White Hat Sports Headlines

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Home Boys vs. The Away Boys

Oh yeah, I'm breaking out the Rock N' Jock Softball names. You like it.

So what's the deal, the Red Sox (27-20)? They are 7 games over .500 as I write this, yet they trail a kid named Anthony Swarzak in his first start. Beckett is truly dealing, aside from that bomb that Joe Creded touched off in the second, that if this game wasn't being played in a dome, would have reached Duluth. The Sox have dropped two straight on the road to the Twins and I will give some of that credit to Nick Blackburn and Kevin Slowey, but it seems to be a disturbing trend that the Sox just can't seem to hit on the road (10-14) and can out slug the '27 Yankees at home (17-6). My theory is that unintentionally, or perhaps intentionally, the Red Sox have built a lineup much the way that they did back in the Yawkey era. Get right handed pull hitters to drop balls over the big green wall. The heart of the Red Sox order right now is largely unbalanced. Of the hot hitters right now, the only non-righty is Ellsbury and he, Ortiz and Drew are the only regulars that are strictly left handed hitters. Look at the bench: Baldelli, Lugo, Green and Kottaras. Georgie is the only lefty on the bench, so forget a late game pinch hitter for a match up sake in the late innings. As we know, the numbers don't lie, here's how the Red Sox line up home and road splits (righty's in red):

Player Home Road

Jacoby Ellsbury .308 .306

Dustin Pedroia .364 .315

JD Drew .250 .263

Kevin Youkilis .433 .310

Jason Bay .284 .279

David Ortiz .212 .171

Mike Lowell .349 .274

Jason Varitek .347 .280 (Also is batting 100 points higher against lefties)

Julio Lugo .267 .275

So the only right handed hitter in the Red Sox line up that has a higher batting average on the road than at home is Julio "The Anomaly" Lugo. The shocking numbers to me were those of Jason Bay. I knew he had been hitting very well on the road and I figured that it would be that close, but I was actually surprised that he didn't come out into the Lugo group of right handed hitters who hit better on the road. Which leads to a quick tangent.

Jason Varitek is batting a solid 100 points better against lefties this season than he is against right handed pitchers. Isn't that enough to ditch batting from the left side all together? Wait, okay, Tek just went deep left handed. Screw it, I still say that he should just be a right handed hitter and the ditch the switch. (That could look good on a t-shirt. "Hey Captain! Ditch the Switch!"I see it in bright pink, blink blink, blinkety blink.)

So here's the contrast, 5 of 6 righties have better averages at home, and 1 of 3 lefties have a better average on the road and one hitter is only 2 points different on the road than he is at home (Ellsbury). So not only are righties better at home, you can make a case that the lefties in the line up are the same or even better on the road this year, hence why the team is 4 games under .500 when they travel this season.

But offense isn't everything, the pitching staff has been suspect as well. The starters have been spotty, and who would have predicted in Spring Training that the two pitchers with the most wins in the rotation would be Penny and Wakefield? Nobody, that's like betting on Mine That Bird to win the Kentucky Derby. Actually my buddy Zach and I were close to doing that. Every year we pick a horse to win it and then we pick a long shot to win it. We looked at the list and we saw Summer Bird as a 50-1 shot to win and we thought that it had to be a good omen because we're both huge Larry Bird fans. Then a few seconds later we saw Mine That Bird, but for karma's sake we went with the one we saw first. So we actually considered going with the biggest underdog winner in derby history to win it. Damn you Billy Koch! (He turned me onto Pioneer of the Nile during an appearance on The Jim Rome Show.)

Pitcher Home Road

Josh Beckett 4.22 6.08

Jon Lester 5.02 7.04

Daisuke Matsuzaka 6.97 12.00

Brad Penny 6.14 5.81

Tim Wakefield 3.00 4.83

Once again, 4 of 5 starting pitchers have better ERA's at home than they do on the road, which is impressive because Fenway is always known as a hitter haven, though besides Wakefield nobodies home ERA is what anybody would consider good.

So what does any of this mean, it means that the team is based around right handed hitters that in the first two months of the season have mashed the ball at Fenway and haven't done it on the road and that coupled with the sub par starting pitching has cost this team a few games on the road. In other news, Jason Varitek has hit another home run from the left side and you will probably never see the "Ditch the Switch" t-shirt.

Sterling Pingree

No comments: