Search Archives
Follow Us

Featured Sponsors


Mailing List
Email Newsletter icon, E-mail Newsletter icon, Email List icon, E-mail List icon Sign up for our Email Newsletter
For Email Marketing you can trust
Twitter Feeds

This site utilizes the MLB analytics platform powered by TruMedia Networks

Entries in Dustin Pedroia (18)

Monday
Jun172013

B. Chuck: The Offensive Red Sox Season

With all the talk about the effect that John Farrell's return to the Red Sox would have on the Boston pitching staff, so far it's been highly over-rated.

The Sox are seventh in the league with a team ERA of 3.84. Their starters are fourth in the league with a 3.79 ERA and their bullpen is 11th in the AL with a 3.94 ERA.

The key to the success of the Red Sox this season have been their bats and credit for that certainly needs to go to hitting coach Gregg Colbrunn and his assistant, Victor Rodriguez (and very high marks to GM Ben Cherington who has put together a terrific assortment of "chemists").

Serious Offense

  • The Red Sox lead the majors 363 runs scored.
  • They are tied with the Orioles with 155 doubles, the most in the majors.
  • They are tied with the Rays and Indians with 80 homers, the sixth most in the majors.
  • They are second to the A's, 277 to 273 walks.
  • They are second to the Padres, 61 to 57 steals.
  • They are second to the Cards, 205 to 184 hits with runners in scoring position.
  • They are tied for second in the AL with the A's with bases loaded hits, but lead the majors with 66 bases loaded RBI.
  • The Sox are tied with the Tigers for the league lead with a .285 June batting average.
  • They lead the AL 156 June hits, 13 more than the A's who are in second place.
  • They lead the AL with 23 June homers
  • They lead the AL with 88 RBI, 28 more than the Jays who are second with 60 ribbies.

The Individual Plusses

One of the other keys to the Red Sox offensive success is the variety of players who have been hot at different times throughout the season.

 

  • For example, while the Sox and the Phillies only have four homers each from the number three slot in the batting order, the fewest in baseball, the Sox have Dustin Pedroia who's hitting .319, the best of any #3 in the AL not named Miguel Cabrera.
  • And they have David Ortiz who has driven home 14 runs in June, the most in the AL, despite a .220 batting average.
  • Jacoby Ellsbury, in his walk year, has been running. He's tied with Everth Cabrera for the MLB lead with 31 steals and tied with Mike Trout for the AL lead in triples with six.
  • Mike Napoli has been an RBI machine providing clutch hits, particularly in the early going.
  • Don't forget the great fielding Jose Iglesias who has a 17-game hitting streak, the longest for any rookie this season, and is hitting .438 in 99 PA this season.
  • Daniel Nava is one of the great "who's thats?" of this season, but is deserving of some AL All-Star write-in votes. Nava is hitting .288 on the season and his 44 RBI are third on the team to Ortiz' and Napoli's 49, but 24 of the RBI have come from the 7th inning on and Nava leads the majors in that category. His 38 RBI as an outfielder puts him eight among all MLB outfielders. And, his .378 OBP ranks 10th among all outfielders (he has a .383 OBP overall).
  • Mike Carp has hit eight homers in 105 AB and is slugging .686 to go with his .324 BA.
  • Jarrod Saltalamacchia is hitting .271 overall and improving behind the plate and the switch-hitter is hitting .303 as a lefty.

 

So, through an assortment of pieces the Red Sox have put together three strong first months of the season.

But is that enough to get them through the year?

Tomorrow, I look at the minuses of the Boston ball club, starting with the starting pitching.

Wednesday
Jun122013

Gammons: MLB Mentors Make all the Difference

Drake Britton (Journal Tribune)On Tuesday night in Portland, Maine, a 24-year old lefthanded pitcher with a million dollar arm, stretches of wildness and a pending court date threw a shutout for the Red Sox Double-A Sea Dogs. Somewhere in Los Angeles, while his teammates battled the Diamondbacks, Josh Beckett smiled.

Back on March 2, Drake Britton was involved in an accident in Fort Myers, Fla. sometime after midnight. He was charged with excessive speed, a DUI, and immediately moved from the major to the minor league clubhouse. 

The next day, he received a call from Josh Beckett in Arizona.

“I’ve known Drake since he was 11, when he was playing little league (in Spring, Tex.),” Beckett said weeks later. “I want him to do well. I asked him if he were hanging out with some of the bad elements in Ft. Myers, and he said he wasn’t. I gave him a little lecture, but I offered to help. John Lackey and I later told him if something happened and he lost his drivers license that we would arrange a car service to get him to the park and back, providing he stayed out of trouble.”

