Feb 282011

Major Changes

The Red Sox (and their fans) were disappointed with their 2010 showing, which at 89-73 saw them miss the playoffs, finishing 6 games behind the Yankees for the wild card and 7 behind the Rays for the division. The Sox made a major trade with the Padres and landed Adrian Gonzalez, slugging first baseman. They also threw big bucks at Carl Crawford, the most sought-after hitter on the free agent market, to patrol left field. Adrian Beltre, their third baseman who had a great 2010 departed for greener (read: $$) pastures. Their star first baseman, Kevin Youkilis, will move back to third. On the pitching side, they signed relievers Dan Wheeler and Bobby Jenks, and promoted rookie Felix Doubront.

Hitters 2010 B+ 2011 A- (+2.5 WAR)

My system sees the Red Sox better at first base (Gonzalez instead of Youkilis) but not that much, as Youk was very good. It sees them WORSE at third (Youkilis instead of Beltre) as Beltre had a phenomenal year. It sees them better, of course, in left and center where injuries to Cameron and Ellsbury saw them play replacement level players (Nava and MacDonald), and a LOT better, as Ellsbury should be back in center, and  Carl Crawford will patrol left. It does NOT see Crawford repeating his 2010, though, but regressing somewhat to the mean. Pedroia should be better than an injury-plagued 2010. It sees a HUGE fall-off at catcher, though, (projecting Saltalamacchia as replacement level), and at DH (regression). Overall, then, it sees the Sox offense as improved, and it was pretty darn good last year.

Rotation 2010 B+ 2011 A- (+2 WAR)

The Sox rotation of Lester, Buchholz, Beckett, Lackey and Matsuzaka is the same as projected for last year. The system sees it as better, primarily because Beckett CAN’T be as bad as he was in 2010, and Lackey and Dice-K also figure to improve as they regress to the mean (in their cases, return to form). Lester and Buchholz both figure to decline, but the system doesn’t decline them as much as other pitchers, because it also gives them some improvement for being young and still getting better.

Bullpen 2010 C 2011 A (+3 WAR)

This was the Sox Achilles’ heel in 2010, and they took steps to address it. I am not sure that Wheeler and Jenks will do as well as this projects, but they figure to be better than the replacement-level arms that Boston threw out there last year. And if Papelbon doesn’t rebound (the projection says he will) then he will lose his job, as Bard is poised to take over the closer slot.

Overall 2010 B+ 2011 A (+7.5 WAR) 97-65

It looks like a big year in Beantown. The system gives them just about what I have been saying privately (and without analysis) – the Red Sox appear to be the team to beat for 2011.

Charts

Player Position 2011 2010
Jarrod Saltalamacchia Catcher 0.1 3.0
Adrian Gonzalez First Base 6.0 4.3 Youkilis
Dustin Pedroia Second Base 4.8 3.7
Kevin Youkilis Third Base 5.3 6.1 Beltre
Marco Scutaro Shortstop 3.1 2.2
Carl Crawford Left Field 3.4 0.4 Nava
Jacoby Ellsbury Center Field 1.2 0.4 McDonald
J.D. Drew Right Field 3.0 2.5
David Ortiz Designated Hitter 1.6 3.3
28.5 25.9

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Jon Lester Starting Pitcher 5.8 5
Josh Beckett Starting Pitcher 1.5 -1
John Lackey Starting Pitcher 2.3 1.9
Clay Buchholz Starting Pitcher 3.4 5.4
Daisuke Matsuzaka Starting Pitcher 1.6 1.2
14.5 12.5

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Daniel Bard Relief Pitcher 2.0 3.3
Bobby Jenks Relief Pitcher 1.0 -0.3 Atchison
Dan Wheeler Relief Pitcher 0.7 0.1 Delcarmen
Hideki Okajima Relief Pitcher 0.8 0.1
Felix Doubront Relief Pitcher 0.5 0.2 Ramirez
Jonathan Papelbon Closer 1.8 0.4
6.8 3.8

6 Responses to “2011 Projection – Boston Red Sox”

  1. excellent job filling the holes of my spread sheet. The more I look at the numbers, the more it seems clear that we significantly overpaid for Crawford. But I guess that is the type of team I root for, the type that can afford mistakes and overpay for commodities it feels it must have. Welcome to the Dark Side Sox fans! (We have been there for years, I know). The AL East will be decided by injuries, with the Red Sox and Yankees having a bit more room for injuries than the Rays. But all the teams look good (on paper).

    • You may have (will have) overpaid for Gonzalez, too. He is good, quite good, but he is 30 and so he doesn’t have the upside of, say, Longoria, not by a wide margin.

      And yes, the division will likely be decided by injuries, but the Rays have an advantage there, not a disadvantage: their players are younger and therefore (statistically) less likely to sustain serious injury. Except in the rotation, where younger pitchers are MORE likely to be hurt. Tampa Bay analysis coming shortly.

  2. I don’t see Scutaro, Drew, or Bard putting up 8 WAR between them. Beckett might have a concussion and Ortiz/Dice K are a potential liability. Varitek/Saltalamacchia are going to struggle to hit over .200 and stay healthy.

    Don’t mind me as I think the Mets are going to be good:-)

    • Well, this is where the numbers take us. Of course, they are an average – some will underperform them, and some will outperform them. I was surprised by Scutaro, myself, but his bWAR numbers are 2008 4.4, 2009 5.5, 2009 2.2 so my 3-2-1 and drop 10% for age gives you the 3.1. So if these three are all going to go low, maybe Lester (who is REALLY good and still young) will match his 5.6 or Beckett will exceed the 1.5 I have him tagged for. And everyone expects Gonzalez to be a monster, and I have him as good but not as good as last year. I do have Saltalamachhia as a zero – I think he can achieve that. So I do think the Red Sox are likely to be about this good.

    • Beckett getting hit in the head with a ball is a story that is being reported ONLY because the rabid Red Sox and Anti-Red Sox fans need a daily fix, as the non-story is rewarded with many web hits(= ad revenue). It’s his arm troubles that have me worried. But Bob’s projection methods are pretty conservative and look very good as an aggregate. This team looks fabulous on paper. If you don’t like Scutaro, take a look at Mr. Jed Lowrie’s production in the time he has played the last few seasons. He is a great back-up and probably should be playing full-time if he was more healthy. There are “potential liabilities” on every team, and you are right with the ones you list here, but the Red Sox don’t have any more risk than every other MLB team, and probably have less.

      • I couldn’t agree more – that is why I project them to win 97 games. The downside risks for guys like Scutaro and Drew are balanced by the upside opportunities for guys like Lowrie, Pedroia and Gonzalez.

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