Stifling Conditions

In a gamer the other night, SF asked the following question:

It sure seems that the Sox do worse … against good pitchers than those pitchers do against everyone else on average. You’d think that the Sox would be the team making those pitchers worse, but it just doesn’t feel that way. I’d be interested in this year’s stats on that front.

Your wish is my command. There’s two ways I can think to figure something like this out. Take a look at the 10 best pitching performances against the Red Sox this season and compare them to the 10 best against the other top offenses in the AL, or we can look at the 10 best pitchers by quality-start percentage and compare their performances against the Red Sox and those other top offenses.

Each would give us a slightly different story. One would tell us if the Sox’ offense is performing worse in the games in which a pitcher is shutting them down. The other would tell us how the Sox do against the top pitchers. Between the two, we can see if the Sox are generally worse against good starters and whether that is a function of being prone for whatever reason to really being unable to generate runs when being shut down by any pitcher.

So let’s look at both, and see if there’s anything useful there.

We’ll compare the Sox to the other four teams with the best offenses in the American League: Texas, Baltimore, Minnesota and New York. Well, actually it should be Detroit, then Chicago, and then New York, but this is a Yankee-Red Sox Web site, after all.

Let’s start by looking at the 10 best performances against the Red Sox this season:

  1. James Shields, 4/27, 9 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 7 K, 89 game score
  2. J. Duchsherer, 5/24, 8 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 4 K, 84 game score
  3. C.-Ming Wang, 4/11, 9 IP, 2 H, 1 R, 0 BB, 3 K, 82 game score
  4. J. Chamberlain, 7/25, 7 IP, 3 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 9 K, 79 game score
  5. Erik Bedard, 5/28, 7 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 3 BB, 8 K, 78 game score
  6. Danny Haren, 6/23, 7 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 5 K, 77 game score
  7. John Lackey, 7/29, 9 IP, 2 H, 2 R, 2 BB, 4 K, 77 game score
  8. Roy Halladay, 4/29, 8.2 IP, 5 H, 1 R, 1 BB, 6 K, 75 game score
  9. A.J. Burnett, 5/1, 7.2 IP, 3 H, 0 R, 5 BB, 5 K, 73 game score
  10. Roy Halladay, 8/16, 9 IP, 7 H, 1 R, 1 BB, 4 K, 72 game score

There’s actually a four-way tie for 10th, which includes the win against John Danks, plus good performances by Scott Baker and Aaron Harang, but Halladay’s is clearly the best, not least because he finished the game.

The Sox lost each of these games except No. 8, a 1-0 win off Halladay, when the winning run scored with two outs in the bottom of the ninth to cap a fantastic duel between Halladay and Lester.

Those 10 performances average out to this line, which would be a game score of 76:

  • 8 IP, 3 H, 1 R, 2 BB, 6 K

It’s actually a bit better than that, with only half a run scored and 2.5 walks, but I don’t think they let you do that in a real game.

How about the Rangers?

  1. Matt Garza, 8/15, 9 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 2 BB, 9 K, 90 game score
  2. Scott Baker, 7/20, 8 IP, 2 H, 1 R, 1 BB, 8 K, 81 game score
  3. W. Rodriguez, 6/26, 8 IP, 5 H, 1 R, 0 BB, 9 K, 77 game score
  4. Jered Weaver, 4/5, 7 IP, 3 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 6 K, 77 game score
  5. Scott Kazmir, 5/26, 7 IP, 3 H, 1 R, 0 BB, 10 K, 77 game score
  6. Roy Halladay, 4/12, 9 IP, 6 H, 1 R, 1 BB, 6 K, 76 game score
  7. Matt Garza, 5/28, 8 IP, 4 H, 2 R, 2 BB, 10 K, 74 game score
  8. Oliver Perez, 6/13, 7 IP, 3 H, 1 R, 3 BB, 8 K, 72 game score
  9. Zack Grienke, 5/1, 7 IP, 4 H, 2 R, 0 BB, 9 K, 70 game score
  10. Greg Smith, 5/4, 6 IP, 3 H, 1 R, 2 BB, 10 K, 70 game score

