike Lowell (3B)
R Wily Mo Peña (CF)
R Doug Mirabelli (C)
R Alex Gonzalez (SS)
**WXRL is a complex, but informative statistic. The acronym technically stands for Relievers Expected Wins Added, but is better remembered as Win eXpectancy adjusted for Replacement level and Lineup. The statistic tallies a reliever's effect upon his team's Win Expectancy (also known as Win Probability) then compares that to a replacement level pitcher while also adjusting for the strength of the actuall hitters faced.
For those unfamiliar with Win Probability, say a visiting team has a two run lead in the bottom of the ninth with the bases empty and one out. At that moment they have a 95.9 percent chance of winning that game. If the pitcher gives up a home run in that situation, reducing his lead to one-run, he drops his team's Win Expectancy to 90.8 percent, thus he's docked 5.1 points. If he strikes out the batter in that situation, to put his team one out from a win with a two-run lead, he improves his team's Win Expectancy to 99.6 percent, thus he's credited with 3.7 points. WXRL tallies all these pluses and minuses and adjusts them as stated above. It is a counting stat, not a rate stat.
>> Andy Phillips might be headed for at least 15 days of inactivity after injuring his rib cage on a swing in the ninth inning. Phillips' playing time has dwindled to almost nothing since the acquisitions of Bobby Abreu and Craig Wilson. He strained a muscle on his left side in his only at-bat after replacing Alex Rodriguez at third base in yesterday's 12-2 loss to the Orioles.
Phillips finished the at-bat and grounded to short. With the Yankees using four relievers yesterday and a day-night doubleheader today, they could opt to promote reliever T.J. Beam as a 13th pitcher. Phillips' roster spot may have been in jeopardy anyway, so a DL stint could actually save his job before rosters expand Sept. 1. <<
I don't know though what WXRL means and the note for the is missing.
Best. Movie. This. Year.
Wait, what am I doing, making a point using win expectancy. I despise win expectancy, something about it strikes me as some sort of false idol, but I don't have enough training in statistics to pinpoint it. It just doesn't sit right with me. A grand slam in the fourth inning of a tied game(which would spike a player's WPA) is not worth more than a grand slam down six runs in the ninth (which would add very little to a player's WPA).
Read the Yanks-Sox previews in the Post, Daily News, and Times, and caught a little of the heavy breathing on ESPN radio on the way in.
Nothing I heard or read comes close to the pre-series analysis you posted here, Cliff.
The thoughtful, textured, and statistically insightful stuff you and Alex consistently churn out puts everything else to shame. Thank you.
My favorite quote in the rags today is from Craig Wilson re: the rivalry.
"I have heard a little bit about it. It's my understanding they don't like us and vice versa."
Perfectly stating the obvious, that's "Snakes On A Plane," Mr. Wilson.
Let's go Yankees!
Oh well, he can join Pavano at the "Snakes" matinee.
My hope for this series is that we control what should be controlled....Alex Cora, Gonzalez, Mirabelli, etc....losing to Ortiz and Manny is one thing but allowing these ordinary players get on base and cause problems is not going to get it..
Now I see him comforting Pavano during the scariest moments in "Snakes."
The Yanks have an option on Wright next year that is almost equal to his salary...keep him or save $2m or so ?
The guy is like a cancer to the bullpen and I would love to see him find a little league where they only play 5 innings and win the Cy Young there
I'd use Posada every inning this weekend and promise Jorge he can sleep through the Seattle series if he needs to.
"wrap Pavano in bubble wrap ..."
Too freakin funny. The guy is going to be the butt of jokes for years, no pun intended.
23 The shortage of quality catchers in the league is well known. If any of these guys were good, they'd be starting catchers, not backups. Can anyone think of a team w/ a really good backup catcher? I can't, but I don't know then all.
If you think an MVP shouldn't come from a seccond-place team, you might downgrade Nomar a notch. But even if you don't like giving it to pitchers, either, Pedro is right there. That year he wasn't a mere pitcher, he was a god.
is the hope that Wright replaces Ponson next year OR that he works himself up to an avg. 5 2/3 innings next season as it will be a contract year which means a "short starter" like himself with a .500 record can command another 3 year 7m per deal ?
The guy is job sharing with a long reliever essentially and should walk out to the pen with envelopes before every start....
I have interns who put in a longer day
He is more valuable than Ponson and could fill the long/spot start role or be flipped to a team needing starters, if we dont need him. Either way it is all about options and we have more if we pick up his.
what would Abraham be worried about being in the clubhouse ? Pavano has not been in there in two years....even if he went to Trenton and ran across him sitting in the whirpool..Pavano would not risk missing another season trying to splash the guy
I understood that, my guess is that they would help Abraham with that blog if he asked...
