Tagged: Roger Clemens

The All Currently-On-The-DL Boston Red Sox & an Introduction to WAR

539w.jpg

(Photo Cred: boston.com)

As the Red Sox take the field against the Orioles tonight, they do so with their 69th unique lineup in their 80th game of the season.  Without further ado, I bring you the July 2nd, 2010 edition of the All Currently-On-The-DL Boston Red Sox.  As a side note, I will explain what WAR means after the roster.  Also, I will dip into the minor leagues when necessary to fill the gaps (there aren’t many).

Catcher
Jason Varitek; 23.4 Career WAR, 0.8 2010 WAR, DL since 7/2/10
We start off with the captain and the newest member of the All-DL team, Jason Varitek.  With a broken left foot, he is expected to miss up to 6 weeks.  He has exceeded the expectations of most this year and has performed more than admirably in the role he has been assigned.  
First Base
Mike Lowell; 29.3 Career WAR, 0.1 2010 WAR, DL since 6/23/10
Lowell has been the odd man out on the team from the get go, and even with all these injuries there really is no place for him.  Lowell’s injury is listed as a strained right hip, but you better believe that if the Sox needed him he would be playing through it.  The sad truth is, we need the roster spot more.  You may think it is a bit of a stretch to put him at first base, but he has actually played 6/10 games there this year (not including when he was the DH).
Second Base
Dustin Pedroia; 17.6 Career WAR, 3.6 2010 WAR, DL since 6/26/10
Pedroia has been the best player on this team this season by most metrics.  For this reason his injury is probably the most widely known.  He was recently joined by Jason Varitek on the All-Broken-Left-Foot team, but we’ll list those guys another time.  This list is starting to look like an All-Decade team…
Third Base
Jed Lowrie; 1.5 Career WAR, has not played in 2010, DL since 3/26/10
Remember him?  Lowrie is one of the longer-tenured members of this team, and has been forgotten by most fans.  He is out with mononucleosis right now, but has been ailed by several aches and pains over his short career.  The once highly regarded prospect sure is missed by the Sox right about now.
Shortstop
Jose Iglesias; hasn’t played in ML- WAR unavailable for minor leagues, DL since 5/29/10
I had to reach a little for this one, down to AA, but Iglesias is one of the team’s top prospects.  He has a broken right index finger.  Although he would almost certainly not have been called up to the Sox to help out at this point anyway, the injury is not helping his development into our first consistent shortstop since Nomar Garciaparra.  Not that we have high expectations for him, no pressure Jose.
Left Field
Jeremy Hermida; 3.5 Career WAR, 0.0 2010 WAR, DL since 6/10/10
Hermida makes the list by virtue of his broken ribs.  He, like Varitek, played better than a lot of people were expecting and was a great role player.  Speaking of outfielders with broken ribs…
Center Field
Jacoby Ellsbury; 6.5 Career WAR, -0.2 2010 WAR, DL since 5/25/10
The date here is a little deceiving as that is just the start of Ellsbury’s latest stint on the DL.  In reality, he has collected just 45 plate appearances this season.  It’s pretty amazing when you take one of the best players and the spark plug out of this team and they are still one of the best teams in baseball.
Right Field
Zach Daeges; hasn’t played in ML, DL since 2009
Another bit of a reach, Daeges is probably one of the lesser known Sox prospects.  This is because he has not played yet this season and missed most of 2009 as well with a severe ankle injury.  When he has played though, he has shown some signs of promise, so here’s hoping he can overcome the injury bug and return as soon as possible.
Designated Hitter
Victor Martinez; 23.4 Career WAR, 1.2 2010 WAR, DL since 6/28/10
Martinez gets the nod at DH, since sadly he is not the best defensive catcher on this list.  He was just heating up before he broke his left thumb.  Hopefully he will back sooner rather than later to spare us Sox fans from the offensive efforts of a Kevin Cash/ Gustavo Molina platoon.
Starting Pitcher
Josh Beckett; 22.8 Career WAR, -0.9 2010 WAR, DL since 5/19/10
Beckett is out with a lower back strain.  He obviously was expected to be at least an above average pitcher this season, and it just hasn’t happened.  Remarkably, the rotation has been a strong point for the Red Sox, even with their ace on the mend.  
Closer
Manny Delcarmen; 3.5 Career WAR, 0.2 2010 WAR, D
L since 7/1/10
Delcarmen is a new member of the team as well, having just gone down with a strained right forearm.  Bullpen depth is always crucial, but Manny hasn’t provided an irreplaceable service thus far.  A triple-A replacement will do just fine.
This list will mean a lot more if you understand what WAR means, so I’ll try to explain it here for those who are unfamiliar with it.  It is one of my favorite statistics and I plan on using it frequently on this blog in the future.  WAR, which stands for Wins Above Replacement and was created by Sean Smith of baseballprojection.com, is defined on Baseball-Reference as “A single number that presents the number of wins the player added to the team above what a replacement player would add.”  Pretty powerful concept, right?  All these other stats we have mean nothing if your team doesn’t win games, so why not put a player’s performance in those terms?  A replacement player is defined as someone on the cusp of the Major Leagues, a “AAAA” player if you will (between AAA and the majors).  Essentially, the replacement level player will have a WAR of 0.0 and neither hurt nor help the team.  It is important to note that these are not the worst players, many players have accumulated negative WAR totals with poor play.
I love this stat for a few reasons.  Not only does it put everything in terms of wins, which just makes sense to me, but it also incorporates EVERY part of the game.  Offense, defense, baserunning, pitching, even an adjustment for high leverage situations.  I’m not going to post all the actual calculations because there are a couple different methods, I don’t fully understand them, and I don’t think you need to in order to appreciate and understand the stat.  The other reason I love WAR is because it is used for both hitters and pitchers.  There really has never been a way to compare Ted Williams to Roger Clemens before, but we now can see that by this method at least, Roger Clemens contributed just a hair more (128.4 to 125.3 Career WAR).  All of the WAR numbers in this post and for all players can be found on www.baseball-reference.com.  
Finally, to put the single season numbers into perspective a little (keep in mind that the 2010 numbers are for a partial season, through 7/1/10), Baseball-Reference provides this handy dandy scale.  A 0-2 WAR season is typical of a reserve/bench player, 2+ is a starter, 5+ is an all-star, and 8+ is an MVP.  There’s a lot I could say about WAR, but I’ll leave it at this for now and talk about it more in future posts as it becomes relevant.