The Rangers won two of these 10 games, beating Baker, 1-0, and Greinke, 2-1. For the record, Clay Buchholz is 16th on the list and Daisuke Matsuzaka is 17th. The total, with a game score of 75:

  • 7.2 IP, 4 H, 1 R, 1 BB, 9 K

Now the Orioles:

  1. Brian Bannister, 5/11, 8 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 2 BB, 5 K, 81 game score
  2. Felix Hernandez, 4/6, 8 IP, 5 H, 0 R, 2 BB, 6 K, 76 game score
  3. Javier Vasquez, 4/28, 8 IP, 4 H, 1 R, 1 BB, 7 K, 76 game score
  4. Andy Pettitte, 4/20, 7 IP, 4 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 5 K, 74 game score
  5. J. Verlander, 7/20, 8.2 IP, 3 H, 1 R, 3 BB, 3 K, 74 game score
  6. Tim Wakefield, 7/12, 7 IP, 2 H, 1 R, 1 BB, 6 K, 74 game score
  7. Darrell Rasner, 5/21, 7 IP, 4 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 6 K, 72 game score
  8. Jon Garland, 5/3, 8 IP, 3 H, 1 R, 1 BB, 1 K, 72 game score
  9. Dana Eveland, 5/5, 7 IP, 3 H, 0 R, 4 BB, 4 K, 71 game score
  10. Jose Contreras, 4/16, 7 IP, 4 H, 1 R, 1 BB, 5 K, 71 game score

The O’s rallied against the Mariner pen to win the game Hernandez started, and the Vasquez game ended in a tie after 11 innings. The game is supposed to be continued later this season. Matt Garza, who shows up on the other two lists is tied for 11th here, with a game score of 70; Roy Halladay is 16th. The overall game score here is 72:

  • 7.2 IP, 3 H, 1 R, 2 BB, 5 K

Here are the Twins:

  1. Cliff Lee, 4/18……….8 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 8 K. 85 game score
  2. C.C. Sabathia, 6/10, 9 IP, 5 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 5 K, 82 game score
  3. Brian Bannister, 4/13, 9 IP, 3 H, 0 ER, 1 BB, 3 K, 81 game score
  4. Gavin Floyd, 5/6, 8.1 IP, 1 H, 0 ER, 3 BB, 4 K, 80 game score
  5. Mike Mussina, 7/23, 8 IP, 6 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 7 K, 77 game score
  6. Joe Saunders, 4/2, 8 IP, 4 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 4 K, 77 game score
  7. Manny Parra, 6/28, 7 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 4 BB, 6 K, 75 game score
  8. Sidney Ponson, 5/21, 9 IP, 6 H, 1 R, 1 BB, 5 K, 75 game score
  9. Vicente Padilla, 4/27, 9 IP, 7 H, 0 R, 2 BB, 2 K, 73 game score
  10. Chad Gaudin, 4/23, 7 IP, 4 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 4 K, 73 game score

Maddening as it may be to be shut down by actual good pitchers, I cannot imagine the gall of being shut down by the likes of Ponson and Padilla. That’s brutal. Incidentally, both lines with "0 ER" listed allowed one unearned run. Daisuke is 15th on the list as the top Sox starter. The overall anti-Twins game score is 79:

  • 8.1 IP, 4 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 5 K

Finally, the Yankees:

  1. Roy Halladay, 7/11, 9 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 1 BB. 8 K, 90 game score
  2. Jon Lester, 7/3, 9 IP, 5 H, 0 R, 2 BB, 8 K, 83 game score
  3. Ervin Santana, 8/1, 8 IP, 5 H, 0 R, 2 BB, 8 K, 78 game score
  4. C.C. Sabathia, 4/27, 8 IP, 4 H, 1 R, 1 BB, 8 K, 77 game score
  5. Glen Perkins, 8/11, 8 IP, 4 H, 0 R, 3 BB, 4 K, 75 game score
  6. Oliver Perez, 6/29, 7 IP, 3 H, 1 R, 0 BB, 8 K, 75 game score
  7. A.J. Burnett, 7/13, 8.1 IP, 6 H, 1 R, 1 BB, 8 K, 74 game score
  8. Garrett Olson, 5/26, 7 IP, 3 H, 0 R, 4 BB, 7 K, 74 game score
  9. Cliff Lee, 5/7……….7 IP, 6 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 7 K, 72 game score
  10. Edwin Jackson, 5/13, 7 IP, 5 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 5 K, 71 game score

What is it with the Yankees and striking out eight times? Six of the seven best performances against them all featured eight strikeouts. Here’s the overall, with a game score of 79:

  • 8 IP, 4 H, 0 R, 2 BB, 7 K

All told, here they are, ranked by their overall offense:

  • Rangers, 75
  • Red Sox, 76
  • Orioles, 72
  • Twins, 79
  • Yankees, 79

There’s not much difference between the Sox and Rangers. One game score point is basically one more walk, or one fewer strikeout. The Orioles are freakishly low, scoring one run better, essentially, then either the Sox or Rangers.

Other ways to look at these lists also tell us the Sox aren’t far off from other top offenses. The top game against them is an 89, lower than either the Yankees or Rangers. Three times a pitcher has thrown a game score of 80+ against them, one more than the Yankees and Rangers, one fewer than the Twins. Their spread is from 72 to 89, a median of 80.5, a little worse than the Rangers (80) and Twins (79), and even with the Yankees.

And we can all feel better about not being the A’s, who have had 13 game scores of 75 or better thrown against them.

All this really tells us is that the Sox are not really being shut down at a rate that’s significantly different from other top offenses in the American League. So if they are indeed faring worse against the league’s top pitchers, it’s not because of an overall tendency to suddenly go cold for a game — at least no more than can be expected.

Here are the Top 10 pitchers in quality start percentage entering Sunday (since ultimately we’re trying to gauge the quality of the starts against these teams, it makes sense to choose the 10 pitchers most likely to throw a good one). I went with a liberal cutoff of 100 innings pitched to make sure we didn’t miss anybody who had injury troubles or was recently called up:

  1. John Lackey, 76.47 percent (13/17)
  2. Roy Halladay, 76.00 (19/25)
  3. Cliff Lee, 75.00  (18/24)
  4. Joe Saunders, 73.91  (17/23)
  5. Justin Duchscherer, 71.42 (15/21)
  6. Tim Wakefield, 69.57 (16/23)
  7. Jeremy Guthrie, 69.23 (18/26)
  8. Mark Buehrle, 68.00 (17/25)
  9. Zack Grienke, 68.00 (17/25)
  10. James Shields, 68.00 (17/25)

This list pretty well captures the top pitchers. I calculated Halladay’s based on game score (where 50+ is a quality start) because ESPN (from where I derived this list) calculates quality starts based on the old 6/3 rule, which seriously short-sells Halladay’s dominance. Plus it left him out of the Top 10 because it didn’t include last night’s game. Adding that game in, he’d be tied with Shields under ESPN’s calculations, so either way, he’s there, and the point isn’t to be definitive about ranking. It’s to get a list of arguably the 10 pitchers most likely to shut down a good offense, and I think this is a good enough list — certainly no obvious omissions, at any rate, and a decent sampling of good to great pitchers this season.

