The Forgotten Man

Jason Bay needs to start shoving some old guys.

It’s clearly the only way he’s going to get noticed in Boston, where — you may not have realized — he put the finishing touches on a 30-homer, 100-RBI season since coming over from Pittsburgh in a trade for some other guy.

Oh, wait. Apparently, he is the other guy.

The talk leading up to the Sox’ ALDS against the Angels has focused on two players: Mark Teixeira and Manny Ramirez. What Teixeira’s addition means for Los Angeles — and what Ramirez’s departure means for Boston.

Consider this from Tony Massarotti:

In the final days of July 2008, the baseball landscape was decisively altered. That was when Mark Teixeira went to Los Angeles. That was when Manny Ramirez left Boston. That was when the Angels and Red Sox all but swapped identities and philosophies. …

"They’re the best team we’ve faced," one Red Sox official said of the Angels.

Those words were uttered months ago, before the Angels added a slugger and the Red Sox lost one, a proverbial two-game swing that resulted in a familiar Hollywood script.

Funny. I thought the Red Sox gained a slugger, too. I guess not.

The Associated Press had a similar take:

One of the biggest bats in the lineup is gone, the designated hitter had his worst season in years and injuries have made two starters questionable. Sound familiar? …

Manny Ramirez is gone, traded to the NL West champion Los Angeles Dodgers; David Ortiz’s numbers are way down; and injuries to hitters Mike Lowell (left hip) and J.D. Drew (back) and Game 3 starter Josh Beckett are concerns. …

Jason Bay arrived from Pittsburgh in Ramirez’s place, improving Boston’s defense in left field. The Angels pumped up their power, surrounding Guerrero with the big bats of first baseman Mark Teixeira (.358 since joining the team) and outfielder Torii Hunter (.278), who signed in the offseason.

So Bay was a defensive improvement, while Teixeira and Torii Hunter (.466 slugging, which would be sixth-best on the Red Sox) are examples of "pumped up" power. Maybe Jason needs to slap Kevin Youkilis a few times in the dugout. You know, raise his profile a little.

Let’s get things straight. I’m not saying Bay should be considered as formidable as Manny Ramirez, whose postseason numbers are spectacular and whose reputation has increasingly outshone his performance in recent years. Nor am I saying the Red Sox aren’t the underdogs in this series. The Angels have the 100 wins and the 8-1 regular-season record against the Sox. They’re also healthier.

But all this talk of Jason Bay … well, that’s the problem. There really isn’t any.

Last year, the Red Sox entered the playoffs with Ramirez coming off a .296/.388/.493 (126 OPS+) season, with 20 home runs and 88 RBI. This year, the Red Sox enter the playoffs with Bay coming off a .286/.373/.522 (133 OPS+) season, with 31 homers and 101 RBI.

Before July 31. the Red Sox received a .299/.398/.529 line from their left fielder. After, they received a .293/.370/.527 line. Maintaining those averages over a full season in Boston, Ramirez would have hit 30 homers and driven in 101. Bay would have hit 28 homers and driven in 113.

This after being thrown from never sniffing the postseason in the weaker National League to the midst of a pennant race in the American League East and, despite quickly being overshadowed by a rare Jonathan Papelbon meltdown, hitting what at that point was the biggest home run of the year in the biggest game of the season. Indications are he can handle the pressure just fine — and will continue to do so.

So, yes, the Sox are indeed still underdogs to the Angels, but it has a lot more to do with the Angels’ addition of Teixeira than the Red Sox’ subtraction of Ramirez.