“I’m still blown away by all Josh and John have tried to do to help me,” says Britton. “They’re established major leaguers, yet they care about me. John checked in after I went to the minors. The entire organization has been great to me, all things considered. But to have people like Josh Beckett and John Lackey at my back, to help me grow from what happened, is something I’ll never forget.”

The shutout Tuesday night left Britton—whose stuff has been compared to that of Jon Lester by Pedro Martinez—with a four-start stretch in which he’s allowed one earned run. In his last three starts he’s walked only three batters. “To shut out the same team in back-to-back starts really shows something,” says Sox Assistant General Manager Mike Hazen. “Drake has made a lot of progress in terms of throwing strikes, making adjustments, just plain pitching. He’s been really good.”

In Britton’s mind, with a major hand from Beckett and Lackey. “There’s a lot in this game people don’t know or understand,” says Britton. 

Which is why two dimensional analysis of a three dimensional game that is a business is so often incomplete. It is why a psychologist like the late Harvey Dorfman was so vital to the careers of people like Roy Halladay, Kevin Brown and Al Leiter. Why that chain that connects Darryl Kile to Chris Carpenter to Adam Wainwright to Shelby Miller, Michael Wacha and Joe Kelly has provided a bonding link for the Cardinals pitching for the last decade, pitching that leads the National League in earned run average and whose starters—who combined make less than Johan Santana is collecting from the Mets—lead the league with a 36-13, 2.74 record through Tuesday night.

“No one understands the process of going from prospect to big league responsible teammate and player better than Buck Showalter,” says Mets VP J.P. Ricciardi. Indeed, in Showalter’s last season with the Yankees, he brought Derek Jeter, Andy Pettite, Mariano Rivera and Jorge Posada to the majors, which prepared them for 2006 and the run of four world championships in five years. “It never worked have worked the way it did if Don Mattingly weren’t in that clubhouse,” says Showalter. “Those guys got to Yankee Stadium, looked at Donnie in the room and all said, ‘that’s the way you’re supposed to act.”

Last year, Showalter made the decision to bring up Manny Machado for the run to the Orioles’ first post-season appearance since 1997. Showalter had the minor league staff work him at third. “But I think what really made it work was having J.J. Hardy right next to him. J.J. adopted him, showed him how to play and what to do.” To this day, Hardy and Machado warm up and stretch together. 

When Adam Jones, who has reached star level in Baltimore, was with Team USA in the World Baseball Classic, he expressed how pleased he was that Willie Bloomquist was chosen for the team.

“I owe a lot to Bloomquist,” Jones said. “When I got to Seattle, I thought I was something special. First draft pick. Big money. You wouldn’t have liked me. I didn’t hustle the way I should have on a couple of ground balls and Willie got all over me. I mean, he killed me. I watched the way he played, hustling all the time, and learned from him. If he hadn’t cared enough do it, I wouldn’t be here in this tournament.”

Kevin Towers and Kirk Gibson took heat this winter for trying to fill out a 25-man roster with team guys. Martin Prado, one of the most popular and respected Braves. J.J. Putz. Eric Hinske, even if he’s hitting .174.

Miguel Montero makes sure he catches every bullpen session of every starting pitching in spring training. “Baseball teams are not rotisserie teams,” says Towers. “There are a lot of down periods during the season that teams that have talent, especially pitching, and the right mix of 25 players can get through.”

When Dustin Pedroia got to Boston in the second half of the 2006 season, Alex Cora was a .238 hitter with .609 OPS and 0.3 WAR, blogger target. He was also called “the smartest baseball player in the game” by Paul Lo Duca and Jim Tracy when he was with the Dodgers.

gPedroia was the scouts’ punching bag. But at Arizona State, he was considered by coach Pat Murphy “the best leader I’ve ever been around,” and, in fact, the year after he signed with the Red Sox and the Sun Devils finally made the College World Series, all the ASU players wrote “Pedroia” on their caps.

Cora and Pedroia were a perfect mix. Cora got Pedroia and other young infielders to take infield practice every day at 3:30, not having to duck BP line drives. It still carries. When Jose Iglesias arrived for his first spring training in 2011, Pedroia worked with him every day, and when Iglesias didn’t get to the right spot in drills, Pedroia would take him aside and say, “Here, I’m Fidel Castro.”

Last September, Pedroia and Mike Avila gave Iglesias a 40 minute lecture about showing the second baseman the ball before making the throw to him on the double play.

Pedroia had Iglesias to his house for cookouts two or three nights a week. Then in April, after a road trip, Pedroia called Iglesias out in front of a media member by asking, “What would you think if I told you Iggy took the bus to the park in Oakland rather than getting out early?” Lesson learned. 

