The Boston Red Sox had some interesting statistics that surfaced in 2018 and some were a surprise and others were not. I have selected a few to examine.
There is a baseball explosion that is continuing outward and that is statistics with a special emphasis on metrics. There are some that are capable of glossing your eyes over and others that are insightful in pinpointing trends, weaknesses, and successes. I will take a look at a few that are informative positive and a few informative negative and with just the American League as a comparison. A great glossary is at Fangraphs.com.
The Boston Red Sox are a very good baserunning team with 125 steals in 2018 – third best in the American League. Are they that good? Not according to BsR, which is a culmination of various baserunning statistics. The Red Sox were -5.1 in BsR for eighth place in the AL. The lead-footed Yankees (63 steals) were first with a 14.6 BsR. For Boston, Mookie Betts at 6.9 BsR and Eduardo Nunez at -6.2 BsR were the zenith and nadir.
Hitting the ball hard is surprisingly an area that the Red Sox rank just tenth with a 34.4 Hard%. The Athletics are first with a 39.8 Hard%, but the Red Sox do make statistical amends with a 16.5 Soft% (second lowest) and 49.2 Med% (4th best).
The idea of pitching is the best possible result is a swing and miss (SwStr%) since there is nil opportunity for disaster with a hit or error. Boston’s hitters are very good at this with a third lowest at 9.5 SwStr%. The Astros and Indians are tied at 8.9%. Last is the White Sox (12.7%) who led the league in whiffs (1584) thanks to a generous contribution by Yoan Moncada (217). Boston’s best (qualified) was Betts at just 5% and hitting guru J.D. Martinez at the other end at 13.3%.
The opposite of swinging strike is how often you do make contact (Contact%) and not surprising is the connection to SwStr%. The three best are the Indians (80.6%), Astros (79.9%), and the Red Sox (79.3%). And, yes, the White Sox were at the very bottom of the statistical barrel at 73.7%.
The Red Sox defense was ranked fourth in the AL, but there were a few nuggets of negatives buried within and one is Defensive Runs Saved. The Red Sox were twelfth at -26 DRS, but were a long throw away from the Blue Jays at an incredible -100 DRS. The major culprit? Xander Bogaerts at -19 DRS. What I am attempting to figure out is how the Yankee outfield (47) had almost twice as many DRS (24) as the Red Sox.
What is ARM? This is a statistic to measure arm strength, trajectory, and accuracy for outfielders and the Red Sox clean house with a 19.1 and well ahead of the Yankees 13.1. To the surprise of all, Jackie Bradley Jr. led the team and league with a 7.7, but sarcasm aside Andrew Benintendi (6.4) was just behind Betts’ 6.8. Just behind JBJ at 7.3 is Aaron Judge.
If you want a ground ball, don’t look at the Red Sox staff that was tenth with a 42.4 GB%, but it is a fairly close statistic since the Astros led with a 44.0 GB% and Tigers were last with 39.6 GB%. If you were looking to slam a line drive, the Red Sox were not your go-to team with a stingy 31.3 Hard% that was only topped by the Astros (29.2%).
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Red Sox pitchers loved the easy out and that means a league-best 11.8 IFFB% or infield fly ball. David Price at 13.2% led the team and was seventh among qualified starters. The Red Sox also had some nifty run prevention as they led the league with a 5.40 RS/9 (runners stranded). The Yankees were next at 5.6 RS/9.
The Red Sox were the team least likely to throw a wild pitch (WP). The Red Sox accounted for just 51, but the White Sox topped the charts with 94. That said, the White Sox also led in hit batters (HBP) with 89. But the Red Sox? Just a tad behind at 84 HBP. Was there some dusting going on? Just a thought.
If you came to the plate against Boston, the likelihood of getting a heater was about 50/50 as the staff tossed fastballs (FB) just 49.9%. Only two teams tossed fewer, but if you looking for a curve it was a different story. Boston pitchers tossed curves at a 13.6% or third in the league. Thanks to Steven Wright, Boston led the league in knuckleballs and were the only team to toss any.
As one who has studied history, my assumption was WPA was Works progress Administration an old New Deal program designed to combat the Great Depression. I have discovered that in baseball it is Wins Probability Added and is one of a myriad of statistics within win probability. Naturally, teams with the best records top the charts as Boston did with 13.8. I will leave the entire process in the same closet as figuring a quarterback rating.