< Back to front pageText size +

Tell your statistics to shut up

Posted by Charles P. Pierce  April 19, 2010 01:49 PM

E-mail this article

Invalid E-mail address
Invalid E-mail address

Sending your article

OK, somebody has to panic. Might as well be me.

No, it's definitely not "too early" when a team is already six games behind two other teams, both of which so far have demonstrably -- almost comically -- better everyday lineups than your team does. Right now, the Boston Red Sox look primarily like a very badly constructed baseball team. Stuck in a general slump, they are sadly bereft of options on their roster to turn things around, and they must now depend for improvement solely on the fact that Texas and Baltimore -- a pair of 25-man Get Well cards -- are the next teams to visit Fenway. This does not occasion hope.

Let's assume, for the moment, that the starting pitching comes around. There's certainly no reason to believe that it won't. Let's also assume that everything we heard about the upscale improvements in the team's defense was something more than front-office moonshine designed to divert the rubes from noticing how little power was left in the middle of the lineup.

(Can someone smarter than me explain how preventing another team from stealing yours blind on the basepaths isn't part of "defense"? Even if you don't consider stolen bases to be an important part of your team's offense doesn't mean that other teams necessarily agree and will play the game accordingly.)

(Also, can somebody smarter than me further explain how "run production" and R'sBI are different in anyway except as sterile statistical categories?  I heard this on the radio over the weekend. Aren't they part and parcel of the same thing? For someone to "produce" a run, doesn't that person either have to bat someone in, or be batted in his own self?)

Let's assume that those two things are true. How much better do they actually make this team? The Boston starting pitching is better than New York's, but it's not that much better. It's certainly not sufficiently better to make up for the preposterous difference in the two batting orders. The same is true with Tampa Bay, a team that seems to have been constructed specifically to drive Red Sox fans mad. It seems today like all the preseason assessments of the American League East looked at Tampa Bay's last two seasons and decided that the good one (2008) was the aberration. It seems today like that assessment was, ah, wrong.

What will turn this season around is what usually turns seasons around -- the big checkbook. The Red Sox can afford a great farm system, which means they can afford the big midseason move that energizes the offense. Those numbers may not be as elegant as a statistical model but, as factors in a baseball season that can slip away before you know it, they're the only numbers that really matter.

money honey.jpg

There's a signpost up ahead. You've entered...THE ULTIMATE ZONE!
  • E-mail
  • E-mail this article

    Invalid E-mail address
    Invalid E-mail address

    Sending your article

    Your article has been sent.