40 comments… add one

  • First of all, I hate the infatuation some people have with Torii Hunter. He’s a great defender but is a little above average with regards to OPS. A career 105 OPS+ isn’t too impressive. That stems from his .326 career OBP (he does hit for some power), but still, 105 OPS+? Please.
    Secondly, I’m not sure the Red Sox are underdogs. The Angels finished 12 wins above their Pythagorean wins, something pretty bloody hard to do. The Diamondbacks were way above their Pythag record last year, and got swept in the first round.
    Additionally, the Red Sox are better in every offensive category:
    BOS: .280/.358/.447
    LAA: .268/.330/.413
    The Angels rank 18th in slugging, the Red Sox 3rd. The Angels also rank 18th in OBP, whereas the Sox are 1st. They do lead Boston in stolen bases though, 129 to 120.
    Pitching is almost even: 3.99 team ERA for LAA, 4.01 for Boston. The starters?
    Jon Lester: 143 ERA+
    Daisuke Matsuzaka: 158
    Josh Beckett: 114
    John Lackey: 116
    Ervin Santana: 125
    Joe Saunders: 128
    Same thing, advantage Sox. And K-Rod doesn’t scare me on the back end. So really, the only thing the Angels have going for them is their record, which is inflated, and the home-field advantage they get with it. So which will win out, the Red Sox superior team overall or their inability to play on the road?

    Atheose October 1, 2008, 8:34 am
  • Disclaimer: I know the playoffs are a crapshoot, but I fail to see how the Red Sox are not the better team on paper.

    Atheose October 1, 2008, 8:41 am
  • paul, perhaps bay’s not feeling the love that manny is because of the following lines, which i didn’t see in your post…surprised you left them out ;)
    manny with LA [53 games]
    396/489/743 213 OPS+ 17 hr 53 rbi
    bay with boston 49 games]
    293/370/527 129 OPS+ 9 hr 37 rbi
    i think those are the stats that have everybody buzzing about manny and not so much about bay…bay’s a nice player, but he hasn’t earned the reputation for carrying a team like manny has, particularly in the post season…

    dc October 1, 2008, 8:42 am
  • Once that knee was all healed up, Manny put up one hell of a line. I wonder what was in the water on that plane ride that healed his knee? Gots to get me some of that.

    Brad October 1, 2008, 9:40 am
  • A couple points.
    First, I didn’t mention Manny’s totals in LA because they’re not relevant to the Red Sox. At this point, Manny is just another player. Unless you think there’s any reason to believe Ramirez would have posted those numbers with the Sox, and I doubt you’d find many people who would agree with you. I’ve said ever since the trade that Bay would provide offense comparable to what Manny had provided the Sox over the past two years — along with providing better defense and baserunning — and Bay has done exactly that. The fact that he has put up almost identical numbers to Manny when Ramirez was on the Sox is simply not a subtraction, like some have suggested. I don’t doubt that you’re right, DC, that Ramirez’s tear is playing into those sentiments, but it doesn’t make those sentiments any less wrong.
    Second, I understand — even agree — that the Sox are the better team on paper. But that doesn’t really address the two overriding concerns they have entering the series: That they looked better on paper during the regular season, too, but still managed a 1-8 record against the Angels, including 1-5 at Fenway Park; and that they now have two key hitters and one key starting pitcher with big-time injury concerns.

    Paul SF October 1, 2008, 9:42 am
  • But, they also played LA six times in twelve games squished between a west coast trip and the Yankees. This came just after the all-star break, when the Manny thing was destroying this team, and the Red Sox were playing their worst baseball of the year.
    A twleve game series where the Red Sox went 4-8, and two of those LAA games were started by Clay, who was rocked both times.
    Not making excuses, but the Red Sox seemed to have caught LAA at exactly the wrong time.
    I think this week will be different in many ways.
    Also, I don’t think the Red Sox even make the playoffs with Manny. He wouldn’t have put up that kind of line with the Red Sox because HE WOULD NOT HAVE PLAYED!!

    Brad October 1, 2008, 10:00 am
  • Good points, Brad, about the schedule. I confess I haven’t looked all that closely at it.
    I remain optimistic about this series. I think it’s more likely the Sox return home up 2-0 han down 0-2, and the most likely scenario is exactly what the Sox need: winning one of the first two games, then going to Fenway with Beckett and Lester starting Games 3 and 4. I think the Angels, interested in protecting K-Rod, might have made a serious tactical error by choosing the series with the extra off-day. Assuming Beckett is healthy, the Sox can avoid throwing anyone but the two best starters of 2008 and the best postseason pitcher of the decade among the pitchers still playing baseball in the American League.

