Is It Time to Panic in Boston?

With today’s 1-0 loss to the Indians, the Boston Red Sox are now 0-6. This is the same Red Sox team that many people, myself included, tabbed as the favorites to win the World Series. So far, they haven’t hit (only Minnesota has been worse offensively after today’s shutout) and they really haven’t pitched (entering the day with a ridiculous 8.25 FIP), and the total team meltdown has led to a miserable start to the season and a 4 1/2 game deficit behind the East-leading Orioles.

Those last three words should be all you need to know about whether the current standings are predictive of where we’ll be at year’s end, but that hasn’t stopped a number of people from pointing out that no team that has ever begun the season 0-6 has gone on to play in the World Series, and only two out of the 85 teams to ever start 0-5 (or worse) had even made the playoffs. Those sound like seriously scary numbers until you realize that there’s a huge sampling bias problem – most teams that start a season with a long losing streak kind of suck. By virtue of filtering only teams that have lost a bunch of games to start the season, we’re left looking at the records of teams who inherently lacked talent in most cases, and holding those teams up as examples of how the 2011 Red Sox (who don’t suck, despite their poor start) will play going forward doesn’t work.

So, no, Boston fans should not be scared by the lack of historical comparisons for slow starting teams turning it around – there simply aren’t very many examples of teams this good starting this poorly. And, just because they lost their first six games does not mean we should throw out our evaluations of the talent on their roster that we believed to be true a week ago. In fact, six games shouldn’t be enough to change any evaluation of ability in a significant way, so whatever you thought about the Red Sox’ abilities last week, you should still think something very close to that today.

However, that doesn’t mean circumstances haven’t changed. By losing their first six games, the Red Sox have dug themselves into a pretty decent-sized hole, and while our evaluation of the talent on their roster might be the same, our expectation of the final results of their season has been altered.

In the Fan Standings based on our reader’s projections of individual player performance, you guys had the Red Sox winning 98 games this year, or 60.5 percent of all the games they played. If we apply that exact same projected winning percentage to 156 games – the remainder of the Red Sox’ schedule – we come up with 94.4 wins. Even with the belief that the Red Sox’ slump doesn’t change our opinion of their true-talent level at all, we have to adjust our expectation of their final record down from 98 wins to 95 wins (all six losses having been on the road so far, we’ll round up to account for the schedule slightly favoring Boston going forward).

Losing three wins off of your projected record is a big deal – the change is essentially equivalent to the adjustment we would have had to make had J.D. Drew blown out his knee on Opening Day and was lost for the remainder of the season. All of the sudden, the fairly significant projected gap between Boston and New York (who projected as a 94-win team and are on pace for that mark) has all but disappeared. Even if we agree that the Red Sox are still the better team than New York right now, Boston’s slow start has made the race in the AL East a virtual coin flip.

It’s just six games, but these results count in the standings, too. While we shouldn’t get carried away with the doom and gloom, the reality is that the Sox have indeed frittered away a large percentage of their chances of winning the division this year. I’d still bet on them to make the playoffs, but their chances are now quite a bit lower than they were a week ago.




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Dave is a co-founder of USSMariner.com and contributes to the Wall Street Journal.


247 Responses to “Is It Time to Panic in Boston?”

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  1. Otter says:

    I don’t think they should panic, but 3.7% of the season is done… and they’re going to need to go 95-61 (.583) from here on out to feel comfortable, which is totally in reach.

    However, the Rays need to panic as they are not looking 0-6 in the face, and I’m sorry, but that line up isn’t very good.

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    • Otter says:

      Sorry my math is all wrong. Forget that. Go with Dave’s numbers. Sorry.

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      • Bilbo says:

        Dave also failed to point out that the vast majority of teams that started out 0 – 6 were not in the wildcard era, if they were there would be higher number that made the playoffs…and everyone here knows that after making the playoffs it is entirely possible that any team could win it all…

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      • Rex Manning Day says:

        Actually, I don’t think Dave’s numbers are much better.

        I think it’s inaccurate to simply apply pre-season projections to the remainder of the season and claim that we need to bump down Boston’s projected wins.

        After all, the projections had Boston losing 64 games this season. Why can’t we presume that the first 6 games are simply part of those 64? What if Boston started the season 10-10? There’d probably be some mild comments about a slow start, but applying this post’s strategy, we’d have to bring down our expectations to 96 games. How many people would really adjust their expectations of Boston based on a 10-10 start, though?

        I guess the point is, a .605 team is not going to be a .605 team for every 5-10 game stretch during the season. When you expect a team to be .605 at the end of a season, you’re not saying that they will win exactly 6 of every 10 games, but that they’ll have enough 8-10 stretches to balance out the 2-10 stretches (sorry, this is a stupid-obvious thing to say on this site, but still). So I don’t think you can lop off the first week and project out as if it didn’t happen; that .605 projection explicitly *included* the first week.

        Now, you might observe that from here on out, Boston needs to be a .628 team to meet their projection, and that’s strictly true. But, again, it’s misleading because, again, the original projection included the games Boston would lose. If two weeks ago I told you that Boston would lose 6 games in a row, and would therefore need to be a .628 teams for the other 156 games to meet your projections, I doubt you’d change them.

        I think it’s certainly fair to say that Boston is digging itself into a hole with this losing streak, I just don’t think you can lop off 6 games from the record and apply the same projection from here on out.

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    • Marc says:

      The Rays look baaad! I wonder how many times that team is going to get no-hit this year? It’s ashamed because BJ Upton is really having a nice start to the season. Only a matter of time until he’s in the 1 or 2 hole, and not just against lefties.

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      • willyoupleasestop says:

        Rex Manning Day:
        >I think it’s certainly fair to say that Boston is digging itself into a >hole with this losing streak, I just don’t think you can lop off 6 >games from the record and apply the same projection from here >on out.

        Oi, this thinking is really muddled. The “lopping” you are suggesting is unjustified is, you know, actual games actually being played instead of imaginary projections. Once they are played, you can’t, as a matter of logic, say, “well some of those losses would’ve been included in the overall projection anyway,” as the games played are NOT projections. Put another way: by your logic, you are saying that losing the first 6 games is a good thing for the Red Sox’ projection over the remaining 156 games, because they’ll actually OUTPERFORM what was originally projected over the 162 season. That makes no sense. If they continue on their current pace and go 3-21 in April that won’t be good for their projection for the next 5 months. Losing games is bad.

        Obviously, I don’t think the Red Sox are done, but I think what Dave’s post misses is that an 1-7 start, even though it’s small sample size, indicates that the projections might have been overly sunny for the Sox this year.

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  2. Ty says:

    JD Drew just blew out his knee reading that

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  3. everdiso says:

    Yep, the preseason projections of them improving on their 89 win season because gonzo/crawford/salty would easily better the seasons that beltre/Vmart/Hall gave them last year, and because every one of their injured/offyear players would come blazing back at 100%, and because none of their bigyear players would regress, obviously had no flaws in their reasoning at all.

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  4. JoeyPajamas says:

    Finally, someone sensible. The Boston media and public are shitting their pants over six games and there’s really no need. ESPN discusses this daily. I understand that it’s uncharacteristic and unexpected of this team to lose in this manner, but good lord people–it’s six games!
    It’s a long season.162 games is a lot. Teams go through rough patches. This one just seems especially ugly because they haven’t won a game yet. The wins will come. Sox fans just need to chill out.

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    • Matt Kremnitzer says:

      Shhh. Don’t tell them that.

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    • Roger says:

      I mean, I agree, but are you asking sports media not to talk about this? Are you asking sports media to look at a 0-6 start from a team they’ve hyped up all offseason and just say, “it’s a statistical anomaly?” You might be asking too much.

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    • B N says:

      I had no idea I was shitting my pants right now. I guess I better start panicking immediately?

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    • Steve says:

      Exactly. How many teams have lost 6 in a row at any point during the season and gone to the playoffs? I’m not going to look it up, but I would guess many. They just happened to do it out of the gate where its a lot more noticeable.

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      • JRoth says:

        This is exactly what I’ve been wondering.

        Truth be told, I doubt very many have, but it’s surely happened.

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      • Fatalotti says:

        The Giants lost 7 in a row last season between 6/26 and 7/2. It happens.

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      • Kool says:

        Giants made it last year despite a 7 game losing streak and never doing better than a 5 game win streak.

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      • Sox27 says:

        The 2005 White Sox lost 8 in a row in August and went on to win the World Series, so there definitely is precedent for a long losing streak by a team that went on to win it all.

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  5. CircleChange11 says:

    @ Dave

    he total team meltdown has led to a miserable start to the season and a 4 1/2 game deficit behind the East-leading Orioles.

    Those last three words should be all you need to know about whether the current standings are predictive of where we’ll be at years end,

    Beyond the BoxScore: After Only Three Games, History Says Orioles Have Better Playoff Odds than Red Sox*

    http://www.beyondtheboxscore.com/2011/4/4/2090106/after-the-first-three-games-history-bodes-better-for-the-orioles-than

    @ Everdiso

    Yep, the preseason projections of them improving on their 89 win season because gonzo/crawford/salty would easily better the seasons that beltre/Vmart/Hall gave them last year, and because every one of their injured/offyear players would come blazing back at 100%, and because none of their bigyear players would regress, obviously had no flaws in their reasoning at all.

    C’mon man, the BoSox were projected to be better simply because all of their injured players were expected to come back and play at their “average” level., nothing like “blazing back”. The acquisitions versus losses are commonly viewed as equal to slightly in BOS’s advantage.

    The bigger deals were health and pitcher regression (which in 2011, would mean that the pitchers pitch better than they did in 2010).

    The projections for the Red Sox were no different than projections for any other team in regards to the basis … regression to the mean.

    ——————————————

    As for BOS … when would it be time to panic? 0-6 is a pretty big deal for the team that was supposed to win the division.

    I agree with Joey that it is a long season, and it’s a bigger deal because of the heightened expectations. But, it’s still a big deal.

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    • everdiso says:

      I have to be honest – even projecting their acquisitions to be upgrades over what their losses gave them last year is overly optimistic. They literally need career years (or damn close) from all of Gonzo, Crawford, and Salty just to match the contributions they replaced.

      But I guess it’s more the general sentiment that all of Youk, Pedroia, Ellsbury, Gonzalez, Drew would ALL come back right away at a good level that bugged me the most. Those are all major injuries and in some cases major downgrades in performance that for any other team wouldn’t have been considered automatic bounceback scenarios.

      And then you have the further assumptions that the guys who had surprisingly good years last year – Lester, Buchholz, Bard, Ortiz – wouldn’t regress significantly, either.

      I just don’t see how a roster with at least a fairly serious question mark at nearly every roster slot (save maybe 1 – the #1 SP slot), could possibly get the preseason hype that this team got.

      I mean the Yanks are just as talented as this team, but were ripped mercilessly for all the age and injury and performance question marks throughout their roster – with the greatest irony being that on the whole, the Sox are at least as old if not older and MORE injured than the yanks are.

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      • CircleChange11 says:

        Point taken. I think BOS and NYY are closer than some think. Like I read the other day … “even with their acquisitions, and improved health, they don;t project to a 100 win juggernaut.”

        It also helps BOS that TBR has been as bad, but without the same quality team.

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      • everdiso says:

        yep, the Sox are in nowhere near as much trouble as the Rays.

        that there is a team with no offense and no bullpen.