Joe Maddon has said that the three key players in going from a team that had never won as many as 71 games through 2007 to making the World Series in 2008 were Jonny Gomes, James Shields and Dan Wheeler. “They pulled the kids through,” Maddon has said.

Reds pitching coach Bryan Price has said that Bronson Arroyo has been a huge factor in the development of young pitchers like Homer Bailey “because he’s shown them that no matter what he has on a particular day, he’ll sacrifice anything to get into the seventh inning and save the bullpen for the team.”

Braves officials cite David Ross influence on Brian McCann in becoming an All-Star, and are not surprised about his influence on Jared Saltalamacchia in his 2012 emergence as an All-Star level catcher.

Rockies people will tell you that part of the preparation for Nolan Arenado’s ascension to Colorado was Troy Tulowitski having Arenado live with him in spring training and pushing him to understand what he has to do.

Granted, the Indians have slowed down in the last ten days, but Terry Francona contributes a chunk of the early turnaround to Jason Giambi and what he has brought to players, some young, some, like Mark Reynolds, experienced. Giambi makes everyone around him relax, telling them “fix it tomorrow.”

“Jason’s leadership begins with his self-confidence, humility, authenticity and consistency,” says Indians GM Chris Antonetti. “He is able to relate to nearly every player in the clubhouse because of his personal attributes as well as his wealth of experiences. Peer leadership can have a more profound impact on a major league clubhouse than leadership from coaches or managers. In our situation, he compliments Tito’s leadership perfectly and sets the standard for professionalism within our clubhouse.”

In turn, Giambi has never forgotten about Mark McGwire and his mentorship and leadership when Giambi first got to Oakland. Jason remembers an MVP award, a big contract with the Yankees, and says “I don’t think it happens without being taken under his arm by Mark. Veteran leadership means something. Maybe it can’t be qualified; maybe it will never make sense to someone who never played. But it made a lot of sense to me.”

Cents, as well. 

Wednesday
May152013

The Red Sox Regression

Take a look at the AL East standings on April 19 and the Red Sox results since.

On April 19:

April 19 - May 15, 2013:

Nobody could have expected the Sox to have maintained their torrid start, so a regression was expected and occurred.

Let's examine some reasons for the Sox return to Earth 

  • The Red Sox team ERA through April 19 was 2.69; since, 4.82.
  • Starters ERA through April 19 was 2.23; since, 4.67.
  • Relievers ERA through April 19 was 3.43; since, 5.16. 

Take a look at some individual differences

The Sox are heavily reliant upon their top three starters in their rotation and they have regressed:

  • Up to April 19, Clay Buchholz had a 0.41 ERA, after, a still very good, 2.45 
  • Up to April 19, Jon Lester had a 1.73 ERA, after a fair, 3.71 
  • Up to April 19, Ryan Dempster had a 2.65 ERA, after, a very shaky, 4.35

The Bullpen

Their bullpen has been hit with a season-ending injury to Joel Hanrahan and a DL-inducing injury to Andrew Bailey.

However:

  • Up to April 19, Junichi Tazawa had a 1.12 ERA, after, a not very good, 5.40 
  • Up to April 19, Koji Uehara had a 0.00 ERA, after, a not very good, 4.50

Let's move to the offense, which has improved

  • Up to April 19, the team was hitting .257, with an OBP of .333, and slugging .411. 
  • Since April 19, the team is hitting .270, with an OBP of .345, and slugging .459.

The individual batting averages have been a mixed bag before and after April 19

So, where's the rub?

  • Up to April 19, the team was hitting .305 with runners in scoring position.
  • Since April 19, the team is hitting .255 w/RISP.

  • With runners in scoring position both Dustin Pedroia and Daniel Nava have been consistently good with numbers over .300 before and after April 19. 
  •  Since April 19, Stephen Drew has gone from .000 to .368 w/RISP and Jonny Gomes has gone from .000 to .286. 
  •  But it has hurt that the red-hot Mike Napoli has dropped from .333 to .258 since April 19. 
  • Jacoby Ellsbury has gone from .400 to .118 since April 19. 
  • And Saltalamacchia and Middlebrooks have both been ineffective all season long with runners in scoring position.

Perhaps you are wondering why I chose April 19th as my cutoff date

You see, on April 20 David Ortiz made his season's debut.

And while you certainly can't complain about Big Papi's .329 average with five homers and 20 RBI or his .321 average w/RISP, you do have to wonder if the team let down after his return or it was simply an expected regression to the mean.

We'll learn a ot more about this team over the next 25 games.