The Red Sox will begin the second half of their season tonight in Tampa Bay. Their first half was disappointing to say the least. Here’s a brief recap of what we have seen so far in 2012:
- Record: 43-43, 4th place in AL East
- Pythagorean W-L: 47-39 (What their record should be based on their runs scored and given up)
- Runs Scored Per Game: 5.02 (2nd in AL) [4.46 League Average]
- Runs Given Up Per Game: 4.52 (9th in AL) [4.37 League Average]
So what do these numbers tell us? The Red Sox are hitting well but their pitching has underperformed immensely. With Beckett, Lester, and Bucholz having sub par seasons thus far, we can at least hold onto some hope that they will get better. The team has also fallen victim to a little bit of bad luck based on their Pythagorean W-L record being 4 games better than their actual record. With some good luck in the second half they should be able to close that gap and make a run at the playoffs.
What is wrong with Adrian Gonzalez? As of today Adrian’s OPS checks in at .707, a whopping .170 below his .877 career average. In fact, he had not posted an OPS below .900 since 2008. His season is looking more and more Carl Crawford like every day (Crawford posted a .694 OPS last season).
Let’s look a little deeper at his season so far. His BABIP (Batting Average on Balls in Play) is .299, below his .320 career average and not even close to his .380 last season. So he’s been the victim of some bad luck on balls he’s hit in play. He’s also not walking or hitting home runs. He’s posted a 7.3% walk rate (11% career) and is only hitting home runs on 6.2% of his fly balls (16.3% career). Interestingly though, he’s leading the league in doubles with. Without those double his season would be even worse.
So what should we expect going forward? Adrian is a great hitter, he should improve based on how he has hit for the majority of his career. He’s also been better in the second halves of seasons: .857 OPS in the first half vs. .903 in the second. The Red Sox have still managed to score the second most runs per game in the AL (5.19) without Adrian hitting. So his likely turnaround combined with the returns of Crawford and Ellsbury should bode very well for the Red Sox.
The Red Sox are still in the basement of the AL East but there are 5 reasons to be excited about this team as we enter the summer.
5) Bad Luck: The Red Sox have been the victims of some bad luck this season. Their record currently stands at 35-33 but based on their runs scored and runs given up they should be 38-30. So if they hit and pitch the same as the season goes on their record should better reflect their performance.
4) The Bullpen: The Red Sox bullpen was a disaster in April posting a 6.10 ERA. However, since then they have been great, posting a 2.37 ERA in May and a 1.59 in June. Alfredo Aceves has been particularly good. Since his implosion against the Yankees in mid-April he is 15 of 16 in save chances with a 2.84 ERA and is averaging more than a strikeout per inning.
3) Returns: The Red Sox are awaiting three returns: Jacoby Ellsbury, Carl Crawford, and Jon Lester. Ellsbury and Crawford are returning from injuries and should be back mid-summer. We are waiting for the REAL Jon Lester to return. From 2008-2011 Lester posted a 3.33 ERA with 8.7 K/9. This season he has a 4.53 ERA with only 7.2 K/9. History tells us he is much better than he has been so far this season.
2) Young Players: Will Middlebrooks and Ryan Kalish are already here and we could eventually see Ryan Lavarnway. It’s always fun watching young players come into their own.
1) David Ortiz: Not only is Ortiz 3rd in the AL in OPS, he is 4 home runs away from 400. Only 48 players in history have more than 400 home runs. He has been on a mission this season and is making everyone (including myself) who thought he was washed up look foolish. He is already the greatest DH of all time and he’s now making his case for Cooperstown.
Marlon Byrd made his Red Sox debut last night going 1 for 4. Byrd was acquired from the Chicago Cubs for Michael Bowden and player to be named later. Bowden is a name we are all familiar with but even after some decent seasons in AAA he has not been able to earn a permanent spot on the Red Sox roster. With the Cubs paying $6.1M of Byrd’s $6.5M contract, the Red Sox did not give up a lot of get him here.
With Ellsbury and Crawford on the DL the Red Sox needed another everyday outfielder and the 34-year-old Byrd should be able to fill that role. He is a career .278/.337/.415 hitter with an OPS+ of 98 (making him essentially average at the plate). He has primarily played centerfield in his career but can play the corners if needed. His career 10.9 UZR means he’s once again average and will not hurt the Red Sox in the field.
A Cody Ross, Marlon Byrd, and Ryan Sweeney outfield might not excite you but should be good enough until Crawford and Ellsbury are ready to come back.
THERE GOES MY CONTRACT YEAR!!
After going 2-3 on the afternoon and starting to finally show some confidence at the plate it appears that Ellsbury might be missing some serious time this season after hurting his shoulder while sliding into second to break up a double play. This is not good. Ellsbury was rolling on the ground and screaming in pain before finally leaving the field bracing his right shoulder. Just when things were looking good today, something like this has to happen. If Ellsbury misses more than a month with this injury, this offense could be in some serious trouble. No news yet on the injury but it is clear that people are worried. Fenway fell completely silent and hasn’t picked up much energy since. We will let you know of any updates on the injury.