Thursday, July 21, 2005

Here we go...

...the Sox-Sox series is a big one. Throughout April and May and even some of June I predicted the White Sox's dominance wasn't going to last. Another great prediction, as they will almost certainly be in the playoffs. Still, they seem awfully lucky: 23-9 in one-run games, making them about 5 games better than their Pythagorean stats would predict. I'm not going to go on about how the media is slobbering over Guillen's use of "small ball", as the guys at firejoemorgan have made pointing out the idiocy of that their secondary goal (the primary goal, of course, being to Fire Joe Morgan).

No wait, yes I am: the White Sox are a below-average offensive team. In the AL they are 10th in runs [correction: they're 6th in the AL, 10th in MLB], last in hits, 13th in BA, 11th in OBP, 8th in SLG and OPS. Okay, so they're 4th in HR (Konerko, Dye, Everett, Thomas), but that in itself is weird given their mediocre slugging (they're last in 2B and 3B). And of course they steal, a lot. They've stolen 102 bases, but have been caught 38 times, for a pedestrian 73% average; compare to the speedy Red Sox who are successful 86% of the time. So I imagine we'll see a bunch of steals the next four games. But the bigger issue is their pitching -- Buerhle, Garland, and the two ex-Yankees. Should be an interesting series. I'd be quite happy if the Red Sox took 2 of 4.


  1. I'm amazed to keep reading questions about their pitching. If it was still May I would say okay, but they are for real.

    Thr former Yankees have already been injured and disappointing, yet they have been serviceable. The kid McCarthy has not done crap yet but he is supposedly a prized prospect.

    I agree too much is made of the small ball affect. And even the SB are really a result of Podsednik. And look at what price that came. For all their success, I'm pretty sure they would unwind that trade in about .00000238 seconds.

    Yeah 2 of 4 would be nice.

    Now if we are looking for teams that won't keep it up - it looks like the Nats are finally starting to unravel. Livan may be hurt, they are losing thier magic touch at home and in one run games. and apparently Livan is a doctor and may do the surgery himself.

    Of course this imminent collapse plus the braves inexperienced roster really makes me wonder why the fish are contemplating moving Burnett. Of course they are in last place, but they are over .500. And noone is really running away with it or the WC.

  2. Barring a pretty historic collapse, the White Sox are in the playofs pretty easy at this point. And their pitching cannot be questioned, I don't think; Garland has come back to earth fter his ridiculously good start, but Buehrle has been a top-level starter for 3 years now without many people noticing, and the rest of their guys have been just fine. The hitting is their big issue here, and we'll likely see their 1-run game record levl out somewhat over the second half. But they're a scary team in a short series, no question. This series is a hell of a test, especially with the O's gong up against the E-Rays this weekend.

  3. I definitely wasn't questioning their pitching. It's amazing -- best in baseball, easily. Garland isn't the surprise everyone's making him out to be -- it feels like he's been around forever (it's his sixth season), but when he came up in 2000 he was the youngest player in baseball. So he's just 25 now, and is starting to pitch like people thought he would (10th pick in the '97 draft).

  4. Earl, you may be on to something. Although they are below average in offense, they are near the top in HR and I would be curious to see thier percentage of runs scored via HR compared to others. Also, small point, your stat says they are 10th in AL in runs - I saw them as 6th, but the point is well taken, they are closer to 10th than 4th. But I digress.

    Clearly their is the luck factor in a number of things - one run games and I would presume even the number of one run HR. And this stuff can turn around at any given moment (ask the Nats), but isn;t it a moot point what has happened and from here on out we expect a normal output (i.e., they match their pythagorean theory going forward) and they go to .500 (or their pythagorean) in one run games?

  5. Yeah, whoops -- 10th in MLB in runs, 6th in the AL.

    Runs by HR would be an interesting stat to look at this year -- particularly since a couple years ago the Sox scored like >50% that way. Not sure how to find it though, without looking at individual box scores. Speaking of which, ever noticed how when people talk about runs scored from home runs they always say "by way of the long ball"?

    Yeah, all the Pythagorean differential shows is that they've been lucky thus far. No reason to think it'll keep up (that they'll go another 4 above their Pyth. Rec.) or that it'll "catch up with them" (going back down to their PR).

  6. I seem to recall Neyer (when we used to be able to read him), using year to year comparisons of pythagorean - although that was largely to show that few (if any) managers could actually beat the "law" on a consistent basis.

    Although during a year (especially 90 or 70 game spans I don't think it would catch up.

    And by way of the long ball, what happens when it is a 3 run HR and one of the guys leads off with a single and another is walked - you could have 3 of the overused statements all at once:

    The first out is the most important and it cam back to haunt the Big Unit.
    Walks will kill you every time.
    3 Runs by way of the long ball.

    Hell, if he hits it on a 1-0 count, you can add, strike one is the most important pitch in BB or you fall behind the count and you pay the price.

  7. Yep. And if the Big Unit gives up no more runs the rest of the game but still gets the loss from the 3-run homerun, they'll say "He really made only one mistake all night, but it was a costly one". Never mind that a few innings before we were told about how bad the leadoff single and the walk were.

    Andrew did a pretty nice look at Pythagorean differentials a while back. Warning: it's really short.

    Whoops, there's Posednick's 1st SB of the game.

  8. Crazy Carl with a 2-run HR. See, the smallball approach of the stolen base, followed by the groundout to move the runner along, really paid off.

  9. wait, that is something else to look at. NOt that it is hurting them in the standings, but if we can assume that Chi scores a higher percentage of their runs via the long ball, then wouldn't their small ball actually cost them runs - since they have a very average SB success rate. Someone should track runners thrown out that would have scored later in an inning.

  10. But if it were Joe Morgan talking he might say: "it really wasn't a mistake by Johnson. That pitch was out over the outer half of the plate and Ortiz really went out and got that pitch. And with a batter like Ortiz up there, you really can't be leaving the ball up in the strike zone. Or that is what you will have."

  11. Both very good points. But I have no idea how to do the "by way of the long ball" calculation.

    Of course, in this imagined Joe Morgan conversation, Ortiz hits the 3-run HR just as Morgan is telling us how the ideal thing to do in that situation is bunt.

    Man, Clement and the HRs. Ugh.