August 23, 2018

Listening To Dave O'Brien: Walking Almost 7 Batters Per 9 Innings Is "Pretty Good Command"

Things NESN's Dave O'Brien said during the Red Sox's Thursday afternoon game against Cleveland:

Top of the first, Francisco Lindor leads off: "So, set for the first pitch. Lindor in the box at .289, 29 home runs. They've got several stars on this Indian ball club, and he's #1. ... In for strike 1 and we're underway."

Lindor is no slouch, but he is obviously NOT the #1 baseball player in Cleveland.
Average:               Michael Brantley .301, Jose Ramirez .298, Lindor .289
O-Base:                Ramirez .401, Lindor .369
Slugging:              Ramirez .624, Lindor .542
OPS:                   Ramirez 1.033, Lindor .911
WAR (Bref):            Ramirez 7.8, Lindor 7.0
Runs Created/27 Outs:  Ramirez 10.3, Lindor 7.4
Adjusted Batting Runs: Ramirez 49.2, Lindor 29.7
Secondary Average:     Ramirez .560, Lindor .393
HR%:                   Ramirez 6.7%, Edwin Encarnacion 6.1%, Lindor 5.0%
BB%:                   Ramirez 15.3%, Encarnacion 10.3%, Lindor 10.3%
Win Probability Added: Ramirez 3.9, Lindor 3.0
Seven Cleveland players have stolen 4+ bases: Lindor's 70% rate is the worst.
Bottom of the first, Andrew Benintendi swings and misses a 3-0 pitch before taking ball 4. "The Red Sox have had a lot of big hits on 3-0."

The 2018 Red Sox have had 110 plate appearances that ended on a 3-0 pitch: 105 walks, 3 outs, 2 hits. They are 2-for-5 on 3-0 counts. J.D. Martinez hit a single (unsure of the date) and Eduardo Nunez hit a two-run homer on August 11 (G1).

Two is not "a lot". Nunez's hit broke a 0-0 tie, but it was in the fifth inning (and it was the Orioles). Is that a "big hit"? (The 2017 Red Sox also went 2-for-5 on 3-0 counts.)

Bottom of the 4th, Eduardo Nunez bats with two outs and runners on first and second: "His last 11 games against the Indians, Eduardo is hitting .432 with 14 driven in. So he's been hurting this particular team a lot."

Most of Nunez's 11-game hot streak came last season. The first game was on July 18, 2017, when Nunez was playing for the Giants. He had hits against Mike Clevinger and Cody Allen, the latter a game-winning single in the tenth inning at AT&T Park.

Nunez was traded to the Red Sox roughly one week later. On July 31, he had hits against Clevinger, Zack McAllister, and Shawn Armstrong. On August 1, he had hits against Carlos Carrasco, Andrew Miller and Joe Smith. On August 14, he had two hits against Trevor Bauer.

Clevinger is still with Cleveland, but was not starting this game.
Carrasco is still with Cleveland, but was not starting this game.
Miller is still with Cleveland, but might not have pitched in this game (and did not pitch).
Allen is still with Cleveland, but might not have pitched in this game (and did not pitch).
Smith is now a member of the Astros.
McAllister is now a member of the Tigers.
Armstrong is in Tacoma (AAA, Mariners).

Nunez was facing Adam Plutko. What he did against Clevinger last summer has as much relevancy as how he did against Jose Valverde in his first major league game way back in 2010. ... And because Nunez had never faced Plutko before, he had literally never faced "this particular team" before.

Bottom of the fifth: "At the midway point, bottom of the fifth coming your way. Sandy Leon to lead it off against Plutko, who has been impressive ... pretty good command, he's walked two."

1. Since every game could go into extra innings, no one knows if 4.5 innings is the "midway point". The game could go 16 innings, it could be called in the seventh because of rain. And the score in this game was 0-0. It's a dumb (and pointless) thing to say.

2. Plutko had actually walked three batters, which in only four innings is not "impressive", even if he has not no runs. Plutko came into the game averaging 2.2 BB/9. When O'Brien praised his "pretty good command", he was on a 6.75 BB/9 pace. Of Plutko's 76 pitches to that point, only 63% were strikes (48 strikes, 26 balls).

Bottom of the fifth, Jackie Bradley was batting for the second time in the inning, this time with runners at second and third and two outs: "A base hit here could well mean a couple more runs."

That's true. (And O'Brien seems to have finally learned to stop saying "a base hit here will mean two runs".) But it is also true that "A walk here would load the bases" or "A home run here would mean three more runs" or "A triple here would definitely mean a couple more runs" or "An out here would end the inning". There are so many things that could happen in the future. And if NESN ever decides to add an "Expectation Guy" in the booth, maybe OB can apply for that position. Until that day, though, he is the play-by-play guy. He should call the plays - and that means calling them after they happen.

At some point, O'Brien pointed out that J.D. Martinez has a 14-game hitting streak against Cleveland.

That factoid can be found in the Red Sox Game Notes, but it is not a thing. In those 14 games, which go back to September 2016, JDM has played for the Tigers, Diamondbacks, and Red Sox. In the second game of the "streak", on September 18, 2016, Martinez got a hit off Joe Colon, who would throw his last major league pitch 10 days later. How that is relevant to what Martinez might do against Adam Plutko - who was still toiling away in the minor leagues when this "hitting streak" began - is beyond me. O'Brien could not begin to tell you either.

As Price warmed up before the first pitch, O'Brien emphasized the lefty's 10-2 career record against Cleveland and his 2.24 ERA.

When Price first pitched against Cleveland in 2009, Jamey Carroll, Grady Sizemore, and Ryan Garko were among the batters that day. They were also nowhere near Fenway Park on Thursday. Price got his first win over Cleveland on May 18, 2010, quieting the bats of Trevor Crowe, Mark Grudzielanek, Austin Kearns, and Travis Hafner. Five of Price's 10 wins came in games played during the 2010, 2011, and 2012 seasons. If anyone can find even a speck of relevance in those 2010-12 games to how Price would deal with Jose Ramirez and Francisco Lindor, send me an email.

Finally, this has nothing to do with NESN's announcers, but why - when a certain Red Sox player is being talked about - does NESN usually show the back of a fan's shirt in the crowd with the last name of the player under discussion? In the seventh and eight innings, it must have happened five or six times. O'Brien or Dennis Eckersley said something about Mookie Betts and we were shown someone with a Betts jersey on. A factoid connecting J.D. Martinez with David Ortiz is mentioned and, look, someone is wearing a #34 shirt. I don't understand why they always do this. ... Though it is better than seeing a four-year-old kid with ice cream smeared all over his face and missing a pitch.


Jim said...

Don't tell O'Brien this, but if he didn't blab constantly with his irrelevant and silly "stats", then when he reads one of his promos a viewer might actually perk up to listen. Of course, they'd tune out once the brain flashed "promo alert", but still ...

allan said...

If he did that, he would be a decent announcer. He's got a good voice and as long as he suppresses the urge to create new words or phrases ("slide-in double", "swifty"), I think I'd be content. But his need to fill up 99.4% of any quiet time and what he chooses to fill it up with is a huge problem. If all you can add beyond the basic play-by-play is stuff you saw in the press notes, then don't.

Jere said...

My comment...will not be made, as he throws over to first, runner back.

But seriously, my comment is...not to be made, throw over.

John Cushman said...

Dave Obrien at times is so very annoying, especially when the Sox are behind in scoring! He has a strong fetish for over rating the opposition's bater's whole at the plate.It appears that He's much more supportive towards them,rather than the Team player's that He's the Voice for. Also .At times He does the play by play, as if He were still calling the game on the Radio