        I mean Dan Johnson, Matt Joyce, Reid Brignac, Sean Rodriguez, John Jaso, Elliott Johnson, Kelly Shoppach?…..how many mid-to-late 20s career part-time/bench/AAAA hitters can one “contender” have in it’s starting lineup?

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      • Daniel says:

        There is not all that much surprising about Jon Lester nor his success last year. Apologies to Jon if that comes across as harsh on him personally.

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      • HA! says:

        Not quite as old:
        Yankees Average age of regulars…

        28
        31
        28
        37
        35
        27
        30
        30
        39

        30
        34
        25
        24
        41

        Avg: 31.4

        Sox ages:

        26
        29
        27
        32
        27/35
        29
        27
        35
        35

        27
        26
        32
        31
        30

        Avg (w/ Lowrie at SS): 29.5

        credit: “John DiFool”

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      • williams .482 says:

        Gonzalez is a question mark? Pedroia? Crawford? Bard? Youkilis?

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      • Reverend Black says:

        Reeks of bias.

        “They literally need career years (or damn close) from all of Gonzo, Crawford, and Salty just to match the contributions they replaced.”

        Check your math. Leaving aside that it was Beltre who actually had the career (damn close) year in 2010, either of Crawford & Gonzalez’s previous two seasons would combine to exceed Martinez & Beltre in 2010.

        Those two acquisitions were hyped largely because they make for a very bright future, not merely a huge right-now upgrade. The 100-game upside projections were based on those on top of:

        - Full seasons from injured last year but by spring healed for quite some time stars – Youkilis, Pedroia, Ellsbury/Cameron

        - Reversion to the mean from a top-10-in-baseball starter from 2007-2009 in Josh Beckett joining established ace Jon Lester, 4+ WAR Lackey, and improving Buchholz. (There’s room for regression in Buchholz numbers, granted, but there’s also room for improvement in the game of a 3rd season young pitcher with his ceiling.)

        - A greatly improved bullpen

        You are talking about a team that despite off years from two of their top three starters (going into the season) and another mediocre year from Matsuzaka, was second in the AL in starter WAR in 2010 – 5th in all of baseball. Buchholz had/has room to regress, but everything else was & is upside.

        The claim that they had “fairly serious question marks at nearly every roster slot” is completely unsupportable. (Not a surprise then that you didn’t support it.) And what I’d prefer to think was simply another in a series of careless generalizations just doesn’t pass the sniff test as anything but bias by the end of your comment. The giveaway was the characterization of Lester’s 5.6 WAR 2010 as “surprisingly good”. After Lester posted 6.3 in 2009 and 5.1 in 2008, surprising would have basically been anything but 5.6.

        Small-sample hysterics can be found anywhere among baseball followers at this point in a season – particularly Boston. A few dullards even suggested at one point that the Sox starters (all of them, I guess?) were tipping their pitches somehow.

        That’s about as foolish as most of the things you’ve said here. But running with that theme, the one upside to this kind of start to the season by teams like Boston and Tampa is that the undiscerning charlatans masquerading as analysts and/or shrewd baseball fans have been tipping their ignorance left and right.

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      • Mat says:

        “I just don’t see how a roster with at least a fairly serious question mark at nearly every roster slot (save maybe 1 – the #1 SP slot), could possibly get the preseason hype that this team got. ”

        Are you doing a lot of heavy drinking these days? Gonzalez is a question mark? Youkilis? Pedroia? Crawford?

        I would worry more about Jeter getting the ball into the air and out of the infield.

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      • Nick44 says:

        (There’s room for regression in Buchholz numbers, granted, but there’s also room for improvement in the game of a 3rd season young pitcher with his ceiling.)

        There’s room for regression in Beckett’s numbers, granted, but there is also room for decline in the game of a historically overworked pitcher entering his Age 32 season.

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      • everdiso says:

        “HA! says:
        April 7, 2011 at 9:46 pm
        Not quite as old:”

        I’ve got:

        BOS SP: 27, 26, 32, 31, 30 = 29.2
        NYY SP: 30, 25, 34, 24, 34 = 29.4

        BOS RP: 30, 30, 26, 33, 33, 28, 45 = 32.2
        NYY RP: 41, 31, 26, 26, 33, 25, 37 = 31.3

        BOS Hitters: 25, 29, 27, 32, 35, 29, 35, 27, 35 / 38, 38, 32, 26 = 31.4
        NYY Hitters: 28, 30, 28, 35, 36, 27, 30, 30, 39 / 25, 33, 23, 33 = 30.5

        “Check your math. Leaving aside that it was Beltre who actually had the career (damn close) year in 2010, either of Crawford & Gonzalez’s previous two seasons would combine to exceed Martinez & Beltre in 2010.”

        Beltre 2010: .390wOBA, 7.1war
        VMart 2010: .364wOBA, 4.0war
        Hall 2010: .342wOBA, 1.0war

        Gonzalez Best: .402wOBA, 6.5war
        Crawford Best: .378wOBA, 6.9war
        Salty Best: .319wOBA, 0.4war

        If each of the new guys matched their career bests, then they would be a moderate improvement over what the Sox received from the guys they lost last year. And that, of course, doesn’t factor in the likely drop in WAR from the Youk-to-3B move that the changes forced.

        if we even go to 2nd best years (not even all the way down to career averages), then it’s already a net loss:

        Crawford 2nd Best: .368wOBA, 5.7war
        Gonzalez 2nd Best: .378wOBA, 5.3war
        Salty 2nd Best: .318wOBA, 0.3war

        I’ve checked my math – and my statement stands – the Sox would literally need career bests from all 3 of the new guys for them to be an improvement over the guys they lost.

        “The claim that they had “fairly serious question marks at nearly every roster slot” is completely unsupportable. ”

        it is absolutely, postively, and blatantly supportable.

        Lester – not a question mark
        Buchholz – one good season, unsupported by his peripherals – question mark
        Lackey – signficantly declining numbers, with declining stuff – question mark
        Beckett – significantly declining numbers, with declining stuff – question mark
        Matsuzaka – the human question mark

        Papelbon – consistnetly declining numbers, with declining stuff – question mark
        Jenks – never been able to match his numbers to his peripherals and be the dependable reliever his peripherals say they are – question mark
        Bard – one good relief season – question mark
        Wheeler – ROOGY used in a very limited role in TB, not a question mark if kept in that very limited role
        Reyes – big fat question mark
        Albers – no explanation needed
        Wakefield – a 45 year old with bad numbers. question mark.

        1) LF Crawford – not a question mark to be a solid player, but absolutely a question mark to come anywhere near his career year last year again, and to come anywhere near $20m a year value. Not to mention moving from a small market in Tampa to the biggest pressure cooker in baseball. Not really a question mark, but kinda sorta.
        2) 2B Pedroia – missed most of last year to major injury – question mark
        3) 1B Gonzalez – coming off of shoulder surgery – question mark
        4) 3B Youkilis – missed most of last year to major injury – question mark
        5) DH Ortiz – 35 with declining numbers, question mark
        6) RF Drew – always injured, with declining numbers, question mark
        7) SS Scutaro – not really a question mark, just utterly mediocre
        8) C Salty – a question mark to even be an MLB quality player
        9) CF Ellsbury – missed all of last year with questionable injuries, and hasn’t really been all that good when healthy. question mark.

        UT) McDonald – career minor leaguer, question mark
        OF) Cameron – near 40 years old, question mark
        IF) Lowrie – 27 year old who hasn’t earned regular MLB at bats yet, quesiton mark
        C) Varitek – 39 year old who can’t throw the ball, question mark

        question marks – and fairly serious ones at that – at near every roster slot, like I said.

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  6. Statement says:

    The Red Sox suck.

    That is all.

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  7. pft says:

    So the fact that no or few really good teams have ever went 0-6 to start a season is no reason for concern because we think the Red Sox are a really good team and not a really bad team like most of those teams that start out 0-6?

    Really good teams go through rough patches through the season for the most team due to injuries or fatigue. Red Sox are 100% healthy and well rested with nice tans.

    As for the reason for the rough patch, I think it’s more likely they were not ready to play the season and are in extended spring training. They had a 10 game losing streak at the end of ST that started when the regulars started getting more playing time. That carried forward into the regular season.

    Red Sox are better than this and will play better before the season is over. Even in their best years they play their best at home, so a return to Fenway may help. However, for some of the newer players, they might be shocked at how some folks are taking this start. Carl Crawford, Boston is not Tampa. If you thought you had it tough in LF when playing for the Rays at Fenway, you will find how it is playing in front of disappointed Red Sox fans. A good series against the Yankees will erase their short memories, but anything less than winning 2 of 3 will bring out the boo birds.

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    • Reverend Black says:

      Slow starts are hardly unheard of for winning teams, even in recent AL East history.

      April games (longest streak)

      NYY 2007: 9-14 (w/ 7 losses in a row)
      NYY 2006: 13-10 (w/ 4 losses in a row)
      NYY 2005: 10-14 (w/ 4 losses in a row)

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      • pft says:

        The Yankees have a history of starting off poorly and coming on like gangbusters, but the Red Sox have always relied on starting strong out of the shoot the first 1-2 months which gives them a cushion when they start to fade in the summer.

        For example, in 2007 the Red Sox got off to a great start and were 13 1/2 games out front of the yankees, and held on to win by 2 games, In 1978 we were not so lucky.

        Heck, in 2010, if the Red Sox got off to a 9-4 instead of a 4-9 start they might have overcome the injuries and still got a playoff spot.

        Not saying they can not overcome this, but if they miss the playoffs by 1-2 games, this bad start will be the reason.

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  8. RPS says:

    Panic! Bring back Traut Nixon and Nomaaaaaaaaaah!!1!

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  9. Dan says:

    Anyone who is staying perfectly calm does not understand the margin of error in the AL East. Yes, they can still win the division and its a long season, but the Yankees are not more than a few games worse than the Red Sox. Factor that in with the tiny probability that people have a fundamental misjudgement of Boston’s talent, and you have a clear new predicted winner of the AL East.

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    • Jross says:

      No the Yanks will throw the AL east title to get the wildcard and play what ever scrub comes out of the central.

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    • Otter says:

      Clearly. The AL East is the toughest division ever in the history of all sports. Let’s ignore the fact that the AL East has 5th out of 6 division in median total salary or that the AL Central has three teams in the top ten of salary (all over $100 million btw).

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      • Dan says:

        Median salary is a pretty useless metric though.

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      • Jack says:

        Why can’t you put your biases aside and be objective. You clearly are an overly sensitive fan of a team in the Central or West. The AL East is clearly the best division in baseball.

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      • short says:

        I’d put the top two in the NL East up against the top two in the AL East, but after that the AL East wins. I don’t think any of the Mets, Nats or Marlins will be as good as whoever ends up in third place in the AL East.

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      • Mr. Met says:

        I don’t think the Mets/Fla/Wash will be better than any divisions number 3,4,5 team….

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      • Otter says:

        We’ll have to wait and see if it’s the best in baseball, but the Rays look like they have major issues… the O’s will probably be better than last year but are they even an 80 win team?… and I’m high on the Jays, but I don’t think we’re looking at a 90 win team either. Sure that leaves them better than any division in the NL, but that’s not saying much.

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      • 4i-8 says:

        The AL East thing is for sure overrated, but every division has its’ warts. The AL East is the strongest division in baseball, but the degree to which isn’t what most believe. But still.