So here’s how those pitchers have fared against Boston, by game:

  • Halladay, 4/6, W, 8 IP, 8 H, 4 R, 1 BB, 6 K, 55 game score
  • Saunders, 4/24, W, 6 IP, 7 H, 3 R, 3 BB, 3 K, 46 game score
  • Shields, 4/27, W, 9 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 7 K, 89 game score
  • Halladay, 4/29, L, 8.2 IP, 5 H, 1 R, 1 BB, 6 K, 75 game score
  • Shields, 5/3, L, 3.2 IP, 10 H, 7 R, 3 BB, 3 K, 13 game score
  • Guthrie, 5/13, W, 6 IP, 8 H, 3 R, 2 ER, 1 BB,  7 K, 52 game score
  • Duchsch. 5/24, W, 8 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 4 K, 84 game score
  • Guthrie, 6/2, ND, 6.1 IP, 8 H, 2 R, 1 BB, 5 K, 53 game score
  • Shields, 6/5, L, 1 IP, 3 H, 4 R, 0 BB, 2 K, 33 game score
  • Guthrie, 6/12, L, 4.2 IP, 7 H, 5 R, 5 BB, 1 K, 26 game score
  • Shields, 6/30, W, 6.1 IP, 5 H, 2 R, 1 BB, 5 K, 59 game score
  • Lackey, 7/18, W, 7 IP, 5 H, 3 R, 2 BB, 6 K, 59 game score
  • Saunders, 7/19, W, 6.2 IP, 6 H, 2 R, 3 BB, 1 K, 52 game score
  • Lackey, 7/29, W, 9 IP, 2 H, 2 R, 2 BB, 4 K, 77 game score
  • Saunders, 7/30, W, 6 IP, 5 H, 2 R, 3 BB, 2 K, 53 game score
  • Duchsch. 8/1, ND, 6 IP, 5 H, 1 R, 3 BB, 2 K, 57 game score
  • Buehrle, 8/8, W, 7 IP, 4 H, 1 R, 2 BB, 8 K, 71 game score
  • Halladay, 8/16, W, 9 IP, 7 H, 1 R, 1 BB, 4 K, 72 game score

That’s 18 starts from seven of the 10. Obviously, the Sox haven’t faced Wakefield; they also haven’t faced Greinke or Lee. In those games, the starters are 12-4 with two no-decisions and a 3.21 ERA. Only four times did a pitcher not throw a quality start, and two of those were courtesy of James Shields. Six of the 18 starts had a game score above 70 (considered fantastic), eight were in the 50s (good but not great). The typical pitching line winds up looking like this:

  • 6.2 IP, 5 H, 2 R, 2 BB, 4 K, 58 game score

How about Texas?

  • Halladay, 4/12, W, 9 IP, 6 H, 1 R, 1 BB, 6 K, 76 game score
  • Halladay, 4/17, L, 9 IP, 11 H, 4 R, 1 BB, 6 K, 54 game score
  • Wakefield, 4/20, W, 8 IP, 7 H, 5 R, 0 BB, 5 K, 53 game score
  • Grienke, 5/1, L, 7 IP, 4 H, 2 R, 0 BB, 9 K, 80 game score
  • Lee, 5/24, W, 6.2 IP, 7 H, 2 R, 4 BB, 8 K, 56 game score
  • Duchsch. 5/30, L, 6 IP, 6 H, 2 R, 1 BB, 5 K, 56 game score
  • Lee, 6/4, W, 5 IP, 9 H, 6 R, 2 BB, 8 K, 31 game score
  • Guthrie, 7/4, W, 6.1 IP, 8 H, 4 R, 2 BB, 6 K, 45 game score
  • Saunders, 7/8, L, 8 IP, 6 H, 3 R, 0 BB, 5 K, 63 game score
  • Lackey, 7/10, ND, 5.2 IP, 15 H, 6 R, 1 BB, 5 K, 19 game score
  • Buehrle, 7/22, W, 7.1 IP, 6 H, 1 R, 0 BB, 3 K, 65 game score
  • Duschsch. 7/26, L, 6 IP, 9 H, 8 R, 2 BB, 6 K, 26 game score
  • Saunders, 8/8, W, 7 IP, 5 H, 1 R, 1 BB, 4 K, 66 game score

