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Um, the Red Sox can actually be in trouble



It's not a good idea to read too much into any April baseball game, but the two games this week were fueled by arch rival New York Yankees and seem to have officially put the Boston Red Sox in a full blown crisis. The team's record dropped to 6-13 – for the second-worst defending champion since 1947 (only the Marlins of 1998) – and again landed in last place in the American League East.

"This is absolutely embarrassing for my family, for my team, for our fans," said Boston Sale Chris Sale to reporters after giving up four runs over five innings in an 8-0 loss on Tuesday. "That's about as bad as it gets. I have to beat myself better. "

" We do not play well anywhere, "added Dave Dombrowski, president of Red Sox baseball division. "Our starting distance was not very good, our defense was not very good, our shot was not as it would have been."

As Dombrowski suggests, Boston has honestly come to its terrific record: only the dreadful, rebuilt Miami Marlins (-49) have a worse running differential than the Red Sox -42 this season. Bad stretches can sometimes happen to good teams, but those that are so terrible did not often pass teams as good as Boston ̵

1; especially as they lost the 108-win season last year. Since the Second World War, only six other teams that had started a season with an Elo rating of at least 1562 (like the Red Sox of 2019) had a 19-game track in which they won six or fewer games had – much less were the only 19 games that we have seen of them.

If bad tracks happen to be good (we think?) Teams

Among teams that have started a season with an Elo rating of at least 1562, the worst 19-game strikes at some point in the season, 1946- 2019

Worst 19 matches
Season Team Preseason Elo rating Siege
2000 Yankees 1565 3 16
1977 [19659014] Reds 1566 15 15
2002
2002
] 4 15
2018 Dodgers 1568 5 [19659017] 1955 Yankees Yankees 1563 6 13
2019 [19659014] Red Sox * 1562 6 13

* First 19 games of the season.

(The good news for the Red Sox?) These other teams averaged 94.3 victories per 162 games with the poor 19-game distance, and none won less than 87. But as well these 19 games were not the only evidence we had about the teams to start the season.)

It was always likely that the Red Sox had some – and maybe many – after last year's storybook season. Would accept regressions. But no one could have guessed that the wheels would fall off so quickly and thoroughly. According to Victories Over Replacement (WAR), last season's Red Sox (behind Astros and Yankees) is the third-best team in the MLB, the fourth-lowest team this year (ahead of the Orioles, Marlins and Rockies). In two categories in which the team was in the top six last season – batting and starting – Boston has dropped back into the bottom nine (including worst baseball performance), and the bullpen is also in the top five Sunk lower half of the league:

The strengths of the Red Sox were to weaken

MLB-wide wins over the replacement (WAR) of the Boston Red Sox, 2018 vs.. 2019 Seasons

WAR Rankings
Season Batting Base running Fielding Starters Bullpen Total
2018 2 18 [19659057] 5 5 5 5
2019 22 18 22 30 17 27

The WAR numbers refer to games of April 17, 2019.

Sources: Baseball Reference .com, FanGraphs

In the Bullpen, team Craig Kimbrel, who had taken up 1.8 WAR last season, has not r E -Signed (and is still a free agent). However, the history of the Red Sox of 2019 is largely dominated by the holdovers from last year's championship team – and most of them have fallen below the performance standards they set for themselves a season ago.

Shortstop Xander Bogaerts has indeed played very well At the beginning of this season, starter David Price and first baseman Mitch Moreland were solid, and third baseman Rafael Devers improved the disappointing second season of last year. But those wins do not make up for the declines of Mookie Betts and JD Martinez. Replacement starts with Jackie Bradley Jr., Eduardo Nunez, Rick Porcello, Eduardo Rodriguez, Nathan Eovaldi and – most of the time – Sale.