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  10. AustinRHL says:

    Dave, I’d actually go a step further and say that New York is now more likely than the Red Sox are to win the division – and only because I trust SG’s simulations with five projection systems more than I trust the fan projections. They had the gap between Boston and New York closer to two games than four, which I always found more reasonable in the first place. It’s still likely to be a close race, and I’d estimate Boston’s chances of beating New York as something like 40-60 (ignoring for now the possibility that another team could win the division).

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  11. Ken says:

    Both the Boston media and Red Sox Nation fans are INTENSE groups. There is probably already a suicide watch on the Charles River. 0-6 has set them back but it’s way too early to panic. This team is going to win a lot of games.

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  12. Rick says:

    Dave,

    Minor, largely tangential quibble, but what metric are you using when you write “only Minnesota has been worse offensively” in the opening paragraph? After all, Tampa has scored eight runs total in six games.

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  13. sam says:

    “All of the sudden” – is that english?

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    • T says:

      Good thing you took the time to type this really important comment and then not capitalize “English.” Don’t be a moron.

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      • sam says:

        wow you got me

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      • don says:

        It might be an idiom but it’s a very common where I’m from. To me it’s like asking if “keep your eye on the ball” is English because it doesn’t make literal sense.

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      • joe says:

        But the expression is “all of a sudden”, not “all of the sudden”‘

        I don’t think the issue was the literal meaning of the phrase or whether it was an idiom… Dave got the expression wrong.

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    • fenwik says:

      No, he didn’t. “A sudden” v. “the sudden.” Think hard about the difference between those (hint: “a” and “the” have almost the same meaning). Furthermore, he’s referring to specific points in time and specific events that were previously referred to, right? Thus, “the sudden.”

      Stop being a churl.

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  14. Dan in Philly says:

    Yes.

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  15. CampBrice says:

    Closest “recent” correlation I can find is the 1979 Orioles

    Started 3-2 then went 0-6 over their next 6 games to move to 3-8

    Then went 15-1 over their next 16 en route to a 102-57 record and a W.S. appearance

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  16. john says:

    Is there anyway to find out how many teams that have had an 0-6 (or whatever) streak at any point in the season have made the playoffs? Obviously if this was July 6 losses in a row wouldn’t be the end of the world.

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    • Jross says:

      Rays lost seven in a row at one point last year.

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    • CampBrice says:

      The World Series Champ Giants had a 7-game losing streak last year and the Braves had one of 9 games.

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    • Dan says:

      Sportscenter said this morning that there have only been 2 champions (I think 2) that didn’t have at least one 5 game losing streak at some point. (And one of the 2 was the 07 sox).

      The problem is, they had it so early that they are likely to have another bad streak, while other teams (yankees) may only have 1 bad streak.

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      • Oliver (not Perez) says:

        The 53 Yankees lost 9 straight to finish the month of June and beat the Dodgers in the Series.
        The longest losing streak by a team that went to the Series was 11 by the Giants two years earlier. Not sure when their streak happened.
        The only team before 2006 to win the World Series after two 7 game skids was the ’83 Orioles. The O’s established the overall record with 21 straight to start ’88 and never contended. The 2006 Cardinals roster was about as strong as the 2004 and 2005 teams, but succumbed to two 8 game slides and a 7 gamer. Thanks to an unbelievable postseason by Yadi Molina, Adam Wainwright and So Taguchi, they did what their former versions could not.
        Of course the Sox don’t play in the 2006 NL CENTRAL.

        I found a nifty article by a blogger trying to soothe the anxiety of Brewer fans after their opening skid. It points out that last year’s Series teams both had a 6(TEX) or 7(SF) game losing streak and the Braves had a 9 game skid. The Braves also had by far the worst April record at 9-14. The author failed to note that the Padres lost 10 straight in the stretch run and finished 1 game behind the Braves in the wild card race.
        http://oldmilwaukees.com/brewers/4-game-losing-streaks/

        If the Sox overcome the headstart they’ve given the rest of the division (outside Tampa), the memory of this streak will bear no weight. Maybe April is the best time to stumble. My gut tells me that it’s more discouraging for a team to enter the postseason with the bitter aftertaste of a late slide. Of course, the 2006 Cards started their seven game slide with 12 games left; Among the seven was a 4 game sweep by the Astros who won 9 straight.

        The fact that three teams are playing pretty well while the Sox are flailing hasn’t amounted to much yet (4.5 G). Pretty soon I imagine someone will be writing about how many games out of third place a Series winning team has been.

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    • Ivdown says:

      The 06 cards had 3 separate 7 game losing streaks.

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    • williams .482 says:

      2001 A’s had a 7 game loosing streak. They won 102 games in the same division as the 116 seattle mariners, and took the wild card.

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  17. Tim says:

    If they had a 6 game losing streak in mid-July, would anyone say anything? This team could easily rattle off 10 straight and suddenly things aren’t so bleak.

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    • joe says:

      what if they still have that 6 game losing streak in mid July? or are they somehow less likely to do that because they’ve already met their 6-game losing streak quota?

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    • CircleChange11 says:

      [1] Yes, they would still say something. A 6-game losing streak in July likely drop s a team 2 places in the standings in that division. If BOS went on a 6-game losing streak in July and fell from 1st to 3rd, what would people say? They’d be hysterical.

      At least at this point in the season, some are saying “Ah, it’s a long season. This is a good team.”

      [2] Teams don’t easily rattle off 10 game wins streaks. If they could, they would.

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      • Tim says:

        A loss is a loss no matter if is preceded by 5 losses or not. Are you really buying the Orioles and Blue Jays at this point? You are still talking the Yankees and Red Sox with the division in wild card (not necessarily in that order) and a team from the central and west.

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  18. descender says:

    I was all ready for you to go into a breakdown of teams that have 6 game losing streaks making the playoffs/WS…

    I’m calling a balk on this article.

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  19. Jack says:

    Of course it’s all irrelevant anyway because there’s zero chance that the second place team in the Central or West wins 94 games. And the Rays are unlikely to do it.

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  20. Nom Chompsky says:

    Yes, they could rattle off 10 straight wins, but they could also easily lose 5 more games in a row, and both are about equally likely.

    And to answer your question, if they were tied with the Yankees in mid-July and went 0-6 while the Yankees went 4-2 to open up a 4 game lead, yes, you’d probably adjust your projections. Nobody is saying that they’re doomed, just that they squandered what little cushion their slightly better roster offered them.

    Their losses count. And the fact that they’ve lost a bunch of games doesn’t make them a more talented team; a fact you’re ignoring unless you adjust their projection.

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  21. Steve says:

    It never fails to amaze me how every single year people forget that THE YANKEES ARE IRRELEVANT TO THE RED SOX. THERE’S THIS THING CALLED THE WILD CARD AND HOME FIELD MEANS NOTHING.

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  22. Bill says:

    “Yes, they could rattle off 10 straight wins, but they could also easily lose 5 more games in a row, and both are about equally likely. ”

    Except, the far more likely outcome is that they fall somewhere in between and stabilize. Nice try though.

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    • Nom Chompsky says:

      When did I ever suggest anything different? Obviously, the most likely outcome is that they’re going to win 60% of their games going forward. I was directly replying to Jack, who suggested that they might win 10 games in a row.

      In this case, “stabilizing” means “losing their division”, if the talent-based projections are accurate. That’s not meaningless; any 6 game losing streak alters the projection of a very tight division.

      They have plenty of time to make up for it, but they’ve lost ground. Real ground, that can’t be ignored by saying “oh, it’s early”, or “oh, they’ll stabilize.”

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      • Bill says:

        Any game you lose is real ground. What a pointless thing to say. The question is: have they lost significant ground. And we both know the answer.

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  23. Grant says:

    I don’t think it’s accurate to say that no evaluation can be made from six games.

    With the Red Sox part of the predicted improvement was, as has been noted, based upon the expectation that many stars would come “blazing back” after injury. But not everyone comes back after a serious injury. Some of the early season struggles might be in part the result of underlying health problems that have not totally resolved and were not incorporated into preseason projections. (Thinking of you Beckett, and you Youk.)

    So, I think they’re probably a little bit worse than we thought they were a week ago, and they’ve dug themselves a bit of a whole.

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    • Bill says:

      Except, 6 games is not enough of a sample to make any kind of judgment about these issues one way or the other. Nothing you said in this post has changed from April 1 to now.

      The “blazing back” thing you just completely made up, I especially like the quotation marks, nice touch.

      What people did say was that Pedroia and Youkilis would play full seasons, as well as Ellsbury, and they would do it at a level similar to what they’ve done in the past. You can pretend that 6 games tells us anything about whether or not this will happen, but we both know you’re wrong.

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  24. Paul SF says:

    “you guys had the Red Sox winning 98 games this year, or 60.5 percent of all the games they played. If we apply that exact same projected winning percentage to 156 games – the remainder of the Red Sox’ schedule – we come up with 94.4 wins. ”

    Am I the only one who sees a problem with this methodology?

    The fan projections assume at least one bad stretch of baseball. We can’t simply dismiss the bad stretch of baseball that was already factored into the projections and then run a shortened season on those same projections. Well, we can, but it isn’t particularly helpful.

    In other words, the big problem for the Red Sox isn’t that they have to win at a higher pace now to reach their preseason projection. It’s true that they do, but that’s true for every team in baseball. It will be true for the Yankees when they go through a rough week or two.

    The real problem is that by having the rough patch this early, the Red Sox have more games remaining in which to encounter a similar one. It’s not about the size of the hole, which is practically nonexistent given how early it is, but about the margin of error going forward.

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    • Oscar says:

      Gambler’s fallacy!

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      • CapgrasDelusion says:

        “That’s a Bingo!”

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      • williams .482 says:

        sure, but it’s also true.

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      • williams .482 says:

        *partially true

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      • steex says:

        I ask this in complete honesty – does gambler’s fallacy truly apply to a baseball team’s projected record? The winning percentage predicted at the beginning of the season isn’t a truly mathematical calculation that would stand the test of regression over the course of an infinite number of games such as the winning percentage in most casino games or the 50/50 heads/tails split. Instead, it was an expectation of season-long performance over 162 games.

        I understand that flipping 10 heads in a row does not influence the probability of receiving tails in the 11th flip, it’s still 50/50. However, the projection of 98 wins for the Red Sox was based on a sample size of 162 games that has not yet been reached. The Red Sox projection, as I understand it, doesn’t really assume a .605 probability of winning each game that continues for each game despite starting in an 0-6 hole – it assumes a final result of .605 without a real expectancy of individual events within the 162-game sample. In that way, it would be different than the .50 probability of heads/tails regardless of previous test.

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    • Ayuh says:

      If the Red Sox had lost 6 straight games in July after having played up to expectations, would we be reading an article like this? If they go on to play up to expectations for the next two months, will we care about these six game?

      It’s not as though they weren’t going to lose these games. What matters is that they make up for them, which is a reasonably attainable goal.

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      • AndrewYF says:

        “If they go on to play up to expectations for the next two months, will we care about these six game?”

        Yes, because if the Yankees play up to their own expectations the Red Sox will still be three or four games behind.

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    • AndrewYF says:

      “The real problem is that by having the rough patch this early, the Red Sox have more games remaining in which to encounter a similar one.”

      Yes, which is essentially what Dave’s point is. Assuming the same level of talent, this team is projected to have an xxx winning percentage. Apply it over the remaining number of games and voila! You have your new projected totals.

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  25. Scott from Cleveland says:

    Judging from all the recaps of the last few games, I’d just assumed that the Red Sox had lost to themselves seeing that there are never more than a dozen words about who they’ve played,but lo and behold, they actually were losing to the Indians.