The league’s top starters have faced the Rangers 13 times, compiling a 7-5 record with one no-decision and a pedestrian 4.50 ERA. The pitchers threw quality starts just nine times, and only five were game scores of better than 50. The typical pitching line:

  • 7 IP, 8 H, 3 R, 1 BB, 6 K, 54 game score

Typepad ate my data for Baltimore, and I dont feel like going back and retyping it all, so you’ll have to trust me that the top starters’ line against the O’s — the league’s third-ranked offense — looked like this:

  • 6.2 IP, 6 H, 3 R, 2 BB, 4 K, 52 game score

This raises my eyebrows, as this shows that the two teams immediately surrounding the Red Sox in the standings are far better at, if not beating the league’s best pitchers, then certainly containing them. The nine best pitchers at throwing quality starts as a whole can barely do so against the first- and third-ranked bats in the league, but have fewer problems against the second-ranked team. How about the No. 4 offense, Minnesota?

  • Saunders, 4/2, W, 8 IP, 4 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 4 K, 77 game score
  • Shields, 4/16, ND, 5 IP, 8 H, 5 R, 3 ER, 1 BB, 5 K, 39 game score
  • Lee, 4/18, W, 8 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 8 K, 85 game score
  • Buehrle, 5/7, L, 5.2 IP, 9 H, 7 R, 3 BB, 4 K, 24 game score
  • Wakefield, 5/11, L, 2.2 IP, 7 H, 7 R, 6 ER, 2 BB, 2 K, 18 game score
  • Halladay, 5/14, W, 6.2 IP, 9 H, 4 R, 0 BB, 8 K, 48 game score
  • Greinke, 5/28, ND, 8 IP, 5 H, 3 R, 2 BB, 8 K, 66 game score
  • Buehrle, 6/7, W, 8 IP, 7 H, 1 R, 1 BB, 4 K, 67 game score
  • Lee, 7/6, L, 7 IP, 6 H, 4 R, 2 BB, 6 K, 53 game score
  • Lee, 7/25, W, 8 IP, 6 H, 2 R, 0 BB, 10 K, 72 game score
  • Buehrle, 7/28, L, 5 IP, 8 H, 5 R, 4 ER, 1 BB, 2 K, 34 game score
  • Greinke, 8/9, L, 5 IP, 9 H, 6 R, 5 ER, 3 BB, 6 K, 30 game score

That’s 12 games, with the top starters going a mere 5-5 with two no-decisions and a hefty 4.56 ERA. They managed quality starts just half the time they faced Minnesota, and while four of those starts were gems, the Twins managed an equal number of times to score at least five runs against the ace. The typical line:

  • 6.1 IP, 7 H, 3 R, 1 BB, 6 K, 52 game score

Our suspicions seem confirmed here. The Twins are seven points of OPS+ worse than the Red Sox. They’ve scored 5.02 runs per game to the Sox’ 5.15, yet they can generally keep the best pitchers in the league at bay, and the Sox seemingly cannot. For kicks, we’ll finish with the Yankees:

  • Halladay, 4/1, L, 7 IP, 7 H, 3 R, 2 BB, 3 K, 52 game score
  • Shields, 4/6, L, 5 IP, 8 H, 2 R, 1 BB, 5 K, 47 game score
  • Greinke, 4/9, W, 8 IP, 6 H, 0 R, 2 BB, 2 K, 70 game score
  • Lee, 5/7, W, 7 IP, 6 H, 0 R , 0 BB, 7 K, 72 game score
  • Shields, 5/14, L, 7.1 IP, 6 H, 2 R, 2 BB, 6 K, 62 game score
  • Guthrie, 5/28, L, 7 IP, 6 H, 3 R, 0 BB, 4 K, 57 game score
  • Halladay, 6/3, W, 6 IP, 6 H, 2 R, 1 BB, 3 K, 54 game score
  • Greinke, 6/8, L, 5 IP, 6 H, 4 R, 4 BB, 6 K, 41 game score
  • Duchsch. 6/11, W, 7 IP, 5 H, 1 R, 1 BB, 4 K, 66 game score
  • Wakefield, 7/6, ND, 6.1 IP, 4 H, 3 R, 1 BB, 5 K, 57 game score
  • Halladay, 7/11, W, 9 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 8 K, 90 game score
  • Duchsch. 7/20, L, 7 IP, 6 H, 2 R, 3 BB, 4 K, 58 game score
  • Wakefield, 7/26, L, 5.1 IP, 8 H, 6 R, 4 BB, 3 K, 27 game score
  • Guthrie, 7/28, W, 6.1 IP, 3 H, 1 R, 2 BB, 4 K, 65 game score
  • Lackey, 8/3, ND, 6 IP, 7 H, 4 R, 4 BB, 4 K, 42 game score
  • Lackey, 8/9, ND, 7 IP, 9 H, 3 R, 1 BB, 5 K, 51 game score
  • Saunders, 8/10, ND, 7 IP, 6 H, 3 R, 3 BB, 6 K, 56 game score
  • Greinke, 8/16, ND, 6.2 IP, 6 H, 2 R, 0 ER, 2 BB, 5 K, 61 game score

The Yankees, like the Red Sox, have faced the 10 best pitchers 18 times, and those starters have a 6-7 record with five no-decisions. This is a pretty remarkable record, especially when you consider they’ve posted a stellar 2.92 ERA, with 14 quality starts. Of those 14, half are great games (60+ game score), and of the four non-quality starts, three are in the 40s. Only Wakefield was truly shelled among the 10. Here’s the line:

  • 6.2 IP, 6 H, 2 R, 2 BB, 5 K, 57 game score

That’s roughly the same as the starters’ performance against Boston. The problem, of course, is that the Red Sox are a much better team offensively than the Yankees so far this season. And even despite this performance, the Yanks have managed to post a winning record in those games (while the Twins and Rangers have hovered close to .500); the Red Sox, on the other hand, lose these games regularly.

It’s an interesting dichotomy. The Sox are not necessarily seeing more gems thrown against them than other top offenses, as the first half of this study shows, but they are performing worse than comparable lineups against the cream of the crop in the American League. Logically, then, they must be cleaning up against the lesser pitchers, as they should.

But those aren’t the pitchers they would face in the playoffs — assuming they even make it — and it seems that’s another cause for concern as we head into the stretch.

12 comments… add one
  • My word, Paul, what an amazing study. Thank you.

    attackgerbil August 18, 2008, 12:48 am
  • I was right!!
    Great work, Paul. As usual.

    SF August 18, 2008, 5:55 am
  • Good analysis, lots of interesting stuff, even if I have some small issues with some of the moving parts in the machine, so to speak. I think the conclusions you reach are generally good ones though.
    Off the top of my head (that is to say without delving deep into the numbers), two things I would note are:
    1. A caveat: The Sox obviously play half their games in Fenway, a very good hitters’ park. So pitching a “gem” there is a lot more difficult than pitching one in say, Minnesota or Yankee stadium. Texas is an even better hitters’ park though (and it shows in the study – those top pitchers post a 4.50 ERA vs. TEX), so I would say that the 3.21 ERA posted by the pitchers in your analysis is even more impressive given that a number of those we in Fenway.
    2. A conclusion (guess, really): I think the rest of the discrepancy between the Sox and the Yanks performance against opposing pitcher “gems” comes down to bullpen. Statistically, it’s pretty well established that an effective and balanced bullpen will turn a disproportionate number of close games in a team’s favor (Lower scoring games tend to be much closer, and a game is much more likely to be low scoring if one of the SP’s throws a gem).
    Starters that pitched a gem against the Yanks actually have a losing record, which if I were to guess is a testament to the Yankee bullpen being very effective in high-leverage situations, which it has been for the majority of the year. The Sox have experienced much more trouble in that area.
    -Mark

