April 8, 2011

Pedroia: "You're Either Two Feet In Now Or You're Two Feet Out"

Fangraphs' community projections had the Red Sox at an estimated 98 wins this season, and the Yankees at 94. With Boston's 0-6 start, Dave Cameron writes that any projected gap between the two teams has essentially been wiped out.
Even if we agree that the Red Sox are still the better team than New York right now, Boston's slow start has made the race in the AL East a virtual coin flip.

It's just six games, but these results count in the standings, too. While we shouldn't get carried away with the doom and gloom, the reality is that the Sox have indeed frittered away a large percentage of their chances of winning the division this year. I'd still bet on them to make the playoffs, but their chances are now quite a bit lower than they were a week ago.
Cameron dismisses scary statements like "no team that has ever begun the season 0-6 has gone on to play in the World Series, and only two out of the 85 teams to ever start 0-5 (or worse) had even made the playoffs" because
there's a huge sampling bias problem – most teams that start a season with a long losing streak kind of suck. By virtue of filtering only teams that have lost a bunch of games to start the season, we're left looking at the records of teams who inherently lacked talent in most cases...
And the 2011 Red Sox, despite their play in the first week of the season, are not a team that lacks talent.

The Replacement Level Yankees Weblog has run some season simulations based on current data and also based on the potential outcomes of this weekend's series.

Despite Cameron's statement, here are some scary numbers:

After six games, the Red Sox have a team batting average of .181 (13th out of 14 AL teams), an on-base percentage of .269 (11th), and a slugging percentage of .275 (13th).

Adrian Gonzalez leads the team with a .304 average. The second-best hitting regular? J.D. Drew, at .231.

Outside of Gonzalez (and David Ortiz's two home runs), no one in the lineup has done much of anything:
                AVG   OBP   SLG
Ellsbury       .167  .259  .333
Crawford       .174  .240  .174
Pedroia        .227  .261  .227
Gonzalez       .304  .360  .522
Youkilis       .105  .292  .211
Ortiz          .227  .292  .500
Drew           .231  .286  .308
Saltalamacchia .071  .188  .071
Scutaro        .176  .222  .176
More than half of the batting order -- five of the nine hitters -- are batting under .200. (The bench is 1-for-16 (.063), with four walks.)

Dustin Pedroia has commented about hitters swinging at bad pitches and, in fact, he is one of the main culprits. Over his career, Pedroia has swung at roughly 25% of pitches out of the strike zone. In the first six games of 2011 -- admittedly, a small sample -- he's swinging at 56% of them. And from 2007-10, he made contact with 92% of those out-of-zone pitches; this year, it's only 78%.

Peter Abraham reports that no American League team that started a season 0-6 has ever finished higher than third place. Since 1900, only two 0-6 teams — the 1974 Pirates and 1995 Reds — have made the playoffs. Abraham concludes (my emphasis):
It would be silly to say the season is over with 156 games left. But if this streaks gets to nine or 10 games, that's a hole with no escape.
So it's silly to say the season is over now, but after only three more games, it could absolutely be over? Man, this Yankees series is more of a must-win that I thought.

Ortiz and Pedroia talked about coming home to Fenway.

Ortiz:
There's not two Red Sox teams, there's only one. You have to cheer for this one if you're a Red Sox fan, right?
Pedroia:
It'll be good to have someone cheering for us for a change. You're either two feet in now or you're two feet out. Let us know now, because we're coming.

5 comments:

Pokerwolf said...

Craig Calcaterra over at The Hardball Times echoes the "there's no reason to panic" mantra in his And That Happened column from today. I think today's game is going to be a big indicator for how this team is going to do.

Love the quotes from Flo and FY. That's awesome.

blogtard said...

Pedroia. What a man.

h20nrd said...

Lets hope that we're like the 2007 Phillies about whom Jimmy Rollins bragged "we're the team to beat" during the preseason. They started out 2-10 but pulled themselves together and won the division on the final day of the season.

tim said...

most teams that start a season with a long losing streak kind of suck

I had this exact same thought after they went to 0-6...of all the other teams to start a season 0-6, how many were actually capable of winning 95 games and were almost always in the running every year in their divisions? Probably none! With the degree of talent on this team, we'll be back in the running before you know it.

I mean, it was only 5 GB of the Orioles. Lets see how big their lead is in August...

zavlin said...

every team is going to lose at least 60 or 70 games. Might as well get the first 6 out of the way.