    The Indians have shown more fortitude in making the timely plays and letting their opponents make mistakes in the last four wins than in all the games I watched last year. And Tito got outmanaged hard this series…Acta pretty much won the game today…I can’t think of many times I’ve seen the steal on with a 2-0 count, no outs sac bunt situation. And to come back in the top 9th, Gonzo shows bunt on the first pitch? Accomplishing a lot, or maybe that’s just the players, but either way I’ve always thought that Francona was a bit overrated. We’ll see how the cards fall though, I suppose. I could be wrong.

    But don’t discount the Indians this year. Their lineups have consistently, starting in the spring, been able to run up pitch counts and get on base. Hafner’s is looking VERY solid with his approach, which has totally caught me off guard. And the return of Sizemore will add (in theory) a lot more pop to the lineup and Jason Donald returning will add depth in the infield. If you would’ve told me to that through six games, Choo has two hits, I would’ve said the Indians might have two wins.

    I’m not saying these guys are playoff contenders by any means, but I think they’re on the right track and .500 may be within reach. They still have holes in the rotation, but with guys like White and Pomeranz coming through, as well as big bats like Kipnis and Chisenhall, 2012 could be the year that they start to move back into playoff discussion.

    Whew…figured I’d throw my two cents in since that’s more on the Indians than probably the rest of the media world combined. As an Cleveland sports fan, I don’t get many moments like these so I have to savor them.

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  26. Oscar says:

    It’s not time to panic in Boston. But I think we can agree (using this article as a foundation) that it sure is time to panic in Tampa Bay.

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  27. Mick in Ithaca says:

    What if this 0-6 start actually indicates some sort of weakness in the Sox that hadn’t been forseen. The starting pitching, until today, hasn’t been good — are they feeling the effects of losing Farrell, or having Salty catch? Youklis has looked awful — is he going to come back from his injury to expected form? Has the addition of Crawford altered, in some negative way, the chemistry, the performance of the lineup; is Crawford going to be as effective batting in the 6th or 7th slot; will Pedroia be as effective out of the 2 slot if Crawford bats there?

    And so on. I think Lester and Buchholz have to be absolute studs this season for the Sox to have the kind of year people have predicted for them, because the other 3 starters are pretty suspect.

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    • Reverend Black says:

      “But what if this small sample IS predictive?!?!?!”

      Great point. Hadn’t occurred to Dave/anyone ever.

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  28. Preston says:

    0-6 is a big hole to be sure. But I would add that they were all road games. Texas is a team that has had recent success against the sox and it’s flat out really cold in Cleveland right now. If they go home and continue to struggle then I think it’s time to start thinking that this team isn’t as talented as we assumed. I think an internal option to upgrade would be Lowrie playing SS. I also think that maybe Felix Doubront and Alfredo Aceves may be upgrades in the long man 5th starter roles at some point in the season (although it’s hard to give up on anyone on that staff considering their salaries).

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  29. Tok says:

    “Yep, the preseason projections of them improving on their 89 win season because gonzo/crawford/salty would easily better the seasons that beltre/Vmart/Hall gave them last year, and because every one of their injured/offyear players would come blazing back at 100%, and because none of their bigyear players would regress, obviously had no flaws in their reasoning at all.”

    This is the stupidest thing I’ve ever read. How the hell does this get +5? If you honestly think all of these things would need to happen in order for them to win 90-95 games, you’re delusional.

    And I’m sure you were saying all of this a week ago.

    Look at their outfield production last year (offense and defense) and tell me Crawford/Ellsbury/Drew shouldn’t improve on it tremendously. That alone is worth a handful of wins at least.

    I’m not sure if they teach you this in kindergarten, but regression works both ways. Since 6 games means nothing and we’re essentially still in preseason evaluation mode, if you think Clay Buchholz is due for a comedown you should also think Josh Beckett is due for a huge bounce back. Unless you’re just, you know, participating in backlash for the most hyped team.

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    • Frank says:

      Maybe they don’t teach this in kindergarten, but regression doesn’t “work both ways.” Things can get worse (regress) or get better (progress). Anyway, enough of the douchebagery…

      To your point… projecting what Gonzalez, Crawford etc would add to the Red Sox compared to what they lost from V-Mart, Beltre etc is something that people have been debating most of the offseason and is a valid discussion.

      Buchholz is a candidate for regression but that’s mitigated by the fact that Beckett should progress this season. So all things being equal, it should depend on whether Lester can have yet another good season and if Lackey can improve on what he did in 2010…as far as the pitching staff goes.

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      • BIP says:

        “Maybe they don’t teach this in kindergarten, but regression doesn’t “work both ways.””

        Yes, it does. Scientifically, any movement towards the mean–up or down–is regression.

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      • Reverend Black says:

        Buchholz isn’t even a perfect regression candidate. Specifically, his BABIP and HR/FB numbers should be expected to regress, but as a third-year young pitcher with a high, potentially un-reached ceiling and strikeout stuff that hasn’t yet translated to a ton of strikeouts, his other peripherals could improve enough to balance out his performance.

        In short, he could “regress” and still perform better than he did in 2010 – or at least just as well.

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      • hatunike says:

        Holy shit! My kindergarten sucked balls. Where did everyone here go to kindergarten? Regression!? I was freaking finger painting and learning about the golden rule…

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    • Luke in MN says:

      “regression works both ways”

      I don’t say this with any particular point to make about the Red Sox, but I think this concept is confused as it’s used here. MLB is not a bell curve with an average player in the middle. MLB is the very extreme end of one side of a bell curve. Even being a replacement-level MLB player requires operating at an extreme level of human performance. There are a lot of natural forces that pull players away not only from MLB excellence but from MLB-level play altogether. The trend in the long term is always down.

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    • CheeseWhiz says:

      “This is the stupidest thing I’ve ever read.” Geez, I get so sick of this kind of lazy hyperbole on the internet.

      Another bad habit you exhibit here (and is evident elsewhere in this thread) is looking at the 2011 Red Sox as some formula like

      Last year 89 wins + (estimated wins of several new players) – (couple of key losses) + ??? = PROFIT!

      I kid, but this is a bad way to estimate the talent of a team and can lead to some very misleading conclusions. Look everybody agrees that the Red Sox are an extremely talented team, but in order to get a good grasp of their real talent level you need to go through all 25 roster spots (plus a few potentially key mid season call ups) and estimate the value and playtime for each player. Also “6 games means nothing and we’re essentially still in preseason evaluation mode” misses the entire point of this article. THOSE 6 GAMES COUNT! They’re just not predictive.

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  30. CampBrice says:

    Found a close comp (Good team starting out bad) – check out the 2001 Oakland A’s. Started the season 2-10 which included a 7 game losing streak from April 8th to April 15th. Final record? 102-57

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    • Locke says:

      I found a good comp too, since we’re making shit up, lets go with the 2010 Ms.

      Started shitty and ended shitty. stop picking out 100 win teams as your comparison.

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      • CampBrice says:

        Why not – since the article stated that there are not many “good teams” as in projected good teams that have started out this bad. I don’t see much correlation between the projected talent level of the 2011 Red Sox compared to the 2010 Mariners…maybe you do?

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      • nick says:

        This is the same author that said the 2010 Ms had a non trivial chance at winning the WS, and was the 6th best organization in baseball, so yah, maybe your ‘comps’ aren’t all that unbiased.

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  31. Tok says:

    Oh, looks like you’re a Yankee fan, so I guess you were saying it a week ago. My apologies.

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  32. Htpp says:

    The fact that the Rays and the Sox have the two lowest team babips [.152 (!) and .223] seems like it warrants a mention somewhere

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    • Frank says:

      BABIP numbers are going to be that low when you’re hitting so poorly. Even with better luck, their numbers wouldn’t be much different. The Yankees’ BABIP is .240 yet they’re killing the ball to the tune of a .518 SLG and .363 wOBA.

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  33. Bill says:

    “He used quotes because he’s quoting an earlier comment. Don’t be a douche.”

    The earlier comment was another guy saying that it was foolish to assume they would blaze back. So, I apologize, he was merely parroting another person’s straw man.

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  34. grapesoda says:

    “Even if we agree that the Red Sox are still the better team than New York right now”

    I don’t agree. In fact, some people have already pointed out some time ago that while Boston added Crawford and A. Gonzalez, they will also loose last years production from Beltre and V. Martinez. So unless Crawford and Gonzalez combine for a lot more than 11 wins, there’s no reason to believe the Red Sox should be much better than last year. Sure, the had a lot of bad luck with injuries and we have to account for that. But maybe they are just a 92-93 W team anyway. And that’s what they’re showing right now.
    I agree with you that this weeks performance is no reason for Boston fans to panic, since they still have enough talent to overcome such a losing streak. But maybe it should be a good enough reasons for those who saw the Red Sox far ahead of the competition to now agree with those who saw them tied up in a 3 way race with New York and Tampa Bay. ;-)

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    • CampBrice says:

      92-93 win team? I think Pedroia and Youk alone make up more than a mere 3 wins. Tack on Ellsbury, Beckett, Cameron, Scutaro, etc. and you could easily argue more. Add in the fact that many of the replacement level players were actually below replacement garnishing negative WAR values (Patterson, et al)

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      • Nitty Gritty Red Rebellion says:

        Ellsbury is overrated. Can’t play defense, can’t get on base, has no power, etc. Beckett’s last 30 starts are statistically worse than AJ Burnett and Freddy Garcia. If you don’t believe me go to BRef and compile the data. Cameron won’t contribute jack and Scutaro like with every other shortstop can’t hit. His grit factor is irrelevant to me.

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  35. MonteroSmash says:

    I mean 6 loss in a row will hurt for any team in any stage of the season but given on the talent level that Red Sox are, they’ll pretty much bounce back

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  36. Bill says:

    “So unless Crawford and Gonzalez combine for a lot more than 11 wins, there’s no reason to believe the Red Sox should be much better than last year.”

    Good lord. Some of you really don’t belong on this website.

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    • grapesoda says:

      “Good lord. Some of you really don’t belong on this website.”

      Your argument being…? Sorry i missed that point. :-D

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    • Luke in MN says:

      Oh please. Don’t act like there’s such a high bar.

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      • Goodbread says:

        I think there is. There ought to be, too. Let the homers have msg boards on mlb.com and espn.com.

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      • ngrimson says:

        I believe my monocle just fell into my martini.

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      • CircleChange11 says:

        Touche.

        LOL at the monocle in the martini joke.

        —————————

        Seriously folks, the “standard” here at FG is not much different than the “standard” elsewhere. The BIG difference is not in the way we talk, or the amount of evidence (or quality) that we require, it’s simply we replaced ERA with FIP in our toolbox, and we use WAR and wOBA instead of HR and RBI.

        Other than that we lower our standards on things we agree with, and raise the standards on things we disagree with … and often we seek evidence to support our opinion, rather than than looking at the evidence and THEN forming an opinion.

        We are human, just like everyone else. But, aside from not cussing very much, we’re not THAT different from other forums … unless I’m the only one posting from my yacht in the Virgin Islands right now.

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      • Luke in MN says:

        Also enjoyed the monocle joke.

