The Boston Red Sox had some interesting individual statistics that surfaced in 2018 and some were a surprise and others were not. I have selected a few to examine.
In a previous article, I delved into some team statistics from 2018. Statistics are the lifeblood of baseball and the migration continues from traditional to the extensive use of metrics and analytics. Individually there is surprises and some not so surprising with the Red Sox. An excellent source is Fangraphs and the Baseball Savant. The following is based on both leagues.
Just what is OOA? To simplfy it, OOA is a range based metric of fielding skill for outfielders that incorporates a degree of difficulty. We all know the Red Sox outfields ability and it shows in OOA or does it? Mookie Betts and Jackie Bradley Jr. are tied with 12, but Andrew Benintendi is -1. Lorenzo Cain is tops in MLB with 22. Nick Castellanos had a -24 and Bryce Harper a -13.
Sprint Speed is just how many feet a player can run per second. Naturally, you expect those who can motor to be on the top of the list and that means Byron Buxton at 30.5. Albert Pujols is at the very bottom with just 22.2 and it takes a sloth-like 5.01 seconds for Albert to get from home to first.
No surprise that Sandy Leon bottoms out the Red Sox players with 23.9 and 4.71 to first. Surprises? Betts’ ranking at 151 on the list with a 28.1, but then Aaron Judge (28.0) leaving Xander Bogaerts (27.8), Bradley (27.8) and Benintendi (27.8) in the dust.
Kenley Jansen is a one trick pony in MLB with a fastball. Jansen throws his heater 94.2% (min. 50 IP) of the time. With Craig Kimbrel (64.6) gone the new Red Sox leader is Ryan Brasier (62.6). Brasier (96.9v) is now just behind Nathan Eovaldi (97.5v) as the resident speed demons.
I know what to expect from my spouse when I make a rare mistake, but in baseball, xwOBA is a statistic that tells the story of a season based on quality and amount of contact and not outcomes for hitters. Another stat to make your head spin and your brain just to melt. The Red Sox had one notable surprise (250 At-Bats).
Steve Pearce at .398 was fifth in MLB. To the surprise of no one, the top three were Mike Trout (.430), Betts (.430), and J.D. Martinez (.417). When you hit just .171 you would expect it would show right down the statistical line and Leon (.232) is dead last. Our other catching notable – Christian Vazquez (.283) – did make a reasonable effort to underperform Leon. Better success in 2019.
If you are fascinated with watching a top spin then you can watch a baseball spin and some players (min. 500 pitches) can really spin a ball. Best at a 4-Seamer? David Robertson can spin that sphere at a 2661 rate, but Peter Moylan at just 2052. Chris Sale at 2354 leads the Red Sox contingent with Brasier (2345) just behind. The other pitches I will ignore.
Exit Velocity has nothing to do with how quickly you leave the house when your sister-in-law is planning a visit, but how quickly the ball leaves the bat. Judge (94.7 MPH) leads all and is quickly followed by several notable sluggers. Martinez is seventh (93 MPH) and MVP Betts is 18th (92.2) with Bradley just behind at 91.8. And, yes, Leon is last on the Red Sox at 83.6.
ISO or Isolated Power is a more common statistic and the nutshell definition is ISO defines a batter’s ability to hit for extra bases. Is this a new sabermetric? The basic ISO was developed by legendary Branch Rickey in 1954. Rickey was either well ahead of his time or the others well behind.
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Trout led all players with a .316 ISO in 2018 (qualified) and Martinez .299 and Betts at .294 were in third and fourth place. Within the Red Sox, (50 PA’s) Leon at .102 was actually not last in an offensive category. That honor went to the departed Ian Kinsler (.068) with Vazquez (.076) and Blake Swihart (.099) the remaining bottom feeders.
Pop Time has nothing to do with getting a soda but reflects the time it takes a catcher to toss a ball to a base after it has crossed home plate. In this instance, the reflection will be on home to second base and that means J.T. Realmuto (1.90) is the MLB leader. A surprise is that Swihart (1.97) is the best among Red Sox catchers. The MLB average is 2.01.
Arching tape measure home runs are certainly baseball sexy, but Matt Carpenter (231’) is the best at DST or batted ball distance. Carpenter averages 389’ per home run with Trevor Story at 422’ feet taking full advantage of Coors Field. But back to DST.
Betts is tops on the Red Sox with 207’ and that was ninth in MLB for 2018. Betts’ long balls topped out at 400’, but that was behind team leader Mitch Moreland (417’) and with a 184’ DST that was the same as Martinez’s. Eric Hosmer at 118’ was last among qualified. Good thing Red Sox passed on that contract.
There were some really long balls in 2018 with Story hitting one 505’. Betts took top honors with Boston when he plummeted one 452’ and that was 39th place in 2018. Rafael Devers took second place honors for Boston at 447’ and expect a few more from Devers in 2019. As mentioned Moreland had the best average HR distance at 417’ and Xander Bogaerts chipped in at 408’ for second place team honors.