Injuries and the Boston Red Sox

Here’s a look at the remarkable number of injuries the Red Sox have sustained this season. Red represents the number of “starters” missing games, with “starters” consisting of eight fielders, one DH, and one starting pitcher. The Red Sox fielded 10 starters only four times during the season (games 1-4), and then a rash of injuries commenced with a fateful collision between Jacoby Ellsbury and Adrian Beltre. (It’s also worth nothing that Beltre subsequently took out Ellsbury’s replacement— Jeremy Hermida—in similar fashion.) During a brutal stretch beginning in late June, the Red Sox lost Dustin Pedroia, Clay Buchholz, and Victor Martinez in successive games in San Francisco.

Introducing PayScale

After a long week and a hard-earned paycheck, let’s take a look at who’s earning their paychecks in MLB. PayScale plots prorated salary (Y axis) against WAR (X axis) and uses a rough baseline of $4.5M per win as “fair compensation.” Players which a higher $/win are classified as overpaid, while players with a lower $/win are classified as bargains.

Here’s a look at two big market teams – the Yankees and Red Sox. Some things that catch my attention: For the Yankees, it’s the rock-solid value (still!) of their old guard of Posada, Jeter, Rivera, and Pettite. For the Red Sox, it’s the tremendous value they’re getting out of Youkilis, Lester, Buchholz, and Pedroia (Boston’s younger version of the Yankees’ old guard).

Next up: PitchCode

As a follow-up to the introduction of BatCode, here’s its estranged twin PitchCode. In this post I’ll share two ways to use PitchCode for John Lester’s 2009 season. The first works just like BatCode – showing the results of each at-bat (against Lester) with a line representing a walk or hit and line thickness representing power. The second approach zooms out to the inning level and shows each of Lester’s 2009 innings, with line thickness representing the number of runs Lester allowed in each inning.

Which one (if any) do you like? What do they reveal (if anything) about Lester’s 2009 season?

Starting Pitching in the AL East

Using the Rank-o-meter, lets take a look at starting rotations in the AL East.  I’m experimenting with a different approach to ranking pitchers – this time looking at each team’s best starter, then second best starter, and so on.   Lets take a look, with the best rotations first:

1. The Rays have the best and deepest rotation thusfar

2. The next best rotation is probably the Yankees, although right now they’re essentially a 3-deep rotation.

3. The Jays are off to a surprising start, driven by a well-balanced rotation.

4. The Red Sox come in 4th, with a very disappointing start.  Bucholz and Beckett have been fine, but the rest of the rotation has been a disaster.

5. Bringing up the rear is the Orioles staff.  Not too pretty…

2010 Red Sox Schedule

Here’s a visual I’ll be using to show the 2010 schedule and results.  We’re a little over 1 week into the season…

Introducing the Paintomatic

Here’s a visualization of the Red Sox starting rotation (using 2009 stats).  The size of the circle represents how often the pitch is thrown, and the color indicates how effective the pitch was.  Pitch abbreviations are FB (fastball), CT (cutter), CB (curveball), CH (changeup), and XX (where you’ll find Wakefield’s knuckleball and Bucholz’s and Lackey’s sliders).

Josh Beckett’s 2009 Season

Continuing my “hot and cold” theme of late, here’s a visual of Josh Beckett’s 2009 season, with red indicating a quality start (minimum 6 innings pitched with no more than 3 earned runs allowed).  The squares represent innings completed, with earned runs allowed inside each inning.

How Red Sox Hitters Ranked in 2009

There’s been a lot of talk about how (and where) the Red Sox should upgrade their offense.  This visual paints a picture of the Red Sox lineup compared to the rest of the American League.  Note, Marco Scutaro is now the starting shortstop as of today.

Red Sox offense gets a boost at Fenway

Everyone knows that the Sox are better at Fenway Park.  What’s interesting to note is where that extra oomph in offense comes from.  Here’s a graphic that shows the boost (or drop) in production (measured by OPS) for each starter in the lineup.  Note the vast majority of the boost comes from the bottom of the order. The Red Sox will be relying on that tomorrow to extend this series.

Sox at Fenway

Red Sox vs. Angles – speed on the base paths

Much has been made of the Angels’ running game and the Sox’ inability to throw out runners.  Here’s a graphic comparing the base stealers on both teams.  While these two teams have similar stolen base totals, the Red Sox are much more dependent on one player – Jacoby Ellsbury – while the Angles have a number of players who can wreak havoc on the base paths.

sox angles SB

Game 2: Beckett vs. Weaver

Here’s the 2009 season at a glance for both Josh Beckett and Jered Weaver.  Both pitchers had their ups and downs during the season, but what’s most telling is that in the 2 months leading up to Game 2, they were essentially the same caliber of pitcher.

beckett vs. weaver

Red Sox – Yankees Rivalry Over The Years

Looking at the last 100 years.  Pretty lopsided after Ruth was sold to the Yankees, the last 5 years notwithstanding.

sox yanks rivalry

Looking at MLB standings differently

Here’s a different way to look at MLB’s standings, now that we’ve wrapped up the season.  Like my other posts, I’m experimenting with font size to indicate payroll.  The larger teams have the higher payroll, the smaller teams the lower payroll.  Not surprisingly, most of the teams that made the playoffs (in red) had medium-t0-high payrolls, with Minnesota being the exception.  I’m also amused by the comparison between the Florida Marlins (tiny font, tiny payroll) and the New York Mets (further back in the standings, larger font, bloated payroll).  Go Mets!

MLB standings

JD Drew’s Season at a Glance

Drew gets a bad rap every year, but for 3 months of the season (June, August, and September) he’s among the top handful of outfielders in the American League.

Drew season

Jon Lester’s Season at a Glance

I’m trying a new format to show a player’s season at a glance, using their ranking relative to their peers to reflect their performance visually.  Squint and it looks somewhat like a bar chart.  Look closer and you can see how they compared to specific players.  Note also that I have the players grouped in tiers, each tier consisting of 14 players.  Since there are 14 teams in the American League, a perfectly average team would theoretically have 1 player in the middle of each tier.

lester season

So what can we learn about John Lester’s season from this visual?  First, he had a slow April and May.  I recall everyone asking “what’s wrong with John Lester” in April,  and while his performance was below his standards, he pitched like a poor #3 starter (look for him near the bottom of the 3rd tier) which isn’t THAT bad.  In June, July and August he pitched like a true ace.  He finished up September strong, at the bottom of the first tier of teams’ aces (or like a great #2 starter).

Josh Beckett’s Season

I think Josh Beckett is overrrated (at least during the regular season). He’s viewed as a prototypical #1, but he pitched like a true ace for only 2 months (May and June).  He pitched like a #2 in July and September, a #3 in August, and a #4 in April.  Average that out over the season and he was a poor #2 starter or a very good #3 starter.

beckett season

2009 Red Sox – Who gets paid

This visual shows you the 2009 Red Sox roster, with the size of the name indicating the player’s salary.  The heart and soul (and future) of the Red Sox – John Lester, Dustin Pedroia, and Kevin Youkilis hardly register.

Sox payroll

Yankees vs. Twins – a tale of 2 wallets

Same visual comparison of the payroll for these two rosters.  Note the vast majority of the money is spent on Yankees players, with a few Twins players surrounded in a sea of Yankee blue.

yankees v twins

Red Sox vs. Angels – How they spend their money

This visual shows the combined rosters of the Red Sox and Angels, with the size of the player representing their salary.  Both teams have similar payrolls, and its interesting to see how that money is spent.

sox v angels


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