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  37. Andrew says:

    The Red Sox will be fine overall. But the preseason projections of them (as well as the Phillies) were completely overblown. The Red Sox were and still are a very good team. But the projections were overblown. Unless Gonzalez has a career year, he is unlikely to outperform Beltre of ’10 offensively. Defensively, the Sox are much worse because whereas for most of 2010, they had gold glovers at first and third, now they have a gold glover at first and a below average defensive player at third (look at Youkilis’s UZR at 3rd over the years and you’ll see what I mean.) And while they upgraded tremendously in the outfield, they lost an about-equivalent amount of WAR by replacing V-Mart at catcher with Saltalamaccia. So the net WAR, when considering offseason acquisitions and losses, is approximately zero.

    So, the Red Sox improvements in 2011 really depend on the return of Pedroia and Youkilis for a full year instead of a half one and a bounce back season from Josh Beckett, which Fangraphs has predicted.

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    • CampBrice says:

      Uh,

      Gonzalez, at least from one metric outperformed Beltre with the bat LAST YEAR. Gonzalez wRC+ = 143, Beltre wRC+ = 141

      So Gonzalez who had a normal to down year is going to have a hard time outperforming a guy coming off a career/contract year?

      I don’t get it

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    • joe says:

      Gonzalez is a gold glover at 1st? His career UZR/150 is 1.1. He’ll win a gold glove with his bat… but that doesn’t put him in the same league as Youkilis’ performance at 1st (career UZR/150 is 7.4)

      I’d say both 1st and 3rd were significantly downgraded (while LF obviously was upgraded as you mentioned)

      On a side note, if the Sox extend Gonzalez as expected I wonder what the plan with Youkilis is long term, he’s signed through a club option in ’13. He’s 32 and looking iffy at 3rd base, I wonder how long he will be able to stick there, leaving DH?

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      • CampBrice says:

        Would DH be so bad> He’d be the best DH in the league by far. Almost a natural transition from Ortiz to Youk

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  38. Ben says:

    As per the FanGraphs Team Total page:
    http://www.fangraphs.com/teams.aspx?pos=all&lg=al&stats=bat&type=8&season=2011&month=0&season1=

    Boston has a -1.2 WAR
    Baltimore has a 0.6 WAR
    Tampa has a 0.2 WAR

    Also, the Total WAR for the AL East is: 4.8
    the Total WAR for the AL Central is: 6.4

    Boston might be the better team when all is said and done, but as of the season thus far they’ve been worse than Baltimore and Tampa.

    The AL East might be the harder division, but as of the season thus far the AL Central has played better.

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    • Jason B says:

      “but as of the season thus far the AL Central has played better.”

      Through 5-6 games apiece, this simply does not matter (yet!).

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    • Reverend Black says:

      Do you not acknowledge how completely meaningless those numbers are?

      Honestly, this sample is the equivalent of the first half of the first quarter of the first football game of a season. Only smaller. And you’re throwing out numbers comparing teams across the divisions.

      “Check it out! The Colts have the lowest QB Rating in the league so far! Playoffs not looking good for Indy!”

      Just stop.

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      • Ben says:

        I’m not saying it *matters*, but it is what is it is. They aren’t completely meaningless. It represents six games of statistics. Is one series meaningless? Is one game meaningless? Is at bat meaningless? Is one pitch meaningless? If the answer to those any of those questions is “yes” than you don’t understand statistics.

        There is too much of falling back on small sample size on FanGraphs. What is the problem with small samples? They have a large variance in they’re predicted expectation value. But in no way does that mean they are meaningless. You can debate the accuracy of WAR being a good measure of past performance, but if you have a real problem with that then people should probably being upgrading WAR to be a better metric. If you take WAR to be accurate, than it says that Boston has played worse than Baltimore and Tampa, also that the AL East has played worse than the AL Central. Am I saying that it’s totally accurate? No, because I’m not in a position to say that. Is it meaningless? Certainly not, unless you think WAR is always meaningless.

        Al that being said, I agree with Dave, we don’t need to adjust our overall expectation of Boston just yet. That’s because it is a small sample and the variance in expectation of a small sample is large.

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    • phoenix2042 says:

      pitching ratings are skewed because pitchers can have negative FIPs with such small sample size. in addition, UZR barely stabilizes in a season, never mind in 6 games, in addition to the positional adjustments being accrued over the course of 150 games instead of 6, so defense cannot be considered. so basically, pitching and defense RAR are going to be totally off with such a small sample size, so that’s 2/3 of the team’s WAR calculations.

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  39. Grant says:

    Not sure about anyone else, but I had 3 Boston pitchers putting up an ERA of 4.5 or worse, 2 of them above 5. Bad news for Boston is that it’s pretty likely to be true and it’s really unfixable given the several extremely bloated contracts they have. They can’t compete with 3 bad pitchers locket into the rotation. Look at Lackey’s peripherals before you say he’s going to even be average.

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    • CampBrice says:

      Lackey managed a 4.0 WAR last year despite a poor first half. Hell, if that’s “average” I’ll take it.

      Plus are we on fangraphs talking ERA???

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  40. André says:

    If we’re going to use that fan standings winning percentage, isn’t it more reasonable to assume that these five losses are among their 66 losses they’d have in this projection? It doesn’t make any sense to adjust the projection now just because they lost five games—it’s not like they aren’t still capable of winning 98 games.

    I WASTED MY LIFE READING THIS POST.

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    • Jason B says:

      Dear lord in heaven. Can someone get our French friend an “Intro to Statistics” handbook? Double time!!

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      • André says:

        Why? Because they’re supposed to win at a 60.5 percentage over the course of the year? I’m not saying that losing five games means they’re going to win 98. I just think using the 98-win projection doesn’t make any sense in this context. It’s a weird reality/projection hybrid that doesn’t really work.

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  41. Randy says:

    As a Sox fan, the 0-6 doesn’t bother me. Nor does the sloppy play. However, what does concern me is that our pitching has question marks that are still unanswered. Lester will be fine, Bucholz may regress a bit from his breakout year last year. But Lackey/Beckett/Dice-K are pitching (through 1 start each) exactly like they did last year. Poor. Bard has had two rough outings and our lefty solution is non-existent.

    Who would you rather have as your #4? Beckett or Nova? Seemed an easy answer 1 month ago.

    Personally, I do think we’ll see improvement. But I’m not 100% confident. That is the issue: not the 0-6 record.

    And, lastly, I’m really happy we put this 100 win talk aside. That wasn’t going to happen with the quality in the AL East, TX and most of the AL Central.

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    • Nitty Gritty Red Rebellion says:

      Buchholz will only regress slightly? Lol. Good luck with that 6 K/9 and 3.5 BB/9 rate in the AL East.

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      • Josh Shepardson says:

        Let me start by saying my team is the defending World Champions… so I don’t have a dog in this fight in the AL East. But if you’re going to take a swipe at Buchholz, it seems only fair to point out the Yankees rock solid number 2 isn’t exactly rock solid. Phil Hughes posted an xFIP below 4.00 in exactly one month last year. He’s a flyball machine that pitches in a launching pad of a home ballpark with division foes that also play in launching pads in Toronto and Baltimore. Good luck with that.

        A.J. Burnett was terrible last year, and has seen his K/9 decline each year since 2007, down to a mark below 7.0 last year. His walk rate was mediocre at best last year at 3.76 BB/9 and he’s not inducing GB’s at anything better than an average clip at this point. That leaves the vaunted Yankees rotation being rounded out by Ivan Nova and Freddy Garcia with such top notch fall back options as the recently signed Kevin Millwood and Bartolo Colon.

        Instead of addressing their rotation the Yankees opted to sign Rafael Soriano, which seems to be a great signing on the surface, since it really just cost the Yankees cash. However, I’ve yet to read anyone when discussing the signing point out that Soriano is an extreme flyball pitcher moving from the friendly home confines of Tropicana to Yankee Stadium. For each of the last three season’s his HR/FB has been quite lucky, but also likely aided by his homeballpark. Lets assume he’s not so lucky this year, and he even posts just a league average HR/FB (which he could conceivably post worse than league average HR/FB given his new digs), does a 3.50 ish ERA with a decent but not elite strikeout rate in the 8th inning drum up a ton of enthusiasm anymore?

        Do the Yankees have a talented lineup? Absolutely, and they have Montero biding his time in Triple-A as either another masher they can callup for a spark at somepoint if he’s producing, or use as a trade chip to shore up their pitching. Is the division going to be that much tougher to win for the Red Sox because of their poor start? Absolutely.

        I look at it this way, and maybe it’s wrong, but better to get a losing streak like this out of the way early, say before the trade deadline, and identify weaknesses while it’s still possible to address them. If this stretch were coming in August after the non-waiver trade deadline had passed, I’d say there would be much greater reason for concern.

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      • Reverend Black says:

        “Buchholz will only regress slightly? Lol. Good luck with that 6 K/9 and 3.5 BB/9 rate in the AL East.”

        2008 Jon lester says “Thanks, bro. I’ll need it!”

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  42. cpebbles says:

    omg….6 GAMES PANIC!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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  43. Keith_Allen says:

    I think things could just snowball and keep getting worse. I’m not even sure this a .500 team. Just look at the problems they had before the season started-

    -Pitchers on the decline (Beckett, DiceK, Lackey)
    -Key players coming off injuries (AGone, Youk, Pedroia, Ellsbury)
    - Youk hasn’t played 3B regularly in several years. He’s lost range and might not last more than 50 games before he gets hurt again.
    -Poor roster management (Francona can’t rest his starters enough/only has 1 back-up infielder on an injury plagued team).
    -They added redundancy during the off-season instead of addressing their weaknesses. Now they have too many table setters and speed burning Left Fielders. Also have too many 1B/Dh types. What they needed was more starting pitching and to re-sign VMart and Beltre or to effectively replace them.
    -Scutaro is a utility player, not a starter. Last season, was actually the most games he has ever played.
    -No rookies getting broken in (youngest player is 26 years old). Future talent is highly questionable. Not much on the depth charts if or when their starters get injured again.

    My advice for Boston Fans is to start drinking heavily.

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    • Justin Bailey says:

      You’re not sure this is a .500 team? If you’re a betting man, I would love to make a wager with you.

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    • Goodbread says:

      Allen, have you watched a single game Boston has played in this year?

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      • Paul says:

        I don’t necessarily agree with his points, but I have watched parts of at least three games and they just look old and flat. Then again, they ARE kinda old. But they are also really talented, and I don’t see them panicking at all. Lester’s start today was like night and day from his first. I was concerned after the first start that it didn’t look like he and Salty were on the same page, but didn’t see any of that today at all.

        It just looks like they coasted through ST and just didn’t come out ready, and ran into a Rangers team breathing fire out of the gate. A sense of urgency isn’t even required for them to get better record-wise, as commented on here ad nauseam, but they’re hard to watch right now. Frankly, if I was a fan I’d just want to see a sense of urgency even if was not authentic. They know they have too much talent to panic, but I can’t blame fans for it considering how bad they’ve looked.

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  44. Nitty Gritty Red Rebellion says:

    Sox need to play .600 baseball to reach 95 wins. Good enough for at least the wild card.

    And that’ll be tough to do with the mashers in the AL East especially with that pitching. Letser is the only legit one. Buchholz got extremely extremely extremely lucky last year. Beckett’s last 30 starts is worse than AJ Burnett and Freddy Garcia. Lackey might be a decent number 3. Dice-BB will murder the Sox bullpen every 5 days.

    So much for 5 aces. And imagine if Casey Kelly was there. ESPN would talk about 6 aces.

    It’ll be a closer race then that whopping 6-7 games the Red Sox would win the division by.

