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Entries in Boston Red Sox (105)


Cano vs. Pedroia

Both Dustin Pedroia and Robinson Cano are having very good seasons.  Even though Pedroia struggled in the first two months of the season, batting just .240 with a .332 SLG, he's turned it around and is now batting .310 with a .477 SLG.  Even when he was struggling, the Red Sox second baseman was walking quite a bit, keeping his OBP around .350.  Once the power kicked in, his overall numbers took off.

Meanwhile, the Home Run Derby champion has been fairly consistent all year for the New York Yankees.  He ranks in the 90th percentile in both doubles and triples this season, however he's struggled to get on base overall with a .343 OBP, the lowest it's been since 2008.

Here's a look at how the two match up:

2011 Season
Robinson Cano.295.343.503.362125
Dustin Pedroia.310.403.477.386139
(Click to enlarge)

Pedroia has surpassed Cano in wOBA in the past couple months as his power numbers have risen. Through the first three months of the season, Cano held a 5 point edge in wOBA over Pedroia. This was all despite his lackluster walk rate of 4.5%, which ranked him in the bottom 8% of the league. However, through June 30th, Cano's .501 SLG% was 102 points higher than Pedroia's. Since that time, Pedroia has slugged a whopping .633, and his .388 batting average in that span ranks first in the majors.

2011 vs. LHP
Robinson Cano.314.358.482.36211.3%4.6%2.9%
Dustin Pedroia.417.523.642.5008.7%18.8%4.2%

2011 vs. RHP
Robinson Cano.286.336.513.36214.8%5.5%4.6%
Dustin Pedroia.271.355.416.34111.3%11.8%3.0%

As expected, Pedroia holds the edge against left-handed pitching this season. His .523 OBP ranks first in the majors and his .417 average ranks third. However, it's important to note that Pedroia currently holds a ridiculously high .437 BAbip(Batting Average on Balls In Play) against lefties. Only two other players in the American League with more than 100 PA against lefties have a BAbip over .400: Michael Young of the Texas Rangers with a .408 BAbip in 128 PA versus lefties, and Michael Bourjos of the L.A. Angels with a .418 BAbip in 118 PA. Pedroia's BAbip vs. LHP was .288 in 2009 and .266 in his injury shortened 2010 season; his career BAbip versus southpaws is .323. A correction in the next couple months could start to rein in those numbers.

Pedroia has also made good use of the short wall in left field at Fenway, particularly against lefties. In 78 plate appearances, his line is .455/.526/.742 with a .482 BAbip. In his previous three seasons combined at home versus lefties, Pedroia has .335 BAbip. While Fenway does tend to inflate BAbip, it's more than likely that Pedroia has benefited from a little luck as well.

Robinson Cano has fared as expected against righties; his 4.6% home run rate is about a 44% increase over his previous three year average. And his 3 triples off lefties this season matches his combined total from 2009-10. His walk rate, however, is down from 8.8% in 2010 to 5.5%. Meanwhile, his 14.8% strike out rate is a 47% increase from 2010 when he struck out in 10.1% of his PA versus RHP. Contributing to this problem has been Cano's propensity to swing at more pitches out of the zone. His current 37.4% chase percentage versus RHP ranks in the bottom 8% of the league.

Struggles and surges aside, the Yankees and Red Sox will look to their second baseman to help lock down a playoff spot down the stretch. And with both teams vying for top honors in the AL East, the production they get from their respective second baseman could be the difference maker.


Sabathia's Boston Problem

CC Sabathia of the New York Yankees pitched very well this season, except against the Boston Red Sox.  CC's problems occur on three of his four pitches; the fastball, the sinker, and the change up.  His problems are two-fold, in that his pitches miss the strike zone more, and the Boston hitters track his offerings better.

Overall, Sabathia does an excellent job of hitting the strike zone with those three pitches:

CC Sabathia, pitch frequency, fastballs, sinkers, change ups, 2011.He misses to the catcher's right hand, and close enough that batters will often go after those pitches.  Against the Red Sox, he misses wider:

CC Sabathia, pitch frequency vs. Boston, fastballs, sinkers, change ups, 2011.CC also avoids the middle of the plate more, especially up.  The following table shows how these wide misses hurt Sabathia:


Fastball, Sinker, Change Up 2011All TeamsRed Sox
In Strike Zone %
51.2 44.7
Strike % 67.5 61.8
Called Strikes %
35.2 29.7
Swing % 49.9 45.7
Miss % (of swings) 18.8 15.0
Chase % 31.4 27.0


The first three rows represent CC's break down.  He throws fewer pitches in the zone, and that leads to fewer strikes, mostly because there are fewer pitches to take for strikes.  The next three rows show how the Red Sox react to this.  A team of selective hitters, they swing less, especially since fewer pitches are in the strike zone.  Swinging at better pitches, (lower chase %) they make more contact (fewer misses).  That leads to this statistical disparity for Sabathia:


Fastball, Sinker, Change Up 2011All TeamsRed Sox
Batting Average 0.262 0.357
On Base Percentage 0.323 0.373
Slugging Percentage 0.361 0.561
wOBA 0.303 0.417


Even a great pitcher can't afford to make too many mistakes against the Red Sox.


In case you haven't noticed: David Ortiz is slumping

If David Ortiz started the first 32 games of the season the way he has hit over the past 32 games, Red Sox Nation would be screaming for his head. As it is, fans should start tempering their enthusiasm in the discussion of a long-term contract extension for the uni-dimensional Ortiz.

Ortiz is a hitter and that's all. When he is hitting well, the DH is a force to be reckoned with, when he isn't, his value is limited. Now, don't get me wrong he has a great smile and seems to be a great teammate but the AL, particularly the AL East, is all about hitting.

Ortiz in his last 32 games is 26-for-100 (.260) with two homers and 21 RBI. He is slugging .420 and thanks to 21 walks he still has an OPS of .808. These numbers follow his three doubles and five RBI last night against Kansas City. In his first 32 games, Ortiz hit .292 with four homers and 16 RBI. He slugged .451 and had an OPS of .833.

Ortiz since June 14Interestingly since June 14 against lefties, Ortiz is hitting .333 (11-for-33), but against righties he's gone 15-for-67 (.224). And, his only two homers have been against lefties. Ortiz last homered against a righty on June 12, off Kyle Drabek, who hasn't pitched in the majors since that game. 

The Slider

If there is any one pitch that is killing Ortiz, it would be the slider. Big Papi is 0-for-15 against it.

Ortiz has swung and missed on 36.7% of the sliders he's seen

The Sinker

The sinker has not been his friend either, since June 14. He only has a double in 13 at bats against the pitch.

He has struck out 3 times and grounded out 7 times against the sinkerFortunately for the Sox, Dustin Pedroia and Jacoby Ellsbury have been red-hot, Kevin Youkilis has been steady, and Adrian Gonzalez is still my choice for the AL MVP. However, they can't be expected to remain that hot and the Red Sox need Ortiz to pick it up. But Big Papi certainly needs to pick it up if he wants the Red Sox to re-sign him in the off-season.