Stephen Strasburg & Game Score

pirates nationals baseball-54466386.rp420x400.jpg(Photo cred: AP)

Did everyone see Stephen Strasburg‘s debut on Tuesday?  If you didn’t you missed a truly historic performance.  Strasburg managed to exceed the seemingly un-exceedable hype while tallying 7 innings, 4 hits, 14 breathtaking K’s, and his first big league win.  His fastball had more movement than any I’ve ever seen and his curveball had me shouting at my tv in amazement.  His only mistake was a changeup that Delwyn Young took out of the park for a 2-run homer, but Strasburg kept his composure and finished by striking out the last SEVEN batters that he faced.  I can honestly say that I’ll remember this game for the rest of my life, even if it ends up being the best one of his career ($5 says it won’t be).

But you don’t come to The 26th Man for numbers you’ve already found in the boxscore- so I’d like to take this opportunity to introduce you to a Bill James stat called Game Score, if you are not already familiar with it.  Game Score is a great stat because it’s fun to tally and it’s useful too.  It’s aim is to provide a measuring stick for a starting pitcher’s performance.  Game Score is calculated like this (from Baseball-Reference):
1. Start with 50 points
2. Add 1 point for each out recorded, so 3 for every inning pitched
3. Add 2 points for each inning completed after the 4th
4. Add 1 point for each strikeout
5. Subtract 2 points for each hit allowed
6. Subtract 4 points for each earned run allowed
7. Subtract 2 points for each unearned run allowed
8. Subtract 1 point for each walk
For those following along with Strasburg’s boxscore from the other night, that’s good for a Game Score of 75, which is more than respectable for a Major League debut.  I’m sure you’ve heard from the media that Strasburg’s 14 K’s places him behind Karl Spooner and J.R. Richard for most all-time in a Major League debut (they each had 15).  Richard’s game is a great example of how you can arrive at the same Game Score in different ways.  Strasburg matched Richard’s Game Score of 75 exactly, even though Richard allowed 3 runs and 7 hits.  Richard’s Game Score was boosted, though, by his 9 innings pitched.  It is interesting to note that Game Score doesn’t care whether you win or lose.  Statisticians and even fans have begun to drift away from win-loss records and towards more significant numbers such as ERA and WHIP when determining a pitcher’s success, and Game Score matches that sentiment.  
Spooner’s game was in fact much better than Richard’s and Strasburg’s, as he posted a Game Score of 93 while hurling a complete game shutout.  Spooner’s start ranks 2nd all-time among pitchers making their Major League debuts though, falling just shy of Juan Marichal‘s 96 Game Score in 1960.  Marichal also pitched a complete game shutout, allowing just 1 hit and 1 walk while striking out 12.  Andy over at the Baseball-Reference blog recently posted about the best Major League debuts of all time.
In case these Game Score numbers seem a little arbitrary to you, here’s some sort of a frame of reference.  Roger Clemens‘ 20-K game in 1986 registered a 97.  Last night, Clay Buchholz took the loss after pitching 7 innings and registered a Game Score of just 56, while his counterpart Justin Masterson earned his second win of the season with a complete game shutout and a Game Score of 87.  In Game 7 of the ALCS in 2004, Kevin Brown lasted just 1.1 innings for the Yankees and was rewarded with a Game Score of 25.
kevinbrown.JPG
(Photo Cred: sullybaseball.blogspot.com)
Poor baby.
So here’s to many more fantastic starts for Strasburg- at this point the Nationals are still bad enough and irrelevant enough to the Red Sox that I can root for him in the same way you root for the little geek to finally beat up the bully.  Plus, team allegiances aside, the young man is truly a sight to see and real exciting to watch.  
24 hours from now I’ll be at the airport England-bound.  But dry your tears, I’ll be back in a week for your reading pleasure.