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  45. hunter says:

    CampBrice – its not a question about who will be worth more this year. Of course Beltre is unlikely to repeat last years production, but the fact remains that Boston HAD that production last year. Most non-Bostonians are simply asking “will Adrian G’s 2011 be equal to or better than 2010 Adrian B’s.”
    Yes Boston might get more PT from Youk and Dustin, but they also might lost Lester.for two months. Injuries are too unpredictable but we can guess with some certainty every team will lose a key figure or two.

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    • joe says:

      This gets lost a lot as most people are often not doing a ground up win model and are using ’10 as a baseline and simply looking at deltas. This is similar to the Mariners last year where people took the win total from ’09 and did the add Cliff Lee, subtract XYZ and just assumed the previous year baseline was solid

      The other issue is that while the upgrade for Crawford and Elsbury are good because the Red Sox got more or less 0 WAR from those positions, I think people are over-estimating the impact of getting back Youk and Pedroia’s injury time as Boston got better than replacement production from the 1st and 2nd base replacements (so you can’t simply ratio playing time with expected WAR). The other factor is not only do you have to consider the defensive downgrade at 3rd, the RedSox probably are downgrading defensively at 1st base by ~0.5 wins if you believe the career UZR #’s of Youk and AGone at 1st.

      Finally you just can’t assume 0 lost injury time as you mention.. .everyone likes to add back all the lost injury, but at some point you have to assume some baseline of lost production along the way.

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      • CampBrice says:

        “I think people are over-estimating the impact of getting back Youk and Pedroia’s injury time as Boston got better than replacement production from the 1st and 2nd base replacements”

        Nope, at least not at 1B. They got dead on 0.0 WAR from the position from men not named Youkilis.

        http://www.fangraphs.com/winss.aspx?team=Red%20Sox&pos=1b&stats=bat&qual=0&type=8&season=2010&month=0&season1=2010

        Lowrie made 2B/SS a wash due to his tremendous 2nd half.

        LF was a complete hole

        http://www.fangraphs.com/winss.aspx?team=Red%20Sox&pos=lf&stats=bat&qual=0&type=8&season=2010&month=0&season1=2010

        That is a negative WAR for the position.

        CF wasn’t much better

        http://www.fangraphs.com/winss.aspx?team=Red%20Sox&pos=cf&stats=bat&qual=0&type=8&season=2010&month=0&season1=2010

        It is actually amazing that the Sox were able to win 89 games with little to no outfield production.

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      • joe says:

        Be careful with the filters… they are a bit named based and are not actually filtering out contributions from play at that position like you think they are

        As an example, you might notice the 1st base filter has no record of VMart playing 1st, or that Lowrie played there a tiny bit, or that the 1B category is using the combined 1st and 3rd base stats of Lowell, or Ortiz played the equivalent of 3 games there… in short it is simply not just the 1B contributions as you are treating it as. (same thing goes with the other filters)

        Victor Martinez played the equivalent of ~12games at 1st… (and his #’s defensively there were pretty close to 0), that alone would be positive WAR.

        Again, assuming a full upgrade from Ellsbury’s health is fair as Red Sox got close to 0 from the replacement, but that is simply not true at 2nd base and to a lesser extent 1st base. A lot of people are taking their WAR from a partial season last year and just extending it out to 162 to come up with expected improvement… you have to subtract off the replacement value to get the net gain.

        In short your assumptions on 1st base replacement production are wrong… because the filter is not doing what you think it is doing.

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      • CheeseWhiz says:

        Thanks Joe, you did a better job explaining this than I did.

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  46. Brick says:

    I DON’T KNOW WHAT WE’RE YELLING ABOUT!

    Note to Fangraphs writers: want some exposure? Write about the Red Sox or Yankees. Oh, and say they’re not good.

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  47. Anonymus says:

    OK, a couple of points. First, as Dave and some posters have mentioned, gambler’s fallacy is at work here. Assuming that our opinion of the Red Sox hasn’t changed, we should expect them to win from here on out at exactly the pace projected for them, adjusting for schedule. So this would be as if the gods of baseball decided to start the Red Sox out at 0-6. As long as our opinion of the team hasn’t changed, our opinion of how they will do over the next 156 games should be identical to how we thought they would do in those games before the season started.

    Second, why hasn’t our opinion of the team changed? I hear a lot — and completely correctly — that the first week of the season is essentially meaningless for forming opinions about players, but those are players. An entire team may be the equivalent of about 15 full-time players, which would put them at 90 player-games. Is this enough to conclude that the Red Sox are the worst team in baseball? Of course not. But as a team, they have -0.5 fWAR this season (assuming the page is correct). If a 3.5 WAR player accumulated -0.5 WAR over 90 games, would his still be considered a 3.5 WAR player (over a whole season). Probably not. If he were instead considered a 3.3 WAR player, then times 15 that is a loss of 3 wins, which matches the loss from their projected record that the Red Sox have had due to their 0-6 record alone. This team-player analogy is not perfect, of course, but there is not a huge difference. So the reevaluation of their talent is important and significant. We should project the Red Sox as a slightly worse team than we did at the start of the season. They still have a good chance of winning the division title, of course, but this stretch really hasn’t helped them.

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  48. DodgersKings323 says:

    I will go out and say they really are this bad (the pitchers anyway) and that has nothing to do with my Wild Card pack in the Orioles :P
    With the Yankees coming in you could be staring 0-9 in the face.

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  49. Jason says:

    Why are the Redsox so obviously better than the Yankees? As best I can tell they are pretty similar teams, but the Redsox have a weaker lineup with serious weakness at SS and catcher that the Yankees don’t have.

    The big Yankees’ weakness is supposed to be starting pitching, but the Redsox are equally bad. In fact they are very similar. The Redsox return the same rotation this year as last, and they were awful last year. The Yankees might not be much worse than last year since Pettitie was injured for much of the year and they wont have to endure Javier Vasquez.

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  50. dangnewt says:

    Has anyone watched any of the games? Beckett and Dice-K look better than they did last year. Lester had a rough first outing with all the solo homeruns, but he had a shutout through 7 innings today. Gonzales has been a stud at the plate and excellent in the field.

    Ellsbury has shown more patience at the plate and has 3 walks in 24 plate appearances which is roughly twice his career rate.

    I am worried about Lackey, but the bullpen will be better this year – Bard had a tough outing and he took the loss today because of a walk, stolen base and two well-executed bunts.

    It is possible that Youk and Pedroia are still bothered by injuries, but I don’t think so. Pedroia has crushed some balls that have ended up in someone’s glove.

    The unrealistic thing was to expect that they would be a .600-.700 team out of the gate (and I was guilty of that) when there has been as much change as the Sox had (new starting catcher, new pitching coach, 2 new high-profile additions, change in position for Youk, Ellsbury coming back after a year,) would start quickly out of the gate. It is frustrating to watch what looks like extended spring training and Tito is still trying to figure out the batting order and how to use all his players. For what it is worth, I like Ellsbury and Crawford at the top of the order and I hope he settles on that.

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    • pft says:

      Beckett and Dice-K lasted all of 5 IP against a weak hitting Indians lineup. Better hold off judgement on Beckett until after he faces the yankees on Sunday. His FB still hovering at 92-93. He used to be a guy who could throw 96. I don’t think he is healthy. Daisuke at least looks to be in shape and healthy.

      Youk has looked awful defensively at 3B in ST and during the regular season. Offensively he has been worse. Hand injuries can linger, so I am concerned.

      Pedroia looked fine in ST and while it is too early to pass judgemnt after 6 games, you wonder how his foot feels playing back to back 9 inning games in cold weather. He was never really tested with this in ST, playing every other day for 5-6 innings. Have to wait and see.

      Bard looks like he has lost some velocity, and Wheeler and Reyes have also got off to tough starts. Albers has pitched well but has just went to the DL.

      Not really worried about anyone else.

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  51. todibus says:

    The question was: is it time to panic in Boston? The answer: not yet.

    Now if they lose 3 games to the Yankees this weekend and fall 7.5 games behind them – then it’s time to PANIC!

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  52. psychump says:

    1945 Red Sox went 0-9

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  53. Pat says:

    I think they will obviously be a better team than this and will ultimately finish better than the O’s, but they really have to wake up soon. I can understand losing a series to the Rangers who match up perfectly against them, but dropping 3 in a row to the Indians is just pitiful, sorry Indians fans.

    I see no reason to expect improvement from Dice-K or Lackey, and Beckett is very up and down. Lester and Buch will have to carry this team, and Lester tried his best but got nothing in return.

    The lineup will start to hit, and I can see them reeling of a solid win streak, but losing 6 in a row is nothing to sneeze about regardless of how good your team is “on paper”. With that said, they were not a bad prediction to dominate, as we can pretty much only judge teams by what we see on paper and it’s tough to determine how age regression and injuries will effect every player, but that just goes to show you can’t simply write 9 names down on a sheet of paper, hold up their stat sheet, and instantly expect greatness. There’s a human element that I don’t think anyone can figure out, and if they say they can, it’s a lie.

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  54. mmoritz22 says:

    Let us not forget that the Rays are also 0-6!

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  55. Anthony says:

    the sox play in the greatest division ever assembled, this division could field an all star team that would beat the remaining 5 division’s combined all star team, in fact, the Orioles would win any other division, the the Jays and Rays would be 110 win teams in other divisions, and the Sox and Yanks would win 145 games in any other division. So for boston to lose 6 straight means they won’t win the division. The Yanks and Sox are Batman and Superman level, if one has an advantage, it’s impossible to beat the other. I mean, how can ANYONE outpitch the Yankees, or outlast the Red Sox?

    All I know is this, the ALCS will be yankees/sox, they’ll go 7 and it will be the most intense 7 days since God created earth. Then whoever wins, assuming there even IS a world left afterwards, will annihilate whatever weakling NL team shows up (said NL team, or any NL team would lose 100 games in any AL division, minus the phillies of course). Who cares if the NL has far superior pitching, it’s established names on offense that matters.

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    • Goodbread says:

      love the sarcasm. really. well-executed.

      Just curious: Are you a Giants fan? Or Braves? Or Twins? Those are my three guesses, in that order.

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      • Anthony says:

        Braves, good job. Did you guess those teams because those fans have a reputation of executing sarcasm well?

        Funny thing, I like to have favs in each division. I like pretty much the whole NL West, but mostly the Giants, NL Central I like the Reds, Cubs (girlfriend’s team), and Cards. NL East is the Bravos. AL West, Rangers, AL Central, Twinkies, AL East, anyone but the Yankmes and Ball Sox.

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      • Goodbread says:

        No, not really. I was able to narrow it down solely based on what was in your post. First I sensed a what I thought was a possible resentment toward teams in the East a la the well-referenced ‘East coast bias’ of espn and media coverage in general. That’s a common refrain among some on the left coast. Not uniform by any stretch but of some. And considering the outcome in October, it seemed that, of the teams out west, a Giants advocate might chime in with some good natured sarcasm. So that was my first guess.

        When I read the line about the Phillies being the alleged exception in the NL, I knew I had the league right (national), but maybe not the whole ‘east coast’ thing. A dig at the Phils indicated that your team probably resides in the NL east. So, I thought of which fan base would feel as though their team deserves a higher billing in the division that most ‘expert’ sources seem to have conceded the division title to Philly. Hence, Braves as guess #2.

        Minny… I thought my assumption about the west coast thing seemed more likely than my assumption that it’d be a national league team. So, I thought it might be an advocate of a team in the AL central or AL west that may resent the payroll levels of the two beasts from the AL east. And, I vaguely recollect hearing Twin fans cite differences in payrolls once in a while when their team gets bounced in the playoffs (which seems to be a regular occurrence when they even make the playoffs). So, at third and least likely of the three, I said Minny.