    Paul SF October 1, 2008, 10:13 am
  • Well the Red Sox won the WC by 6 games, and I’m not sure Manny’s presence on the team could have cost us 6 games over the last 2 months of the season. But yeah, Jason Bay is certainly not a subtraction, no matter what Manny is doing now that he’s in LA.

    Atheose October 1, 2008, 10:14 am
  • I am curious to know why the playoffs are now so often referred to as a “crapshoot”. My sense is that upsets happen, but more often than not (not always!) the better team wins a series. In ’04, the Cardinals were the best team in the NL, the Sox were the second best team in the AL and the third best team in MLB by record, after only the Yankees and the Cardinals. In ’05 the White Sox had the second best record in MLB, the best record in the AL. The Astros were a surprise, admittedly. 2006 is a bad example of the playoffs not being a crapshoot, but it was an historic example, so an outlier. In 2007 the Sox were the best team in the Majors, and they beat the Rockies, who had the best record in the NL over the last 50+ games of the season and missed the best record in the NL by percentage points. This is a short sample and doesn’t explore the DS and CS results, but it does cement my confusion over why the playoffs are popularly thought to be a crapshoot and not a set of series that tend to have expected results. The better team winning isn’t a rule, but it sure seems to be a real, somewhat measurable tendency.
    How many series have ended in inexplicable upset, historically? How many series have ended in somewhat expected results?

    SF October 1, 2008, 10:29 am
  • paul, re. your 2 points:
    “First, I didn’t mention Manny’s totals in LA because they’re not relevant to the Red Sox.”
    actually they are the only stats relevant to the question you asked…for the reason i stated…you wondered why bay’s not getting the same buzz as manny…the folks buzzing about manny don’t really care how he MIGHT have done had he stayed in boston…they’re talking about how he’s doing now, so speculatively projecting his boston stats over the remainder of the season is what’s irrelevant, and probably inaccurate…i guess we’ll never know…don’t get me wrong, i agree that bay’s a good player and with the notion that he’s giving you essentially what manny did, with better defense and baserunning, but that wasn’t the question…ironically, manny would still be getting all the buzz had he stayed in boston and under-performed, because the media would have continued to feed on it…manny’s manny and bay’s bay…sorry, that’s the way it is…and while bay’s a quality player, until he wins a couple of championships [mvp in '04 for manny], wins 9 silver sluggers [8 in a row], finishes first in batting, hr, rbi, and obp at any point in his career, finishes higher than 12th in mvp voting, gets selected for more than 2 all star games, starts taking pee breaks behind the monster, and just in general starts acting like an a$$hole, he won’t ever get as much attention as manny…
    “Second, I understand — even agree — that the Sox are the better team on paper.”
    i can’t disagree with you guys on this one…the angels didn’t have the same level of competition that you guys saw in the al east…they may have the edge in certain positions, but overall you guys should be way more competitive than some folks are saying…that, and i’ll say it again: the post-season has turned into a tournament of sorts…getting hot and riding the wave for a few weeks is more important than the stats accumulated during the grind it out regular season…last time i looked, the angels are ice cold…

    dc October 1, 2008, 10:31 am
  • “How many series have ended in inexplicable upset, historically? How many series have ended in somewhat expected results?”
    I’m not sure the answer to this, although I’d dispute your assumption that best record implies best team. But then we get into the mess of defining what “best” actually is. Is it your favorite, “Pythagorean” record, or is it simply the best record over the whole year, or over half the year?

    Nick-YF October 1, 2008, 10:38 am
  • although I’d dispute your assumption that best record implies best team
    I would dispute this at times too. But I stand by my point about not thinking that the playoffs are just a “crapshoot” with no rhyme or reason to the results. That’s the implication, that the playoffs are totally unpredictable, that anyone can win, that we can’t use deductive reasoning to make educated guesses about results and be right more often than not. I don’t like the reductiveness of calling them a “crapshoot”.

