May 1, 2007

Looking Back At April

Jeff Horrigan, Herald:
The Red Sox enter the start of a brief, three-game homestand at Fenway Park tonight with the best record in the American League, holding the biggest lead in franchise history after the opening month of the season.
At the end of April, Mike Lowell had the best batting average among the regulars (.314), followed by David Ortiz (.297) and Kevin Youkilis (.291). Ortiz and Youkilis had the highest on-base percentage (.402). Ortiz had seven home runs and 22 RBIs; Lowell was second in both categories (4, 20). Both Ortiz and Lowell led the club with eight doubles.

The Red Sox are first in the American League in on-base percentage (.353); Toronto and the Yankees are tied for second at .347. The Sox are third in slugging percentage (.426), behind Toronto (.441) and Tampa Bay (.434) (the Devil Rays have scored 126 runs, one more than Boston).

Yet almost half of the starting lineup has been in a slump: Manny Ramirez (.202/.314/.315), Dustin Pedroia (.182/.308/.236), Coco Crisp (.235/.274/.338) and Jason Varitek (.239/.325/.358) have yet to start producing. Gordon Edes reports that Manny's .202 average
is his lowest average for any month since he began playing for the Red Sox in 2001, and his worst monthly average since he batted .132 in May 1994, his rookie season ... That doesn't include the .211 he hit in seven games (4 for 19) last September ...
Drew on Ramirez: "He's hitting about the hardest .200 I've ever seen. I can't tell if he's hitting .200, .180 or .450." ... In his last 21 at-bats, Drew has only one hit. Pedroia began the year 5-for-10, but is 5-for-45 (.111) since.

The pitching has been amazing. The Red Sox are second in the league in ERA (3.26), behind Oakland (3.16), and are tied with the White Sox for lowest opposition batting average (.228).

Oakland (.294) and Boston (.296) are 1-2 in lowest on-base percentage and lowest WHIP (1.17, 1.19). Baltimore has the lowest slugging percentage allowed (.356), followed by Boston (.361) and Oakland (.369). Boston has the best strikeout-to-walk ratio in the AL (2.45), followed by Oakland (2.43).

The AL's Top 10 in ERA includes both Josh Beckett (5th, 2.48) and Tim Wakefield (9th, 2.59). Since his Opening Day shelling in Kansas City, Curt Schilling has posted a 2.57 ERA; his 3.27 ERA is 16th.

If Hideki Okajima isn't the team's MVP so far -- Doug Mientkiewicz thinks he is -- then he certainly has been the surprise of the season. After allowing a home run on his first pitch of his season, he has pitched 12.2 scoreless innings, allowings four hits and three walks, while striking out 17 (15 of his past 26 outs have been strikeouts).

When I gave up the home run to [Buck], I thought, 'Wow, Major League batters are really great.' Because of that one pitch, now I've been able to get this far. That pitch was a good chance for me to learn what I need to do to have success in the Major Leagues. It made me rethink what way I can pitch in the United States and be successful. The result of that is where I am and how I'm pitching.
The bullpen has a 2.18 ERA -- lowest among all MLB teams and more than two runs ahead of the #2 AL team (Twins, 3.48). In the last 17 games, the bullpen's ERA is 1.07. It has allowed only one run in its last 21.1 road innings. Both Brendan Donnelly (9 games, 6 innings) and Jonathan Papelbon (9 games, 9.1 innings) have not allowed a run.

In the six games against the Yankees so far this year, the bullpen has pitched 16 innings, allowing two runs and one inherited runner to score.


Sean said...

What's not to love? I love this bullpen, and if they can stay in the top 5 of the AL all year, we are in unbelievable shape.

We all know the Yankees are going to hit a hot streak very soon, since there's no way the team is this bad. But with 4 relievers on pace to hit 100 IP, there are serious concerns about their pitching.

I'd say we'll be in a dead heat for the lead at the end of May, but our players will be far more rested than a Yankee bullpen that's far overworked.

mattymatty said...

Sean - I don't think the Yankees are this bad, but their pitching is almost this bad. Even when they get all their guys healthy, they still aren't much to write home about. Their hitting is another story, and that'll definitely come around, but unless these guys get some pitching I don't think they'll be around through October (hows that for jumping the gun, huh?).

redsock said...

Wait until our hitting comes around!

Sean said...

