February 27, 2017

What If Baseball Statistics Did Not Exist?

A very interesting article from ESPN's Sam Miller about a baseball world without statistics of any kind:
What if some ministry of information outlawed the collection of baseball statistics and we were all left to judge players exclusively by what we saw, what we perceived and what we remembered? Who would be perceived as the best player in baseball? ...

Imagine you're watching a game on Opening Day. If you're paying close attention, you might notice that one guy goes hitless, strikes out a couple times and makes the final out of the game. Maybe he's lodged in your memory because of that final out, so you notice he goes hitless in the second game too. Finally, he gets two hits in the third game and one in the fourth and one in the fifth. Is he good? How about if he goes hitless in the next game but then homers in the seventh, then goes hitless, then two singles, then hitless, then 1-for-4, then 1-for-4, then 1-for-4, then hitless, then three hits. Is he good?

Most likely, you have no idea. Even right now, staring at that paragraph, you have no idea because you aren't allowed to add all those games up and figure out whether they add up to something good. In fact, I can tell you what they add up to -- a .259/.359/.370 slash line -- and you still don't know if they're any good unless you know everybody else's slash lines. And that's just one guy, whom you happen to be paying suspiciously close attention to. There are 750 active players, spread out across 15 games every day. What are the odds you'd remember all 60 plate appearances from one player if you were trying to keep track of hundreds?
This is something I have thought a lot about, especially when crotchety sportswriters and ignorant fans bemoan (and ridicule) the introduction of new (and better) ways of measuring player performance. (As though the very idea of possessing more information is inherently bad.)

No one is capable of watching and retaining the memory of every single pitch of every single game of every single season, of every single fielding play or every runner on the base paths, year after year after year. We need information about those thousands of at-bats, those catches and extra bases taken; we need records of everything that happens on the field; we need statistics. The game is nearly meaningless without them. And the more precise and accurate those statistics are, the better we can understand and appreciate the game and its players.

February 6, 2017


Today is Truck Day!

Red Sox pitchers and catchers are due to report to Fort Myers on February 14, with the first full-squad workout scheduled for February 17.

Also: There will be no posts until March, because I will be in Egypt for three weeks (and Jordan for a few days). If you are wondering what we'll be doing, you can read Laura's (almost) daily travel journal at wmtc.

While in Cairo, we are staying at the aptly-named Pyramids View Inn. Here is a picture taken from the roof:

Pre-Season Magazines: Red Sox Favoured To Win Pennant

The pre-season baseball magazines are out. Here is a bit of what they have to say about the Red Sox's chances in 2017.


American League East
Red Sox
Blue Jays

AL Central: Cleveland
AL West: Houston
AL MVP: Trout (Betts #2, Sale #6, Bogaerts #8)
AL Cy Young: Sale (Price #3)
AL Rookie: Benintendi

ALCS: Red Sox over Cleveland
World Series: Cubs over Red Sox

"The Red Sox are all-in on 2017. ... Anything short of a World Series berth will feel like a disappointment."


American League East
Red Sox
Blue Jays

AL Central: Cleveland
AL West: Houston
AL MVP: Betts
AL Cy Young: Kluber
AL Rookie: Benintendi

ALCS Winner: Cleveland
NLCS Winner: Nationals

The Sporting News

ALDS: Red Sox over Mariners, Cleveland over Astros
ALCS: Red Sox over Cleveland
World Series: Cubs over Red Sox

AL MVP: Trout
AL Cy Young: Archer
AL Rookie: Moncada

January 27, 2017

#34 Will Be Retired On June 23

The Red Sox will retire David Ortiz's #34 on Friday, June 23, before a game against the Angels.

Ortiz's number will be the 10th number retired by the Red Sox.

Pedro Martinez believes Ortiz will come out of retirement in mid-season 2017. However, Big Papi has given absolutely no indication that his retirement is not genuine.

January 19, 2017

Depressing News: Remy Signs Multi-Year Contract With NESN

NESN announced that Jerry Remy has signed a new multi-year contract with the network to provide analysis for Red Sox games. While the length of the contract was not specified, NESN stated that Remy would work 115 Red Sox games per season.

This news depresses me. When Remy was working with long-time play-by-play man Don Orsillo, he coasted for many seasons, offering little more than a description of the various replays, sometimes actually repeating Orsillo's play-by-play word-for-word. From the comments he would make during games, Remy gave the impression of never having prepared for a broadcast.

NESN let Orsillo go after the 2015 season, replacing him with Dave O'Brien, and Remy began the 2016 season newly energized. Indeed, it was almost shocking how engaged he was. He enlightened listeners with numerous insights and opinions on many aspects of the game (he even did some on-field interviews!), an entertaining and informative improvement but also one that could not help but expose the fact that he had been mailing it in for several years. (Either a NESN executive pointedly told him that it was about time he actually earned his salary or perhaps Remy saw the writing on the wall re Orsillo and worried about his own future employment.)

Whatever the reason, the New Remy did not last. Within perhaps one month, I felt he had fallen back on his old habit of saying what even the most casual fan could see on the screen - "he puts the bat on the ball and hits it into left field" - rather than adding something worthwhile to the broadcast. And now that Remy has signed a multi-year deal, I see no reason why he would bother to push himself and put in the effort when he knows he can get away with doing less.

December 20, 2016

Clay Buchholz Traded to Phillies

The Red Sox have traded Clay Buchholz to the Philadelphia Phillies.

Boston will receive minor-league second baseman Josh Tobias, who played in Class A last year.

Buchholz's departure leaves six pitchers vying for spots in the Red Sox's 2017 rotation: Chris Sale, David Price, Rick Porcello, Drew Pomeranz, Eduardo Rodriguez, and Steven Wright.

In other news:

Koji Uehara signed a one-year deal with the Chicago Cubs.

Junichi Tazawa and Brad Ziegler each signed two-year contracts with the Miami Marlins.

December 11, 2016

The Recent Additions

In addition to starting pitcher Chris Sale, the Red Sox have also recently picked up right-handed reliever Tyler Thornburg and first baseman/DH Mitch Moreland.

Alex Speier writes about how it all happened.
The conversation was largely philosophical: What did it mean to pursue deals that would make the team better over the next three years but that would have consequences beyond that?