Sunday, April 18, 2010

Five Things: Sample Sighs

Although we all recognize that the baseball season is a marathon, we might wonder how far back you can fall in a marathon and still recover. We have the dismal memories of the '64 Phillies, the '78 Red Sox, and the multiple recent collapses of the Mets. But at the same time, how many of us can even contemplate a collapse of biblical proportions by the 2010 Yankees?

So, eleven games into the season, the Sox trail a pair of division leaders by four games, victims of self-destruction as much as anything else.
1. Hard knocks. The Sox offense, averaging 5 runs a game after seven games, has fallen to just 4.1 after eleven. Among regulars, only Dustin Pedroia is hitting over .300, and J.D. Drew and David Ortiz both are well below the Mendoza Line.

2. Ray Ban. Jon Lester goes to work for the Sox today, trying to break out of his early season doldrums. Lester struck out the side in the first. Naturally, it started pouring in the home half. Would even the most critical Red Sox fan suggest the Sox take Lester out of the rotation? Well, probably. Lester has worked on his change up, to complement the fastball, cutter, and curveball.

3. Misplayers. The strength up the middle concept has been something short of success, with Mike Cameron misplaying a Pena liner last night and chasing a Longoria double today as though it were radioactive. Marco Scutaro hasn't even been making routine plays, and the catching struggles are well-documented. Scutaro's fielding percentage coming in was .939 and one error helped lose a game. Of the newcomers, only Adrian Beltre looks like the real deal.

4. Sample size. Last night I wrote that data from ten games on winning can be extrapolated to the season with a reasonable approximation. As for individual statistics, that's problematic. Somehow, I'm thinking forty games sounds about right from the 'gestalt' methodology. Mark Teixeira is a well-documented slow starter. Fantasy baseball types compile lists of slow starters. It's not as though you can bench a guy for April and get 'warmed up' performance in May.

5. Pitch zone and Joe West $itch Zone. If held to the standard of the 'pitch zone' on NESN, umpires look as though they're not even 90 percent accurate. The 'pitch zone' seems less forgiving on the corners in particular. The impact of "uncalled" strikes is a magnifying effect on pitch counts, as a strikeout not initially obtained (e.g. Zobrist in the first inning today) can turn into a walk or hit, which also causes particularly lengthy games.

Other than the Sox game yesterday, the AL games lasted 3:05, 2:41, 2:37, 2:48, 2:24, and 2:35. So maybe it's just the Sox, who played the longest game (3:19) in the AL yesterday.

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