        The only other option in my mind in the AL would have been Texas. But, considering their recent success winning the AL pennant last year and, more specifically even, their recent head-to-head success against both the Yanks (ALCS) and the Sox (sweep in Arlington to open the weekend w/ ~26 extra base hits etc), I guessed that a Rangers supporter would have more obviously tipped his hand with a direct reference to one or both of his team’s recent results.

        So there ya have it. A process of elimination and then informed guesses. Kinda proud I got it in two guesses, actually.

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    • Jessy S. says:

      Only in your dreams. The thing here is that the team with the worst start to the season and still win the World Series has to be the 1991 Minnesota Twins. They started 2-9 which included a seven game losing streak following the 1991 home opener. Of course, the Twins also had a 15 game winning streak that year when the calendar turned from May to June.

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    • 4i-8 says:

      Reality hasn’t existed since 2004. All thanks to Dave Roberts.

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  56. EINSTEIN says:

    Didnt they suck last april too?

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    • bonestock94 says:

      I don’t think that’s comforting to their fans, since they sucked all season.

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      • CheeseWhiz says:

        89 wins in the AL East does not qualify as sucking by any reasonable measurement. Then again Red Sox fans (and I suppose fans in general) are not known for being especially reasonable.

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  57. Hank says:

    There was a far easier way to do the math (and do it in your head)… if they were projected to win 60.5% after 6 games they should have 3.6 wins… since they have 0 the net is -3.6.

    And while you could adjust for home/road, you could also adjust in the other direction for their best pitcher having started 33% of the games instead of the expected ~20% as Lester will start a smaller % of the remaining games. It’s extremely minor but if you are going to tweak for home/road….

    Also this is not the equivalent of losing JD Drew… as the Boston roster has an 8mil dollar backup OF who will probably not contribute 0 WAR in his place (and some other OF options)…. why do people always assume 0 replacement value? (especially for a team with a payroll like Boston)

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  58. james wilson says:

    OK, so is it appropriate to panic when they are 0-9? The Rangers could barely control their confidence in getting at the Red Sox BEFORE opening day. Showalter’s opinion may be more widely held on the field than is held in Fangraphs.

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    • YankeesJunkie says:

      If the Red Sox get swept by the Yankees then I think at that point it would be time to take a serious look at the team. Not that a seven game is lead is not insurmountable by any stretch of the imagination it just would be tough to envision seeing the Sox come back and win the division at that point. However, I find it hard to believe that the Sox will get swept by the Yankees, even though (mercifully) Lester is not starting, but if they do I feel their season will not be in danger, just an uphill climb for the rest of the year.

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    • Bill says:

      Showalter didn’t say anything about the 2011 Red Sox not being good. Keep believing in things that don’t exist though, like the Rangers having some sort of ESP that they were going to sweep.

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  59. bonestock94 says:

    I know this will be short lived but I’m loving all the cringing the fans and media are doing.

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  60. CJ in CO says:

    I know this is a stats site. And there are a lot of really smart writers and commenters here.

    But I’m surprised how few people have mentioned how simply bad the Sox have LOOKED. Analyses of their guys seasons last year and the last few years and how we can expect them to perform eventually this year are valid, and generally will probably turn out to be correct.

    But geez. Look at their faces. They blow easy plays. At the plate they look tight and scared. Tek’s gaffe was downright embarrassing. Pay attention, dude.

    They’ll probably turn it around. I think they’ll probably be there in October. But for this past week, I’ve been repeatedly stunned whenever I’ve watched them.

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  61. Brendan says:

    I still think it’s too early to jump to the conclusion that Boston is going to be out of it because they are a team capable of going on Long winning streaks. It might be hard at first but wait until the Sox start facing their own division. If they start 0-10 then I think there could be a problem.

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  62. Anthony says:

    The Sox just look old to me. Alex Rodriguez may be old, but he doesn’t look old. Ortiz moves like he’s 70. A lot of Red Sox players just look and move like they have terrible arthritis in their joints.

    I’m guessing they’ll have a 6 game win streak to negate this. Although it’d be hilarious if the Yanks swept them. This is one time I’m rooting for the Yanks.

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  63. Bill says:

    They look old because they’re 0-6. I can’t believe people still do this. “They look flat.” If they were 6-0 the same people would be calling them a juggernaut. It’s like people are so desperate for baseball that when we finally get a little bit of it, we have to invest so much more significance into a handful of games than we ever would otherwise.

    (I was referring more to a guy upthread who made the old comment unironically, Anthony may be joking)

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    • CircleChange11 says:

      … and if they didn;t look flat, then they’d be “having too much fun losing”.

      Safe to say, when you’re 0-6, you can’t do anything right in the eyes of others. But, right the ship and the very same people will be saying “I knew it all along.”

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    • Paul says:

      Yes, because human beings are not capable of judging what they see – all experience must be validated by statistical measurement to be significant. Saying they look flat is not to say they will lose 100 games. They look flat. Tomorrow they could look unflat. That is all. Get over yourself.

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  64. Juke Early says:

    Does this guarantee Boston WON’T sweep the Yankees this weekend? I smell set up. . ..

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  65. Mountainhawk says:

    If the Yankees sweep them by a combined score of 24-4, then can Boston panic?

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  66. Baseball Man says:

    I guess this writer hasn’t seen the Rays offense… it makes the Twins look like world beaters ;)

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  67. Keith_Allen says:

    Complacency is the word. By the Boston players and anyone who thought they’d be a great team. Many people also can’t digest or give credit to the Baltimore Orioles. They made some nice additions during the off-season and they’ve played well since Buck Showalter took over. They have 39 wins vs 24 loses and a .619 winning % since the end of last July. That would put them on pace to win 100 games this season. 63 games is a pretty decent sample size of what their current talent is.

    W-L since Aug 1st 2010,
    Orioles 39 – 24
    Blue Jays 35-28
    Yankees 33-32
    Rays 31-33
    Red Sox 29-34

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    • Goodbread says:

      So many flaws in this post, Allen.

      Biggest is, of course, Baltimore’s lineup is almost 50% different with the additions of Vlad, Reynolds, Lee, Hardy… so “63 games is a pretty decent sample size” is flat out incorrect.

      I’ve routinely seen people cite Baltimore as one of the most improved teams in the AL, so that complaint of yours doesn’t stand either.

      Pitching, my friend. Pitching. The Orioles won’t come close to a .619 winning % because they still don’t have the arms to hang in the AL east. Don’t get me wrong, their young stable of arms show a glimmer of hope for the future. But I think expecting Guthrie, Matsuz, Britton, Tillman et al to support even a .500 record for 2011 is asking a lot.

      One more thing, I really am enjoying all of the naysayers coming out of the woodwork as the Red Sox struggle here in week 1. Really I am. Especially those who haven’t watched a single game Boston has played in.

      Have you watched any of Boston’s games this year Allen?

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      • Phillie697 says:

        Right, because you can’t find out that Red Sox are 0-6 without watching any of the games, right? That comment is more idiotic than you accuse the author of being.

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      • CircleChange11 says:

        Actually I think your very own comment of …

        Pitching, my friend. Pitching. The Orioles won’t come close to a .619 winning % because they still don’t have the arms to hang in the AL east.

        Combined with ….

        Baltimore’s lineup is almost 50% different with the additions of Vlad, Reynolds, Lee, Hardy… so “63 games is a pretty decent sample size” is flat out incorrect.

        … kind of makes the opposing case, doesn’t it?

        The Orioles were just as good in August and September of 2010 as they are in April 2011 … even though they have a much improved offense.

        What that shows to me is that they have been winning because of something that has gone right with their pitching.

        If they were much better this year as compared to the last 2 monthss of last season, we could say “the new offense is the reason”. But that wouldn’t apply to the last 2 months of 2010, which is (by far) the larger sample size.

        As one that gave BAL credit for having a good 2011 offense, and pretty much completely discredited their pitching staff in the discussion of the “Organizational Rankings”, I and others that held my view (O’s pitching can’t handle it) may have to retink that position.

        In short, BAL’s rotation may be quite a bit better than many of us think, and their might be decent evidence to support that view.

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      • CircleChange11 says:

        I did. Texas made them look shitty. Carl Crawford looked like Curtis Granderson on a bad day.

        Even if one watches all 6 games, what does that really tell us? Other than they are getting outplayed.

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      • Keith_Allen says:

        Goodbread- You are either being complacent or maybe it’s just denial. Boston and NYY doesn’t have the arms either.

        I haven’t missed many Red Sox games this season. I’m watching the Red Sox and Yankees right now as I type. It’s a bloodbath. Neither team has good starting pitching.

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      • Goodbread says:

        Phillie697, I never used the word idiotic. Talk about unconstructive.

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      • Goodbread says:

        Complacent? What in St. Pete’s name are you talking about.

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      • Keith_Allen says:

        com·pla·cent
        –adjective
        1.
        pleased, especially with oneself or one’s merits, advantages, situation, etc., often without awareness of some potential danger or defect; self-satisfied: The voters are too complacent to change the government.

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      • Goodbread says:

        Thanks for the flippant response. Of course I know what complacent means. How in any way have the Red Sox management been complacent? Aside from the flashy FA signings of Crawford and Gonzalez, they added significantly to their bullpen as well.

        So, I’m asking you to clarify who you think is being complacent, not what the word means. The saber-community and ‘experts’ etc for their high projections for Boston in 2011?

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      • Keith_Allen says:

        I’ve already stated why in this thread. There is just a lack of comprehension on your part.

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  68. Phillie697 says:

    Or… that you just watched 6 Red Sox games. I really really REALLY hate when people have nothing constructive to say other than “have you watched any of the games?” As if watching the games make them experts or something.. At the very least, watching the games haven’t made you any better at supporting your arguments.

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    • Goodbread says:

      So the mere mention of actually watching a team that you’re offering an opinion means I’m not being constructive?? It’s you Phillie697 that has launched into unconstructive, unprovoked attacks, my friend.

      I suggested that since the Orioles basically overhauled their lineup in the offseason, Allen’s suggestion of a 63 game sample size being significant representation of “their current talent” is seriously flawed. How is that not constructive?

      Regarding the importance of actually watching a game or two of a team you’re opining on, Paul said it best above:

      “Yes, because human beings are not capable of judging what they see – all experience must be validated by statistical measurement to be significant.”

      Any credible evaluation of a team must be a mix of direct observation and statistical analysis, imo.

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      • Goodbread says:

        And 6 games isn’t a large enough sample to come to conclusions from either, but I assumed in this crowd such things are considered ‘given’.

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      • Goodbread says:

        But, if Allen or whoever, had seen, say, the three games Daniel Bard has appeared in, then they’d likely understand that outside of hard hit balls by Murphy and Hamilton in the first game of the season, Bard has been better than his 0-2 w/ 2.25 WHIP suggest because of bloop hits and well-executed ‘small ball’ by the Indians yesterday. The stat line is quite misleading of his performance (in an admittedly tiny sliver of games).

        Bottom line I’m making: Those of you who are out in front of the crowd saying this team isn’t great or even good (as Allen has repeatedly suggested with his odd ‘complacency’ argument and his listing of AL east standings since August 1st) are going to look silly in short order.

        Speaking of Allen’s ‘since August 1st’ argument, here’s some more constructive criticism: Dustin Pedroia, Kevin Youkilis and Jacoby Ellsbury had a combined 12 ABs from August 1 to the end of the 2010 season.