    SF October 1, 2008, 10:43 am
  • How many series have ended in inexplicable upset, historically?
    to answer your question sf, the most obvious one for me is the ’69 mets…the thing people forget though is that they did have great pitching and defense…they hung their hats on that as much as anything…guys like rocky swoboda playing over his head is what people tend to remember, so that contributed to the notion that it was an upset of epic proportions…
    but you’re right, there haven’t been a lot of monumental upsets in the post season…the yankee fan in me wants to point at the marlins, or the diamondbacks, or even your ’04 team beating us 4 straight, but let’s face it all 3 of those teams had great pitching, something we lacked…

    dc October 1, 2008, 10:43 am
  • The 2003 marlins run through the post-season could be viewed as very unexpected based on their run differential and regular season performance. Actually, there’s not a whole lot of data that supports either argument–that it’s a crapshoot or that things happen more or less the way they should–because the wildcard set up, which means the inclusion of 8 teams in the post-season–is relatively new. My memory, however, aligns with your’s, sf. It seems that the results are usually not so unreasonable.

    Nick-YF October 1, 2008, 10:49 am
  • I think my assertion that the playoffs is a crapshoot was more of a statement that the best team on paper rarely wins. It’s usually the hotter team that wins, and not the one that has overall has better stats.
    The playoffs is such a small sample size that anyone can get hot and win it. Think of it this way: in the last 8 years the team with the best record has only won once, and that was the Red Sox last year.
    2007: Red Sox, best record
    2006: Cardinals, 13th best record
    2005: White Sox, 2nd best record
    2004: Red Sox, 3rd best record
    2003: Marlins, 7th best record
    2002: Angels, 4th best record
    2001: Diamondbacks, 6th best record
    That, my friends, is a crapshoot.

    Atheose October 1, 2008, 11:09 am
  • Obviously there are problems with just going by a team’s record, but I’m too lazy to dig up hitting and pitching stats.

    Atheose October 1, 2008, 11:12 am
  • To expand:
    2000: Yankees, 9th
    1999: Yankees, 3rd
    1998: Yankees, best
    1997: Marlins, 4th
    1996: Yankees, 3rd
    1995: Braves, 2nd
    1993: Blue Jays, 4th
    1992: Blue Jays, 4th
    1991: Twins, 2nd
    1990: Reds, 4th
    I never said that there were upsets every year, only that the playoffs are unpredictable.

    Atheose October 1, 2008, 11:49 am
  • I agree with SF that the word “crapshoot” implies a randomness that factually does not exist in the majority of cases.
    In truth, the team with the third-best record in baseball beating a team with the best record in baseball is not an upset, and not an example of a crapshoot.
    2006 was truly random — a team with a terrible record sneaking into the playoffs, getting hot and winning it all. But I don’t know of any other examples like that. The Marlins in 2003 did beat a Yankee team with 10 more wins, but the Marlins were a 91-win team with a solid core of young future-superstar pitchers.
    The 12-win gap between St. Louis and Detroit in ’06 is the largest for World Series competitors when the poorer team won since 1990, when the 91-win Reds beat the 103-win Athletics. Before that, it was 1974, when the 90-win Athletics defeated the 102-win Dodgers.
    Since 1974, teams with 10-game deficits won the World Series in 1985, 1987, 1988, 1990, 1995, 2003 and 2006. So it has happened with greater frequency as the playoffs have been expanded, but I don’t recall the playoffs being considered a “crapshoot” in the late 1980s/early 1990s. Besides which, these are still examples (with the exception of 1987) of 90+ win teams beating 100+ win teams. In other words, cases of the very good beating the very, very good. Not necessarily a crapshoot.
    The 2006 Cardinals won just 83 games in a non-shortened regular season, worst in a non-strike year ever and the first time since 2000 that the World Series winner won fewer than 90 games in the regular season. In fact, it’s only happened four other times in the history of the World Series: 1926, 1945, 1959, 1987.
    Yet talk of the playoffs being a crapshoot didn’t really arise until the mid 2000s, seemingly after the wild card entry began winning the World Series with regularity. But that misses the point that the wild card entry is often the better team and comes in with a record that is virtually indestinguishable from those of the division winners. In general, any great team can beat any other great team on any given day, and the playoffs are filled with great teams, so in that sense, sure. It’s a crapshoot. But I’ve long maintained we simply aren’t likely to see genuinely poor teams reaching and winning the World Series with regularity — which is what I think the word implies.