Most of the Red Sox Holdovers are ice cold

percentage of team time * and will win over 162 players (162) for players playing both in Boston Red Sox

and in 2019 season 2019 [19659078]]] Players Playing time WAR / 162 Playing time WAR / 162 WAR / 162 Diff.
Xander Bogaerts 5.4% +4.3 6.2% +6.5 +2.2
Christian Vazquez 2.5 -0.3 Rafael Devers [19659908] 4.5 [19659091] +0.5 6.2 +2.5 +2.0
Matt Barnes 2.1 +1.2 2.3 +3.0 [196591128] +1.9
Moreland 4.2 [19659091] +0.8 5.3 +2.2 +1.4
Brandon Workman 1.2 +0.4 2.1 +1.4 Blake Swihart 1.9 -0.3 2.4 +0.6 +0.9 [19659018] Hector Velazquez 2.2 +1.0 2.7 +1.8 [196590916] +0.8
David Price 4.9 +3.4 5.2 + 3.9 +0.5
Ryan Brasier 1.1 +1.1 2.8 2.8] +1.3 +0.2
Sam Travis 0.4 -0.2 0.6 -0.1 +0.1
Marcus Walden +0.2 2.0 +0.2 +0.0
Tyler Thornburg
19659092] 0.6 -0.2 1.4 -0.2 +0.0
Tzu-Wei Lin 19659096] 0.7 + 0.0 0.1 -0.1 – 0.1
Heath Hembree 2.0 +0.3 2.4 +0.0 [196590178]
Sandy Leon 2.7 [19659091] + 0.0 0.2 [19659087] -0.7 -0.7
JD Martinez 6.0 +6.1 6.6 +5.0 -1.2
Andrew Benintendi 6.1 +4.1 +2.8 +2.8 [19659087] -1,3
Brock Holt 3.4 +1.3 1.6 -0.3 -1.7
Brian Johnson 2.6 +0.9 1.0 1.0 ] -1.9 -2.8
Nathan Eovaldi 1.5 +1.1 5.7 -2.0 -3.1
Dustin Pedroia
0.1 -0.1 1.7 -3.2 -3.1
Eduardo Rodriguez 3.6 +2.5 4.0 -1.6 -4.2
Steve Pearce [19659908] 1.5 +1.2 2.1 -3.4 -4.5
Eduardo Nunez 4.6 -0.7 3.8 5.8 -5.1
] Jackie Bradley Jr. 4.9 +2.4 4.8 -4.0 -6.4
Rick Porcello 5.3 +2.9 3.0 4.8 -7.7 [19659018] Chris Sale 4.4 +6.5 4.9 -2.5 -9.0
Mookie Betts 5.7 +10.6 +1.5 -9.1

* Based on appearance of the plate and (weight weighted) weighted innings.

WAR numbers are played by games of April 17, 2019.

Sources: Baseball-Reference.com, FanGraphs [19659049] Betts has laid much responsibility for the team's slow start on themselves. "Basically, what I do is unacceptable," Betts said Monday. "I have to find a way to achieve something and help the team."

However, the reigning AL MVP should sooner or later turn things around. His hit average at the balls in the game (BABIP) this season is an unsustainable low of 0.208, indicating a significant potential for improvement. Most of his statcast metrics match his career numbers before the career season last year – when he was still a 292 / .351 / .488 hitter with excellent defensive skills.

If Betts will be okay, selling is a bigger concern. The left-hander's fastball speed was low on three out of four starts – though he hit an average of 96.1 mph on Tuesday against the Yankees (which was close to his last season before a sharp September crash). But apart from the radar gun readings, Sale has also made a career of 2.5 strokes per nine innings and has already abandoned nearly half (five) home runs he had made in the past year. The Red Sox have enough other talented players to stay a good team in a rundown year of Sale, but they may not be able to be a really great team without giving their best.

And are they really a good team? despite this terrible start? Or will this season ultimately turn into disaster, as was the case with Boston's last championship defense? As bad as the Red Sox looked, it still seems stupid to count them out. In a sport in which it takes 67 games until the balance of a team is only about half luck and half as much experience, 19 games should not play a major role for our team. Our Elo model rates the Sox at 1538, even after this tough start, which is the talent required to win about 89 times per 162 games. That's only about five and a half fewer victories in talent than Elo had believed before the opening day.

But the problem is that the Red Sox have to live with the 6-13 record they've left alone. If they play as a team with 89 wins during the rest of the season, they still have only 85 wins at the end of the season. In a division where the Tampa Bay Rays and even the up and up Yankees are on course for 92 or more wins, 85 to 90 wins could leave Boston right on the edge of the playoffs. (And, for example, to achieve 95 wins, they would have to play at a 102-win pace throughout the rest of the season.) Although it is often said that the MLB season is a marathon, not a sprint, don & # 39; Unsurprisingly, when Boston's early battles force him to run down the track just to bid for AL's second wildcard slot]
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