        I’m not attacking Allen at all. Only poking holes in his argument that the O’s playing .619 ball and the Red Sox playing sub-.500 since August 1 is relevant.

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      • Phillie697 says:

        As I mentioned in the comments section of another article, if you are SO good at evaluating talent by “watching” them, maybe you should go become a baseball scout? Please, don’t try to rationalize your ridiculous comments by later using “imo” to try to sound reasonable after the fact. Had you used “imo” in your original reply, it would have been perfectly acceptable. Instead, your reply ended with, “Have you watched any of Boston’s games this year Allen?”

        The reason why teams HAVE become more and more reliant on statistical analysis is because they realized something that many sabermetricians realized a long time ago… To suggest that human beings are entirely capable of judging what they see is to ignore objective evidence, that in reality, they are even MORE unreliable because they are prone to suggestions, bias, the need to rationalize, optical illusions, the inabililty to see the big picture (for a great example, a diving catch might look awesome, but the realization, after running the numbers, that the fielder wouldn’t have had to dive in the first place if he had any range at all, suggest that the fielder might not be very awesome after all), etc, etc, etc, as amply exemplified by your obvious biased opinions toward the Red Sox.

        Get over your need to think that just because you watch more games means you’re better at evaluating something. I’m not saying watching the games doesn’t help… But it helps because you should be able to LEARN something by watching the games that you can share with others as objective evidence to support your argument. Instead, you just keep on harping “have you watched any of the games?” I can put my dog in front of the TV and make him watch Red Sox games, does that make him more knowledgeable than me about the Red Sox? If you have something you learned from watching that you feel isn’t being conveyed by the numbers, share it with us. Otherwise, please don’t waste our time by asking if we watched any of the games.

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      • Goodbread says:

        Contrary to what you’ve written, I haven’t done or said anything you’ve accused me of doing. Here’s a list of things from your last post that you said I did or said when in fact I did not:

        -suggest that I am so good at evaluating talent
        -suggest that I am better than Allen or anyone else in projecting performance
        -suggest that humans are ‘entirely’ able to judge (accurately) what they see
        -harp on the importance of watching games
        -demonstrate some bias toward the Red Sox

        Reading comprehension doesn’t seem like a strong suit for you Phillie697. I’ve focused most of my comments on Allen’s ‘since Aug 1st’ standings, not on him personally. I’ve been constructive in my criticism of Allen’s original post (see number of ABs of key pieces of Red Sox offense… I’ll add yet another: out of 18 positional starters on Baltimore and Boston in 2010 after Aug 1, 10 of them are are either ‘new’ in 2011 or have come back from injury: for Boston – Crawford, Ellsbury, Youkilis, Pedroia, Gonzalez, and Saltalamacchia; for Baltimore – Reynolds, Hardy, Lee, Vlad).

        I have in fact shared some insights as someone who actually watched the first 6 games Boston has played in (see comment on Bard’s performance vs his line).

        I think we should end this little ‘conversation’ though Phillies697 because you seem determined to suggest that I’ve said things hat I haven’t rather than talk about the validity of my questioning the relevance of looking at ‘since August 1′ records.

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      • Goodbread says:

        Clear as day, here is what I wrote re: observation and the importance of statistical analysis:

        “Any credible evaluation of a team must be a mix of direct observation and statistical analysis”

        In no way does this statement undercut the importance and relevance of sabremetrics. That is you putting words in my mouth. Let’s move on.

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      • Phillie697 says:

        “Any credible evaluation of a team MUST be a mix of direct observation and statistical analysis.” By using the word “must,” you ARE suggesting that any analysis done WITHOUT direct observation is entirely non-credible. This would be very consistent with why you kept saying “how many games have you watched?” I have not mis-read your intentions nor put words into your mouth.

        The point is, you didn’t have to add that comment to your reply about the inadequacies of Allen’s post. Yet you added anyway, suggesting a flawed belief that I feel must be addressed.

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      • Goodbread says:

        They’re separate points entirely. That is obvious and should not have to be explained.

        And you HAVE put words in my mouth. I’m not even a Red Sox fan, is one example. Another is the suggestion that I don’t value statistical anaylsis (we’re on Fangraphs!)… and another is that I called Allen or even his points ‘idiotic’.

        I stand by my line that BOTH direct observation and sabremetrics are requisites for a credible opinion. Otherwise, why do GMs like Epstein even both watching the games? (rhetorical question… to avoid you actually answering it)

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      • Goodbread says:

        clarification of my ‘they’re separate points’:

        from my first post… the flaws in looking at since Aug 1 standings and the relevance of seeing how the red sox have lost 6 straight to open 2011 are the separate points.

        We’re all friends here, though Phillies. Seriously. Let’s move on.

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      • Phillie697 says:

        I said “your obvious biased opinions toward the Red Sox.” Never said you are Red Sox fan.

        I said your comment is more idiotic than what you accused Allen of being, never said you CALLED him idiotic. I called YOU that, that I fully admit.

        And I never said you don’t value statistical analysis. My focal point this entire time has to do with your suggestion that anyone who hasn’t made any direct observations about something they are offering an opinion is just not credible. Am I wrong in saying that? Isn’t that what you say you stand by? Then why are you here? I would bet my life savings that majority of the articles written here on Fangraphs, the authors themselves did not directly observe what they are writing about. Do you enjoy reading things you feel are entirely non-credible?

        If you are going to nitpick someone else’s comments, perhaps you should at least recognize the inadequacies of your own comments, or the flaws in your own perceptions of what someone else said before you criticize the flaws in theirs.

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      • Goodbread says:

        “Any credible evaluation of a team must be a mix of direct observation and statistical analysis, imo.”

        Of an entire team, not individual players or performances. That’s where I think you’re confusing things. I believe direct observation of how a team aggregates together is what straight statistical analysis can not fully explain. How does it all work together.

        Of course I value and rely on the wonderful content and analysis here on Fangraphs. I only recently tried to enhance the content on the msg boards, including my observations about Allen’s original post. I don’t say this in an accusatory or inflammatory way, but it was you that seemed to fly off the handle by the one line in my comment about watching the games. You’ve been breathing fire since.

        from you:

        “If you are going to nitpick someone else’s comments, perhaps you should at least recognize the inadequacies of your own comments, or the flaws in your own perceptions of what someone else said before you criticize the flaws in theirs.”

        How is pointing out that a turnover rate of more than 50% of the positional players on two teams nitpicking? That’s a pretty major point/flaw, don’t you agree? Do you really think I’m nitpicking when I write that?

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      • Phillie697 says:

        The nitpicking I was referring to was your responses to my comments, which I think we both agree have run its course. Obviously using the word “idiotic” was a bit incendiary, altho I will again admit was not unintentional. A point needs to be addressed, and I think it has been addressed adequately.

        FYI, I was in no way defending Allen’s original post. I thought there was some serious flaws in that analysis too. I just disagree with you about how any analysis done without directly observing a team is not credible. None of us have watched the 1927 Yankees, but I don’t doubt the credibility of someone who opine that they are a great team. Why? Because the numbers say so.

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      • Goodbread says:

        Right on. I guess all I’m saying re: this last point of yours is relatively obvious… because there are limitations to both statistics and direct observation, it’s important to use both when evaluating the performance of a player or a team.

        Side note: in the time we’ve been writing, the Red Sox finally got their first win behind 4 shutout innings of 1 hit baseball from its bullpen… and Manny Ramirez announced his retirement.

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      • Phillie697 says:

        Watched the Sox-Yanks game while writing here, but did not know about Manny retiring. Wow. Yet another great hitter who is now going to be tied to steroid use. I wonder what all them HOF-voting baseball writers will do when almost everybody is tied to it; seriously doubt they’ll just leave the HOF devoid of any player from the last 20 years.

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  69. Keith_Allen says:

    The SABR community usually criticizes optimistic projections, but there has been this double standard for Boston and NY (and Seattle in some cases). How long did it take some to realize how poor Seattle was last season? When did reality kick in?

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    • Justin Bailey says:

      Fangraphs overrated Seattle last year. Fangraphs and “the SABR community” are not one in the same.

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  70. Mike Green says:

    Right. I had the Sox at 93 wins and the best team in baseball prior to the start of the season (but only marginally so). I still say that they are the best team in baseball, but they’re likely to win only 90.

    Obviously, some club is likely to win more than 90 games; you would think the Phillies will best that easily, but there’s a honking big difference in the quality of the divisions.

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  71. joe says:

    Is the following a fair question? I’m going to try and figure it out, but so many of the potential readers of this are for more skillful with this type of analysis than I,that I thought I’d ask first.

    If you included the last 6 games in the preseason projections, would it significantly change the expected wins?

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    • joe says:

      To clarify, if you took the individual player statistics that are used to as a basis for team win projections, and included the last 6 games into them, I wouldn’t think it would move things much at all.

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  72. Bill says:

    “Many people also can’t digest or give credit to the Baltimore Orioles. They made some nice additions during the off-season and they’ve played well since Buck Showalter took over. They have 39 wins vs 24 loses and a .619 winning % since the end of last July. That would put them on pace to win 100 games this season. 63 games is a pretty decent sample size of what their current talent is. ”

    Now this is some quality trolling.

    Red Sox are going to breeze into the playoffs.

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    • Nat Haniel says:

      You only say that because hindsight effects your opinion. Teams are crappy until they’re not, and then once they’re not, the table turns: they’re great until they start sucking. As always, most of us are always 2 steps behind that curve.

      To those of my age, balt ruled the al east when we were young, and most of us expected their reappearance as contenders sooner rather then later. Alas, it’s been much later but I for one would not be surprised if they’re back. Just as I also wouldn’t be surprised if by the end of 2011, you are referring to boston’s pitching staff as the best in baseball. Hindsight again.

      I had to throw that last line in because I find it bizarre how so many discount the fact that theo epstein, who knows quite a bit more than all of us, committed $32m/yr to beckett and lackey, and refused to part with buchholz. This, after even most boston fans thought lester a no#4, at best, not too long ago.

      I trust epstein knows exactly what he’s doing. Boston should win the division on the back of the best starting staff in baseball, and 6 losses to start a season mean nothing.

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  73. Anthony says:

    I meant what I said when I said the sox look old. I’ve thought that for a while now, last year, thought that about Ortiz since forever. They just move slow. However, they’re very professional players. They don’t need to be fast or agile, they’re patient.

    Kinda like that one scene in Men In Black where Will Smith goes running after the alien but Tommy Lee Jones slowly walks out and thinks things over.

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  74. Bill says:

    I know you meant it, that’s the sad thing.

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  75. Paul Revere says:

    PANIC
    PANIC
    PANIC
    PANIC
    PANIC
    PANIC
    PANIC
    PANIC
    PANIC
    PANIC
    PANIC
    PANIC
    PANIC
    PANIC
    PANIC

    Tha Yanks are coming…

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  76. Anthony says:

    how is it sad that I meant it? I said they play professional ball, do they not? They move like old people, do they not? Peddy is balding, Youkilis is balding, nobody can deny how Ortiz moves like an old man.

    They DO look old. Doesn’t mean they won’t win a ton of games.

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  77. Bill says:

    Adrian Gonzalez is just as slow as Ortiz. You don’t call him old though because he’s hitting well. I’m just trying to expose to you how your simple mind works.

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  78. grapesoda says:

    @Bill:

    I think now it’s time to say: “in your face” ;-)

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