    Paul SF October 1, 2008, 12:02 pm
  • Thanks for digging up those results, Ath. But I think it’s a bit misleading to include the teams’ standing at the end of the regular season relative to the whole league and not just their post-season competition. The issue at hand is whether the post-season itself is a crapshoot (or just how unpredictable we’re saying a crapshoot really is), not whether chaos rules the whole season. So, for instance, the Cardinals’ 13th best record isn’t germane to the playoffs since there are only 8 teams. They still had the worst record of all playoff teams that year, but they were 8th among teams that still had a chance.

    FenSheaParkway October 1, 2008, 12:06 pm
  • Does the best team usually win the world series? I’d venture a guess and say no. But then we have to define what “best” means, and what “usually” means. In the end, most people remember the world series winners as the best team that season.

    Nick-YF October 1, 2008, 12:11 pm
  • But I’ve long maintained we simply aren’t likely to see genuinely poor teams reaching and winning the World Series with regularity — which is what I think the word implies.
    Thanks for doing a bit more research than me, Paul. What I meant by the term crapshoot was that it’s extremely unpredictable; any team in the playoffs can win. I never said, nor implied, that a crappy team could reach and win the World Series.
    Besides which, these are still examples (with the exception of 1987) of 90+ win teams beating 100+ win teams. In other words, cases of the very good beating the very, very good. Not necessarily a crapshoot.
    See, that’s EXACTLY what I feel the term crapshoot means: unpredictable. Any team can win, and the fact that all of the teams in the playoffs are good only solidifies that assertion. I’m not sure why everyone is assuming the term “crapshoot” means “a crappy team will win”.

    Atheose October 1, 2008, 12:12 pm
  • “And the playoffs are filled with great teams”
    That sounds like it actually supports the crapshoot description. That is, if the playoffs are an 8-sided die, then you really could end up with any one of them the champion. We all know that every playoff team is not truly as equal as a side of a die, but the short series blunts *some* of the advantages.
    You’re right that a truly terrible team is not going to be champion more than once in a blue moon, but I don’t take that to be the meaning of crapshoot. Most bad teams never make it to the craps table in the first place.

    FenSheaParkway October 1, 2008, 12:15 pm
  • I think because that’s the way the word has been used in the media, Ath, combined with a general snobbiness that equates wild card entries with being “lucky” to reach or win the World Series.
    In the sense you mean the word, the playoffs have always been unpredictable. But only recently have people begun saying they’re a crapshoot, even though I don’t see much evidence for that.

    Paul SF October 1, 2008, 12:17 pm
  • I think a problem here is that we all have different definitions for “crapshoot”. The term refers to a roll of the dice, so imagine an 8-sided die being rolled. That’s how the playoffs are, at least in my opinion. Any team can win if they get hot at the right time.
    Again, I never asserted that the World Series usually results in inexplicable upsets, just that in recent history it has been extremely difficult to predict the winner. Hence, crapshoot.

    Atheose October 1, 2008, 12:20 pm
  • The idea that the play-offs are a crapshoot was brought to the forefront by a billy beane quote in moneyball. I think he meant it in the way that Atheose means it.

    Nick-YF October 1, 2008, 12:22 pm
  • Hah, FSP totally beat me to the punch with regards to the 8-sided die analogy.
    Okay Paul, I could see where you guys are annoyed at the media’s use of the term. I’ve always believed it to overall mean unpredictable.
    Do the moderators want to put it to a test? Each moderator should pick the way they believe the playoffs will unfurl. Here are my predictions:
    ALCS: Rays defeat Red Sox
    NLCS: Dodgers defeat Phillies
    WS: Rays defeat Dodgers

    Atheose October 1, 2008, 12:24 pm
  • Hmm.
    ALCS: Red Sox defeat Rays
    NLCS: Cubs defeat Phillies
    WS: Red Sox defeat Cubs
    No reason. I just have a good feeling about the Sox. The rematch of the 1918 World Series 90 years later and 100 years after the last Cubs’ victory would be a terrific storyline.