Is he really that harsh on the guy ?
Today could not be more of a less productive day. I have no idea why I'm at work.
1. Johnny Damon, CF
2. Derek Jeter, SS
3. Bobby Abreu, RF
4. Jason Giambi, DH
5. Alex Rodriguez, 3B
6. Robinson Cano, 2B
7. Jorge Posada, C
8. Craig Wilson, 1B
9. Melky Cabrera, LF
P -- Chien Ming-Wang
1. Coco Crisp, CF
2. Mark Loretta, 2B
3. David Ortiz, DH
4. Manny Ramirez, LF
5. Kevin Youkilis, 1B
6. Mike Lowell, 3B
7. Eric Hinske, RF
8. Javy Lopez, C
9. Alex Gonzalez, SS
P -- Jason Johnson
I don't know if Abraham would have the cannolis to joke about Glass Carl to his face, but he's bold enough to put stuff on his blog that could get back to Pavano.
By the way, best roast joke ever was at the expense of Rob Reiner. I wish I could remember who delivered it. Goes something like this:
In his breakup with Penny Marshall, she got the talent, he got the tits.
It was 82 years since the Sox had won, as I constantly remind Sox fans....an 80 year old man living in South Boston has seen more Kennedys shot in the head than Red Sox World Series Titles
Time to crush!!! Go Yankees.
(Time for a rolaids)
You haven't been told QUITE enough how damned impressive this article and the work you've put into it is, I think. Because it most assuredly is the best thing going on this series I've read. And, um, as you know here in the city there are more than a few people writing about it. They all pale in comparison.
Any word on who the Sox sent down to make room for Hinske?
46 Maybe I'm wrong but I wouldn't even give them that much credit. You can't go losing for as long as they did only to have it totally erased by one (incredible wet dream) season. Sox fans aren't happy unless they're miserable and they have serious doubts about this team right now. I would love to see the Yanks reinforce that trepidation. And you know what? Now that I consider it further, that's not even the primary reason for me, just a fringe benefit. I just want to see some swagger from this team.
Doesn't Hinske trounce Wang? (No pun intended)
Hinske is 6 for 11 with two homers a double and a walk against Wang. So yes, but small sample, blah blah.
Hinske has good numbers against Wang, so I'm not surprised to see him in the lineup today.
I agree and would really like to see this lineup mash this weekend.
I am old enough to remember the '78 Boston Massacre when life was good and it was sensational.....4 straight and big scores...
I do wish Sheff and Matsui were here this weekend...I miss Sheff violent swing and general agressiveness
Also worth noting that Wily Mo is hitting .350/.389/.573 at Fenway. Thanks for leaving him on bench, Terry!
Let's play two!
BTW, is anybody starting Wang in fantasy today?
Looks like many have read Abraham's blog today, it feels like we are as fired up as those 8 boys in Pete's niece's camp if not more fired up.
Kirribilli Yankee Fan and yanklifer, to put a number link in your post, just type the number inside the brackets .
Let's Go Yankees!
Mussina and Schilling are probably the closest to consistent either team has now...every other starter (including Wang) is a complete wild card...
Beckett could feed his gopher....
Randy could flip back to a 3 inning start...
Even the bullpens are wide open...
Farnsworth...3 run bomb or 3 Ks ?
It should be a wild weekend...split today with essentially the Sox hitting off a tee in the 2nd game would be good as you will probably need 8 runs to win that game...
What is Pythagorean record?
Yup, no work being done around here. Please move along.
EQA is the Equivalent Average for a batter, like their carrer BA independent of the league or park.
A Pythagorean record uses a formula to calculate runs scored and runs allowed and the record can more accurately reflects a team's abilities to score and prevent runs than a team's real won-lost record. (Under normal circumstances, a team should have more runs scored than allowed on average to keep a winning record but it's not always the case)
Usually the two records (real win-loss record and Pythagorean) will be roughly the same. If a team's Pythagorean record is way better than the team's real record, though, it probably means that the team had some bad luck, or vice versa.
>> Torre said Bernie Williams would probably play in the second game tonight with Jason Giambi manning first. Sal Fasano will catch the nightcap. <<
OK, screw this crap, let's Get These MotherFc*cking Snakes off the Plane!
70 EQA is Equivalent Average. Very quickly, its like an updated version of batting average that includes more than just H/AB, and scales the same way (.260 is average, .280 is good, anything over .300 is great). Longer def at: http://tinyurl.com/lv5ab
Pythag record is exactly as C2Coke described it in 73.
73 sort of overcomplicates Pythagorean Record. It is simply a team's estimated record based on runs scored and allowed only.
Feel free to keep this thread going for now, but I've just posted a game thread post above. Now to catch a train home from work. I hope to only miss an inning or two.
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