Here's the thing though Matty, The Yankees will dig up some schmuck who will have a .4 ERA and win 12 games in August and September, like they did with Small, Chacon and Leiter. It's part of their deal with the devil.

The offense will be frightening, but so is their average age. Damon could miss significant time, Matsui has never been as vulnerable, Cano seems destined for the DL regularly, and Rodriguez / Jeter have been shockingly healthy to this point.

At least, hopefully, regression to the mean has caught up with Abreu.

Pokerwolf said...

It's rather scary that the Sox have the record they do and four out of nine regular batters are in "slumps".

The Yankees fans say, "It's only April. We'll right the ship."

Sox fans say, "Yeah, just wait till all our guys start hitting."


LifelongBoSoxFan said...

Jeff, I looked at much the same stats you mention but I also looked at last years stats for the same timeframe.

The offense is just about the same as last year with no startling improvement. .262 team BA, 10 less extra base hits than 2006, OBP is the exact same as last year. IF this offense is in a slump we are going to see a lot of fireworks pretty soon!!

The pitching difference is the biggest factor. ERA down almost 1.5 runs, 46 fewer hits allowed, 43 fewer runs allowed, 13 fewer HR's allowed and a bullpen that is steady and reliable.

All we can hope for is that the pitching staff stays healthy and the Yankees continue to tank (I know, not really likely but we can all dream!!).

redsock said...

Yankee radio announcers John Sterling and Suzyn Waldman have identified the reason for the Yankees' April slump.

It's the media's fault.

Daily News columnist Bob Raissman has more.

(Waldman says no one knows Boston's pitching rotation will hold up "past next week. ... What if Josh Beckett falls down the dugout steps?")

s1c said...

Things to think about! This is the fourth year in the last six that the Sox have led the division (02,04 and 06 being the others). The Yankees have led once (03). In 05 the Yankees were 7.5 back and won the division (thanks to tie breaker).

In 02 the Yankees trailed the Sox by 2, led the Sox by 3 games in 03, trailed the Sox by 2.5 in 04, were 3.5 back of the Sox in 05 and trailed the Sox by 1 in 06.

I have said it before and will say it again, "I will count the Yankees out when the corpse has the stake driven in the heart and they are buried in the ground, until then, I will always keep an eye on the scoreboard."

Looking at the next 10 games for the Yankees they have 3 in Texas, 4 vs Seattle and 3 vs Texas. While the Sox have these 2 vs Oakland, 1 vs Seattle, 3 at Minnesota and 3 at Toronto.

Of the 4 teams the Sox play only Oakland has a losing record and the Sox will have to face Santana in Minnesota, Chacin and Halladay in Toronto. Two top of the line pitchers and one who is undeafeted against the Sox.

It would not surprise me if the Yankees go 8 and 2 while the Sox go 5 and 4.

chief said...

At least, hopefully, regression to the mean has caught up with Abreu.

Only in a baseball forum, I love it.

My favorite Abreu stat: He hit 41 dingers in one afternoon during the 2005 All-Star Home Run Derby. His total since then? 24.

I'm excited about Manny, Coco, Tek and Pedroia regressing toward their means as well. I know Pedroia is young, but he tore it up to get here in the first place.

Sean said...

(Waldman says no one knows Boston's pitching rotation will hold up "past next week. ... What if Josh Beckett falls down the dugout steps?")

That sounds like a threat to me, someone keep an eye on that woman.

Now, I just pray that Tek and Coco aren't already at their mean, at which point we could be in a spot of trouble. Manny and Pedroia? Manny will probably have a .380/.500/.650 May, and Pedroia more like .350/.450/.475. I have great faith in both of them.

Add Lugo to that list, I really hope he can add at least .3 to his BA/OBP, even though I never expect any SLG out of him.

Sean said...

Before anyone comments, I meant .03 to his BA/OBP, but I'd certainly take .3.

Also, about Chacin, isn't he on the DL? We could certainly use anyone else going against us but him.

s1c said...

Sean said... Also, about Chacin, isn't he on the DL? We could certainly use anyone else going against us but him..

I just checked and see he was placed on the 15 Day yesterday. That means he will miss the Sox and the Blue Jays have changed their Rotation too. It now appears that the Sox will face Zambrano, McGowan and Ohka.

I have now went from the glass half full to baby lets kick some A** and take names.