    Mark (YF) August 18, 2008, 1:10 pm
  • Great work, Paul. Over on Baseball Musings, Dave Pinto has an interesting interpretation of this data that I think bears some interest for our Yankees. He suggests that the Sox’s problem against good pitching is that their offense is more walk dependant than the average team, and that good pitchers don’t walk a lot of batters.
    It’ worth noting that the Yankee offense, over the last few years, has also been highly walk dependent, and this might explain some of the problems they’ve faced in the playoffs in recent seaasons. In recent seasons, a great offensive machine during the season was slowed by the top pitching staffs faced in the postseason. Not exactly a revelation, but interesting. It’s also worth noting that this evens the field a bit with a free-swinging playoff team (ie the Angels).

    YF August 18, 2008, 1:53 pm
  • Yes, that’s another excellent point, YF. Also explains the A’s postseason struggles a few years back.
    -Mark

    Mark (YF) August 18, 2008, 2:08 pm
  • YF: Pinto’s observation is interesting, but how do you rectify it with 2004 and 2007 playoffs, particularly as you ask about the Yankees’ countering performances? In ’04 the Sox were first in the AL in walks, and in ’07 they were second (trailing just the Yankees). Certainly they did just fine in the playoffs.

    SF August 18, 2008, 2:31 pm
  • SF: Haven’t checked the 2007 playoff numbers, but the ’04 Red Sox still managed to walk a whole lot in those games – they averaged 7.67 BB/game in the DS vs. ANA, and about 6 BB/game vs. NYY in the LCS. Didn’t bother looking up the numbers for the STL series, since it was such a blowout.

    Mark (YF) August 18, 2008, 2:52 pm
  • I’m not really sure what you’re asking, SF. I think the overall point is that the more you depend on walks, the more you CAN suffer against quality pitching. But it’s relative and within context. Obviously, the 90s Yankee dynasty was predicated on high obp, as were the 2 championship Sox teams.

    YF August 18, 2008, 3:45 pm
  • “But those aren’t the pitchers they would face in the playoffs — assuming they even make it — and it seems that’s another cause for concern as we head into the stretch.”
    I dunno. If I were a Sox fan, I might be more than little psyched to face the Rays and James Shields in a short series. It seems, based on these numbers, that Boston owns him.
    Great work, Paul. In general, I tend to be somewhat of a lazy nihilist when it comes to studies like these. I always have a sneaky suspicion that sample size is a culprit. In this case, I think there’s the strong possibility that over a greater sample, the Sox would compare favorably to other offense against better pitchers. That’s not to take away from the hard work you’ve done.
    As SF pointed out, the example of the Sox seems to counter Pinto’s speculation. In general, I think the best team wins more than other teams in the post-season. But I do think there’s a lot of truth to Billy Beane’s famous Moneyball line about it being a crapshoot. It might be a tautalogical argument, but I think the Yanks’ “failures” of the past 7 years have a lot to do with not always being the best team, bad luck, and bad timing.

    Nick-YF August 18, 2008, 3:48 pm
  • Also, walks/OBP wasn’t meant to be the end-all, just that it was undervalued/underpriced. I don’t know how efficient free agency is, but it probably worked itself out a little bit..

    Lar August 18, 2008, 5:20 pm
  • i haven’t really seen any updates on hughes around here of late. i guess he got lit up last nite (3.2 in, 5 er, 91 pitches). many are starting to get concerned about his drop in velocity, 5-8 mph. it’s not all bad though as carl p threw a decent game in class A trenton (3.2 in, 0 er, 1 h).

    sf rod August 18, 2008, 7:13 pm
  • I agree with Dave Pinto, but good productive pitchers without power stuff have less margin for error – they need to hit their spots and not be squeezed – to shut down a patient lineup. Ervin Santana and John Lackey are the only two likely postseason bound pitchers I would put in that category.

    El Guapo's Ghost August 20, 2008, 11:36 am

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