Boston is Consistent

While doing some recent fiddling with data, I ran across something mildly interesting: the Red Sox’s offense is highly consistent. To be honest, this collection was for a Rays-related piece on teams with similar wOBA and how they performed when factoring in other variables like stolen base attempts, strikeouts, and ISO. The Red Sox entries had mostly one thing in common as you can see here:

2009 .352
2008 .352
2007 .352
2006 .340
2005 .352

Four of five years the crew from Boston produced identical wOBA. Now they didn’t post the same peripherals across the board – i.e. some years they had more steals while others they had more power – but as best as I can tell, this is the most consistent lineup in the league on a wOBA basis. It hasn’t been the same lineup year in and year out, either: below are the nine players each season who received the most plate appearances.

boston1

All told Ortiz and Varitek are the last men standing from the 2005 squad, and even their expiration dates appear to be approaching. Some tidbits from the teams and their differences:

In 2005, they stole 45 bases. That number has steadily increased each year and hit 126 this season.

Their highest BABIP of the four matching seasons came in 2008 and their lowest n 2009. I’m not sure what to make of that.

Their walk rates have been extremely static. In order from most recent; 10.6%, 10.3%, 11%, 10.7%, 10.4%. Same can be said for their strikeout rates, again in order from most recent; 20.2%, 19.1%, 18.6%, 18.8%, 18.6%. ISO, not as much; .184, .168, .165, .166, .174.



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Steve
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Steve
6 years 7 months ago

They have been consistent, but one thing I have noticed is that the split between their home/away numbers has steadily widened over this timeframe.

Maybe the FO has become too good at finding players who are a fit for that ballpark, but for whatever reason, they have become an average offense away from Fenway.

alskor
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alskor
6 years 7 months ago

That is actually something Theo has expressed concern over in recent comments. Im not convinced it was a tactical error that resulted in this situation. IMHO, A lot of it can be traced to guys who struggled overall but Fenway hid their ailments… so… mostly Mike Lowell and Big Papi.

walkoffblast
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walkoffblast
6 years 7 months ago

I do not really see the evidence of a widening gap. In 05 they were awesome on the road but the next 4 years they were pretty consistent, especially the last three which included a title. They should always be significantly better at home given their park. For some reason people seemed to care more about it this year than others. The one thing I see is a noticeable drop in slugging on the road last year. It still was not a big drop maybe .010 likely tied strongly to Ortiz and Lowell as suggested.

Steve
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Steve
6 years 7 months ago

the only thing i can get splits for is OPS, and if you look at the gap in home/road OPS, it’s gotten bigger every year since 2005.

Matt B.
Guest
6 years 7 months ago

Fenway has been a notoriously TOUGH ballpark for lefties in terms of HRs, suppressing HR producting by as much as 15-30% per season since 2001.

Papi was a beast during most of the his Red Sox tenure where he played, period.

walkoffblast
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walkoffblast
6 years 7 months ago

I guess we are looking at it a different way. I was simply looking at the teams production on the road. Using some basic measures to make a general point over the last 4 years away:

2009: 391R, .340 OBP, .414 Slg
2008: 384R, .344 OBP, .428 Slg
2007: 395R, .344 OBP, .424 Slg
2006: 395R, .341 OBP, .422 Slg

So if you like OPS then notice it actually increased each year in that sample on the road except for last year. So a more accurate assessment of your initial point is less indicting of the front office. If the splits are increasing then the team continues to get better at home but it is not really changing what they do on the road.

Steve
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Steve
6 years 7 months ago

That is interesting, thanks.

Bradley Woodrum
Member
Member
6 years 7 months ago

If I wasn’t so incredibly lazy and dependent on RJ Anderson to make my days complete, I’d be interested to see how that compares to other teams. Have Epstein’s teams provided the most consistent offenses of any other current GM?

This might be an excellent use for a Hodrick-Prescott filter applied to a time series, allowing for an examination of variability within certain GM administrations.

dat cubfan daver
Member
6 years 7 months ago

I’m not sure whether this is a question or a comment, but I can’t help but wonder if this remarkable consistency can in any way be related to the fact that the Red Sox are among the most sabermetric-focused teams in major league baseball.

Joe R
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Joe R
6 years 7 months ago

Well check out their 9 regulars going into 2010 (as is stands, so it’s Youk 1B Lowell 3B and not some crazy hypothetical Adrian Gonzalez 1B Youk 3B scenario) and their walk rates
C: Martinez, 11.3%
1B: Youkilis, 13.6%
2B: Pedroia, 10.6%
3B: Lowell, 6.9%
SS: Gonzalez (I guess? No clue right now), 4.9%
LF: No one yet, but Bay in 2009: 15.0%
CF: Ellsbury, 7.3%
RF: Drew, 15.4%

As a Sox fan, some things about Epstein remain clear
1) He loves big walk rates, especially from his corner IF/OF spots, aka the traditional power position players
2) He likes strikeout pitchers
3) He likes having a defensive-inclined corner player for a reserve (M’alphabet, Hinske, Kotsay, now Kotchman)

As a fan, I know my GM can’t always be right about a guy, but I enjoy knowing my GM has a plan, and it’s one that’s been proven to succeed. Our SS situation has been a mess since he got here, but when that’s the only knock you have on the man’s performance, well, you don’t have much to complain about.

(oh and of course not having a great defensive catcher, but that’s only because sports radio stations have an excuse to Joe Morgan out with a ZOMG STOLEN BASES discussion every time the Red Sox play anyone w/ a speedster).

Sam
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Sam
6 years 7 months ago

Hinske is defensive inclined? I am not so inclined to believe that, although I am willing to be persuaded.

Joe R
Guest
Joe R
6 years 7 months ago

Hinske UZR/150 at positions:

1B: 3.3
3B: -4.9
LF: 13.2 (SSS alert though)
RF: 2.2

He’s a very versatile player who can serve as both your 3rd corner IF and 3rd corner OF. The Red Sox almost always have one of those on the roster.

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