    Paul SF October 1, 2008, 12:28 pm
  • ALCS: Sox beat Sox
    NLCS: Cubs beat Brewers
    World Series: Cubs Beat Sox (I’ve increased the chances of my predictions actually being true through trickery!)

    Nick-YF October 1, 2008, 12:31 pm
  • nother myth that seems to continue to be perpetrated around this series. I saw Amelie Benjamin say the Angels played better after acquiring Teixeira, and now this wire story says:
    Both teams were significantly better in the two months since they’ve last played than they were before.
    On July 30, their records stood like this:
    LAA 67-40 .626
    BOS 61-48 .560
    After Manny Ramirez was traded the next day (a Red Sox off-day), they performed like this:
    LAA 33-22 .600
    BOS 34-19 .642
    So the Angels played worse, not better, while the Sox did play significantly better. The Angels became a significantly better team by acquiring Teixeira, but that’s not quite the same thing.

    Paul SF October 1, 2008, 12:43 pm
  • I’m feeling unimaginative right now, and I have a bad history of predicting Baseball results anyway, so I’m going with the chalk. Angels over Cubs in 6.
    The Cubs are going to wait until Wrigley turns 100 in four years to win it all. Which is the classy thing to do, of course.

    FenSheaParkway October 1, 2008, 1:01 pm
  • Sox win the WS…The White Sox that is. They are the Cardinals of a few years back, hot at the right time. I would love for the Cubs to win, but I think the few weeks of lay up games will come back to haunt them. (Much like it will they Angels) I will go White Sox and Dodgers, since everything else is coming up roses in Yankeeland.

    John - YF October 1, 2008, 1:11 pm
  • You’re being facetious about the White Sox being hot at the right time, I presume? They were 11-15 in September, and 4-6 in their L10. Winning a make-up game and a one-game playoff ain’t exactly Rockies material. I will be nothing less than stunned if the Rays don’t shellac them.

    FenSheaParkway October 1, 2008, 1:26 pm
  • Here’s mine:
    Boston over Chicago in ALCS
    Brewers over Cubs in NLCS
    Boston over Brewers in WS.
    CC pitches four complete games (wins) through this run, and makes three appearances from the bullpen, thus ensuring that he gets 180 million from NY before heading to a three year stint on the DL next June.

    Brad October 1, 2008, 1:34 pm
  • John -
    The White Sox were terrible in the last few weeks, buddy. The only reason yesterday had to happen at all is becuase they blew such a nice position in the last three weeks. Hot they are not.

    Brad October 1, 2008, 1:35 pm
  • FSP beat me to it. Sorry.

    Brad October 1, 2008, 1:36 pm
  • They won 3 straight games that they HAD to win…if that’s not HOT, I don’t know what hot is. They have a solid pen, good starting pitching and a fairly decent offense. When in doubt take the team that believes they can’t lose and right now, that’s the Sox (White Sox.)

    John - YF October 1, 2008, 1:37 pm
  • I just want to Chicago to be on fire this week. Boston, if advanced, will handle them.
    Crosses fingers again.

    Brad October 1, 2008, 1:41 pm
  • Okay, I can buy that, John. But by that reckoning, they should be facing the Brewers in the WS, cause no one’s hotter than the Crew. 6-1 in their last 8 days, and they needed every win to avoid that one-game playoff that didn’t happen.

    FenSheaParkway October 1, 2008, 2:12 pm
  • from the beginning it’s been more about manny than bay. remember when he first came and tons of people rushed out and got his number tee and gave him standing ovations at the ballpark? looking back it now seems like that, too, was about shoving it up manny’s arse rather than any genuine interest in bay.

    beth October 1, 2008, 2:24 pm
  • also,
    Angels over Red Sox
    Rays over White Sox
    Angels over Rays
    Cubs over LA
    Brew Crew over Philly
    Cubs over Brewers
    Cubs over Angels in 7.
    I can hope!!

    beth October 1, 2008, 2:28 pm

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